Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel a Lot Better

One of the best musicians and songwriters you’ve never heard of is Steve Taylor, a Christian recording artist who had his heyday in the late 1980’s. During the years before indie rock and iTunes, when ‘Christian music’ meant K-Love-style crooning, Taylor was a counter-cultural fly-in-the-ointment. His specialty was using his considerable lyrical genius to satirically lambaste the Christian subculture. As such, he was frequently misunderstood by well-meaning Christians who just didn’t get the joke. For instance, in 1987 he wrote a song called “I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good,” written from the perspective of an abortion-clinic bomber who thought he was doing God’s will. Taylor’s point was to cleverly show how ludicrous such thinking was; but some Christian bookstores interpreted the song as endorsing violence and pulled the album from the shelves. (Evangelicals have never been quite at home with satire).

Reflecting on Psalm 89, a Psalm written to lament God’s absence, I asked, “What do we tend to do, instead of engaging with God in the midst of rejection and abandonment?” Answer: we give up hope. Taylor wrote a song about that, with college philosophy professors as his whipping boys:

“Since I Gave Up Hope I Feel a Lot Better” – Steve Taylor – from the album I Predict 1990

Enter the young idealist
Chasing dragons to slay
Exit the hustler
Packing up his M.B.A.

Freshmen scream in a classroom
Was there a sound?
First degree in the vacuum
I’m on college ground

Took a class, big fun
Modern ethics 101
First day learned why
Ethics really don’t apply

Prof says, “One trait
Takes us to a higher state
Drug free, pure bliss
Get your pencils, copy this”

“Life unwinds like a cheap sweater
But since I gave up hope I feel a lot better
And the truth gets blurred like a wet letter
But since I gave up hope I feel a lot better”

Top of the class sits Ernest
He was brightest and best
Till the professor lured him
To the hopeless nest

Now he lives for the shortcut
Like a citizen should
Tells the class with a wink
“Only the young die good”

He says, “Ideals? Uncouth
Fatalism needs youth
Eat well, floss right
Keep the hungry out of sight

Save face–nip and tuck
Praise yourself and pass the buck
And don’t forget the best advice
Everybody’s got a price”

“Life unwinds like a cheap sweater
But since I gave up hope I feel a lot better
And the truth gets blurred like a wet letter
But since I gave up hope I feel a lot better”

“While the world winds down to a final prayer
Nothing soothes quicker than complete despair
I predict by dinner I won’t even care
Since I gave up hope I feel a lot better”

Nazis plead in a courtroom
“Pardon me, boys”
Profits fall in a boardroom
Did they make a noise?

Someone spreads an affliction
Company’s nice
Someone sells an addiction
Puts your soul on ice

Half wits knock heads
Candidates in double beds
Good guys defect
“I can’t precisely recollect”

Teacher’s pet theory’s fine
If you’re born without a spine
Can’t you spell wrong?
Sing it to him Papa John

“While the world winds down to a final prayer
Nothing soothes quicker than complete despair
I predict by dinner I won’t even care
Since I gave up hope I feel a lot better”

“Life unwinds like a cheap sweater
But since I gave up hope I feel a lot better
And the truth gets blurred like a wet letter
But since I gave up hope I feel a lot better”

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  1. Steve Taylor was a one-of-a-kind. There was never a Christian songwriter like him nor will there ever be another one like him. I had the privilege of seeing him two or three times over his career and then recently about eight years ago at the creation festival and then for five years ago at a small local venue here in Baltimore. He helped me to laugh at times at myself and at some of the Legalistic Christian ways that permeated my life in the church. This song is still one of my all-time favorite songs and I have satirically quote it myself often when I have reached the end of my rope . Thank you Steve for the years!!!

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