10 Apr "Zeros & Ones": A Dialogue
Okay. I’m going to land somewhere as to what I believe this song means. And the place I land is somewhere between two interpretations – because I think this is what Webb is trying to with intentional ambiguity. Let me know if you think I am in the ballpark. Again, I invite Webb to make any comments to throw me a bone here.
(vs. 1) this was real oh this was what you’ve all come to see and feel but i’m starting to doubt my reality ‘cause it does not last long once the cash is gone
(chorus) eventually all of this must become zeros and ones everything, everywhere, everyone, zeros and ones
So much of the entertainment industry is fabricated. Whether it be romance where the good-looking man has just the right line with just the right smile. Whether it be a drama where everything works itself out in an hour-long program. Or a song that within 3 minutes spreads out the insides of a man and resolves the tension by the bridge. In a society where our issues are resolved on the surface with smiley faces and saline-induced eyes we have lost the raw nature of life. Instead of getting messy in our neighbors lives we get more involved in the latest Desperate Housewives episode.
God help us that we live plastic lives so that real life is just a commercial. Death is not mourned, just patted on the back and we are told to go on. We live in our latest CD moaning to the travesties of falling in and out of love while our neighbors’ marriage is crumbling.
(vs. 2) i’m in love oh i love what i can convince you of ‘cause i’m a prophet by trade and a salesman by blood now i’m dying just to be a filtered, sub-cultural version of me
Again, we love the honesty of Webb don’t we. He shows us the struggle of an artist. Feeling like you have to sell your life in order to eat bread. This is the second play on words: in order to sell albums you sell your life. If you don’t make number one, then you are a zero. You claw along the race with the Juddses (the music equivalent to the Joneses). I get this interpretation from the line that he is a prophet by trade and a salesman by blood. He has to sell in order to eat and yet he wants to prophesy to the calloused culture around.
The “filtered, sub-culture version” I wonder is related to the song “This World” where the Christian sub-culture is critiqued as having so many trinkets and treasures but nothing that we need.
(bridge) my blood is red dripping on a page if i’m brave enough to cut myself but the more it sells it thins my blood
Implied in this is the struggle Webb has, as an artist, to not be some Mello-Yello version of what he wants to say. That is, with so much of the Christian music these days sounding like mainstream evangelicalism (and selling platinums) it is hard to not give in to that so you can buy your wife a new guitar.
I appreciate Webb’s music so much more than the cotton-candy, bubble-gum thoughts so prevalent on Christian radio waves. May God continue to sprout up men and women who challenge our everyday assumptions so that we learn better what it means to take up our cross daily.