Who Will Save Your Soul?

“Who Will Save Your Soul?” Jewel, Pieces of You (album)

People living their lives for you on TV
They say they’re better than you and you agree
He says hold my calls from behind those cold brick walls
Says come here boys, there ain’t nothing for free

[When people watch TV, they witness other people’s lives. Sometimes the viewers are trying to live their dreams vicariously through the people on TV. I think Jewel is saying that people should get off the bench and start living their own lives.

The line, “there ain’t nothing for free” which can also be expressed as “there’s no such thing as a free lunch,” means that everything has its price. Sometimes the price is just time. Sometimes the price is an opportunity one forgoes by enjoying something else. Often the price is a hidden fee that’s subtly hidden by the advertiser. Whenever someone offers something for free, it’s probably a good idea to have a healthy dose of skepticism.]
Another doctor’s bill, another lawyer’s bill, another cute cheap
You know you love him if you put him in your will, but …
Who will save your soul when it comes to the flowers now
Who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy
Who will save your soul if you won’t save your own?

[Everyone hates paying bills, but they’re an essential part of life. Paying for something is an acknowledgment that you care about that thing. When you put someone in your will, you are saying that you care about what happens to him or her after you die. Then comes the title question, “Who will save your soul?” I think when she mentions “flowers” she’s referring to something that comes later in the song where she says “we pray to as many different gods as there are flowers.” She’s saying if we worship different gods or different things like money and power, who can we expect to save us? If you pray every night for more money, then God gives you money, what will you say when you die and God says that he gave you what you wanted so what more is He supposed to give you now. She asks, “Who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy.” She may be talking to an ex-boyfriend who was always lying to her. Or she might be addressing men in general since most of us are liars.

I love that last line, “Who will save your soul if you won’t save your own?” I feel like that’s a very Islamic idea as the Quran says, “And no bearer of burdens will bear the burden of another.  And if a heavily laden soul calls [another] to [carry some of] its load, nothing of it will be carried, even if he should be a close relative.  You can only warn those who fear their Lord unseen and have established prayer.  And whoever purifies himself only purifies himself for [the benefit of] his soul. . .” (Surah Fatir 35:1) I think there are a lot of Christians who feel secure in the knowledge that Jesus (peace be upon him) died for their sins, so they are assured salvation. But that doesn’t seem just to me. I think Divine Justice means that every soul is accountable before God for all of his or her own actions. Of course God is Merciful and Forgiving but we cannot forget that He is also Just.]

We try to hustle them, try to bustle them, try to cuss them
The cops want someone to bust down on Orleans Avenue
Another day, another dollar, another war, another tower
Went up to where the homeless had their homes

[People constantly try to swindle other people out of money. People are always cussing each other out. I’m intrigued by the reference to Orleans Avenue. It’s a bit mysterious as I believe several American cities have an Orleans Avenue including New Orleans and Chicago. But maybe she’s leaving it ambiguous deliberately so it can mean any city. It is an indictment of police officers to say that “the cops want someone to bust.” We hope that the police are honest and only arrest people who are guilty, but we know that the reality is often quite different. I could go into this more, but I’ll leave that up to the reader. If you are interested in cases police brutality , look up “Pullman Strike,” “Rodney King” or “L.A. Riots.”

The line “Another day, another dollar” is a classic American cliché that expresses the monotony of capitalism. But hey, it sure beats communism. “Another war, another tower” sounds like it might be a reference to 9-11, but this song came out in 1995, so that’s impossible, unless Jewel is psychic. Although I don’t want to deny Jewel credit, the next line says the tower “went up to where the homeless had their homes.” So she’s talking about a low-rent building being demolished to build a tall residential tower. It happens all the time in Chicago.]
So we pray to as many different gods as there are flowers
But we call religion our friend
We’re so worried about saving our souls

[People worship many different beings. There are worshippers of Allah, Vishnu, Buddha, and even the Flying Spaghetti Monster. People think their religions will lead them to heaven, but sometimes they can lead to hell. The word “friend” is often used in religious contexts. A famous hymn is entitled “What a Friend We Have in Jesus (AS)” The Quran describes Prophet Abraham (AS) as the “friend of Allah.” Sufis speak of Allah as the Divine Friend.]

Afraid that God will take His toll that we forget to begin but
Who will save your soul when it comes to the flowers now
Who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy
Who will save your soul if you won’t save your own?

[Sometimes the fear of God can be too extreme. Sometimes it can be paralyzing, so paralyzing that we are afraid to do anything because we fear it may be a sin. It is important to remember God, and to fear the punishment of Hell, but it should help you and not hinder you from living a life filled with goodness.]
Some are walking, some are talking, some are stalking their kill
You got social security, but that don’t pay your bills
There are addictions to feed and there are mouths to pay
So you bargain with the Devil, say you’re o.k. for today

[When you go out on the street, you can see people walking, talking, and stalking. In most places, man has no predator but man himself. Jewel is talking about the broken social security system which already fails to provide for the elderly and is probably going to get worse as time goes by. The next line brings to mind an image of a drug-addicted mother who pays for her habit but not for her kids’ meals. But we should not be quick to pass judgment on her, unless we have walked in her shoes.]

You say that you love them, take their money and run
Say, it’s been swell, sweetheart, but it was just one of those things
Those flings, those strings you’ve got to cut
So get out on the streets, girls, and bust your butts

[“Those flings, those strings you’ve got to cut” refers to dying relationships. I once heard a Sheikh say friends are like clothes. As time passes and they get worn out, you get rid of them. It’s sad but true. Some have said that the last line in this stanza refers to prostitutes. It’s possible. But it may just refer to women in any line of work. Often women have to work twice as hard for half the pay as men. An interesting thing happens musically at this point, as Jewel says “bust your butts,” the drums come in and make a sound reminiscent of a person falling on their butt. Maybe I’m over-analyzing, but you can listen to the song and decide for yourself.]

Who will save your soul when it comes to the flowers now
Who will save your soul after all the lies that you told, boy
Who will save your soul if you won’t save your own?

[Image of Iolite, a type of jewel, courtesy of http://www.justgemstones.com]


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  1. #1 by Redwan Ahmed on August 19, 2008 - 12:25 pm

    Can you please be a blogger in http://www.fisabilillah12.wordpress.com and can you please write comments everyday. thank you.

  2. #2 by compassiondave on August 19, 2008 - 11:28 pm

    Very nice, but if I could comment on one point you make (in regards to Divine justice)–we are (all) held accountable, but for the Christian, Christ has paid the mandated penalty. The fact is that price has been paid for everyone (Christian or not), but it’s only redeemable if you believe in the One who gave it to you.

    And I almost forgot…it’s absolutely free! Best deal this side of Heaven–praise be to God.

    (*thanx for stopping by the Jesus + Compassion blog today and commenting)

  3. #3 by NewssyLee on September 5, 2008 - 11:06 pm

    Thanks to you

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