God is a DJ (but you might be better)
October 17, 2007 12:31 PM   Subscribe

What pop songs can you think of that express a theme of one of the Ten Commandments?

I'm working on a program for a bunch of high school students about the Ten Commandments. One of the techniques I'm considering using is to play them excerpts of popular songs whose titles and/or lyrics are somehow related to one of the Ten Commandments.

The songs don't need to be explicitly religious - actually, it's much better if they're not. And I'm hoping for songs from multiple musical genres: maybe a Hank Williams cheatin' song about adultery, a Snoop Dogg rap about murder, an emo weeper about lying, etc.

The lyrics can probably be R-rated if necessary, but PG-13 would be best.

(FWIW, the session is aimed at Jewish students, so we'll be using the Jewish division of the Commandments, not the Protestant or Catholic versions. You can look here for an overview of the Commandments and how they're divided in Jewish tradition: http://tinyurl.com/qhuss)

Can't wait to hear your ideas - I think this could be very cool if I get a good enough selection of music!
posted by AngerBoy to Religion & Philosophy (26 answers total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
 
Darling Nikki, hell, pretty much the entire Prince Catalog for adultery, except for Bob George, which would be for murder.
posted by OmieWise at 12:36 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Honor thy father and mother: Dear Mama by Tupac.
posted by mattbucher at 12:37 PM on October 17, 2007


Honor thy Father and Mother: "Camp Grenada," Desmond Deckker's "Honour Your Father and Mother"
posted by kirkaracha at 12:40 PM on October 17, 2007


"I Shot the Sheriff" for murder might lead into a nice discussion of the difference between versions which read "Thou shalt not kill" and "thou shalt not murder," and what the difference between the two is. ("I swear it was in self-defense.")
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:44 PM on October 17, 2007


Hips don't lie - Shakira
posted by null terminated at 12:44 PM on October 17, 2007


Country will give you tons of cheatin' songs, two I can think of are "Heaven's Just a Sin Away," and "Your Cheatin' Heart."
posted by la petite marie at 12:46 PM on October 17, 2007


Ed Hamell/Hamell on Trial's "Don't Kill"
"Cry Little Sister (Theme from The Lost Boys)"
See also: The Onion, "God Angrily Clarifies 'Don't Kill' Rule"
posted by kirkaracha at 12:46 PM on October 17, 2007


Jimmy Buffet, "Bank of Bad Habits" ("And the eighth deadly sin is...PIZZA!")

Adultery: Percy Sledge's "Dark End of the Street" ("It's a sin and we know it's wrong"), Clarence Carter's "Slip Away"
posted by kirkaracha at 12:59 PM on October 17, 2007


Adultery: Living in Sin, Bon Jovi
posted by mattbucher at 1:01 PM on October 17, 2007


Sure, we can all think of songs about murder and adultery, but what about false idols and coveting?

I can think of a lot of blasphemous songs (Patti Smith's version of 'Gloria' is a classic, but my fave might be Tha Alkaholiks' 'Daamn'), but, for straight-up blasphemousness, it might be hard to beat Crass' 'Reality Asylum.'
posted by box at 1:15 PM on October 17, 2007


I believe that Mims' This is Why I'm Hot is an excellent allegory for the first and second commandments in the Jewish division. The lyrics I'm hot cause I'm fly, you ain't cause you not, claim a similar self-referential exclusivity of the speaker (God/Mims), with the added benefit of an allusion to the famous phrase "I am that I am" (Exodus 3:12).

Moving on, Party Up in Here by DMX is practically the third commandment incarnate. Contrast Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of God with I don't know who the fuck you think you talkin to, but I'm not him, aight slim? So watch what you do, and the similarities become apparent.

Saturday (Oooh! Oooh!) by Ludacris takes care of the Sabbath commandment, for reasons that are plain for all to see.

