Those of you who are music fans, as I am, may agree with me that songs often provide an interesting look at the worldviews of those who write them.
Lately I have enjoyed listening to Pandora, an Internet site where you can type in the name of a group and hear (for free) music that has similar characteristics to the music of the group you specified. Within the last week I heard two songs with which I had not been familiar, which contained similar and helpfully direct statements about worldview. The first was “Be Yourself” (2005), by Audioslave, and the second was “Nutshell” (1994), by Alice in Chains.
The verses of the former song talk of the various ways in which people find “salvation,” but the chorus delivers Chris Cornell’s takeaway: “To be yourself is all that you can do.” In the hauntingly dark but beautiful “Nutshell,” lead singer Layne Staley croons, “And yet I find / Repeating in my head / If I can’t be my own / I’d feel better dead.”
What a stark contrast there is between the message of these two songs and the teaching of Jesus:
“For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” (Matthew 16:25 ESV).
It is very tempting to think that the solution to the difficulties and struggles of life is to turn inward and liberate ourselves, pursuing our personal preferences and desires and throwing off restraint. This thinking leads to unhealthy introspection, crippling self-absorption, and despair. I’m sorry to say that I can speak to this from personal experience. Tragically, Staley himself died in 2002 of a drug overdose after a long battle with substance addiction, which I doubt was unrelated to his inability to find what he was looking for.
Jesus said in the above quote and elsewhere that one finds true life not by turning inward, but by serving Him and others. I am much more pleased to say that I can also speak to this from personal experience. I’m at about the same age Staley was when he died, and I’ve become increasingly turned off by trying to find myself and “be my own.” This is progress.