Wednesday, 9 September 2009

Robbie Williams: Bodies

Robbie Williams makes his long-awaited comeback later this year with an album released in November and his latest song, Bodies, regularly on the radio.

I'm not a massive fan of Robbie's music but there's no doubting that he's something of a cultural icon. His forthcoming album Reality Killed the Video Star is dominating the charts on future release charts. And to his credit, Bodies, his comeback single isn't safe: not a ballad, but a sound that will appeal to a slightly more adult audience.

There's no doubt that spirituality plays an important part in the track. It opens with Gregorian chant and ends with a gospel choir. And whilst the lyrics sometimes feel somewhat forced, there's some interesting mileage in considering their message.

One of the lyrics at the end of the track is 'Jesus didn't die for you / What do you want?' I happened to hear an interview with Robbie on the radio over the weekend and there's no doubt that in part this is an effort to attract headlines through shock. But I wonder if there's more going on in the song.

There are masses of spiritual references: not only to Jesus, but also to the Bodhi tree (where the Buddha apparently received his revelations). In the interview I heard, Robbie confessed that although he'd been raised a Roman Catholic, he no longer knew who to pray to. He joked that the previous night he'd prayed to the Archangel Michael because he liked the look of his muscles, and also intimated that he enjoyed reading atheist writings by Richard Dawkins.

And I wonder if that brings the hearer to the crux of the song. Robbie sings about 'bodies' ('Bodies in the Bodhi tree / bodies making chemistry / bodies on my family...). Yet the song seems to point to a conviction that humans are more than just bodies finding themselves in space and time at a particular point ('Praying for the rapture / Cause it's strange, getting stranger'). Perhaps above all, though, the song represents a fear that the need for Jesus is merely a psychological need that we all have: possibly the need to be accepted as we are ('All we've ever wanted is to look good naked / That someone can take it / God save me rejection from my rejection / I want perfection').

And so the song closes, with Robbie singing that 'Jesus didn't really die for you', whilst a gospel choir sings 'Jesus really died for you'. I wonder: is this an argument that is going on in Robbie's head? Is Jesus merely a projection of our needs?

For more on Jesus being a psychological crutch or wish-fulfilment, click here, or see my post Is God merely a psychological crutch for the weak?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

An interesting article..
Heard this on the radio earlier and was looking for the meaning of the song..
Was suprised anything mentioning Jesus made it to the charts lol..
Thanks u

peterdray said...

thanks for coming by!

alibobbles said...

I was reading up on the meaning of this having just heard it, I think your comments really help. Love knowing what someone was thinking when they wrote a song.

S said...

Excellent article, thank you! Really interesting analysis of the lyrics. You answered every question I was asking about this song when I typed 'Robbie Williams Christian' into Google.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting ideas, I'm just sad that Robbie is still in a muddle with his spirituality.He is so needy for something concrete in his life-I was hoping he'd turned the corner.

Anonymous said...

I also found this article very interesting having seen Robbie's performance on the X-Factor and heard him say 'God Bless' to the audience on finishing the song.
It seemed to come across as quite overtly religious.

Anonymous said...

yeah it was a bit weird that he kept mentioning jesus in his music and at the end said god bless! Maybe tryin to put it out there that he's changed. although his eyes were a little crazy on the x factor live performance, i was pretty sure he was on drugs. maybe he's turned into one of those crazy, happy-clappy types. better than being addicted to paracetamol i suppose.

Anonymous said...

Thanks,as a Christian i was also really surprised that a spiritual song made it into the charts!!!

Bless You...

Anonymous said...

It sounds as though the song is an argument to between himself. As if he is not sure what to believe. As if he is trying to decide whether jesus is real or not. Jesus is tho, he is incredible i must say. And this song confused me, but then i thought about it more, and seemed to be like an argument between one's self, i've been there before, then i finally decided that jesus is really and that JESUS REALLY DIED FOR ME!<3

zucchinimash said...

Thanks Peter, the meaning of this song has been plaguing me for a few days now since I saw Robbie on TV saying in an interview that his lyrics were just 'gibberish'. It made me want to find out what was behind this gibberish all the more. I find that if someone is using the name of Jesus, I need to know what spirit they come in – the Spirit of God, or the antichrist (check out 1 John 4:1-6).
The references to ley lines, Bodhi tree, and UK and entropy (a book in a series) were of particular interest to me. I think that the speculation of Robbie being a Christian or having had a conversion experience has been answered fro me here (although ultimately that's between God and Robbie in the end). I would hope this is the beginning of a transformative process for him and that will be my prayer for him and listeners when I hear this song. Thanks again!

Caleb said...

crazy the motorbike in the video had 666, Jesus did die for me and i know!!!!

Beverley said...

Robbie mate, we're all praying for you. We love you and hope you have won the battle, realising that yes, Jesus really died for you! God bless you x