Song of the Day: Dear God by XTC

A controversial song about existence of God and about the condition of humankind.
I think that is irrelevant if you believe or not in God, the essential thing is be able to bring your beliefs into question with thirst for knowledge, respect for different opinions, a fair doubt and, most of all, the courage to change opinion.

“Dear God” is a song on XTC’s 1986 album Skylarking. It was not a part of the original Skylarking album, but after DJs across America picked up the song, Geffen Records decided to replace “Mermaid Smiled” with “Dear God”. The song was inspired by a series of books with the same title, seen by lead singer Andy Partridge as an exploitation of children.

Lyrics:

Dear God, hope you get the letter and
I pray you can make it better down here
I don’t mean a big reduction in the price of beer
But all the people that you made in your image
See them starving on their feet
‘Cause they don’t get enough to eat from God
I can’t believe in you

Dear God, sorry to disturb you but
I feel that I should be heard loud and clear
We all need a big reduction in amount of tears
And all the people that you made in your image
See them fighting in the street
‘Cause they can’t make opinions meet about God
I can’t believe in you

Did you make disease and the diamond blue?
Did you make mankind after we made you?
And the Devil too!

Dear God don’t know if you noticed but
Your name is on a lot of quotes in this book
And us crazy humans wrote it, you should take a look
And all the people that you made in your image
Still believing that junk is true
Well I know it ain’t, and so do you
Dear God
I can’t believe in
I don’t believe

I won’t believe in heaven or hell
No saints, no sinners, no devil as well
No pearly gates, no thorny crown
You’re always letting us humans down
The wars you bring, the babes you drown
Those lost at sea and never found
And it’s the same the whole world ’round
The hurt I see helps to compound
The Father, Son and Holy Ghost
Is just somebody’s unholy hoax
And if you’re up there you’ll perceive
That my heart’s here upon my sleeve
If there’s one thing I don’t believe in

It’s you
Dear God

——

The first verse and closing line are sung by the then eight-year-old Jasmine Veillette, the daughter of a friend of producer Todd Rundgren. In the video a boy lip-syncs her vocals. The lyrics are addressed to God, and vividly describe the range of human suffering, which the narrator attributes to God. The singer concludes every verse with the line “I can’t believe in you”. Despite the prayer-like quality, the lyrics strongly imply doubt as to the existence of God (“Did you make mankind after we made you?”), omnibenevolence (“The wars you bring, the babes you drown, those lost at sea and never found”), and the value of the Bible as God’s word (“Us crazy humans wrote it […] Still believin’ that junk is true / well, I know it ain’t and so do you”).
In the UK, when the song was originally released as a single many record shops refused to stock the track, fearing a religious backlash.
It is ranked #62 on VH1’s 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 80s despite never having charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and despite peaking at #37 on the Billboard Album Rock Chart, and the band had larger hits on both charts and the later Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.
The song was covered by Tricky on the album Vulnerable, and by Sarah McLachlan for the XTC tribute album “A Testimonial Dinner: The Songs of XTC” and also released on her compilation album Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff.

XTC

Also known as The Dukes of Stratosphear, Terry and the Lovemen, The Three Wise Men
Origin Swindon, England, United Kingdom
Genres New Wave, alternative rock, psychedelic pop
Years active 1977–2005
Labels Cooking Vinyl, Geffen, Idea, Virgin,Caroline
Website http://www.ape.uk.net
Past members
Andy Partridge
Colin Moulding
Terry Chambers
Barry Andrews
Dave Gregory

image by reddii

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