“God Bless This Mess” by Sheryl Crow

The title of this song (“God Bless This Mess”) is actually a popular saying. And what it alludes to, in concept, is the person relaying it recognizing that a certain situation they are stuck in is less than ideal. But they are still asking for God to “bless” it nonetheless.

What’s the “Mess”?

Well the “mess” we are actually dealing with in this song, most comprehensively speaking, is the history-changing event known as 9/11.  As you may well know, this was when the World Trade Center – the international symbol of the global economy as its name implied – was completely and utterly destroyed by terrorists. 

These two buildings stood at nearly 100 stories each and were situated in New York City’s densely commercially-populated Financial District. So when they fell, the result was massive devastation on the spot.

But what Sheryl Crow is really speaking to is rather the aftermath of the actual bombing. Or put differently, the titular “mess” isn’t 9/11 but instead what happened afterwards. And she does so via three verses which each feature their own respective angles.

Verse 1

The first is centered on her brother. Now before we get into these narratives, let it be known that they are metaphorical though not painfully so. So you have to read in-between the lines and connect the dots in order to understand what’s being said in its completeness. 

And in the first verse, it would appear that the narrator’s brother is a war vet. He is negatively affected, particularly from a mental perspective. And this is as a result of ‘having seen some ugly things’ on the battlefield. For instance, at times he just “stares off into space”, as if he isn’t even there. 

And as far as what he may have actually witnessed abroad which has made him this way, that’s something that he can’t even bring himself to speak about. And whereas it is never stated forthrightly, once again reading between the lines would imply that where he fought was in the Middle East. He either fought in the Iraq War or the War in Afghanistan, both of which we will get into shortly.

Verse 2

The vocalist’s focus then shifts in the second verse. This time around the issue would rather be something like lack of adequate job prospects. She finds herself seemingly working for a call center. First of all, said endeavors usually pay on a commission basis, yet she is not getting any customers. 

Moreover it would appear that this business, or at least some of her coworkers are quite shady. And conclusively concerning this passage, we can postulate that she is also somehow relating this reality to 9/11. That is to say that after that event transpired, “something has gone missing”, as in things not being the same as they were before. 

And people who were living and working in the United States around that time can attest to the fact that many companies and industries were negatively affected as a result. But even beyond that, it is an associated feeling in the air – for lack of a better explanation – which has Crow concerned.

Verse 3

The third verse is the only part of the song where 9/11 is referred to in a current sense. Here, the singer generally details some of the facts associated with the bombing as she has personally heard herself. This all culminated in the US President, who was George W. Bush at that time, being visibly and publicly shaken, vowing to do the very best for his people. And somehow, that ambition also eventually led to him launching the aforementioned initiatives in Iraq and Afghanistan.

But of course not all of the American people, despite how sentimental they may have been when the WTC was obliterated, actually believed that 9/11 rationalized the raiding of foreign countries. In fact even though the official story is that a group of Middle Eastern terrorists orchestrated the attack, truth be told many Americans don’t believe that either. 

So when you mix beliefs such as the blame for 9/11 being put on the wrong individuals with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan being unjustified, what you get are people like Sheryl Crow. Or simply put, under her estimation Dubya was full of s**t in terms of the reasons he publicly stated he was going to war. 

Indeed going back to the nature of the second verse for a moment, it’s interesting to note that in terms of post-9/11 America that part of the economy that actually experienced the biggest change was the military. Or more specifically, there was a massive boost in spending (or more specifically borrowing) in that name of financing those wars.

All in all

So conclusively perhaps the best way of describing this song, even if not necessarily comprehensively, is as being conspiratorial in nature. And the thing about a true, hardcore conspiracy theory is that it can never be proven as fact. Yes, we can go as far as to say that the powers that be, headed by President Bush, did in fact use 9/11 to raid the Middle East for whatever reasons. 

But as far as labeling him a liar, as Sheryl Crow has done, would also fundamentally imply that they orchestrated 9/11 themselves or in the very least did nothing to prevent it. That would then make it a false flag event, as some conspiracy theorists would say, and apparently Crow herself is of such a dispositional leaning. 

And on top of this chain of events resulting in actual warfare, she is also able to perceive how it has negatively affected even her own livelihood and nuclear household.

And as noted at the beginning of this post, what she is asking for, as put forth earlier throughout is the intervention of God Himself. After all, she is personally powerless to do anything about her brother’s PTSD, her own lack of inspiring employment prospects or a terrifyingly-dishonest president.

So she is asking for divine help. And by extension, the sentiment is that she is not only doing so on her own behalf but also for all others who are affected by this “mess”.

Lyrics to "God Bless This Mess"

When was “God Bless This Mess” released?

This is the lead song on the playlist of “Detours”, Sheryl Crow’s sixth-studio album. That particular effort was put out by A&M Records.  And that track officially came out on 30 January 2008.

Writing and Production

This song was written by Sheryl Crow, a songstress from Missouri. For those who don’t know, around the turn of the century she was one of the most-successful musicians in the country. For instance, her first six studio albums, dating between 1993 and 2008, all made it onto the top 10 of the Billboard 200. 

And as far as the aforementioned “Detours” goes, it peaked at number two on said chart. She has also been nominated for over 30 Grammy Awards prior to 2010. And out of that lot she took home nine of them, with over half of those coming before the year 2000.

The producer of “God Bless This Mess” is Bill Bottrell, a musician who has worked alongside the likes of Michael Jackson and Madonna.

Was “God Bless This Mess” a Single from Sheryl’s “Detours”?

No. A&M never actually released “God Bless This Mess” as a standard single. However, the song was still deemed poppin’ enough to afford its own music video. Below are the singles that came out of “Detours”:

  • “Motivation”
  • “Detours”
  • “Out of Our Heads”
  • “Now That You’re Gone”
  • “Love Is Free”
  • “Shine Over Babylon”
"God Bless This Mess"

Did President Bush use terrorist attacks as an excuse to enter the Middle East for oil?

President George W. Bush’s administration’s decision to invade Iraq in 2003 following the September 11 attacks faced stiff opposition. Bush and his camp argued that the US invasion was a crucial move in the war against terrorism. According to them, removing Saddam Hussein and ridding Iraq of his Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program would make the world a safer place.

Several Congress members disagreed on the premise that Bush’s actual motive was to control Iraq and the Middle East’s oil reserves.

While then-Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfield responded by describing the congressmen’s oil assertion as ‘utter nonsense’, it is an undeniable fact that Iraq held lots of oil at that time.

In fact, according to estimates from the US Energy Information Administration (EIA), Iraq held over 112 billion oil barrels. This made it the second-largest oil reserve in the world. The US is also known to have imported approximately 11.3 million barrels of oil from Iraq in December 2002, signifying its importance to the superpower.

On finding that the Bush administration was wrong about Saddam Hussein’s Weapons of Mass Destruction capabilities, we are left with two thesis.

Bush could have purely used the 9/11 attacks as a cover to accomplish two things. The first being a demonstration effect, which would send a clear message to “obstinate” regimes such as Libya, Syria, North Korea, or Iran that American was still the world’s leading power. The second being the war was just started to gain access to the vast oil reserves that were present in these Middle East countries, particularly Iraq and Libya.

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