“All You Want Are The Things I Need” – Americana

After the last two fluffy songs, I’m ready for something with some bite and this song does not disappoint. This song is full of piss and vinegar and it fits my mood. So watch out. The opening guitar riff is a warning. It lets you know that you need to pay attention because the riot act is about to be read to you. And it is.

The drums are powerful and epic. I don’t mention the drums often because it’s not my thing and tend to not notice them. They are unavoidable here. They drive the song forward. The rhythm guitar and bass in unison are savage. What can I even say to describe that lead guitar? It starts out intense and just keeps on pushing for more. The sound softens for a little bit during the first chorus and then we are back at it for the verse and bridge. I talk a lot about sf59’s ’50s era sound but this is pure ’70s. It’s as ’70s as the mustache JM had on the promotional images for this album. This song is made to fit into an arena.

Then something changes. The tone gets softer and the spinning speaker effect kicks in (which is just mind altering if you are listening to it on good headphones). The vocals plead for understanding and resolution. The guitars ease off and the pace slows down. The music almost sounds tired at the end. What’s with this change? Let’s take a look at the lyrics.

Nice shot
Just the same one time after time
You know how I feel
All you want are the things I need
Think you’re some shock?

I think that this song is a snub to some band who playacts at being edgy but really just plays the same old shit over and over again. In the gay vernacular, we would say JM is throwing shade. That’s what I think the song is about but I’m going to take my interpretation in a different direction just because this song happened to land on this day.

I sometimes preach when the pastor is out of town. I don’t necessarily have any overwhelming qualifications for this task other than I seem to be the only one willing to do it. The pastor went out of town a couple of weeks ago and asked me to do the sermon. The sermon topic was “Who Does God Love?”. He recommended that I use John ch 3. Just to be contrary, I used 1 John ch 4.

As it happens, the week I was preparing this sermon, a particular video kept popping up on my Facebook news feed. The video was of a pastor/Sheriff’s deputy about 100 miles away from me. He was preaching on Leviticus and the Reader’s Digest version of his sermon was that the police needed to arrest LGBT people and we need to be executed. In his view, we are “freaks” and “filthy animals” and the only way to save society was to put us to death. He said that if Jesus came back now, He would be killing us too. Being in law enforcement, he knew just how to phrase this so that it wouldn’t be terroristic threatening (“the government should kill the freaks” not “we should kill the freaks” – see the difference?).

Think you’re some shock?

This is nothing new. I’ve heard all this before. This dude isn’t some outlier. A lot of people feel this way and they repeat the same ridiculous shit over and over again.

Nice shot
Just the same one time after time

Every time some white dude from up in the holler comes around saying he’s “preaching the Bible” (which if you don’t know is code for “I’m going to shout the verses about people doing things I don’t do while I ignore the verses that reveal the blackness in my own heart”), I know what’s about to happen. It isn’t shocking that this pastor said this. What is shocking is that it made the news at all.

1 John ch 4 is a sort of manual for discerning who the false prophets are in your midst. It’s as simple as this. Those who love are born of God and with God and He abides in them. Those who peddle in fear and punishment don’t know God because they don’t know love and God is love. Now I could have used these verses to make a big point about how this guy is a false prophet. I didn’t. I let the verses say that for me. My heart was on a different matter.

Those who say, “I love God,” and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. – 1 John 4:20

That verse is not mellow enough to be labeled 4:20. This verse convicts. If I say I love God but I do not love this man who is my brother (who would see me and the people I love dead if he had the chance), then I am a liar. God’s yoke may be easy but it sure doesn’t feel like that sometimes. How do you embrace someone who would just as soon break your arms? But the verse doesn’t give us exceptions. I knew I had to find a way to love this black-hearted man before I could preach this sermon.

The easiest path for me to find my way to love is compassion. I try to see things from the other person’s perspective. I try to find something to identify with. Behind all the bluster, violence and shouting, this man is scared. He’s even afraid of Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus (full disclosure: I’m afraid of them too but for matters of musical taste only). He sees how culture is changing and he doesn’t know where he fits in it anymore. Hell, I don’t know where I fit in this culture either. We have that in common. In the spinning speaker effect of the different perspectives in my mind, I can see how we feel the same.

You know how I feel

He wants a world where he has a place, where he can speak as he feels. He wants to know he’s not alone. I feel the same way even if our beliefs are vastly different.

All you want are the things I need

Now he’s willing to kill to resolve his fears and I am willing to love to resolve mine. PO-tat-oes, po-TAT-oes. The differences and who is right or wrong will get sorted out. My job is to love, that’s all.

I understand why the music sounds so tired at the end of this song. I am weary of all of this. I’m tired of being the person “good” Christians can point their fingers at and would use as a pawn so that they can feel righteous (as if there is some sort of sliding scale for that). The grace of God is boundless but the grace of people is small indeed.

Now I’m about to drive 80 miles to the nearest Pride event so I can have at least one day this year where I can stand as I am in a large group of people and know that I won’t be judged. There’s only a minor chance that some redneck with an assault rifle will show up “to do God’s work” and mow us all down. I’ll take that chance. Showing up is important. Being present to see and to be seen is important. And, above all, loving is important.

God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. – 1 John 4:16

Happy Pride, y’all! If you want to troll me, send me a message. Be respectful of peoples’ space and don’t make a mess on the board. Thanks!

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