BreakingModern – Kenny Chesney: Not quite the first name that comes to mind when you think of philosophers, or even wannabe philosophers. Or the hundredth, for that matter. Not even close. Usually, you’ll find the country mega-star singing about island girls, beer and tiki bars rather than the power of faith. However, his song, “The Big Revival,” the title track of his newest album, certainly bucks that trend. Lyrics below.
“Get ready for the big revival
Everybody get in the van
There’s a little church on Eagle Mountain
It’s called the blood of the Blessed Land
If your faith ain’t strong enough child you might wind up dead
Praise the Lord and pass me a copperhead
Now Reverend Jones he struts and dances
On the guitar plays ‘Amazing Grace’
He testifies in tongues of fire
With tears of joy running down his face
He ain’t sure and we ain’t sure exactly what he said
But praise the Lord and pass me a copperhead
You wont find many hypocrites that’ll take a chance on getting bit
But a true believer can survive rattlesnakes and cyanide
When you hold that deadly viper
Keep the Holy Spirit in your mind
Do not lose your concentration
That serpent’s surely bound to strike
Either way you won’t forget the first time that you say
Praise the Lord and pass me a Copperhead”
– “The Big Revival” (excerpt) by Kenny Chesney
Copperhead: Symbol of Faith
Upon first listen, Chesney’s lyrics might make you scratch your head in puzzlement. Even as a big fan of the singer, I didn’t pay much attention to the lyrics for the first month or so. His version of a “The Big Revival” implores the listener to “Praise the Lord and pass me a copperhead.” What the heck does that even mean? What exactly is a “copperhead”? Is it the latest microbrew at BevMo? Nope. Upon further inspection, it’s actually a venomous snake.
For Chesney, the image of grabbing the “deadly viper” is a symbol of the power of faith; if it isn’t strong enough, “You might wind up dead.” Concentrating on this faith keeps the serpent at bay.
But what drives one to risk one’s life for seemingly intangible goals? Faith, driven by the power of music and religion, seems to be the answer for Chesney. Even though Reverend Jones doesn’t fully understand what he’s preaching about, along with Chesney, the power of “Amazing Grace” creates “tears of joy.”
Chesney’s agnostic musings about Christianity and music point to a larger assertion: even if one does not fully understand or believe the stories in the Bible, they can still be empowering. The truth is irrelevant. Faith makes God and music real. True believers can survive “rattlesnakes and cyanide,” regardless of the fact that faith cannot detox poison. If one takes this leap of faith, without “losing one’s concentration,” the power of God or music can be harnessed individually.
Chesney’s agnostic views vibe with the younger audience of us millennials, many of whom opt for alternate views of religion. He also seems to be preaching a message of tolerance. Even if God might not be real, he says, there’s no reason to condone believers as ignorant.
Faith works in mysterious ways – but mostly, faith is an engine of empowerment. Music, too, is empowering. It can change lives and make precarious situations (like close contact with deadly snakes) seem routine. Chesney’s work speaks to the new big revival of faith: as the masses tend to shy away from stories of God, faith’s empowering message still thrives.
All Screenshots: Ben Leonard