A few weeks back I went to a free show at Easy Street Records to see David Bazan, the former genius behind Pedro the Lion, who just released a new album under his own name. Some hotshot magazine placed him among the 100 greatest songwriters of our time.
The thing about Bazan, however, is that the subject matter of his music, more often than not, isn’t romance or rock’n’roll or having fun or whatever: it’s his ongoing struggles with faith and disbelief. Pedro the Lion was one of the hottest alt-Christian outfits of its time, not just because they said “fuck” sometimes, but because it was honest and real and Christian at the same time (at least, that’s why I’ve been liking it lately). Take, for example, Pedro’s “The Fleecing”.
i could buy you a drink
i could tell you all about it
i could tell you why i doubt it and why i still believe
…why i still believe it
why i need it
and what the pharisees can’t see
we’d have more drinks
and speak of so many things
but i don’t know you and you don’t know me
But that was before—or, for this song, during—Bazan’s struggles with alcoholism and doubt led to, or coincided with, his loss of faith and the falling-apart of Pedro the Lion. His new album is his return to the music scene, sort of. And it’s still Bazan, still brutually honest and depressing as hell, but this time, from an agnostic perspective. Not nicely agnostic, or tolerantly agnostic. Angry. Bitter. Cynical.
What am I afraid of?
Who did I betray?
In what medieval kingdom does justice work that way?
If you knew what would happen
And you made us just the same
Then you my Lord can take the blame.
Now, I can’t speak for Bazan. But I find his story and his music thus far to be fascinating, and I think my next few blog posts to write about his stuff a bit and see what he might have to say about the meaning of faith.