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secretly Christian: All My Ghosts

This one, the opening track from the first Frank Black and the Catholics album, is a bit obscure but it’s one of my favorites. Partly because it rocks, and partly because it’s a good example of something that sounds very different if you know the passage the author is referring to.

Here’s a live version, but both the audio and video are awful:

Of course there’s the opening line “If I could live to be several hundred I could take a walk and really wander;” it’s probably a stretch to take this as a reference to Cain. But then the second verse is “have you heard about the heavenly angels // how they came to earth and met some ladies // with whom they mated // and their young became giants every one” is a gloss on Genesis 6:4 [KJV]

There were giants in the earth in those days; and also after that, when the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men, and they bare children to them, the same became mighty men which were of old, men of renown.

The last verse takes a bit of squinting: “and we took a tour of the seven horrors // plus just one more // and the eighth was a duplicated man.” So far as I know “The Seven Horrors” isn’t a standard Biblical reference, but the eight being a duplicate sounds like Revelation 17:10-11 [KJV]:

And there are seven kings: five are fallen, and one is, and the other is not yet come; and when he cometh, he must continue a short space.And the beast that was, and is not, even he is the eighth, and is of the seven, and goeth into perdition.

Frank Black also covers Larry Norman’s “Six Sixty Six” on this same album; Norman had a substantial, acknowledged influence on Thompson, some of which is covered in e.g. an episode of a Frank Black fan podcast [m4a]. He even took the title and some lyrical content for the first Pixies EP [link] from a Norman catchphrase.

I really have no idea why it is that virtually every Scripture reference I find in secular music comes from Genesis or Revelation; sign of the times, I suppose.

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