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Monday, July 11, 2005

"When God Made Me" Lyrics

live8-neil-young-god.jpg
Neil Young sings "When God Made Me"
"Did God give me my voice so that others could silence me?"


UPDATE 9/10/05 - Neil Young Performs "When God Made Me" on "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast".

UPDATE 8/1/05 - An incredible volume of comments have been posted on this article. Scroll down for reader reaction.

Here are the lyrics for the new Neil Young song "When God Made Me" from Sharry (Up in T.O. keepin' jive alive) posted on Rust:
WHEN GOD MADE ME

Was he thinking about my country,
or the colour of my skin?
Was he thinking about my religion,
and the way I worshipped him?
Did he create just me in his image,
or every living thing?

When God made me.
When God made me.

Was he planning only for believers,
or for those who just had faith?
Did he envision all wars
that were fought in his name?
Did he say there was only one way
to be close to him?

When God made me.
When God made me.

Did he give me the gift of love
to say who I could choose?

When God made me.
When God made me.
When God made me.

Did he give me the gift of voice
so some could silence me?
Did he give me the gift of vision
not knowing what I might see?
Did he give me the gift of compassion
to help my fellow man?

When God made me.
When God made me.
When God made me.


The lyrics are ripe for interpretation. And everybody likes to analyze Neil's song meanings.

At first glance, certainly not Neil's most obtuse lyrics like ""And I saw you in my nightmares, but I'll see you in my dreams" but more like the enigmatic lyrics "What is the color when black is burned?".

On second glance there is a lot going on here. Start with the gospel choir-like Fisk University Jubilee Singers. The student vocalists introduced "slave songs" to the world and, in many opinions, preserved this music from extinction. So Neil has not embarked on some light-hearted exercise here as many seem to believe.
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Neil and the Fisk University Jubilee Choir

From the comments below:
"Musically this is a nice song, but in terms of lyrics it's a different story. Lennon's song "Imagine" was quite unambiguous.

Young's is totally ambiguous, asking ten questions, but giving no answers. You might think the answers are all obvious, and so might I, but I doubt we agree on what those obvious answers are. Is that the beauty of this song, or its evil side?"

An interesting exercise to answer Neil's questions laid out starkly in the deceptively simple lyrics.

Others question Neil's motives. For example, on Get Religion, Douglas LeBlanc writes rather absurdly and demonstrates a complete lack of lyrical analysis -- much less christian-like empathy:
"For a few decades now, John Lennon’s “Imagine” has served as a secularist hymn. From the end of The Killing Fields to the post-9/11 America: A Tribute to Heroes broadcast, “Imagine” has been there to tell us that the world could be so much more pleasant if only everyone were inclusive enough to set aside what they believe about God, the afterlife and other trivial matters.

Neil Young played “Imagine” on America: A Tribute to Heroes, and now he’s written a song that could join it in the pantheon of believer-bashing hymns.
---
You’ll likely hear “When God Made Me” many times in the coming decades, especially at elementary schools’ winter holiday festivals and weddings that favor vows custom-written by the bride and groom."

ECJ responds to the above post on Get Religion:
“The implied answer to every rhetorical question was ‘No.’ The song is a denial of both explicit revelation, and Exclusive Truth.

“Was He planning only for believers or for those who just have faith?”


He divides belief from faith, thus implicitly asserting that faith is more important than the object of the faith. Have faith in what? Can you have faith in God and yet disbelieve? Yes, you can, if what you disbelieve is the exclusive doctrine rooted in Revelation which demands conformity. If God is silent and we are all just struggling in the dark to find Him, then each man can follow whatever faith he thinks up in his own mind. Who is to question him?

“Did He envision all the wars that were fought in His name?.”

Since having faith is what is important, and not any specific content for that faith, then why should anyone fight over it? In essense he argues that the exclusive religious belief is dangerous because it leads people to fight. Of course, the important question is whether this exclusive belief is true. But he has already answered that in the previous line.

“Did He say there was only one way to be close to Him?”

This is the penultimate question. Is it true that God has revealed Himself through only one religion? Was Jesus lying or deceived or mistaken when He said “If you do not believe that I Am, you will die in your sins.” Place the question in the context of the previous two lines, and you see how the song frames the question.

This just scratches the surface. I could have just as easily focused on Providence. Or Sovereignty. I took the song and the artist seriously. And I think this is a reasonable and fair rendering of its meaning. It has nothing to do with grace and election. It presents a Theology of uncertainty - a god lost within the haze who knows nothing of holiness, and speaks with no clear voice."

In an interview with The New York Times by Jon Pareles, Young commented:
"I feel like our religion and our faith have been hijacked.

What is bothering me the most is the misappropriation of religion and faith, the misuse of God and the house of worship. It's one faith with different people trying to express it in different ways. It's all about being the little guy in the big world."

In an interview in Rolling Stone magazine by Alec Wilkerson:
"Young has a seeker's sensitivity, a susceptibility to impressions received in passing or only half-clearly. The hymn "When God Made Me" is deeply subversive. It is meant to unsettle those ardent believers whose certainty of holiness makes them feel they can abusively enforce their beliefs on the rest of the world.

"I was asking questions about faith," Young says. "But one kept evading me. I couldn't figure out what the last question was."

Not until Young realized that the recording studio was actually in a former church, was he able to complete the song.

From A churchless song: “When God Made Me” - Church of the Churchless:
"The way I see “When God Made Me,” it offers a glimpse of how much better religions would be if their focus was on asking questions that didn’t have ready-made dogmatic answers.