That takes care of the four toughest commandments to match with songs, so I think you're well on your way.
posted by Krrrlson at 1:16 PM on October 17, 2007 [3 favorites]


Surrender by Cheap Trick sort of gets to the idea of "honor thy father and thy mother."
posted by otolith at 1:16 PM on October 17, 2007


I am the Lord thy God; Thou shalt have no other gods before me - Tori Amos, "God"
Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol - Simon & Garfunkel, "Sound of Silence" (" ... people bowed and prayed to the neon god they'd made")
Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God - Les McCann & Eddie Harris, "Compared to What" ("God dammit!" x 2, unusual for a jazz song)
Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy - The Bangles, "Manic Monday" ("I wish it was Sunday, that's my fun day ...")
Honor thy Father and Mother - Tracy Bonham, "Mother Mother"
Thou shalt not murder - Johnny Cash, "Delia's Gone"
Thou shalt not commit adultery - Hank Williams Sr., "Your Cheatin' Heart"
Thou shalt not steal - Genesis, "Robbery, Assault & Battery"
Thou shalt not bear false witness - Shelby Lynne, "Your Lies"
Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house/wife - Rick Springfield, "Jessie's Girl"
posted by jbickers at 1:18 PM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]


Nick Cave's "The Mercy Seat" is sung from the perspective of a man about to be executed in the electric chair for murder, which he swears he didn't commit... till the last line. It has a number of explicitly religious references, and I know you said you'd prefer to avoid that, but I'd still strongly recommend it -- it's an amazing, chilling, provocative song.
posted by scody at 1:28 PM on October 17, 2007


Thank God for Mom and Dad for Stickin Two Together Cause We Don't Know How

Mama Said Knock You Out Rather Than Kill You
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 1:29 PM on October 17, 2007


Loose Fur's Thou shalt wilt gets all 10 in one try.
posted by Camel of Space at 2:22 PM on October 17, 2007


Pretty much all of Cannibal Corpse's new album, Kill, will work for Thou Shalt Not Kill.
posted by ignignokt at 2:51 PM on October 17, 2007


Seconding The Mercy Seat, for sure.
posted by avocet at 3:37 PM on October 17, 2007


More ideas...

I am the Lord thy God ... Thou shalt have no other gods before me ... Thou shalt not make for thyself an idol

Cult of Personality, by Living Colour

Thou shalt not make wrongful use of the name of thy God

Mercedes Benz, by Janis Joplin

Remember the Sabbath and keep it holy

Sunday, Bloody Sunday, by U2

Thou shalt not commit adultery

Your Cheatin' Heart, by Hank Williams

Thou shalt not bear false witness

Liar, by Henry Rollins

Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife.

Jesse's Girl, by Rick Springfield
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 4:30 PM on October 17, 2007


Who are Parents? by the Shaggs.
posted by Benjamin Nushmutt at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2007


Joe Jackson did an album on the seven deadly sins that would probably have some good fodder on it.
posted by kindall at 9:07 PM on October 17, 2007


Dan le Sac's Thou Shalt Not.
posted by Lucie at 9:41 PM on October 17, 2007


Oops, it's actually titled 'Thou Shalt Always Kill".
posted by Lucie at 9:41 PM on October 17, 2007


Oh man. These are some AMAZING suggestions.
posted by AngerBoy at 8:24 AM on October 18, 2007


Name in Vein: God Only Knows (Beach Boys - placed here because it is the first pop song to use "God" in the title and was censored in some places for that reason)

Sabbath: Any song by Black Sabbath. (Freaks and Geeks, anyone?)

Honor Thy Father and Mother: Mother Told Me Not to Come (Three Dog Night - song about disobeying one's mother)

Murder: Dirty Deeds, Done Dirt Cheap (ACDC)

False Witness: Liar (Three Dog Night - I know, I repeated an artist, but this was too easy)

Covet: Seconding Jesse's Girl as brilliant, but if you're looking for something else ... You Never Give Me Your Money (Beatles)
posted by l33tpolicywonk at 9:19 PM on October 18, 2007


hallelujah, rufus wainright - there is no other god

i love this question - i did a similar project with movies and Jewish students. i'll be quizzing my friends this question all shabbat.
posted by prophetsearcher at 3:24 AM on October 19, 2007


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