Shadows of the Night

image courtesy of, shirt courtesy of bad fashion choices of the 80s.

When you like a song, are you more drawn to the melody or the lyrics? Me? I’m all about the lyrics. Have you ever argued with someone about the meaning behind the words to a song, or am I sharing something really nerdy and embarrassing about myself? Maybe both.

I’ve had a few conversations about the true meaning behind songs like I Want Candy by Bow Wow Wow and Turning Japanese by the Vapors. (Because that’s where I’m at intellectually.) For the record, “Turning Japanese” is not what most people thought it was about, and I was right—so there.

But then an artist named Seal came along and refused to print the lyrics to any of his songs. Reportedly, he wanted the listener to find the meanings for themselves. As a person who is all about lyrics and their meaning, this was pretty heady stuff. Especially from a guy who sings:

“And the riders (writers?) will not stop us, cuz the only drug they’ll find is paradise…” (Huh? What does that mean?)


“I’ve been kissed from a rose from a grave, the more I get the stranger it feels, yeah. Now that your rose is in bloom, the light hits the gloom from the grave.” (Again—I got nothing.)

I love that Seal gave me permission to imagine a more personal meaning; that his ego wasn’t such that he demanded I interpret the lyrics in the way he penned them. This may not seem like a big deal to some, but I have a huge connection with music. It means much to hear lyrics of a song and imagine whoever wrote those words understands on some level what I may be going through—good or bad.

My worldview has changed much since I became a Christian. I tend to find more spiritual meanings in songs. I don’t try to “Jesus them up” or anything, and some songs you can never divine a deep spiritual meaning from (See: “Bootylicious”, “My Humps”, etc.), but many songs take on different meanings these days.

I was driving home from Dallas last week and a concept that God has been trying to get my attention with was made very clear through, of all things, the Pat Benatar song, Shadows of the Night. Specifically, these lines:

“Surrender all your dreams to me tonight, they’ll come true in the end.”

It finally occurred to me through those words—the dreams we cling to the most, our deepest desires can easily become false gods, pushing out the One True God. We have to desire Him above all else. And when we are able to honestly say to God:

If you don’t want to grow this ministry…neither do I.
If you don’t me to sit in the corner office…neither do I.
If you don’t want my book on the best seller list…neither do I.
If you don’t want me to ever have a child…neither do I.
If you don’t want me to ever marry…neither do I.
If you don’t want me to fight this battle…neither do I.
If you don’t want me to survive this cancer…neither do I.
If you choose not to take this thorn from my flesh, then I will endure it for Your glory.
If you don’t want this for my life…neither do I.

No matter what “this” is. When we can honestly say these words to God, that’s when he can go about giving us the desires of our hearts, because that’s when our desires begin to align with His.

And now, please enjoy this incredibly hokey video from 1982. I love me some Pat Benatar:

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