I’m going to make it the Church of the Churchless theme song."
Lastly, I agree with Wilco's lyrics from "A Ghost is Born": "Theologians, you don't know nothing about my soul".

More on the Live8 concert finale by Neil Young performing "Rockin' in the Free World and the Live8 concert highlights. Also, .

UPDATE 9/10/05 - Neil Young Performs "When God Made Me" on "Shelter From the Storm: A Concert for the Gulf Coast".

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78 Comments:

At 7/11/2005 08:47:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the lyrics. Very interesting and relevant.
And Thank You, Neil for the words to consider!

 
At 7/11/2005 09:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I read about this song on the Get Religion blog and was intrigued by the parallels to Lennon's "Imagine".
Who would ever think that Neil Young would come up with a song to potentially challenge Lennon's?
Not me.
love to all,
Chad

 
At 7/12/2005 11:08:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow. False dillemas, every line.

 
At 7/12/2005 11:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thrasher,
I agree with your assessment earlier that Neil's new song "WGMM" has the potential to rank with Lennon's "Imagine".

It's not often a song brings a tear to my eye.
Gabriella

 
At 7/13/2005 10:40:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yuck... Pedestrian lyrics... Perhaps neil's worst song to date.

 
At 7/13/2005 03:25:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Musically this is a nice song,
but in terms of lyrics it's a
different story.

Lennon's song was quite unambiguous.

Young's is totally ambiguous,
asking ten questions,
but giving no answers.

You might think the answers are
all obvious, and so might I,
but I doubt we agree on what
those obvious answers are.

Is that the beauty of this song,
or its evil side?

 
At 7/13/2005 04:03:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil compared to Lennon? This "song" especially???

Get a grip rusted ones!!!

I can't agree more that this is one of Neil's more "pedestrian" songs. The lyrics are weak and obvious. This is in NO WAY among the best Neil has to offer. If it is, I for one say it is time for the archives and retirement.

Stay well and eat a peach Neil.

 
At 7/14/2005 10:45:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I personally like 'When God Made Me'. However, I find the song more compariable to Lennon's 'God' than to 'Imagine'. Also, XTC's 'Dear God' comes to mind.

PS. Glad to know that Neil is feeling better--I LOVE HIM.

 
At 7/30/2005 01:26:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

On Rate Your Music - Neil Young's new song 'When God made me', groonrikk writes:
"What was really remarkable was Young being accompanied by The Fisk University Jubilee Singers.

This is a choral group which has existed since the late 1800s. They were about the first African American ensemble to perform serious music for American audiences, and - most importantly - to be treated with respect by white audiences.

It was really cool of Young to have these singers on a Canadian stage and to perform before a big pop audience. But I'm not sure if very many even knew who the Fisk Singers were."

 
At 8/11/2005 04:43:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does anyone have the chords used for "When God Made Me"?

tim@songcatchermusic.com

 
At 8/20/2005 03:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Really sad to see Young become like this. Neil Young a creationist! Who would have thought!

 
At 9/09/2005 08:39:00 PM, Blogger drew said...

neil is on a journey to the saving grace of Jesus Christ....pray for him

 
At 9/09/2005 08:57:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's easy to see the comparison to Lennon, but an even stronger comparison can be made to the cynicism in Dylan's With God On Our Side, which lulls us into an unchallenged acceptance of religion before pushing us to question everything we've ever been taught.

 
At 9/09/2005 10:52:00 PM, Anonymous Peter VanDusartz said...

A beautiful song, lyrics and melody, which embodies the heartfelt surge that is mounting in America's conscience to challenge the overbearing sentiments of the religious right that have been choking the compassion of this country. This song fills my heart with hope that once again we will know that the power of God is love.

 
At 9/09/2005 11:46:00 PM, Anonymous Ross said...

I smell fundamentalists chiming in as if they were fans, critics, anything but what they really are. Declare yourselves you cowards and stop sliming around the Internet like like undercover slugs.

 
At 9/10/2005 12:27:00 AM, Anonymous Goodlife said...

Hearing "When God Made Me" caused me to flip on the computer and "google" looking for the lyrics. I am a believer ... but not a part of the fundamentalist right. This is a song which touches my inner spirit. I hope many will hear its message, and think deeply about who they are underneath the encumberances of their everyday life.

 
At 9/10/2005 03:13:00 PM, Anonymous fldebs said...

Neil is one of a kind. His voice and lyrics sent a chill up my spine.I am so glad he is OK and cant wait to hear his new cd. Luv ya Neil

 
At 9/10/2005 08:07:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm happy to see someone finally stepping up to the plate against the fundementalist BS, this song is incredible, I think baby Bush needs to have a listen and meditate on it for a while. I'm not a Christian but was very touched my his sentiment! People are so afriad to talk about God, it's ok people!

 
At 9/11/2005 02:27:00 PM, Blogger TRUE BLUE said...

Only a cynic would parse Neil Young's Spartan masterpiece. Only a fool would miss the point. As for comparisons to Lennon's "Imagine", “Isn’t it a Pity?” : “say the word, the word is ….”absurd'. “In the beginning there was the word…”

IF...God Made US....and here is the revelation: 'We' embody the collective consciousness ( the manifestation of God AS 'a concept' ) through our existence. As such we are each and every 'one' of 'us' responsible for each and every 'other' of 'us'. To the extent we fail, God fails. Here endeth the lesson.

Alternatively it could be argued, from an existentialist viewpoint, that we are no more responsible than any one component of the universal matrix is to any other, be it animal, vegetable, or mineral. However there is an ‘a priori’ relationship between cause and consequence. As Einstein stated “Man has lost the ability to foresee and forestall….and it will be his ruin”. Well, maybe, but not all have lost this ability….

