Friday, March 21, 2008

Church Not Made With Hands — The Waterboys (1984)


A spiritual song seems apropos for Easter weekend so I present Church Not Made With Hands, a track that doesn't mention God by name but is undoubtedly all about Him. Except, in this early Mike Scott masterpiece, God is a breathtaking woman, worthy of worship yet utterly unattainable. It's a metaphor, of course, but a very apt and effective one.

Church Not Made From Hands marvels at the infinite mysteries of life and basks in the beauty of unspoilt nature which is, Scott suggests, the only cathedral truly befitting its creator.

"When it's dark and evening falls/ She moves among men/ They would seek to have her as a prize," sings Scott, likely alluding to religious leaders who use their 'knowledge' of God's will to build their personal empires.

But, Scott suggests, you won't find the Almighty in some manmade mega-church.

"She is in the shadows/The ocean and the sand," he sings of this elusive spirit, "she is everywhere and no place/Her church not made with hands."

The lyric's sense of wonder is only matched by the music's rousing romanticism, building from an acoustic guitar strum into skyscraping, Wall of Sound arrangement, highlighted by a soaring brass riff, a blistering electric guitar solo and Scott's own impassioned vocal. He called his sound Big Music in 1984 but, in the case of Church Not Made With Hands (the leadoff track on the Waterboys' second album, A Pagan Place), the music was also stirring and epic without being too over-the-top or earnest.

Divine, in other words.

Church Not Made With Hands (link expired)

Here's more Waterboys from their early 'Big Music' phase. From 1983, this is the video from A Girl Called Johnny:




Buy it here

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