Written by Will Glass. 10 November 2014.
Erich Church’s song “Like Jesus Does” uses different forms of structure and style to have an effect on the audience. The point Church is trying to get across is that even though he’s not perfect and he’s a sinner, his girl still believes in him that he can change and loves him no matter what. “Like Jesus Does” has a combination of steel, acoustic, and electric guitars. The slow melody that starts in the introduction with the steel guitar sets the mood for the audience to pay attention. The steel guitar sound includes waves of ups and downs that starts in the introduction and comes in and out throughout the song.
“Like Jesus Does” is supposed to make the listener realize that the speaker might be a bad person but his girl supports him and loves him. The structure Church uses to build his song helps support this message. The song starts with the lyrics: “I’m a long gone Waylon song on vinyl, I’m a back row sinner at a tent revival…” From the very start Church tells the audience that the speaker’s lost and is a sinner. In the following line the song goes on to say: “But she believes in me like she believes her bible, and loves me Like Jesus Does.” This is the first sign the audience sees of this girl’s dedication to this man no matter how much of a sinner he is. The rest of the first verse goes on to inform the audience of different reasons the speaker thinks he doesn’t deserve the girl. It concludes with, “But she carries me when my sins make me heavy, and loves me like Jesus does.” This first verse of the song draws the audience to want to hear more of why the speaker thinks he’s a sinner, while also informing them that the girl is helping him out when things get rough.
The constant repetitiveness of the chorus helps explain why the speaker does not understand why the girl would do this, but that he is very appreciative that she does. It states, “All the crazy in my dreams, both my broken wings….She knows the man I am, She forgives me when I can’t.” This type of repetitiveness can be very powerful when explaining a message. For one, it causes the audience to dwell on the statement. After hearing it over and over again it becomes present in their minds and they start to understand the message. If the chorus was just stated once the audience might forget the message, but since it is used constantly in this song it sticks in the their mind like glue. By Church using this type of structure in his song it really makes the audience realize that he knows he’s a sinner, but his girl loves him Like Jesus Does.
Besides the chorus, Church is repetitive when he states, “I’m a long gone Waylon song on vinyl.” This phrase is both the opening and closing sentence in the song. The specific reference to Waylon Jennings is more than just showing the audience that he’s a sinner himself. When Church was creating Chief his main objective was to make an album that was different from other artists and producers at the time. Church’s way of creating this album was similar to Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Kris Kristofferson’s Outlaw movement of the 1970’s. Daryl Addison writes in his review, “Eric’s approach and delivery is rooted in outlaw country tradition as he incorporates aspects of different genres with country melodies” (Addison). Church makes his message clear by using Waylon as an example of how he might be similar to him, while also an effort to resurrect the legend himself.
Church uses the virtues of style to help the audience receive his message. He’s very direct with his message by making his lyrics relatable to the audience. Many listeners relate to him when he states all the things that make him a sinner. He’s also very vivid in his lyrics such as when he states, “I always thought she’d give up on me one day, wash her hands of me, leave me staring down some runway.” This connects to the audience by making them picture a man watching an airplane take off. Church uses correctness as one of the virtues of style to reach out to his audience. The Waylon reference at the beginning and ending of the song could be used to feel “correct” to a country audience. By proving he’s a sinner he builds his credentials in his vocabulary with words such as “Ain’t”. “Yeah she knows the man I ain’t, she forgives me when I can’t.” A smart and intellectual man might choose another sequence of words to make this more clear, but Church uses this statement to prove his status of a sinner.
While this type of correctness is an element of ethos, it can also be used as appropriateness. In this song Church is not speaking to the girl that is supporting him but rather to an audience, which makes it more of an informal message. Using informal language is appropriate in this situation to relay his message to the audience. The last form of the virtues of style Church uses is distinctiveness. Church expresses the speaker’s individuality by explaining that he is far different than the girl that loves him. He indirectly states that she doesn’t have the same lifestyle characteristics of a sinner, which makes him more distinct from her. This usage of distinctiveness separates the two individuals involved in the song and makes it unique.
|0:00||Intro||Steel & Acoustic Guitar||The slow-paced steel guitar accompanied by the acoustic guitar sets the downtempo mood of the song.|
|:13||Verse 1||“I’m a long gone Waylon song on vinyl…”||Even though he’s lost and is a sinner, he says she still believes in him and loves him.|
|1:00||Chorus||“All the crazy in my dreams…”||He’s realizing how it’s crazy how she can love him through all he is and has done.|
|1:37||Verse 2||“I always thought she’d give up on me one day…”||Talks more about how he is a sinner and how he can’t believe she hasn’t left him yet and is thankful.|
|2:00||Chorus||“All the crazy in my dreams…”||The second chorus speeds the tempo up a tad more than the first. The repetitiveness of the chorus relays the song’s core message to the audience.|
|2:31||Instrumental||Electric guitar solo||Not a long solo but it still adds an uptempo spice to the slow song.|
|2:42||Chorus||“Yeah she knows the man I ain’t…”||Louder than the first two choruses. Church skips the beginning lines of the chorus and gets to the point.|
|3:06||Outro||“I’m a long gone Waylon song on vinyl…”||Slows back down after the electric guitar riff and the ending chorus. Church ties the ending into the beginning of the song.|
Addison, Daryl. “GAC Album Review: Eric Church’s Chief.” Great American Country. n.p., 25 July. 2011. Web. 12 Oct 2014. http://blog.gactv.com/blog/2011/07/25/gac-album-review-eric-churchs-chief/.
Longaker, Mark, and Jeffrey Walker. Rhetorical Analysis: A Brief Guide for Writers. Glenview, Illinois: Pearson Education, 2011. Print