Alice Cooper: Gimme
It may surprise you that I’m a huge Alice Cooper fan. A fan of a 60 year old rocker wearing black leather and makeup with some Top 40 hits in the 70s and 80s who did a cover version of one of his own songs with British pop band The A-Teens. Yeah, that doesn’t sound like me at all. But strangely enough, I really enjoy his music as well as his presence as a performer. One of these days I hope I have enough money to justify seeing one of his concerts. If he’s still breathing… not that being dead would stop him I guess.
The thing that really gets me going about Alice, the thing that gets me excited, is that he is a Christian.
Alice’s faith can be seen in three of his albums in particular – Last Temptation, Brutal Planet and Dragontown. These are all concept albums, they have a common theme that ties them all together. Last Temptation is about a young man being tempted and lured towards eternal damnation. Brutal Planet is about how sin has corrupted and polluted this world. And Dragontown, the worst city on the Brutal Planet, is about Hell and why you are going there. Each of these albums has some great songs that make for brilliant sermon illustrations. One of my favourite evangelistic sermons is based around a song from Dragontown called It’s Much Too Late.
I want to talk about Gimme off the album Brutal Planet. Mainly because it has a video clip I can link to. The clip is a bit… Goth… so if metal/goth imagery, with snakes, spiders etc offends/scares you, please don’t watch the clip.
Alice plays the salesman. He has an offer you can’t refuse. And why would you refuse? It’s all about you. I know all your desires. Your heart is so full of pain. Is there something that I can provide? When you feel like life’s passed you by. I know what is in your heart. I know that you feel like you are in pain. I know that you aren’t satisfied with what you’ve got. I know that you want something more. I know that you want to be in control of your life. And I’m the one to give it to you. Who doesn’t want to hear that sales pitch? Who doesn’t want to be told that they are special? Who doesn’t want to be told that they are the most important person in the world? And who doesn’t want somebody else to acknowledge that it’s true? Deep in all of our hearts, we want others to recognise that we are better than everyone else.
The salesman gets alongside you. Don’t ask questions about who he is or why he is doing it. That’s not important. You’re the only one who is important. It’s all about you, remember? He can give you what you want, he can make you his “own precious jewel”. The only thing you need to do, the one simple thing, is to “kneel down and tell [him] what you need.”
Because after all – “Don’t you wish you had it all? Don’t you deserve to have it all?” All you have to do is kneel down before the salesman, kneel down and offer yourself to him and he will give it to you. “Fame and money all for you. I can make your every dream come true.” But can he really?
You may be thinking “Wow! That’s just like God!” Doesn’t God recognise how precious and wonderful we are? Doesn’t God offer us every good thing we need? Doesn’t God care for us in this way? All God asks of us is to kneel before him, just like the salesman in Alice’s song.
That doesn’t sound right though. And the images of Alice in the film clip, with the fire and the makeup and the contracts signed in blood – they definitely give the opposite impression. That the salesman is of the devil. What’s going on?
As much as we want everything to be about us, the message of the Bible isn’t “It’s all about you,” but “It’s all about Jesus.” Because of our sin, there is nothing about us that makes particularly good. “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no one who seeks God. All have turned away…” (Romans 3:10-12). We shouldn’t be looking for accolades for how good we are, because we’re no good at all. Every single one of us are down on the floor, the lowest of the low. It is only through Jesus that our lives have meaning. It is only when we recognise the one true king and follow him we achieve true value and worth. Not because we deserve it. Not because we’re more special than anyone else. Not because you are a beautiful or unique snowflake. We have true meaning and fulfillment because the creator of the universe loves us enough that he sent his son to die for us.
But we still want that sales pitch. We can be lured into thinking that because God has made us his people that he will give us everything we desire. Well, I guess that’s true… As long as what you desire is to follow God and trust that he will do what is best. There’s this idea out there that God will give us everything that we want here and now. That if we are faithful he will bless us with money and cars and houses and gold plated ipods. That is not what God has promised us. If you shared that belief with the Apostle Paul, I’m not sure if he would have laughed or shaken his head with sorrow as he sat there in his prison cell chained up. The Apostle Peter wrote to a group of Christians that were having a rough time. He told them “… do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12-13). We are to expect suffering in this life. We are to expect that we will sometimes get a raw deal. We are to expect that sometimes life will sometimes feel like a burden rather than a blessing. But we are to look to the future. We are to look forward to the day when Jesus will return. On that day, Jesus will deal with all the rubbish in the world. He will deal with sin. And everything will be great.
So who is the salesman in Gimme? Who is the man offering you your heart’s desire? He represents the world. He represents the call of sin. He represents Satan. He represents anyone or anything that tries and tells you that your value and worth can be found through anything that isn’t Jesus. Because the salesman wants to lead you away from God. The salesman wants to lie to you and tell you that you are special and unique and that you need these things in your life to fulfill your true potential. And what is the result of kneeling down before the salesman? “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins, in which you used to live when you followed the ways of this world and of the ruler of the kingdom of the air, the spirit who is now at work in those who are disobedient.” (Ephesians 2:1-2) Following the salesman leads to death. Following Jesus leads to life. Who would you rather follow?
Alice Cooper is not going to be singing about how we have a great friend in Jesus. He isn’t going to be singing about angels and fluffy heaven clouds. What he does sing about is dirty and nasty and wrong. But in doing so, he is showing us our behaviour, our desires, our thoughts, and showing them for the sinful things that they are.