Monday, October 17, 2005

Switchfoot: Lonely Nation

I decided to do something out of my comfort zone. My youth students are all excited about the new Switchfoot album, "Nothing is Sound." So, I'm going to review the entire CD and talk with them each week about a particular song. I'm going to dissect each song Biblically, theologically, and culturally and then tell them what I think. I am going to post my thoughts here as I review each song. I welcome your thoughts.

Preliminary Thoughts:
I haven’t listened to Switchfoot much until recently but I have noticed something very common in their songs: pessimism. “Pessimism” is defined as “the belief that the evil in life outweighs the good” or “the tendency to always expect the worse.” I cannot say that Switchfoot believes that evil outweighs the good but they sure do focus on the bad much more than the good. Or, to say it another way, they ask a lot of good questions and do not give very many answers. This new album is called, “Nothing is Sound.” I agree with them if they qualify this statement by saying “Nothing IN THIS WORLD is Sound.”

Lonely Nation
The first song on the new album is called “Lonely Nation.” I think its main message is that stuff does not satisfy. It speaks of being slaves to what we want and being the target market for all the corporations that exist solely to make a buck. In a world full of ways to communicate (cell phones, e-mail, IM, etc.), it is tragic to be lonely. Honestly, I have no idea what the first verse means. The chorus and second verse are clear enough but thumbs down for the fogginess of verse 1.

Positives of Lonely Nation:
1. It is true: we are a lonely people
2. The best line of the song: “We are slaves of what we want.”
3. For people who think, it raises the question: “What really matters in life.”

Negatives of Lonely Nation:
1. No mention of the All-satisfying One in whose presence is fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore (Psalm 16:11).
2. The ambiguity of the first verse.
3. Just a preference: I don’t care for the screaming!

My final analysis of “Lonely Nation”: I don’t like it because it offers no hope to those who are tired of feeling lonely and desperate and hollow.


Rob Tombrella said...

Justin, I'm shocked at you! I have been listening to this CD for 2 weeks--in fact I nearly have every song memorized. As you know I'm a huge switchfoot fan.

First, I totally agree that they are not manifestly directing people to the cross---and I do have some questions about some songs---but I think the bigger question you're going to wrestle with is art---how do you do something artistic and qualify it so it doesn't get misinterpreted.

Jason W. said...

Hey bud. Cool blog. I'll send you a link to mine as soon as I get it back up (I've been on a break). Then you can read my liberal, heretical views and help set me straight.

I thoroughly enjoyed reading your review of Switchfoot's new tune "Lonely Nation". As you probably remember from our short discussion of the album I have some very similar issues with it, especially with their lack of answers to all the wonderful questions. However, I do appreciate the questions and the art and passion behind those questions. And since I'm one of those pessemistic, artsy weirdos I may be able to help you with that first verse. "She" is the "lonely nation". So basically the first verse is Jon Foreman describing the lonely nation. A lot of allegories about the "lonely nation's" feelings of emptiness and display of them. Hopefully that helps you a bit. O and by the way, I am deeply moved everytime I hear that scream.

justin said...

Just another note. My friend Rob and I have been discussing these things deeper and he raised two issues that I want to note:

1. Maybe this album and Ecclesiastes have a lot in common. I like this thought but have to say that at least Ecc. ends with God as the answer (Ecc. 12:13-14).

2. Lonely Nation is a picture (art) of human depravity: Singing without tounges, Screaming without lungs.

robert said...

hey justin my name is robert, i'm 16 (today actually). i am one of brent's friends in fort worth. first off i think you are a great preacher, brent gave me some of your sermon cd's, i especially love the one about the validity of the bible. i think that it is great that you are doing these disections of switchfoot's songs. brent always tells me to listen to the lyrics more than the music. i look forward to your disection of "stars" adios

Rob Tombrella said...

Happy birthday Robert! I'm not sure which Brent you're referencing or what church. I do know that you need to let Justin send you some more cd's and let him serve you further--nothing he'd rather do. Great advice to listen to the lyrics and what is being communicated.

robert said...

the brent i was referring to was Brent Osterberg, from Calvary Bible Church in Fort Worth, TX.
Yes, Justin is a good preacher.