Lorde’s Ribs And The Gospel

Back in May I discovered a guilty pleasure of mine when it comes to music: Lorde.

In April, I started reading some literature on postmodernism, a philosophical guilty pleasure of mine.

Listening to Lorde’s music in conjunction with literature on postmodernism has been both emotionally and intellectually stimulating. I’ve found a lot of postmodern themes in her music, but I’m not sure if that’s the nature of her music, the nature of postmodernism, or both.

That said, she seems well aware of herself, others, and the world around her – that which came before and after.

(She read 1,000 books by the time she was 12, and chose her stage name because of a fascination with aristocracy. I don’t mean to put my foot in my mouth, but I’m not entirely convinced many stereotypical musicians on Billboard 100 could define “aristocracy.”)

Anyway, in good and proper postmodern fashion, I am going to highlight just a fraction of one song.

Not only that, but it will entirely be lyrical.

I am not musically well-endowed enough to know about the technicalities of sound and whatnot.

So lyrics it is!

The song of choice is, obviously, “Ribs.”

I highly encourage you to listen to it before reading this. Get a feel for the sound.

[Here’s a link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gurezhY7cCw ]

Then read all the lyrics.

Repeat.

Okay, all done?

No?

Seriously. Go do that.

Alright, here is the passage I will be looking at:

“You’re the only friend I need
Sharing beds like little kids
Laughing ’til our ribs are tough
But that will never be enough”

This passage, which is towards the end of the song(an important note, as whatever message this passage conveys is what the listener is left with…the conclusion. The “this. This is what’s true” of the song.), begins with “You’re the only friend I need.” Lorde seems to be assuming this friend of her’s will be enough – or at least, this person’s friendship will be enough. What exactly “enough” means could be looked at philosophically(ie: if she holds a philosophy that humans require connection to be fully alive versus the belief we can be completely alone and be quite fine), psychologically (ie: relationally), or even biologically (ie: are they compatible physically?).

Lorde builds on this trust that this friend of her’s will be enough with the next two lines:
“Sharing beds like little kids, Laughing ’til our ribs are tough.”
Both of these lines give the listener this idea of joy. Laying on a bed with a friend, reflecting on nostalgic inside jokes, or perhaps even creating them in the moment.
The language of “little kids” suggests an innocence, a blind trust or faith – not just on one end of the relationship – but both. Both of them are putting “all in.”
They’re causing each other to laugh so hard, their ribs are getting tough (ie: building muscle/endurance/strength). The language here suggests they are helping each other get stronger physically, and, more metaphorically, emotionally, relationally, and mentally.
And then reality hits – “But that will never be enough.”
The language of “will” is striking.
You are left thinking that the friendship is in the NOW “sharing, laughing.” But the language of the final line, “will” is future tense, and Lorde seems to be suggesting these things haven’t happened, and even if they do happen, it won’t matter – they simply won’t satisfy. Any strength/support these two people offer each other – it won’t be enough.
It’s as if she suggests relationships and community, despite the allure of satisfaction, simply just “won’t do,” which is rather fitting, when you look at the next track on the album, Buzzcut Season, where Lorde sings, “Favorite friend, nothing’s wrong when nothing’s true, I live in a hologram with you..” Everything is fake to her.
From this point, the interpretation can go two ways:

1. Relationships and human connection simply won’t satisfy, so there’s no point. This could easily be the takeaway message if one doesn’t have hope in something greater.

2. Relationships and human connection simply won’t satisfy, but there is a point. There is a relationship, a connection, that can and will satisfy, if you let it. This is where I see the gospel, or part of it at least, in this song. Although Lorde does not offer an ending to the song that is optimistic (“That will never be enough” is repeated five times), this song is highly critical of the artificial, “single-serve” (to use language from Fight Club) relationships of the postmodern society. It also shows that even the most intimate bonds between humans are obviously fragile, broken messes, and that something needs to be done. One cannot have hope until one needs something to hope for – and given that the message of Jesus is one of hope – this song does quite a good job of setting up the listener for some of the relational aspects of the broad, all-encompassing loving message of Jesus:

satisfying, trinitarian, shalom-centered relationships between the three parts of self, the three sentient relations [God, other, self], and the three relations [God, humans, non-sentient creation], which leads to a harmonious satisfying existence among all of creation).

Faith As Knowledge

I am convinced there are few things of which I am convinced.
I am convinced the love of God is as boundless as the swirling seas of space.
I am convinced the grace of God covers an infinitude of should-haves, could-haves, would-haves, and why-didn’t-I’s.
I am convinced the joy of God makes blackthorn bad luck dissipate into the bountiful blossoms of Spring.
I am convinced the passion of God pursues both victim and victimizer.
I am convinced I am both.
I am convinced I know Christ.
I know Christ.
Revel.

Call Me Unique; Name Me Nothing

Raindrops, hugs & kisses, and stabs in the back
Though I’d prefer you stab me in the front, because pretending to care is ten times worse
I can’t offer you logical proofs, but I can give you my whole-y heart
Normally I wouldn’t write something so cliche’, but lately I’ve been reading about vulnerability
Taking me back to my days in the city that I barely remember
Things were less hopeful then (which is ironic, because I was surrounded by a mutilated corpse)
With its last few breaths it promised to stab me in the front
And in the back it went
So tell me – was it time well spent?

That’s okay, though, really – I expected as much from the Body of Christ
“Forgive me if that’s blasphemous”
There I go again practicing pretentious piety!
I’m just as much a false prophet as you!
This poem isn’t looking very much like a poem
So let me mix it up a bit
But what is a poem?
(Define: “poem.”)

Ponies were riding down the escalator racing to find meaning
Highlighting all the houses that stood out among their blinders
Feeding in the ones with no complexity – reveling in complicity
Oh structure, dear structure, do you exist?
Only if there’s a foundation to rest your twisted neck

There we go, a real poem
I may be skeptical of authority, but I’m not Postmodern!
Who’s Authority, anyway?
I don’t have a name, silly.

Already/Not Yet (or: “Sorry, by the way.”)

Dark truths written on paper
Truths insomuch as subjective experience is objective
Peeling back, reeling back, so I can know what’s inside my mosaic soul
To be known by myself, and to be known by You
You want honest,
Well – fuck You.
I say that and feel a twinge of sorrow and regret
A siren that signals that I’m different than that arrogant boy who was always
blaming, blaming, blaming everyone (and You)
Not by much, as far as I can see,
But dear Jesus, I’m different now
Thank you – You’re setting me free

Untitled

You’re as square as a rectangle!

Letting people inch ever closer, connecting around you
Rarely experiencing you as a phenomenon
Taking you for granted
Gather dust
A construct of human ingenuity –
you’re a tool
used to manufacture more tools
Gather dust
Never speaking, you don’t have a voice
Always present, but never really there
Gather dust
We carry you around, place you naked on the floor
Exposed – you gather dust
When we’re done, we fold you up and store you in our closets
Dust

You’re just a table.