like an animal escaping from his cage
1. So, Donald Trump, right?
Listening to it now, it’s hard for me to think about this song in any other context than the 2016 presidential election. This is unfortunate for a few reasons, the most obvious being that linking the idea of a messiah to any political figure is a terrible idea that can only lead to bad things, regardless of whether your associations with this figure are positive or negative. Another reason: I would much rather spend my time mulling over the concept of a literal Antichrist stepping forth from out of Hell and bringing about the seven-seals-blood-of-the-lamb apocalypse than thinking about something as small and ugly as the American electoral process. And finally, there is the fact that JD himself once took to the boards to dispel the false (but somewhat reasonable, given the timeframe in which the song was released and the color of the posters in the song’s narrative) notion that the figure in the song was meant to be Barack Obama.
I’m not even entirely comfortable with writing about Donald Trump, since he’s probably the most written-about person on the internet right now. But it would be dishonest to pretend that his rise to prominence hasn’t caused me a good deal of fear and despair, and besides — some of that writing is really spectacular. This article by Kaleb Horton is probably the best I’ve read, since it acknowledges the sad truth that a huge swath of Americans have been waiting for someone like Trump for a long time, and there’s not anything we can do to dissuade them from supporting him.
This, more than anything, is why “Satanic Messiah” brings to mind the political ascendance of Donald Trump. It’s not just the narrator’s chilling description of the devoted hordes gathered at the rally or the feverish support of the congregation swarming around this new public figure: it’s the idea that a single man could step forth and speak for millions of unheard people, lifting their spirits with the promise that he will lead them into a new, perfect existence — and that this could be the most evil thing in the world.
hoping i’d run into you
2. For the longest time, I didn’t care about the titular character of this song; all I could focus on was the person that the narrator is looking for. The way he describes them, it doesn’t seem like a lover or an old friend or anyone he’s known for a long time. At least to me, it sounds like someone he’s got a crush on, someone who probably doesn’t even know the way he feels about them. Why else would he be wandering around this gathering, just wishing he would bump into the object of his affection, rather than getting in touch with them directly?
Yes, it’s possible that the situation in this narrative has already progressed to the point where the messiah’s followers are no longer in touch with people outside of their movement, but I prefer to believe that the narrator in this song just had the rotten luck of falling for someone just before they were taken under the sway of a nefarious leader. It makes it sad in a tinier, more human way, that the beginning of a sweet, normal relationship could be cut short by the end of the world as we know it.
he whom the prophet spoke of long ago has come
3. “Well, I think the song is about perspective. From the perspective of someone who’s been waiting for a long time for the antichrist’s arrival, with trepidation and glee, it’d be a joyous event, just as the second coming of Jesus would be for a Christian.” – comment by YouTube user Hakudohshi on the audio upload of “Satanic Messiah”