top of page

Advent Day 2: Blue Lips

They started off beneath the knowledge tree Then they chopped it down to make white picket fences… They made it past the enemy lines Just to become enslaved in the assembly lines

Blue Lips, Regina Spektor


This song is an eery and beautiful reflection on the human condition. With its rich imagery and religious references, there’s room for all sorts of interpretations. We move from the Garden of Eden (‘the knowledge tree’) into suburbia, with those white picket fences that have become synonymous with the American dream. The Fall of Man here seems to be an allusion to the failures of capitalism. In trying to escape the ‘enemy’ (perhaps socialism, fascism etc.), we find ourselves oppressed by yet another, albeit different system. Rowan Williams makes a similar point about our enslavement ‘in the assembly lines’ in his book Silence and Honey Cakes:

"This world of maximal choice is heavily managed and manipulated. The rebellious teenager has a ready-made identity to step into, professionally serviced by all those manufacturers who have decided what a rebellious teenager should look like: advertising standardises our dreams. Our choices are constantly channelled into conformist patterns, and when we try to escape, there are often standard routes provided by the same market..."

I guess it’s pretty easy to talk about the flaws of political systems (especially during the current political turmoil), but as Spektor’s lyrics suggest to us, the enemy isn’t just out there for us to point a finger at; the enemy is right here in our own backyard. The enemy is us. That’s probably not the happy Christmas message you were hoping for… But the good news is that’s not where the story ends, as it says in one of my favourite carols, ‘O Holy Night’…

Long lay the world in sin and error pining Till He appeared and the soul felt its worth.

Sin may seem an antiquated word and perhaps our society may use different language now, but we see in Spektor’s musings the same conclusion that we find in the Christmas story: humankind cannot save itself. Political ideals cannot solve our problems, for we are too easily enslaved by our own selfish desires and we remain unsure about the real path to happiness. But the message of Christmas is that we have a father and friend who has shown us and is still showing us our true worth and the way of true freedom.


This is part of my blog series: "Unseasonal Songs: An Alternative Advent in Song Lyrics". You can find out more here.

17 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page