How a blink-182 Song Changed My Faith
…and continues to give me hope in the midst of depression.
A few years ago, I did a sermon series entitled Sermons from Spotify where I shared various "non-Christian" songs where I've found God. This was the first song I chose. Why? Because this is my favorite song.
I have a long-standing love of blink-182. I grew up in a super, super Christian bubble and was never allowed to listen to any "secular" music. But in high school, I couldn't help but to fall in love with these guys, and that love has never gone away.
This song is off their career-defining record Enema of the State. It's goofy, immature, and very late 90s. But every once in a while an artist or a band will create something that transcends their own artistic abilities. They're no doubt good artists, but sometimes they create something that's beyond the sum of their artistic parts. For me, this is one of those songs.
Before I go any further, I want… no, need… you to listen to the song. But I encourage you to really listen to it. Take 4 minutes and 13 seconds and stop whatever you’re doing and really listen. (TW: depression, suicide.)
Mark wrote this song while they were out on tour. Both Tom and Travis had significant others. For them, the end of the tour meant returning to a loved one. For Mark, who didn't have anyone, it meant a season of loneliness. Long story short, he was depressed as hell.
Not long after this song was released it became embedded in another cultural event.
WARNING: I'm going to sound really old for a minute…
I was born in 1982. I graduated high school in May 2001. Growing up, the world felt like a more innocent place. As students, we didn't think about politics. We weren't expected to solve global issues. We were just idiot teenagers doing idiot things. All the existential dread that the youth I work with today feel… that wasn't there.
But that started to change in 1999. Back then, school shootings didn't happen every other week. The idea of a teenager having access to a semi-automatic weapon, walking into a school, and shooting other students was unimaginable.
Then, one day, Columbine happened. It was on every TV in my high school and everyone was shook. It was like that innocence died. We were instantly confronted with a world that was… messy and dangerous and so damn heavy that it would give us all crippling anxiety.
A year after the shooting, one of the survivors, who had lost a good friend that day, took his own life. He was found hanged in his garage. Playing on repeat was… this song.
So this song developed a reputation as being dark and triggering depression. Because of that, I avoided it. Always skipped over it. Never listened.
Until one day in college it came on. Something deep inside of me connected with the raw nature of the lyrics. I was forced to confront some of the darkness that I had been carrying around for years. I broke down, cried way too much, and listened to it on repeat. (The line about the apple juice in the hall wrecks me every time.)
But if you listen closely, after the bridge, as it goes into the last chorus, there’s a slight vocal shift and one of the lyrics has slightly changed. Instead of "Sixteen just held such better days…" it says "Tomorrow holds such better days…"
It's so subtle… but I caught it. I found hope. A hope I really needed to find.
So many times, when my depression feels overwhelming, that line hits me. (It will soon be tattooed on my left wrist.) I find myself listening to this song like it's the first time.
Some people talk about overcoming depression like it's a huge thing — like a big light comes down from heaven and everything changes. But that's not the case for me.
For me, it's subtle. It's a slight change that I could miss if I’m not paying attention. It's a lyric transforming from something dark to something light. It's not the complete absence of darkness, it's a small light IN THE MIDST OF THE DARKNESS.
Sometimes we want a miracle. We want a different life. We want a different song. But instead God changes a lyric.
But if we can remind ourselves to listen for that slight change, we can catch it. We can find hope. We can remember that tomorrow holds such better days.
Since then, several artists have covered the song. There’s an acoustic version, a piano ballad, and even a string quartet's take on it. I’m not the only one who’s found hope in it. So, yeah, this song is often considered really dark… but time and time again, it's been my light. Maybe it can be yours too.