As we breathe the dust from that tragic moment 4 years ago, so will the rain from Katrina fall upon our skins - and it will be 'a hard rain': Will it 'wash us clean'...will we ever 'know'? As for a final song metaphor: “the fate of all mankind I fear, is in the hands of fools”…. the world cannot continue to be held hostage by the likes of those who do not practice what they preach....and so I say: IMPEACH…

It is a damnation of our humanity that we equate the right of free expression with the lowest common denominator of collective ignorance, and then pass it of as being democratic. I'm however humbly reminded of Andrew Lloyd Weber's line spoken by Pontius Pilate in "Jesus Christ Superstar": "We both have truths - are mine the same as yours? And there you have the ultimate Catch-22 (Article 9) or as the French say the viscous circle. I say back to square one….

 
At 9/11/2005 02:45:00 PM, Blogger Prince of Perksia said...

I'd rather blast rock out to Kanye West's "Jesus Talks" any given day.

 
At 9/11/2005 05:39:00 PM, Anonymous ElliMil said...

Fascinating to me that this song seems to be interpreted very differently by people with various belief systems. As a Christian believer, I was touched deeply by this songs' plaintive, honest questioner.

(I sort of laughed at a couple of comments here that suggested that believers don't question.)

I believe that God is big enough for all of my most difficult questions. Read some Schaeffer, C.S. Lews, G.K. Chesterton, Ecclesiastes, Job, Lamentations...all are about doubt, the nature of God etc.

(Some of my questions are answered--for instance when I read Kenneth R. Miller, Robert Jastrow, Michael Behe, Charles Townes, Lee Strobel, Brian Greene.)

A crisis of Faith is often part of, or even crucial to, spiritual growth. To me, Neil Young's song is the song of a seeker, not an indictment of belief.

"The farther we go, the more the ultimate explanation recedes from us, and all we have left is faith."
--Mathematician Vaclav Hlavaty, colleague of Einstein

"The opposite of faith is not doubt...it is certainty." Anne Lamott

 
At 9/12/2005 09:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

yes, its okay to talk about God and we have the right to speak of Him freely, but when you speak so freely about Him, you'd better be speaking truth. I am afraid Mr. Young has it all wrong. God is not who we want Him to be, He is who He says He is. This song seems to be a picture of what liberals hope God is. Get a clue.

 
At 9/12/2005 05:30:00 PM, Blogger Hermana mia said...

"a picture of what liberals hope God is"?

If your god isn't the source of unconditional love and acceptance; if your god isn't our ability to love one another as fellow souls in this world, then I don't want your god-I refuse to believe in a god of hate, selfishness and denial.

For me this song captures the singer's denial of the many limiting and exclusionary conditions that various humans (in all the religions) have placed on the divine love of god.

Each repetition of the line "when god made me" is a denial of such limitations (listed as questions), since the singer could be anyone (not just Neil!) of any color, religion, nationalality, etc. affirming their emergence from god.

 
At 9/13/2005 02:39:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am an older Christian who was deeply moved by the song sung for "Shelter from the Storm," as I heard many voices--the Katrina victims reaching out to God, Christians and others recognizing that they have failed God in this rescue effort, and feeling hope and peace as we know Love is unconditional and a VERB.

 
At 9/15/2005 08:13:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone said Lennon wanted no God, and Neil figures God is a unitarian universalist. Well Neil is great because he acknowledges that there is "something" beyond what science can tell us, that there is a "greater force", but he challenges those who are trying to use this reality to manipulate people and serve their own selfish agenda. On one hand, everything we experience in the world is processed by the brain, so "it's all in our heads", and on the other hand, saying there's a Creator who created everything doesn't solve anything. If everything needs a Creator, who created the Creator?

Neil perfectly captures that ambiguity, and that's always been his style and his forte.

 
At 9/16/2005 05:15:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was just speaking with a friend who has in recent years also come to love Neil Young and he said he did not like the song as it sounded like Neil had become a born-again Christian. (acknowledging that he hasn't conducted a major analysis of the lyrics).

Have to say I had not had time as such until this comment to consider what the message was. my instant reaction was that it was the opposite. A call to the hypocrites in power who cite "in God We Trust" yet don't really care at all for the plight of the starving in Africa. If they really believed in God, why would they not spend all their riches simply solving this most basic of humanitarian needs? Beyond that, a firm denial of all religion. How could such suffering exist in a world if 'God' existed? Look at the context in which he sang it first (Live8). The only performer around the whole world in Live8 to sing a new song. Any chance he wrote it as a message for that day? And tehn performed in face of such suffering and racism after NO?

After all that, a clever song lyrically, but is not a never will be a patch on Imagine. Not one of Neil's even good songs musically.

Keep on rockin in the free world

 
At 9/18/2005 01:24:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Someone here has asked, "How could such suffering exist in a world if 'God' existed?" That does seem to be one of the most difficult questions Neil Young poses as well. I think, basically, God has created humans with free will. Since we have free will, we are free to love or hate. We are free to do good or do evil. I am personally someone who believes that goodness is real, and evil is real, and that suffering comes from evil, and love is the antidote to suffering. If God created us without free will, we might not choose to hate, but then love would not be love, because love not freely given is, actually, I don't know what that would be! Love is the antidote to suffering. (Think Mother Theresa, for instance.)

 
At 9/18/2005 01:47:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You guys read way too much into these lyrics.

Maybe Neil is just singing his usual tune about how corrupt the world is and how "when God made (him)," he wasn't censored or discriminated against or any of these things he sings about.

