In my “About” section I mentioned addressing a large variety of music, including independent gems. Well, here is a band that many of you might not know: The Fleet Foxes. They are group of younger guys from the Seattle area. Their sound resembles late 60’s pop music combined with refined lyrics and harmonized vocals. Over time, it should become evident that I have spent way too much time listening to folk and alternative music that most people have not really heard of.
In addition to being obscure, the Fleet Foxes are probably not a Christian group (at least that I can tell). So, how can we find a devotional message in a secular lesser-known song such as “the Helplessness Blues”? Let’s start with the opening verse of lyrics and see what we find.
I was raised up believing I was somehow unique
Like a snowflake distinct among snowflakes, unique in each way you can see
And now after some thinking, I’d say I’d rather be
A functioning cog in some great machinery serving something beyond me
But I don’t, I don’t know what that will be
I’ll get back to you someday soon you will see
Songwriting often times provides a window into someone’s soul, a place of vulnerability and authenticity. In this case, here is someone who is tired of the worldly agenda of individualism (perhaps even capitalism?) and the religion of self. He wants to find something greater than himself and do something with his life that is worthy of a greater cause. But, his search isn’t finished and he hasn’t found his purpose yet.
He goes on to express his distaste and distrust in the organizations of this world that constantly deceive and injure him and his loved one. And yet, shining brightly beyond these things is the one thing that he knows to be true in this world: that there is beauty and truth to be found. Nature appears to be where he attaches to this conclusion the most.
His “helplessness blues” is an anthem of a lost soul trying to figure out what and where the deepest truths of life are. He finishes his song with a peaceful dream-scape of working in an orchard along with his loved one, toiling endlessly amidst the beauty of nature. It is a poetic journey through one person’s struggle with trying to identify objects in the dark, ultimately searching for peace and satisfaction. He knows that he is holding onto to something real and tangible, but he cannot figure out what it is and he is bombarded by so many imposters all around him that cannot fill his heart of hearts.
As a Christian, I listen to this song and feel an emotional reminder of who I would be without Christ. I feel a renewed sense of my calling to speak Christ to others who also might be so close to finding God’s truth, but they are still helpless.
In Romans 1:19-23, Paul speaks about how all human beings know within themselves the reality of the one true God, even though they may not call Him Lord. It is this biblical truth that gives the believer hope in their witness, for there is something within all of us (whether we choose to admit it or not) that reaches out into the dark for the one true “Object” of our deepest longings and affections: God Himself. Until the light of Gospel finds us, we are all singing the helplessness blues.