August 28, 2008


This is probably the best analysis of a song that I have done. Through this song, I actually made someone a fan of the band Skillet, demonstrating that there was a lot more depth to what they were singing then he had thought. I originally posted this on July 8th, 2005. Enjoy:

There is this one band that I listen to called Skillet. They are a heavy metal Christian band, or more specifically, Industrial Rock. There is one particular song that they have that I thought it would be appropriate to go over.

Music is the most powerful form of human expression I think. Poetry can only go so far. Poetry attempts to take emotion and human experience and put it into words. Music takes them and puts them into sounds. However, songs are the marriage of the two.

This song, Scarecrow, is the description of a single man's walk with life, which is stated in three metaphorical stages. It is my thesis that these stages are normative and are excellent examples of how a Christian will develop.

There are three steps to each stage. Step one is the recognition of the problem, shown by the verse. The second step is the invocation of the Spirit with an appeal to enter into the person's life, which is represented by the bridge. The last step is the solution to the problem, represented by the chorus.:The

Stage 1:The depravity of the human mind

    Hanging on a post
    In my dirty clothes
    Try to concentrate on you
    But I keep forgetting

OK, according to my theory, this represents the first dilemma of the Christian. Now, each verse starts with the idea of hanging on a post. What the post represents is talked about more fully in the bridge. For now it is sufficient to say that the post is our present state of being. The idea of hanging is one of helplessness, inability. Thus, as we are in this state, we cannot change it on our own. We are stuck on the post.

The next thing stated is the reference to dirty clothes. This, of course, is a reference to sin itself. The scarecrow's clothes are dirty, thus so is the scarecrow. But that isn't the thing that's bothering him. Instead, he knows of the great God, and he wants to have faith in this God. But as he is hanging there, he tries to focus his thoughts on this God, but his mind keeps wondering. God is beyond the reach of his thoughts, and because the scarecrow is on the post, there is nothing he can do about it.

    Safe enough to not let go
    Scared enough to not release
    Open up to drink the wind
    You tear me up when you come in.

OK, this is the bridge. It starts with a fuller description of the post. Here, the Scarecrow admits that he is fond of the post, for it represents safety. Yes, it leaves him unable to progress, but it keeps him elevated, secluded, and safe.

However, the recognition of the above depravity makes him realise that he must let go. But instead of simply letting go, he opens himself up to the wind. Wind is synonymous with the Spirit. In fact the Hebrew (Ruach) and Greek (Pneuma) for spirit also mean wind/breath. Thus he invites the Holy Spirit into him, who thus "tears him up". Such violent descriptions to the actions of God are typical of the band who heavily emphasizes God's power and sovereignty (The big reason why I like the band).

    Take me down,
    Shake me out,
    Give me a brain,
    That I may know you better

In each chorus, there is a reference to God removing the scarecrow from the pole, a statement of the thing missing that causes the dilemma in the verse, and the objective of the Scarecrow.

The removal lines remain the same in every chorus: "Take me down, shake me out". Exactly the point of the shaking isn't' clear to me. However, the reference to taking him down is a reference to the post. Obviously he is telling God to remove him from the safe place so he can move forward.

The thing missing was a brain. Whether or not this has anything to do with the Wizard of Oz, I am unsure, but I doubt that the allusion is completely absent. However, what he realized was the reason that he couldn't focus on God, and that he couldn't contemplate God is that his mind itself is depraved, and lacks the ability necessary to know God. Thus the objective is knowing God, an admirable objective indeed. Now, it is my assumption that he receives this brain, enabling him to note the second dilemma

Stage 2: The depravity of the human heart

    Hanging in the sun
    Waiting for the rain
    Saw a field catch on fire
    I caught myself just watching

The Sun here is not something positive. The first two statements are referring to a drought. Rain is the salvation of man, and here he is hanging once again, but this time he understands God and he is waiting for his return. Personally, I think the rain is a reference to the second coming. Whether or not this is a pun referring to reign is unknown, but I would like to think so.

But now that he knows about God, he recognizes that the drought is a bad thing, and he sees pain and suffering in the distance, i.e. fire. However, the reaction is to just stare and watch it. The knowledge of God tells him that this is bad, and yet he doesn't care. He suffers apathy.

    Safe enough to not let go
    Scared enough to not release
    Open up to drink the wind
    You tear me up when you come in
    Take me down
    Shake me out
    Give me a heart
    That I may love you better(repeat x2)

OK, the bridge is the same, but the chorus has now changed. Still, there is the request to being taken down and shaken (but not stirred). However, that which was missing was a proper heart. His apathy has now made this apparent.

Note something. The cause of him realizing that he didn't have a heart was his lack of love for his fellow man. However, the objective here is to love God more. Why the difference? Well, it is good to note here that in the Bible, it describes loving God and loving people as the same thing. It is not as if man is God, or any nonsense like that. But if you love someone, you love what is theirs. Thus, if you love God, you would love his creation. To not love his creation, is to not love God.

I would say though that love is a greater existence for a Christian. First he craves understanding, then he craves love, for the understanding points to love.

Stage 3: Depravity of the human life

    Hanging on a post
    Just next to yours
    I want to curse and spit
    I weep aloud at Your mercy

OK, this first part is an obvious allusion to the crucifixion. Whether or not the singer (John Cooper) is identifying himself specifically with the thief on the cross, I don't know. I don't think so, but it is most certainly an allusion to it.

However, the thing he notes is his sin. Deep down, though he now knows God, and loves God, he still desires to curse and spit. He still desires to sin. Now that he has a heart, such a realization causes him to break down, to weep at the utter mercy of God because he now realizes how utterly depraved he not only was, but that he still is.

    Take me down
    Shake me out
    Give me a life
    That I may serve you better (repeat x100000)

I would like to note that John is yelling at this point.

What is interesting is that the bridge isn't' here. It doesn't feel out of place. It is almost as if the need for asking for the Spirit, or the necessity to even wait for the wind isn't' there any more. He is now so overcome that he goes straight to God, prostate. The helper is already there, he doesn't call for him. He is too focused on getting to the feet of the king to even notice the parakletos by his side.

And once at his feet, he yells, he calls out to God for regeneration, for full and complete rebirth, a new life. This isn't because he despises the old one, though he isn't clinging to the post anymore. No, it is because his new mind and his new heart compel him to serve God and this present life is in his way. This is the ultimate expression of Christianity; here we see the fruits of one that is fully walking with Christ. They devote themselves to the service of God, not out of obligation, but out of the love for God that they have, from understanding the work, passion, and resurrection of our Lord, Yeshua, the Messiah.

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