Neil is singing about how pure people are when they are born. It all changes for the worse, but when God made us we were perfect.

 
At 9/20/2005 04:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This last comment is kind of funny. The poster serves up a critcism of how other folks are "reading too much" into the lyrics, then goes on to describe an equally personal take on the lyrics. That is what good lyrics do--they speak to us in a personal way!

 
At 9/20/2005 11:51:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This song has made me cry every time I've heard it. I've been seeking faith my whole life -- this song gets me closer so I wonder if Neil is God's messenger to me and others like me -- the hater Christian comments herein are extremely offputting -- the questions are what we should be asking -- I'll wait for God's answer not your insults -- God is love not hate.

 
At 9/20/2005 11:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ellimil is correct -- in fact true believers MUST QUESTION.
To presume to KNOW is to presume Godlike powers for ourselves. A mistake made by many who think themselves Christian, who've forgotten how the devil works. Neil has avoided satan's trap a lot better than many of the commenters here. What if God loves liberals?

 
At 9/22/2005 02:48:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What "liberals hope God is" is this...yes we all want to cling to the anthem, "God is love" well, yes God loves everyone. But dont use that fact as a crutch to live your life however you please. God is all loving, but that doesnt mean he accepts everything we do and believe in. God is God for a reason. He is not wishy washy accepting everything and every lifestyle presented to Him. He is very clear about what He wants from us. A clean life. Not a liberal life. God is not an anything goes God. Stop trying to mold God into what you want Him to be just so you can ease your conscience about your lifestyle. Like I said before, God is not what we want Him to be, He is who He says He is. Stop trying to act and assume that you know who God is, read the book He wrote if you want to really know. Or are you afraid of what you will find? Some people really need some toes stepped on. It must be nice to live in a pink fluffy world being able to do and think whatever you please in the name of liberalism and never have to worry about the fact that you are living a life of disobedience to your creator.

 
At 9/22/2005 05:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Folks,

Keep in consideration that Neil Young is a musician and an entertainer. He may very well have kept his real thoughts on God to himself, and set these lyrics to music and released them downstream to either collect as silt and drop to the bottom of the riverbed, or spawn and mulitply farther along.

Either way, Neil has once again stirred the muddy waters of controversy.

And no matter what side you take, or what your reaction is, the fact remains that Neil knows how to spark a debate.

Matt Mickey

 
At 9/23/2005 06:22:00 PM, Anonymous EllieMil said...

Though I am a beliver who is a reader of the Bible, I just want to weigh in as one Christian who wouldn't recommend adopting the angry, sarcastic tone of one of our anonymous posters here. Yes, as s/he says, "read the book", but just because you've read the book, doesn't mean an angry diatribe against someone who may not yet have done so is warranted. That is not what my savior did when He got here ;) (And, by the way, Anonymous, your politics assume too much. As columnist Donna Britt recently wrote in a Soujourners article, "Confessions of a Blue State Christian", family values and a God-centered life are not just Republican concerns or goals.)

 
At 9/23/2005 07:22:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There was a good interview with Neil Young last Saturday on NPR's Weekend Edition (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=4850911). Scott Simon asks him where this song came from. Neil says, unbeknownst to him at the time, the recording studio where the song was created had been a famous church in the civil war (?) era, but the facade had been covered up.

 
At 9/23/2005 09:09:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Probably the only person who can give us the true meaning is Neil. I think the true joy in music is being able to take a song and disect it a thousand ways but in the end you use the meaning that suites you at that point in your life.

Neil has never conformed to the mainstream so why would he now.

Hope a tour comes soon!

Scott B.

 
At 9/28/2005 08:04:00 AM, Anonymous Phimister said...

I think Neil's song is a message to all those people acroos the US (and abroad) who preach certain supposedly moral values and condemn all other ways of life, using God as a shield for their bigotry. I'm talking about the anti-gays, anti-abortionists, anti-woman's lib, anti-muslims people. I think Neil's view is that all people are different. Does it matter to God if someone is gay? How could it, if He is meant to be about love? Does God really care that I (like Neil, I think) am an unbeliever? If He is love, then I doubt it. Does he care if someone in Irak prays to Allah and Mohammed and not Jesus? No. Does he care about the color of people's skin? No. Does God care if people are violently patriotic, the way Bush says they should be? No. Whether God exists or not is a moot point, it all comes down to belief. And what Neil (and I) can't believe is that people can honestly use God as a means of preaching hatred, and get away with it.

 
At 9/29/2005 08:30:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

...you can take the Kerry/Edwards bumper sticker off of your car now..... Unless you are still waiting for the Ohio recount....

If God was real, he wouldn't have made Neil so ugly (relax it's a joke!)

Seriously though, as a long time Neil fan and Christian, I think he should stick to subject matter that he knows (simplicity of life, indians and drugs) rather than theology.

This song is Neil's self righteousness coming through, just like every comment on this blog is revealing of our own standards of righteousness (myself included). The problem is, no one takes the time to consider God's standard of righteousness.

Can't we all just get along....The very fact that there are so many different people on this blog speaks to the appeal of Neil's music.

When I'm riding in my truck with my kids listening to "Daddy went Walking" I don't have to think about politics or what mankind has done in the name of religion.

I just hope some of you realize that not all Christians are like you make them out to be.

 
At 9/30/2005 09:27:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hoo-Wee
Reading thru all these comments, about half the commenters seem to embrace Christianity as a protection racket. Unless they are God, in which case I apologize and be forgiveness, I think they need to reread the Book. Jesus isn't a mean, narrow-minded bigot and he provides many paths home. Or so I've been taught.

