I Could Be Wrong: The Hozier Controversy

24 Aug

Irish singer/songwriter/guitarist, Hozier, aka Andrew Hozier-Byrne has taken over the world of music lovers with his song “Take Me To Church” especially since it appears he doesn’t really want to go.

The “buzz” centers on the official Hozier video that shows two young men in love. When one of them is taken and tortured, apparently by the anti-gay Russians, the other has to watch the traumatic scene from afar, unable to save his lover.

“Great song” writes one YouTube watcher. “Excellent.” “I so friggin love this song.”
Then the haters weigh in.

“Didn’t expect to see two guys making out,” one YouTube reader writes. “Two guys kissing-the most disgusting thing in (sic) earth,” writes another. “…God hates fags. “..this guy…is singing about devil worship and selling his soul…” “Sounds satanic to me.”Sick and tired of all this homo propaganda…”The video just killed this song for me.”

“Then turn it off,” I reply again and again. You have the power to push a key and end it all.

While the song title may be misleading to attract a variety of listeners as suggested (One reader said “I was tricked into watching this video.”) the message is for everyone, gay, straight, male, female, Black, White, oppressed and suppressed. In an interview with Una Mullally in The Irish Times (http://www.irishtimes.com/blogs/poplife/2013/10/14/an-interview-with-hozier/) Hozier himself says there is a recurring theme in all his songs about self-liberation.

The good news is that the positive moments that focus on Hozier’s beautiful voice and thought-provoking lyrics far outweigh the negative hate-filled postings. If YouTube comments are a reliable database of speak-the-truth, it appears that once this song hits you–usually at first hearing–you can’t get it out of your head. You probably can’t sing it either because it takes tremendous breath control to pull together a string of never-ending descriptives and allegorical references the way this young man does while dancing around three or four octaves. If you miss the first few lines, and hear the “Amens”, it may sound very religious but wait for it. It is an overt satire and speaks to the hypocrisy of organized religion with perhaps a tad of guilt thrown in for good measure.

The telling lyrics are in the refrain:

“Take me to church. I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies. 
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife. Offer me my deathless death. Good god, let me give you my life.”

First, I recommend that you NOT watch the official video on YouTube at http://youtu.be/MYSVMgRr6pw.

All you will miss is an amazingly haunting song and voice, and these lyrics.

“My lover’s got humor
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshipped her sooner.”

Then, click on Hozier live, on public radio station KCRW at

“If the Heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouth piece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week.”

The references to words like pagan, ritual and sacrifice, spark an alarmingly high number of negative comments about devil worship. Some listeners feel he admits his homosexuality is a disease.

“We were born sick, you heard them say it
Command me to be well.”

Obviously, he is not a big fan of Christianity but does that mean he’s a Satan worshipper? He is not asking everyone to accept homosexuality or “our gentle sins” of homosexual love. Homosexuals are “born sick” because people “say that.”

“My church offers no absolutes
Tells me ‘worship in the bedroom’

The only heaven I’ll be sent to is when I’m alone with you.”

“In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
. Only then I am clean.”

All poetry is subject to interpretation and I could be wrong but then, only Hozier can really tell us what he was trying to say when he wrote this beautiful song. I mentioned above as did one reader that the video and lyrics are allegorical. Then came a slew of people who didn’t know what an allegory is. Here’s some claireifcation.

From wikipedia.com: “Allegory is a rhetorical device in which characters or events in a literary, visual, or musical art form represent or symbolize ideas and concepts. Allegory has been used widely throughout the histories of all forms of art; a major reason for this is its immense power to illustrate complex ideas and concepts in ways that are easily digestible and tangible to its viewers, readers, or listeners. An allegory conveys its hidden message through symbolic figures, actions, imagery, and/or events.

Give Take Me To Church a thoughtful listen. If nothing else, it will be remembered as one of the most epic, beautifully crafted, and controversial pieces of music on the charts today and in musical history.

From poster, Megan Cole: “The hate that fills your heart doesn’t change the love in others.”

NOTE: As for unabashedly shameful self-promotion, download my book “Dear God, Got A Minute?” (spoiler alert: it’s about religion but is not pro-religion) at Amazon.com for 1.50 and read the Chapter on Ari. Lots of Leviticus in there for you and more satire.

I do not think Hozier was referring to sex when he sings about that “deathless death” that one reader says relates to “le petit mort” or an orgasm. It is the walking death that homosexuals must endure for fear of disapproval. They feel like they WANT to die sometimes; it’s a tough life on this planet for people who are not like everyone else and are shunned because of their lifestyle. They don’t have the freedom to express themselves for fear of offending someone or risk being ostracized.

It’s a kind of “high sarcasm”– not meant to hurt but rather to bring to the attention of the church and the public how hypocritical and hateful the church can be. In lyrics such as “We were born sick; you heard them say that…” he’s saying the church (and Christianity) have contributed to the offensive environment and attitude toward homosexuals, simply by saying and teaching that they are.

Overt, over-caring, TRYING HARD Christians take the Bible literally even though it is riddled with contradictions. “Homosexuals are sick and their lifestyle is not acceptable,” is basically what the church teaches and how many “clinics” have we seen designed to pray away the gay


The video uses two gay men but this concept could apply to all people who are “not like them…”

4 Replies to “I Could Be Wrong: The Hozier Controversy

      • Wow, you are a true wordsmith. I enjoyed this article immensely, after stumbling upon it when I searched for the meaning behind the song and possible ties to Satanism. I consider myself a spiritual person, but having been raised in the Jehovah’s Witness cult, I have a serious aversion to organized religions and blind zealotry towards the hypocrisies within the Bible. I don’t believe in heaven or hell per se,or some omnipotent being casting judgment over human beings like an admissions team at a prestigious Ivy League school. Rather, I think it is ourselves that we ultimately have to answer to someday, and to me that is much scarier than answering to a God (not that I have serious skeletons in the closet or anything. That line about praying the gay away is classic. Having gay family members who were clearly gay from a very early age is proof enough to me that in most cases they were born that way. Thank you for this article it was a very good read, and I’m going to look your book up as soon as I’m done. I enjoy the way you write, and I believe a person’s ability to convey their thoughts on paper is a true talent and one of the many pleasures in life; it’s like taking a peek inside someone’s head!

        • Thank you Boogatt56. I am so apologizing to folks I have taken so long to respond to. The truth is, I am so busy trying to make a few dollars, it’s hard sometimes to justify a break to “write” fun things for the people who appreciate…fun stuff. LOL. Thanks for your comments and complements.

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