Lee Ann Womack – “There Is A God”
Songwriters: Christopher DuBois & Ashley Gorley.
Exactly one year ago, Lee Ann Womack released a collection of whiskey-and-heartbreak laced neo-traditional country music that included songs about bars, dying relationships and domestic abuse. That collection, titled Call Me Crazy, was masterfully sung, beautifully recorded, splendidly arranged, wonderfully written, and, of course, a complete commercial failure.
Maybe a major label country artist who chooses to record and release an album comprised of mostly down-beat (mostly traditional) country music deserves to be called crazy. It was, after all, a miracle that “Last Call” managed to wiggle its way to hit status (thanks for that hook, Johnnie Walker Red), and there was scant hope for anything else from the disc to find a home alongside Jimmy Wayne and Billy Currington.
Fortunately, Nashville is a town where a songwriter is always waiting in the wings with a musical Prozac, and Womack’s new single (from an as-yet undefined project) is proof positive that the medicine works; Womack’s syrupy delivery is more than a few personalities removed from the sultry and smoky vocals on Call Me Crazy, with her rendering of this song’s idyllic world layered in pastel rather than neon.
In fact, if “There Is A God” was any more warm and fuzzy, it would be a bunny. A big, fat Easter Bunny with a basket full of clichés instead of candy.
“There Is A God” amounts to a slideshow of inspirational lifescapes—from running horses to flocking birds to sprouting seeds—all of which are offered as proof that “there is a God.” Of course, there are some fireflies, some babies and some abating cancer thrown into to mix…what inspirational country song would be complete without that trifecta?
Country music has a long history of incorporating Christian and gospel themes into both its mainstream and its ancillary branches, and even some of the genre’s most hardened outlaws have turned their musical eyes towards heaven. Here, however, Womack offers what is less a profession or discussion of faith and more a rejection of reason and logic. After going through a laundry-list of beautiful things (like a raindrop falling onto your tongue), the songs asks, “how much proof do you need,” eventually winding into the bridge and, thus, the pervading theme that binds all of these disjointed lyrics together: “Science says it’s all just circumstance/Like this whole world’s just an accident/If you wanna shoot that theory down/Just look around.”
While the overriding message of the song is that we can see God’s existence in everything around us, the writing errs when it ventures into a debate about the merits of logic and science (and the relation of those things to spirituality). The proclamation that “there is a God” does not need to also undermine and misrepresent what are almost universally accepted explanations for various scientific processes, and the fact that the song is willing to attack science makes the lyric come off as more political than it needs to.
After all, there’s a pretty famous song that makes essentially the same points without going down that road:
Everytime I hear a new born baby cry,
Or touch a leaf, or see the sky
Then I know why I believe
That song, “I Believe,” is a personal, specific declaration of faith. “There Is A God” is a pandering declaration of ideology masquerading as abstract inspirationalism–and a disappointing entry from a woman who has produced some of the most compelling country music of her generation.
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