Behind the Lyrics - Jack White, God, and Pronouns
Updated: May 3
If there is something I have realized lately, it is that I like to push the status quo. I don't do it on purpose. It is like I was built that way, and once I realized this, I went to see what some of my favorite songs told me about this. The "hidden" message my own musical tastes have told me.
So, this Behind the Lyrics will be a little different. I'm focusing on one of my favorite artists -- Jack White, and his reference to God as "She/Her" in several of his songs and how that pushes against the status quo -- God defined as a male.
In 2014, "Lazaretto" had this lyric:
And even God Herself has fewer plans than me But she never helps me out with my scams for free, though She grabs a stick and then she points it at me When I say nothing, I say everything Yeah, when I say nothing, I say everything
Moving on, in 2019, Jack White released the single "Thoughts and Prayers" with The Raconteurs. The song ends with this note:
To talk to God and hear her say "There are reasons why it is this way"
There are a few more songs, but I just wanted to show a couple examples for this piece. Now, why does it shock listeners so much when they hear "her/she" in reference to God?
If we think of the Biblical traditions, God is always referenced to as "He/Him". Depictions of Christian God are usually those of Jesus, but in general, the world uses "He/Him". It is accepted. It is anticipated.
When Jack White throws "She/Her" pronouns, he is pushing against that thought process. He is pushing against the status quo, for reasons only known to him, but it is fun for us to speculate.
For example, if we look at Genesis, it states, “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them" (Genesis 1:27). Now, this interesting because if male and female were both pieces of God...God must not have a set gender. God is they. It also would justify referencing to God as He/Him and She/Her. Woah. That's interesting.
It also leads to the idea that God is so much more complex than we can comprehend. And whether you are a religious song-writer or not, here are a few pieces of why this information is interesting for you:
1. The most published book in the world is the Bible. So, any references to the Bible are very likely to be understood, making it a good way to relate to many audience members.
2. Pushing against the status quo of God being a male also allows more populations to relate to your lyrics.
3. By using different pronouns in reference to God, you are also making a powerful statement on your beliefs in using proper pronouns for all.
So, next time you are writing lyrics, think of these small yet mighty ways to be authentic to your voice and to cause a stir in some of the things our world has become way too comfortable with. I think oftentimes, we think we have to do something drastic to get a message across, and many times, it is the little things that cause the biggest change.
Until next time.