Mumford & Sons has been one of my favorite bands for the last five years. Naturally, when they announced their new album, I was ecstatic. Also naturally, when I first heard their single “Believe” on the radio, I was appalled. Rock had replaced folk, and my knee-jerk reaction was to recoil from change.
However, my love is nothing if not loyal, so I bought their album with the intention of listening to it until I loved it. So far I’ve listened through the whole thing twice. I might have done more, but I got stuck on “Broad-Shouldered Beasts.” THIS SONG. This song reminded me of everything I love about Mumford & Sons. It’s still not folk and there’s still no banjo, but the heart of the band is the same.
Here is where the album review stops and instead, I talk about myself. I love “Broad-Shouldered Beasts” because it gives me hope for a vulnerable relationship of mutual weakness and strength.
But wasn’t it you who said I was not free
And wasn’t it you who said I needed peace
And now it’s you who’s floored by fear of it all
And it’s alright
Take it out on me
If I had to summarize my relationships (friends, family, romance, whatever), it’s that I’m usually more of a giver than a taker. Not from selflessness, but because I’m scared to admit that I need anything. So I will counsel and offer freedom and peace…until suddenly I’m “floored by fear of it all.” The person who gave can now take. And the person who took can now give. That is a beautiful relationship, and it’s one that I want. Whether I’m having an existential crisis or a fear of commitment or just regular anxiety, I desperately want someone who will say, “It’s alright, take it out on me.”
I’m struck by how much that sounds like Jesus. I just read a description of Shusaku Endo’s novel Silence, in which a priest renounces Jesus by stepping on an image of the Son of God. He does it because people are dying and the murderers will only stop if he denies the God he says he loves. So the priest has a crisis of faith–should he let people die or should he trample the image of Jesus?
The priest raises his foot. In it he feels a dull, heavy pain. This is no mere formality. He will not trample on what he has considered the most beautiful thing in his life, on what he has believed most pure, on what is filled with the ideals and the dreams of man. How his foot aches! And then the Christ in bronze speaks to the priest: “Trample! Trample! I more than anyone know of the pain in your foot. Trample! It was to be trampled on by men that I was born into this world. It was to share men’s pain that I carried my cross.”
The priest placed his foot on the fumie. Dawn broke. And far in the distance the cock crew.
I know that “Broad-Shouldered Beasts” is describing a romantic relationship. And in many ways, that’s the theme that causes me so much joy and hope. I would love to find someone who will take my anxiety and assure me it’s alright. But humans fail. Whispered shouts pass through paper thin walls. But there is a God-man who never fails, who lets me trample on him with my never-ending fear with his repeated assurances of love.
Mumford & Sons. They’ve still got it.
(And by it, I apparently mean the ability to remind me of Japanese novels about persecution.)