What is the song "Sky Takes the Soul" by the Proclaimers about?
February 25, 2022 11:18 PM   Subscribe

I've heard the some a million times. I vaguely assumed it was about mortality and faith or something. Mostly I just liked the hook. Driving home tonight, out of nowhere I actually noticed the lyrics. Later I replayed it to make sure I heard it right.

Sky Takes the Soul
The Proclaimers
This Is the Story, 1987
(Lyrics as heard -- not authoritative)

It could be tomorrow, or it could be today
When the sky takes the soul
The earth takes the clay

I sometimes wonder why I pray
When my spirit just drives away
With a faith and a bit of luck
And a half-tonne bomb in the back of a truck

It could be tomorrow...

Feel the towel 'cos it's wet with sorrow
From the tears we'll shed tomorrow
Don't bring flowers, take a stance
On some graves you should dance

It could be tomorrow...

If it's tomorrow, or if it's today
I don't say it will be, I just say it may
When I'm on my knees
To the gates I'll stumble
And plead my case
In a style that's humble

It could be tomorrow...

I still like the song, but now I'm confused. All this time I thought there was a "black [something] dog" in the back of homeboy's truck. (I really don't pay much attention to lyrics.)

Here's my best guess...

The guy in the song is on a suicide mission. He's a Christian, hence the internal conflict that makes him wonder why he prays. Can he consider himself true to his faith when his spirit compels him ("...just drives away...") to do violence? It's almost as if his spirit has developed a faith of its own distinct from his, and so drives away with "a faith," as opposed to "my faith" or "some faith and a bit of luck."

As for tomorrow, "with a bit of luck" the singer won't see it. He'll be at the gates pleading his case.

For the friends he leaves behind: tears tomorrow, but skip the flowers. Rather, "take a stance" against him, for "on some graves you should dance." Namely, his.

Meanwhile, he expects to be "stumbling" and "humble:" his spirit may have the taken the wheel but in the end, it's still his truck.

Idk, that's just my take based on the content of the song. Maybe it means something else altogether.

Does anyone have a more informed insight?
posted by trevor_case to Media & Arts (4 answers total)
Best answer: The other interpretation that comes to mind is that it could be someone else's bomb - for example, if they are fearing some sort of terrorist attack, a bomb that could drive their soul away.
posted by Lady Li at 11:49 PM on February 25, 2022 [1 favorite]

Best answer: According to this article, the song was inspired by an article the twins read about the Tamil Tigers, so your guess that it's about a suicide bomber is the right one.
posted by essexjan at 1:20 AM on February 26, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: This song is backing for the titles of the film Sunshine on Leith. It suggests the stoical expectation of the squaddies in a roaring Armored Personnel Carrier in Afghanistan that any moment an IED could blow them to buggery . . . as indeed, by implication, happens.
posted by BobTheScientist at 1:55 AM on February 26, 2022 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks @essexjan. That situates it more clearly. Still pretty enigmatic, but that's art.

@BobTheScientist that video is something else.
posted by trevor_case at 2:22 AM on February 26, 2022

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