 
At 10/07/2005 06:29:00 PM, Blogger Zuma76 said...

I wonder if Neil ever watches Arnold Murray of Shepherd's Chapel in Gravette Arkansas? He might figure it out then ; )

 
At 10/11/2005 12:45:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is an incredible song because of what Neil achieves with the lyrics and music combined. It is a warm melody and rendition, so you can't say that Neil is out to argue. The song is disarming because of its plaintive melody and questioning. It makes you ask: can God who is so great and so gracious really be as limiting as we humans often make him out to be?

The song also celebrates the incredible diversity of persons that God created and the wonderful gifts God gave to each person and asks what those gifts are meant to be used for. It also asks why don't we cherish these gifts in the way they were meant to be used?

I'm a Christian myself and I'm sorry to see how some feel the need to peg this as a Christian or non-Christian song. Listen to the music first and let its honest questions move you.

Togu Oppusunggu

 
At 10/27/2005 10:02:00 PM, Blogger 2581 said...

A great songwriter - like Neil, Dylan & Leonard Cohen - doesn't directly answer every question for us... Their lyrics might mean different things to different folks - and rightly so...

 
At 11/05/2005 01:34:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Neil has written the hymn for the 21st centery.

 
At 11/05/2005 02:05:00 AM, Anonymous Floyd Miller said...

I am getting sick and tired of those who feel that liberal politics and Christianity are mutually exclusive. Those who feel that way have not read the Gospels, the Book of Acts and James. In Acts Chapter 2:44-45, we see the only true Socialist society in the history of mankind, "All the believers were together and had everything in common. Selling their possessions and goods, they gave to anyoine as he had need." Then there is the famous line spoken by Christ himself in Mark 10:25,"It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." And in the Book of James, who was the brother of the Savior,there are the following:
"...have you not discriminated among yourselves and become judges with evil thoughts?" (2:4), "But you have insulted the poor. Is it not the rich who are exploiting you? Are they not the ones who are dragging you into court?" (2:6), "But if you show favoritism, you sin and are convicted by the law as lawbreakers." (2:9). The alleged religious right favor the rich through the Republican party and act as Pharisees. Remember, the Pharisees mixed church and state and grew rich from doing so. And Christ called them a "brood of vipers". So are the Calvinists of today. Calvin preached that the rich were that way because they were blessed by God and that the poor were that way because they sinned and were being punished. This is totally in opposition to what Christ taught. At any rate, our Pledge of Allegiance was written by a Christian Socialist, Joseph Bellamy, who was a Baptist minister. His brother Edward wrote a book that should be required reading, Looking Backward, that equates socialism with Christianity. In fact, Roosevelt's New Deal that Bush has been systematically destroying, was a realization of the Social Gospel embraced buy liberals and fundamentalist Christians in the early 20th Century; Roosevelt even defined how the New Deal was Christianity put into practice. God does not tell CHeney to give all government contracts to Halliburton. God does not tell Bush to destroy Social Security. God does not tell Rove and Libby to out CIA agents. God does not tell Dobson to call a cartoon character gay. How many people have these guys and Falwell brought to Christ? Thgey have probably chased more people away. Billy Graham, however, believes in the verses quoted and includes all in his message. And thousands come forward at his crusades. Neil Young raises valid questions. We are being deceived by the conservatives and the Devil himself is laughing as he collects their souls.

 
At 11/10/2005 05:27:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

hi! while i have always enjoyed neils music this songs lyrics ask a question that id like to respond to,.youngs song ask if god has only one way to be close to him.i think the anwser to this is found in the 14th chapter,6th verse of the gospel of john. jesus said to them "i am the way,and the truth,and the life; NO ONE COMES TO THE FATHER,BUT THROUGH ME

 
At 11/12/2005 08:32:00 AM, Blogger Tim Taber said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11/12/2005 08:35:00 AM, Blogger Tim Taber said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At 11/12/2005 08:35:00 AM, Blogger Tim Taber said...

I listen to this song last night on Late Night and I fell in love with it. It reminds me of Bob Dylan's Song " God on our Side". Asking simple questions which we really dont know the answer. Its a thinking man's song. I really admire Mr. Young. You keep on rockin in the free world

Tim

 
At 11/12/2005 09:43:00 AM, Anonymous Siena54 said...

11/12/05 6:00AM

I am a die-hard Baby Boomer, raised on the ORIGINAL rock n roll born the same yr as me- 1954. I've been a Neil Young fan since he first appeared on the scene around 67-68. I'm a little late to the table here for this discussion on WHEN GOD MADE ME. I came across this Blog while searching for the lyrics to WGMM to print out. I just heard the song for the first time on Conan the week of Nov 1-4, and it's been on my mind constantly since then. (And wasnt it AWESOME that Neil spent the entire WEEK with Conan?) I never miss Conan & I think it's great that his show is repeated the following week from 2:05A to 3:00 (with 5 minutes cut out). I decided to tape all of Neil's performances on the repeats of Conan's show this week. SO VERY GLAD I DID. A classic performance by a CLASSIC & gifted artist to be kept forever! I really liked all of his songs from his new CD, but WGMM moved me to tears. I instantly "knew" the lyrics and instinctually was able to sing along at first listen. This song connected with me on some kind of higher plane, that is for sure. Most here on this Blog have said all there is to say and have written very insightful and introspective comments. One song, however, that was not mentioned that is along the same line is Dylan's "Blowin' In The Wind." This song also contains deep questions with no clear answers (the answers COULD be found if somehow humans could be rid of greed, selfishness, dishonesty and a "me first and only" attitude). I personally love WGMM and is now among my favorite songs of all times. I have studied religion, sprituality and the nature of faith, been an active member of several Christian denominations, pursued Buddhism and to some extent, Hinduism. I was raised as a "Trent" Catholic but left the Church in 1972. I returned to my faith and religion (Catholicism) in 1990 and am quite content there & in my faith journey. I feel that WGMM speaks to EVERYONE, no matter what their personal belief system is. I, of course, interpret the song on a very personal level as both a Catholic Christian and as one who has had many "crises of faith" in my life. The 10 questions raised are timeless and until there are clear cut answers, these questions need to be before us at all times, not only to guide us on our journey of life but to remind us to treat our fellow "man" with dignity and respect. Some here have stated WGMM is a superficial song, among many other varied & interesting comments. I must disagree. WGMM is pure genius. I think I most agree with the comments made on 9/11 by EliiMil. Well stated in my opinion. I can never say this enough: "Keep on Rockin' In The Free World."

