John the Revelator – Unpacking the Song’s Revelatory Message


You can view the lyrics, alternate interprations and sheet music for Depeche Mode's John the Revelator at Lyrics.org.
Article Contents:
  1. Music Video
  2. Lyrics
  3. Song Meaning
  4. The Sacred and the Profane: Dissecting Depeche Mode’s Take on Religious Hypocrisy
  5. Crossing the Thematic Plains: Symbolism in ‘John the Revelator’
  6. The Unifier and the Divider: Depeche Mode’s Stand on Spiritual Unity
  7. Unveiling the Hidden Narrative: A Tale of Judgment and Redemption
  8. Echoes That Resonate: Memorable Lines from ‘John the Revelator’

Lyrics

John the Revelator, put him in an elevator
Take him up to the highest high
Take him up to the top where the mountains stop
Let him tell his book of lies

John the Revelator, he’s a smooth operator
It’s time we cut him down to size
Take him by the hand And put him on the stand
Let us hear his alibis

By claiming God as his only rock
He’s stealing a God from the Israelite
Stealing a God from a Muslim, too
There is only one God through and through

Seven lies, multiplied by seven, multiplied by seven again
Seven angels with seven trumpets
Send them home on the morning train
Well, who’s that shouting?
John the Revelator
All he ever gives us is pain
Well, who’s that shouting?
John the Revelator
He should bow his head in shame

Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye
Bye-bye

Seven lies, multiplied by seven, multiplied by seven again
Seven angels with seven trumpets
Send them home on the morning train
Well, who’s that shouting?
John the Revelator
All he ever gives us is pain
Well, who’s that shouting?
John the Revelator
He should bow his head in shame

Bye-bye
Bye-bye (John the Revelator)
Bye-bye (John the Revelator)
Bye-bye (John the Revelator)

Full Lyrics

A deep dive into Depeche Mode’s ‘John the Revelator’ unveils a web of socio-religious commentary entwined with an undeniable groove. This track, emanating from their 2005 album ‘Playing the Angel’, manages to hold a mirror to the duplicities of evangelical figures while simultaneously infusing listeners with its electro-rock magnetism. What at first may appear as a straightforward critique of religious hypocrisy, reveals itself as a layered exploration into the essence of belief and human tendency towards constructing deceptions.

In this analysis, we strip back the echoing beats to scrutinize the thematic muscle behind the lyrics. The song, named after the traditional track ‘John the Revelator’ that dates back to as early as the 1930s, digs into the reservoir of biblical imagery only to churn it against itself, challenging the very institutions it borrows from.

The Sacred and the Profane: Dissecting Depeche Mode’s Take on Religious Hypocrisy

Depeche Mode has never shied away from confronting the big questions – and in ‘John the Revelator’, they target the ostentatious display of piety. With each verse, they dismantle the sanctimony of a figure cloaked in religious authority, exposing the fallacies in his ‘book of lies’. The song bravely juxtaposes the devoted ‘Revelator’ persona with slick condemnation, portraying him as a charlatan who manipulates spirituality for personal gain.

This attack is twofold; on one hand, it’s a direct swipe at those who preach virtue but practice vice. On the other, it’s a commentary on how organized religion can often stray from its foundational principles, turning into a vehicle for power struggle and dogma, robbing spirituality from the hands of the earnest believers.

Crossing the Thematic Plains: Symbolism in ‘John the Revelator’

The figure of ‘John the Revelator’ is steeped in biblical reference, directly alluding to John of Patmos, the author of the Book of Revelation. However, in Depeche Mode’s interpretation, this prophetic character morphs into a caricature of deception, a vessel for the band to siphon through their critique of those who claim divine revelation while delivering falsehood. This ‘elevator’ ride to the ‘highest high’ is a metaphorical ascent to moral supremacy; an unearned place among the ‘mountains’ of ethical infallibility.

Within these lines also lies a subtle nod to societal structures that elevate certain ideologies, inadvertently creating idols out of doctrines and celebrity out of clergymen. The repeated ‘Bye-bye’, a seemingly dismissive farewell, further undercuts the authority of the ‘Revelator’, effectively disbanding his creed.

The Unifier and the Divider: Depeche Mode’s Stand on Spiritual Unity

By suggesting that John the Revelator is ‘stealing a God’ from both the Israelite and the Muslim, Depeche Mode touches upon a theme of universality in faith. They posit that the divine is not the exclusive property of any single group, accusing their ‘Revelator’ of cultural and religious appropriation. This is a call for a reclaiming of spirituality from the hands of those who would use it for division, highlighting the band’s pursuit of a theological inclusivity.

The song’s bridge—’Seven lies, multiplied by seven, multiplied by seven again’—evokes the biblical motif of the number ‘seven’, often used to denote perfection or completion. Depeche Mode inverts this to signify the exponential growth of deceits disseminated by such religious figureheads. Coupled with ‘seven angels with seven trumpets’, imagery direct from Revelation, this completes a picture of ultimate judgment upon the Revelator.

Unveiling the Hidden Narrative: A Tale of Judgment and Redemption

The deeper layer of ‘John the Revelator’ lies in its universal depiction of judgment and the quest for truth. The ‘stand’ upon which John is put metaphorically signals a trial – a moment of reckoning where one’s actions and words are measured against the canon of authenticity. It’s this trial that unravels the ‘seven lies’, pressing the listeners to ponder over their own convictions and the voices they choose to follow.

In essence, the Revelator’s fate is sealed not just by his deceptions but by his unwillingness to ‘bow his head in shame’. The lack of penitence transforms him into an emblem of unrepentant falseness, further inciting the audience to reflect on the responsibility that comes with knowledge and to embrace humility in the face of truth.

Echoes That Resonate: Memorable Lines from ‘John the Revelator’

Among the many stirring phrases in ‘John the Revelator’, the assertive ‘It’s time we cut him down to size’ punctuates the narrative with a call to action. The line dictates a collective responsibility against those who distort spirituality for personal aggrandizement. This lyric, sharp and incisive, has etched itself in the memory of listeners, encapsulating the spirit of the song.

Moreover, the repetitive shout – ‘Well, who’s that shouting? John the Revelator. All he ever gives us is pain’ – wraps up the song’s sentiment in a shroud of auditory persistence. It resonates the inflicted pain that false prophets harbor, perpetuating cycles of spiritual anguish and disillusionment among the faithful. Here, Depeche Mode doesn’t just critique; they forge a communal response to provocation, etched in memorable melody.

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