Bucket List 2013: Music! Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

This post is part of a continuing series to fulfill my 2013 Bucket List item to immerse myself in music.

Before listening to this album, I don’t think I’ve ever heard a song by Arcade Fire.

The whole point of this Bucket List exercise is to expand my musical tastes and horizons… so I’m really excited when someone recommends an album! Contributor, you know who you are 😉


This album, Neon Bible, was different. When I first started listening, to be quite honest, I didn’t like it. It was on the second time around that a few of the tracks got me thinking… and getting angry… then happy… and then calm. When music can get your mind working so hard that smoke comes out, I think the artist should be pleased with their work.

The album was recorded in an old church that was purchased by the group— and this fact shines through in ways both good and bad throughout the album.

I think this review will work best if I go through the album, track-by-track, and let you know how each song affected my brain:

“Black mirror knows no reflection… cares not about your dreams…,” are some of the lyrics in Black Mirror. Speaking of lyrics, they didn’t touch me all that much, because I was too distracted by the music. The recurring hollow drumbeat and the chanting of the childlike voices remind me of the one Indiana Jones movie… with the little asian kid. Temple of Doom?

Keep the Car Running is a peppy little tune… made me feel like I’m running, instead of the car. Kinda cool.

Neon Bible, for being the title track, was a simple song and very much a letdown.

As small as Neon Bible was, that’s how big Intervention was to me. I could hear that the lyrics really mean something to the vocalist— and, as we all know, that’s what contributes to great music. This was the first track that got my mind wandering about religion, faith and spirituality. Take, for instance, the lyrics, “working for the church while your life falls apart…” and, “singing Hallelujah with fear in your heart.” The meaning of Neon Bible comes out plain and clear in this song: rage against religion and church.

Black Wave-Bad Vibrations didn’t hit me.

Ocean of Noise didn’t either.

The Well and The Lighthouse claims that, “Heaven is only in my head.” While Arcade Fire is attempting to say something poignant here, they fall flat… because, isn’t that true for most of us? Even the most religious person that I know sometimes, sooner or later, deals with the struggle of believing– a struggle that is between heart and head.

 [Antichrist Television Blues] is a beg, a plea and a scream for anything but a normal life… and a wish for others to have the same. Good, solid song.

In Windowsill, Arcade Fire laments, “Don’t want to live in my father’s house no more…” Is this literal? Or Father, meaning God? Or as in Big Brother? The song continues, “Don’t want to fight in a Holy War… don’t want to live in America no more… World War Three, when are you coming for me?” This album was released in 2007— recorded primarily in 2006. The song is a steady reflection of those times in this country— when we were embroiled in two wars abroad and one at home— amongst faiths of different orders. While politicians may say those wars are over today, the truth rages on.

No Cars Go might be my favorite song of the album. It’s just nice to listen to. Without even getting into meaning or message.

My Body is A Cage is a big song that closes a big album with lyrics, “My body is a cage that keeps me from dancing with the one I love, but my mind holds the key.” We all dream of doing things and accomplishing dreams which might not be attainable by our physical self. In our brain is where our true potential lies. You want a different, and I think better, version of the song? Check out Peter Gabriel’s astonishing cover:

Cover songs serve a great purpose— usually giving new life or meaning or strength to an artist’s work. Peter Gabriel does that very, very nicely.

This album is one of big ideas and big themes and big preaching. The band claimed that they watched a lot of television preachers before recording… but it’s funny that they become a little bit preachy themselves.

Do I agree with a lot of what they’re getting across here? Yes and people should hear it. Folks need to learn to think for themselves and release themselves from what comes into their home from various sources of media. And also open their mind when it comes to spirituality and religion— and that goes for believers and non-believers alike. Just because I am a religious/spiritual person doesn’t make me a fanatic. And if you don’t put your faith in a higher being, it doesn’t make you the devil. Arcade Fire does an OK job of putting this discussion in front of us.

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5 comments on “Bucket List 2013: Music! Neon Bible by Arcade Fire

  1. When I was immersed in this album, I shut the album off, googled (and read) the lyrics to each song. Then I began listening to it again. Being free of any misheard words or phrases, knowing and singing the lines in my head, I felt even enveloped and moved.

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