 
At 11/12/2005 04:42:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

For starters, let's cope with the comment: "God is not Who we want Him to Be, He Is Who He says He Is" (grammatical edits mine). I agree, God is not Who we want Him to Be (never mind that God is not a "He", but an "It"- sorry, two thousand years later we are ready to embrace something other than the childish notion of a parent/child relationship). Literal interpretations of biblical depictions notwithstanding, no one can lay claim to the knowledge of Who God Is. To date, God has not whispered in my ear, nor do I suspect It has whispered in the ears of any contemporary of note, and if It has, surely we are unaware. Besides, regardless of the nature of God, It is the Creator of every one and every thing. I don't believe in a blanket permission to live a life which is free of consequence, the law of cause and effect is no respecter of persons. But I also believe in a God which is Love, and Love has no place for derision from any quarter ("Love and only love will endure. Hate is every thing you think it is. Love and only love will break it down. Love and only love"). I don’t know about a lot of things, that’s what faith is all about. But faith in what is the relevant question. We’ve yet to see who is missing the mark, and who isn’t. How’s that for moral relativism? To be critical is not to hate, but when criticism emanates from an attitude of "I'm right, your wrong", it's just not helpful.

Another comment: "He is asking questions". Exactly. All you Neil Young fans out there, are you always so sure of the distinction between the persona adopted, as against Neil's real sentiments? Like the "Support Our War" slogan from Greendale, "When God Made Me" is tailor made to evoke the very sentiments, polar opposites and everything in between, enunciated in all the posts previous to mine.

Excellent, we are all thinking! Just what Neil was hoping for. My suspicion is that Neil is leaning toward a more caustic interpretation of religiosity, and it's juxtaposition to current events, but suspicions are just that. Having said this, I really like the comment: "... he acknowledges that there is 'something' beyond what science can tell us, that there is a 'greater force', but he challenges those who are trying to use this reality to manipulate people and serve their own selfish agenda."

But most of all I like this comment: "This song really makes you think why you are in this world... We are in this world for a noble purpose...and God had a very good reason to make you see your life in this world." This is so beautiful, and exactly the instigation of my most private thoughts, and maybe Neil's I suspect. Just a guess of course, but I bet it's got you thinking. Thinking- it always gets back to thinking...

If "When God Made Me" serves as a stimulus to soul searching, and an honest assessment of how demagogues of all stripes attempt and all too often succeed at manipulation, a purpose has been served, regardless of Neil's intent. I think he's fine with it. Greg

 
At 11/14/2005 02:50:00 PM, Blogger Thrasher said...

Reposted due to format error At 10/01/2005 06:54:49 AM, Anonymous said...

Stop overanalyzing every detail, listen, and learn. Neil Young ROCKS--at least for the last forty-five years I can remember!!! How can people be so unkind? We are our brothers keeper(sisters,children,parents,grandparents,
nieces,nephews,greatgrandparents,stepchildren,
stepparents,neighbors,neighbors-neighbors-ect!!!) Get the picture? Are we not -- all in this together???

 
At 11/16/2005 06:54:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

FRANKNOTE:

"I feel like our religion and our faith have been hijacked.

What is bothering me the most is the misappropriation of religion and faith, the misuse of God and the house of worship. It's one faith with different people trying to express it in different ways. It's all about being the little guy in the big world."

[The above are quotes from a Neil Young interview with the New York Times]

I was fortunate enough to catch Neil's recent performances on "Late Night with Conan O'Brien" during the first week of November. It occurred to me while listening to Neil, that throughout my life as an American, musicians and entertainers have normally provided the positive, ethical, and spiritual guidance and inspiration...
...while our ever deteriorating political and religious leaders have become nothing but negative, unethical, hateful, examples of ignorance and greed.
- Frank

 
At 11/21/2005 06:28:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In a piece titled "Build Your Own Box Set, 2005," in this month's Esquire, Andy Langer leads disc two ("For Rediscovering Your Soul"), with Neil Young's "When God Made Me," of which he explains, "This intelligently designed hymn isn't quite 'Imagine,' but it's much closer in spirit than most."

 
At 11/23/2005 09:12:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The song reminded me of an article I wrote three years ago about the dangers of fundamentalist religious groups who use any means to force their will on everyone else.


THE TALIBAN, AL QUAEDA & CHRISTIAN EXTREMISTS
THREE PEAS IN A POD

I really don't see much difference between the Taliban regime that is gaining new strength in Afghanistan, Al Quaeda radicals, and Christian extremists, except that Christians have killed far more innocent people through history. Christian extremists are just as radical as the Taliban or members of Al Quaeda.

