Song of the Day #887: ‘Get Right With God’ – Lucinda Williams

Next up in my theme week on religious faith is Lucinda Williams’ ‘Get Right With God,’ the lone upbeat track on her emotional 2002 album Essence.

Yesterday’s track was about doubting god… today’s is the polar opposite.

Williams was inspired to write this song by the displays of evangelical belief she saw around her growing up in Louisiana. The sort of people who believe in an inerrant Bible and are willing to take up snakes to prove their faith.

She plays it straight — I could see this song being amplified on a Sunday morning to rile up the mega-church crowd. While I imagine she doesn’t condone any of the behavior she’s describing, I like that she doesn’t judge it within the song. She just lays it out there for what it is. She reports, you decide.

I would risk the serpent’s bite
I would dance around with seven
I would kiss the diamond back
If I knew it would get me to heaven

(Chorus:)
‘Cause I want to get right with God
Yes, you know you got to get right with God

I would burn the soles of my feet
Burn the palms of both my hands
If I could learn and be complete
If I could walk righteously again

I would sleep on a bed of nails
‘Till my back was torn and bleeding
In the deep darkness of Hell
The Damascus of my meeting

I asked God about his plan
To save us all from Satan’s slaughter
If I give up one of my lambs
Will you take me as one of your daughters?

3 thoughts on “Song of the Day #887: ‘Get Right With God’ – Lucinda Williams

  1. Amy says:

    As much as I had no use for these lyrics – non-judgmental or not – before listening to the song, the music totally got me. Sort of reminds me of all of those great songs on the O Brother soundtrack (maybe one of those will make its way into this theme week, which, by the way, I think is a fantastic idea!)

    Anyway, I’m still not sure how I feel about such maniacal devotion being presented without comment, without music that underscores how troubling these vows are, BUT I do like the song 🙂

  2. Dana says:

    I admit that I am looking at this from an atheist perspective, but I don’t see this song as an embrace of faith and I don’t see it as non-judgmental regarding religious zealots. Rather, I see this as saying, “hey, I would do all of this crazy stuff if it actually made a damn bit of difference, but it doesn’t, so why bother really?” To me the key is the use of the word “if” rather than “so that….” Seems to me that Lucinda is doubting that anything we spend our time doing in reverence to the all mighty makes a lick of difference, and so she is very much judging those evangelical nut jobs she grew up with for believing that all of these whacked out rituals make any difference at all.

  3. Amy says:

    Good point! I’m not sure how I overlooked that major “IF” the first time around. Since the speaker will never get an affirmative (or otherwise) response, she may opt not to do any of these things at all.

    Oooo, now I don’t even have to feel guilty for liking this song so much 🙂

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