Vampire Weekend

Jes Kast Uncategorized 3 Comments

Yesterday, as I was in the air, flying from New York City to Michigan, the new Vampire Weekend song was on repeat. Have you heard it? If not, watch and listen first…

Is this a spiritual side of Vampire Weekend that we haven’t encountered before? That’s what Friday’s article in Slate asked. With songs like Oxford Comma that declare who really cares how we express ourselves, with or without the oxford comma it is a song that praises telling the truth in whatever form it comes. Also, personally, a fun song to listen to. I, along with others, have been wondering if this is a song that is a reflection on the bands religious and/or spiritual life? That may be a stretch for a band who is sometimes looked at as the rich kids from New York City but I’m willing to stretch it.

As you listen to the song notice how “Ya Hey” sounds so much like Yaweh. In the chorus the band sings “You won’t ever say your name. Only ‘I am that I am’ But who could ever live that way?” I imagine, with Vampire Weekend’s desire to express oneself,  that this might be a critique on the possible perceived anonymity of God. Another Biblical allusion that pops up in the lyrics is “through the fire and through the flames” which could be a reference to Moses at the burning bush. 

Could this be a play on words from the Outkast song Hey Ya as the Slate article wonders? It is entirely possible. Yet, maybe because I’m a minister, I see honest questions and existential pondering about who God is showing up in the lyrics. I see a band trying to creatively comment on the idea (and presence ?) of God.  Who really cares about the oxford comma? Just tell the truth however you need to express yourself. They are certainly expressing a truth of their religious questions, be it as deep as I am reading into here or something more surface, honest reflection is being offered. And that, that honest reflection, is something always praisworthy in my book.

Comments 3

  1. I don't think you are over-reading, Jes–it all sounded positively biblical to me. My own sense of the song, however, is that it is a lament of the too-hidden God (he won't even say his name and "who can live that way?"). There is also a reference to the Israelites and a whole lot of nervous breakdowns. And then there is the fizzing champagne that visually conveys what I think the lyrics all by themselves may also be saying; viz., life is ephemeral and we reach for a God we cannot grasp and who (maybe) stays too hidden. Or maybe the whole thing is an elegy to Ecclessiastes with the bursting champagne bubbles standing in for the "Phhhhht" that is "hevel." Dunno, but it's interesting!

  2. Thanks for the post! Not a stretch at all, but I would say that Diane Young already revealed a bit of their spiritual side. (Mortality, youth, the video's "last supper" motif) Much more to their music than I first gave them credit for. When I saw them on SNL I thought, "Oh crap… not the 50's!" Anyway… I'm glad I gave them a listen.

  3. The Ecclesiastes idea is interesting, Scott! Thanks for sharing.

    Good point on Diane Young. Possibly a more subtle spiritual side compared to the more direct Biblical allusions in Ya Hey. Thanks, Jason.

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