NOTE: 'Average' Christians are fine people, but the extremists in their religion are no different from thugs in Al Quaeda or the Taliban. And since Bush is using religion to dupe the religious right into supporting him, then Bush is as bad as any Taliban leader.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want a state-mandated religion, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want the ten commandments in every public building, just like the Taliban want their doctrines forced on people.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want religious indoctrination of every child born, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want their wives to be totally subservient, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want women to be voiceless second class people, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians are intolerant of anyone who does not act as they do, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want to censor everything on the radio, television, and print media, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want ALL of the people's money to go to buying weapons and to a handful of the rich instead of helping the infrastructure of the country or the people, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want a person in office selected by a handful of party henchmen, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want to strip personal freedoms away from the people, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians think their party is the only party of God, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want to erode civil liberties because they people's rights threaten their agenda, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians will use any means to achieve their illicit goals, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want to invade people's bedrooms, bodies, minds, and even souls, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians pray to their god of money, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want a religion-dominated society, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want their country to be a two class society, one with all the possessions and the other poor, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians use manipulation of others to achieve their goals, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians want to kill thousands or millions just to get a handful of guilty people, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians are the biggest hypocrites in the world, just like the Taliban.

• Right Wing Republican Christians will one day be just another extinct organization, just like the Taliban.


There are so many similarities between Christian extremists and the Taliban that it is scary.

 
At 12/13/2005 12:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Just heard it. Wow! Love it for every reason mentioned on this site. Time we all started talkin"

 
At 12/14/2005 06:21:00 PM, Blogger pochohantas7680 said...

funny how lennon's death was very tragic for me. I did have a dream of John before his death, it was a beautiful dream of Yoko calling John in an Oriental fish Pond. The few days prior, i yelled out my Sons name 3 times. I got his name from Sean Lennon. Neil Young to me is like a Van Goh of musician. He challege himself and others. I have a friend who dont buy the music we all know,and he made some flops. But if you really listen to his music, whether it is Hurricane or Mansion on the hill during the time he really wanted to collaberate music with The Charles Manson, till he saw what Carnage he has done. I am bi-polar, and listening to his music whether it was during the dark moments of his life, Quote"There is an inbalance in my body, i can feel it all the Time. Now for those who knows what type of a man Neil was. Alot of Bi-Polars are the type who write, paint, poetry etc. what he felt at the moment. I am no were near religious, but maybe Neil had a message, And he wrote what he feels at the moment. it has been said he wrote it little before and rest after. I just feel he has such great concern for Humanity. I just dont understand this Lennon stuff. As i was a big fan of his, i was in college when he was shot. But imagine he wrote because he knew we needed more peace in The world, why do they compare Neil with copying ideas. like the song "Broken Arrow" with Albert Hall?? All i know, he is a beautiful caring man who sees more than most of us do, and his song 3 of them mostly bring tears to my eye.

 
At 12/28/2005 04:21:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"it sent chills up and down my spine"when i first heard neil sing this song on that show to benefit the "southern Man"-kind victimized by Hurricane Katrina....did God give Mr. Young the gift of voice so that after all this time of being silenced in the South, when they need a hand-out, they will let him finally be heard again?

 
At 1/12/2006 01:59:00 PM, Anonymous Peggy said...

This is one of the most beautiful songs Neil has ever written. He is reflecting and questioning his own beliefs. We can all take those same questions and decide what those answers are. They are personal questions with broad answers. There are no right and wrong or just one answer, its your own interpretation. Thank you for this album Neil. Keep creating.

 
At 2/05/2006 03:48:00 AM, Anonymous Jon G Braun said...

How can I sit here and read someone giving me the answers to this song... It's bullcrap... the answers given... let people interpet it themselves... plus.

 
At 3/22/2006 08:10:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rambles, Reviews and Rants: 03/01/2006 - 03/31/2006: "I was raised a Protestant Christian. I have embraced my faith and at times in my life been very passionate about it. Interestingly, the older I get the more I am moving away from truly believing in the doctrine of the Christian faith. I just cannot accept that the majority of the world is going to suffer in Hell for enternity because they do not 'know' Jesus or believe He is the Son of God. Why would God have taken the time to create such an intricate world and to give life to so many humans and creatures just to let their souls be damned? It seems too cruel and too simplistic to me. There are so many paths to all the great aspects of humanity that I believe God gave to us in His image for there to only be one path to God. How many ways are there to love in this world, be happy, find success, celebrate life and faith? Countless, countless ways. So, there must be countless ways to find God and hold Him in your heart. "

 
At 4/18/2006 06:51:00 AM, Blogger Jentleman_J said...

Years ago, I heard a great Neil Young song that (I think) included the words "going back to Boomtown". I have not been able to identify the song, so I am throwing down the gantlet to the internet community. Does anyone recognize this song?

 
At 4/30/2006 11:46:00 AM, Anonymous Barry said...

A very influencial and talented musician called Keith Green once said that when he was looking for meaning in his life he drew up a list of religions and guru's and he put Jesus on the bottom. He worked through his list and when he got to Jesus he found what he was looking for. Perhaps Neil is getting to the end of his list?

 
At 6/10/2006 03:29:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

You have to give it to Neil to provoke such strong emotions and responses with a simple song, asking simple human questions. I think its beautiful.

 
At 7/26/2006 03:02:00 PM, Anonymous POPPA said...

Searching for the true sprit? It is buried inside each one of us.. no need for dogma .. and there are many paths.. I thank Neil for sharing these words... and I thank my son for turning me on to this album.

