“20 Dollar Bills” – Everybody Makes Mistakes

I’ve been dreading this day since I started this project. This is, hands down, my least favorite sf59 song. Yeah, I said it. It sounds like an attempt to rip off some Lennon/McCartney glory. It feels like it’s in the wrong key. I’m not a fan of the fuzzy guitar. And it just plods on and on. The harps help lend to the feeling that this song lasts an eternity.

Maybe it’s not so much about the song but the fact that it occurs right before one of my favorite songs. I really just want to get to “No More Shows”. The same dynamic happened to me on Americana when the plodding “You Think You’re Radical” was plopped right in front of “The Translator”. It really probably has more to do with my impatience than the songs themselves.

This song is such a strange conglomeration of elements. We have the pensive piano and harp. We have the weird space jazz synth coupled with the New Wave synth that would sound appropriate on a John Hughes soundtrack. Then there’s the fuzzy guitar. What’s up with this fuzzy guitar? I’m usually all in favor with JM pedal choices, but this sounds like the cheapest solid state piece of junk ever. There’s barely any bass. No drums. The vocals are alright, but they could stand to put on a little weight.

There. I got it out of my system. Everybody makes mistakes. Let’s move on.

When you’re done with the run
I wanna take your height
Like everybody else
Who knows you’re coming back
By luring all your friends
With a never ending light
Not 20 dollar bills
That never change your life
That never change your life

I have good things to say here. This is another song longing for the second coming of Christ. A few songs we have looked at already fall into this bucket, but this one has something different to say. Christ draws us near with His never ending light, not the promises of prosperity and materialism. This verse makes it clear who Christ is, who the singer is in relation to Christ and it rebukes prosperity theology. That’s a tall order for a verse, but this one delivers.

It also shows that the singer has grown from The Fashion Focus. Let’s contrast this song to “I Drive A Lot”. In that song, we hear the singer thinking mostly about himself, what he feels and what he does. He questions who he could be and what he could do if he had lots of money. Here we see the singer is focusing on Christ instead of himself. He has learned that money doesn’t change your life the way you think it will.

He changes the second verse slightly, replacing “who knows you’re coming back” with “with a double-decker house”. He calls out his own participation in materialism. This is not something that would have happened on The Fashion Focus. After calling out his own mistakes, he refocuses back on Christ. This song is altogether more mature and it’s not because of that damn piano or harp either.

Well, that wasn’t so bad after all. I suppose dread is more about the energy you put into it than whatever it is you dread.

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