Black and Gold

Do you ever have doubts? Thoughts about significance? Are you ever wondering what it’s all about, where you fit in. Just why me? I mean, the world is a big place. Just the other day I was in London for a meeting, off of Oxford Street. And if you ever want to get a sense of how big and busy the world is, and how small a cog you are in it all, Oxford Street is one of the best places to be! I had some time between meetings, and so took the opportunity to just sit back and people watch. (Do you ever do that? It’s not just me…is it?)There were hundreds and hundreds of people going about their business, all from different backgrounds, and many nationalities.

Sam Sparro burst into the charts with Black and Gold back in 2008, where it went to number 2 in the charts and was subsequently nominated for a Grammy (beaten by Daft Punk…). It is a brilliant electropop dance tune that appealed to me as soon as I heard it…I bought the album off of the back of the single (something I don’t usually do). But it is the lyrics that bear closer inspection; so often great tunes hide an otherwise slightly banal lyrical content…as Matt Redman has said before, pop songs often have limited content: I love you: I hate you: I miss you: Just Dance….etc. Black and Gold is something else.

‘Cause if you’re not really here
Then the stars don’t even matter
Now I’m filled to the top with fear
That it’s all just a bunch of matter
‘Cause if you’re not really here
Then I don’t want to be either
I wanna be next to you
Black and gold, black and gold, black and gold

Personal Meanings

Now I know that lyrics can be intensely personal to those that hear them, and they are up for interpretation depending on who listens to them, and how they are internalised. The same song can mean many different things to different people. But Sparro was the son of a minister and has stated that the song was written about God…”I do like to have a faith about something that is bigger than me”. And if it needed further clarification, the second verse says:

I look up into the night sky
And see a thousand eyes staring back
And all around these golden beacons
I see nothing but black
I feel aware of something beyond them
I don’t see what i can feel
If vision is the only validation
Then most of my life isn’t real

This song speaks to me on so many levels…as a Christian that always wanted to be “zapped” by God, I’ve always struggled with the spiritual versus the tangible. Many years ago at a New Wine conference I prayed really hard during the celebration that I would get that experience, that I would have a defining touch or big kick from God so that I knew he was there! And it didn’t happen. But at the end of the celebration I received a gentle tap on my shoulder…and a man from a few rows back had a real sense that God had some verses for me, and he’d written them down.

Creation, Faith and Doubt

Creation, faith and doubt warrant much more than a short blog post…there are whole books devoted to the subjects and there are many of those. But as the last lines of the verse say, “If vision is the only validation, then most of my life isn’t real”. I believe there is more to life than the tangible world around me, it would take incredible faith to believe that we are here my some chemical accident leftover from the big bang, and evolution and creation, in my opinion, aren’t exclusive. And for as long as artists can create works like this song, it proves to me that artistry, especially music, is always more than a sequence of notes and an amalgam of rhythms. Musicians can always reach into something that is deeper than themselves, and no matter where they are on their journey of faith, the word spiritual is often used.

As an added bonus, here is Adele ably (and brilliantly) covering the song.