“No Gods No Masters” by Garbage
From the onset, the first thing that jumps out is the anarchical undertone of the title (“No Gods No Masters”. However, as expounded upon within the lyrics, this doesn’t necessarily read like a case of the vocalist forsaking authority.
Yes, it can be ascertained, based on a statement made in the second verse for instance, that she doesn’t have a high regard for authority figures nor religious institutions and things of the such. But the lyrics aren’t so much about damning the powers that be.
Rather the sentiment being expressed is advisory in tone, instructing us to stay on top of our own matters, as such entities cannot be relied upon.
Or put differently, the narrator is able to perceive that her future will not be determined by such figures. It doesn’t matter what a politician or pastor or teacher or rabbi may say. She’s going to “make all the same mistakes” regardless.
Your Destiny is in your Hand
Or viewed alternatively, she is able to ascertain that her destiny is in her own hands, not anyone else’s. Therefore it is up to her to put her best foot forward, i.e. living a life whereas she is “kind” but cautious, and “good” as well as “brave”.
And then beyond that, there are of course forces outside of her control which she just must “accept”, as “nothing lasts, and no one stays” forever. And in the bridge especially, she appears to be espousing an ideology of interpersonal love.
But all of that noted, in terms of her discontent with the powers that be, that is how the narrative reads on the surface. And maybe, judging by Shirley Manson’s description of the song, what she is actually relaying is the opposite.
Based on this postulation, she is not speaking on her own behalf but rather portraying a character. And it is not that she is biggin’ up the anti-authority disposition as described above. Rather she is mocking this person, if you will, for not having any authority or discipline in his or her life.
Indeed adopting such a mind state is manifest in her “(making) all the same mistakes over and over again”, which of course isn’t a good thing.
What “No Gods No Masters” appears to be about
So based on this understanding, “No Gods No Masters” would actually be dual-themed. On one hand it’s speaking to the concept of continually making the same mistakes. And on the other it is calling on us, on a societal level as described, to stop blindly making these mistakes in the name of edifying the future for “all our friends… lovers (and) babies”.
Or something like that. Perhaps we won’t really know what’s going on until the entire No Gods No Masters project drops. Then we’ll have a more definitive idea of where Garbage is coming from, in regards to politics and religion and what have you, at this point in their career.
Facts about “No Gods No Masters”
This is the title track from Garbage’s seventh-studio album. It is also the second single from that project, coming out via Stunvolume and Infectious Music on 28 April 2021, about a month prior to the scheduled release date of the album itself.
The first single released from the No Gods No Masters album was “The Men Who Rule the World“, which transpired in March of 2021.
“No Gods No Masters” is the first album which Garbage has put out in nearly five years. Their last effort prior to this was “Strange Little Birds”, which came out during June of 2016.
Garbage is a rock band from Madison, Wisconsin. They formed during the early-1990s, and as of the release of this track, despite taking a year off here and there, the band’s membership remains that same. And that would be frontwoman Shirley Manson, drummer Butch Vig, guitarist Duke Erikson and guitarist Steve Marker.
As a band, Garbage is credited with writing and co-producing this track. And the other producer is one of their regular collaborators, Billy Bush.
Since the onset of the 2010s Garbage has not been as slappin’ as they were in days past. But during the 1990s and early-2000s they put out a string of hits. As far as the Billboard Hot 100 goes, their best-received single to date was 1996’s “Stupid Girl“, which peaked at number 24.
That track also marks the highest the band has ever made it on the UK Singles Chart, reaching a more impressive number 4 on the United Kingdom’s ranking. And that particular tune has also been certified silver across the pond.
Garbage has also earned the distinction of once topping a Billboard list. And that was via their 1997 track #1 Crush, which reached the pinnacle of the Alternative Songs chart.