Depeche Mode And Religion Essay
Depeche Mode: Songs of Faith and Devotion
Originally released in 1993, Depeche Mode’s Songs of Faith and Devotion was
unveiled to a stunned U.S. and U.K. audience. The band had undergone a transformation
of truly gothic preportions. Gone were the short crew cuts, the sole use of synthesizers,
and the Gap image. In its place were long and flowing Jesus-like hair, distorted guitars
and full drum sections, and a look that some described as the heroine junky mode.
Much to the surprise of die-hard fans, the album was a commercial success, spawning a
full length live album, 5 top twenty Billboard hits, and a relentless 18 month tour which
ended abruptly when keyboardist Alan Wilder quit the band after 16 years.
The content of Songs of Faith and Devotion came out of an era of confusion and
redemption for the band, and namely from lead singer Dave Gahan’s fight with heroine
and cocaine addiction. After spending 3 years in seclusion after the release of Violater in
1989, the band reuinited in early 1992 to begin recording a new album. The tone of the
album would be so overtly religious that some fans were initially turned off by the
constant references to God, holiness, redemption, suffering, and the like. The most
glaring example of Depeche Mode’s new-found religion is the song Walking in My
Shoes. The song was written by Martin Gore in response to the public outrage regarding
Dave Gahan’s new bad boy image, with his constant public misbehaviour, his new
adoration for religious tattoos, and his striking new resemblance to Jesus. The lyrics tell a
tale of a man who’s life has been turned upside down by trials and tribulations.
Like Job before him, many of the problems that Dave Gahan had encountered
were beyond his control. The creative tension between Martin Gore and Alan Wilder, the
constant touring and public appearances, the death of his mother and father, and a long
legal battle with Sire records had taken their toll on Dave’s psyche. Martin Gore was
always the first to confront Dave, but in this case it was through music that he would best
serve the purpose of bringing Dave back from the brink of despair.
The first verse of the song introduces us to the characters point of view, with an
emphasis on things that are done to him, rather than what he has done to himself
I would tell you about the things they put me through
The pain I’ve been subjected to
But the Lord himself would blush
The countless feasts laid at my feet
Forbidden fruits for me to eat
But I think your pulse would start to rush
The first three lines give the impression that his suffering is not because of God, but in
spite of it. The second line has a connection with Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.
Adam indeed had a feast laid at his feet, and the final line seems to imply that the
character has more to tell us, but is afraid that we would not be able to understand, or
possibly to believe, what he has to offer us.
The second verse gives the impression that the character has been made a
scapegoat, and is being made an example of
Morality would frown upon
Decency look down upon
This scapegoat fates made of me
But I promise now, my judge and jurors
My intentions couldn’t have been purer
My case is easy to see.
The first three lines talk of morality and decency, and this is important not only to
identify the character as a good person, but also as one who is suffering through no
fault of his own. The last three lines talk of intentions, which seems to relate quite
literally to the relationship between Job and God. In the Bible, Job suffered so that God
might make a point to Satan, and therefore his intentions could be seen as good.
While it should be noted that at no time does this character ever profess any type
of religious preference, the choice of words leads one to believe that his experiences are
of a holy nature. The constant religious references throughout the album give it a very
dark and somber mood, but also leaves the work open to interpretation. Some would say
that the album is that of doom and gloom, others would say it is probably one of the most
uplifting pieces of music ever written. As with the bible, or any religious work, the frame
of mind of the reader is key to the interpretation of its message.