 
At 8/16/2006 05:45:00 PM, Anonymous LaPostaRd said...

Mr. Young's simple lyrics on When God made me are part of what keep me listening, pierce my heartstrings, and keep me feeling like God is all around.
Thanks Neil

 
At 8/27/2006 12:14:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

When God Made Me by Neil Young (Prairie Wind) sja


Intro: C G F C F G C

C G F C
Was he thinking about my country,
F G C
or the color of my skin?
C G F C
Was he thinkin’ ‘bout my religion,
F G Am
and the way I worshipped him?
C E7 F
Did he create just me in his image,
C G C
or every living thing?

Chorus:
C G Am F
When God made me.
C G C
When God made me.

C G F C F G C

Was he planning only for believers,
or for those who just had faith?
Did he envision all the wars
that were fought in his name?
Did he think there was only one way
to be close to him?

When God made me.
When God made me.

C G F C F G C

F E7 F
Did he give us the gift of love
C D G
to say who we could choose?

When God made me.
When God made me.
When God made me.
When God made me.

Did he give me the gift of voice
so some could silence me?
Did he give me the gift of vision
not knowing what I might see?
Did he give me the gift of compassion
to help my fellow man?

When God made me.
When God made me.
When God made me.
When God made me.

 
At 10/20/2006 09:50:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sounds to me like the Young man is on a 'direction-seeking' journey which always begins with questions. Like those of us who have been given the answers, he will too if he wants to hear what most might call an "..inconvenient truth" regarding God. Seek and you will find..... Then the world will hear a different tune because Neill will be singing about a King.

 
At 12/25/2006 12:34:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

everyone these days are arguing about whose religion is the true religion. considering the blood-soaked histories of judaism, christianity, and islam, maybe the "one true god" isn't who you think it is!

 
At 4/28/2007 11:37:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

the way i see it is in the Bible it says "Speak the word of God and if you must use words." Something along those lines. I think that means as long as we love one another God knows we believe in Him wheter or not we say it. We preach it with our actions.

 
At 11/03/2007 11:23:00 PM, Anonymous Mantzouris said...

Rock On, My Brother, God Bless

 
At 2/03/2008 10:31:00 AM, Anonymous breck said...

I plan on using this as an athem at our church as soon as we can practice that. Copyright questions, I suppose, need to be addressed but this is a great hymn.

 
At 7/18/2008 10:32:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

With some 400 plus religions throughout the world it seems pointless to claim superiority. God, whoever or whatever that means, is obviously not the exclusive domain of Christianity. And, unfortunately, Christians just don't get it.They will argue endlessly to defeat other positions of equal validity and conviction. No one exists on this planet that knows all the mysteries of our existence. As for myself, I would rather believe in Leprechauns than give credence to the ridiculous assertions of major religions.Religion is as poisonous as it is comforting. Fortunately, you don't "need" it.For that matter, make an effort to free yourself from all the excess baggage of your culture. Casteneda (sp.?) in Journey to Ixtlan offered some clues on how to do this.George Carlin had it right. We invented the whole thing...all these stories. Not seeing this wider perspective leads to pissing away valuable time on trivial pursuits. Remember, you will be dead a long time. Got Hitchins?

 
At 11/01/2009 06:54:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

brWell God showded me the way to Neil Young,that's for sure and I'm very greatful for that.And he brings me alot of joy listening to his songs and watching him. I put a lot of courage out of Itand hope especialy when you're on your own 5 days a week beceause my boyfriend is always away for his job.And it's been like this for 29 years I think it's a great song and meany people ask questions like that somtimes.
don't you think an admirer!. M...!

 
At 3/05/2010 08:36:00 AM, Anonymous mikekoz68 said...

I'm just hoping Neil's an atheist, and if he isn't I don't want to know, I don't think I could take him being a mindless religious automaton.

 
At 3/14/2010 04:49:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I assumed Neil believed in god since a majority of people in North America are christian, but I had faith that he was agnostic or atheist. The song leaves room for interpretation and I still don't know what He believes, but unfortunately my heart sank a little when I heard one of my icons sing about god! I do appreciate the message of inclusiveness regardless of the religious implications, and if He does believe in a god, then so what because He still rocks.

 
At 6/07/2010 11:55:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

these are rhetorical questions without a doubt and they exemplify the loss of focus of organized religions. It is a shame to see so many comments that seem to miss the point of these poignant lyrics

 
At 11/04/2011 08:38:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Strike at the root, touch a nerve!

As for 'pedestrian'...nothing more so than in the 'mass' of comments here from a given religion that values slavery so highly that it willingly misinterprets anything 'Jesus' (or Buddha, for that matter) may ever have uttered.

But such is the lack of arete of fallen priesthoods. I don't wonder that the only valid priesthoods are the ones who still live the First Philter...'Do NO harm.'

Hmmmm, I wonder why John Adams wrote Thomas Jefferson about The Ancient Christianism? Not a quote on 'atheism' or 'deism' at all.

Keep seeking Neil. Looks like you've only got 7 lives left to go...if that.

 
At 1/03/2016 11:21:00 AM, Blogger Jan Baskin said...

God made us in his image, no matter our skin color. Love sees no color. He had plans for us, and aborting his creation was not in his plan. God gave us faith to believe. There will be wars fought in his name to defend our Father. Thru his Son you will be close to God. God is love, and the choice is ours. He gave us a voice to sing his praises and to spread the gospel. The gift of vision to see all the beauty that surrounds us. The gift of compassion to care for one another.

 

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