The Course of Reason

Music Monday: Tom Waits, “God’s Away On Business”

August 29, 2011

Welcome to the first installment of Music Mondays!


I have always been fond of music. In junior high and high school I immersed myself in my local music scene.  One of the first shows that I went to was the Christian hardcore band Norma Jean. Being the young budding Christian that I was, I was awestruck at the amount of passion they had about their songs and their mission on Earth. I bought it, I bought the message, and I expanded my repertoire to include other passionate bands that happened to be religious, such as MeWithoutYou. This planted seed led to me help organize a student-run youth service called Twilight Resurrection that focused on spreading God’s love through the passion of music to the minds of those who had been led astray, or whatever. Twilight Resurrection was successful for many years after I left the church (this still leaves a bad taste in my mouth).

That is all in my past now. However, I still appreciate the role that the music had/has on me. As my beliefs evolved, music had a profound role in validating and informing my lack of belief in a god. The music also elaborated on my objection for the things people did in the name of religion, things that were often endorsed by religious texts and dogma. I sought out sacrilegious music. Bands and artists like Bright Eyes, Modest Mouse, Tom Waits, Every Time I Die, Cursive, and Josh Ritter delivered. It made me feel ok for doubting the existence of god. It made it ok to ask certain philosophical questions. It decreased my guilt via a sense of belongingness.

That is all the background to get this enterprise off the ground; after all, this is about music and not text. So here we are, Music Mondays, a tribute to the value that music has on life and for its function, for me at least and I’m assuming others, as a tool of validation and liberation from religion.

So what do I have for week one? I thought I would feature the video that inspired me to write this. The song is by an artist that will likely be featured here again and an artist that has been around the block a few times: Tom Waits. The song is called “God’s Away on Business,” and came to my attention through a few friend that shared a video of the song dubbed over cookie monster video.


For shits and giggles, here is the Cookie Monster version:

If you have music that has a pro-human, pro-science, pro-inquiry, anti-religious, or sacreligious message, I would like to hear it, and if possible, feature it on a future Music Monday. Just email me here or leave a comment. 


I have compiled a gooveshark play list that is shareable and will feature most, if not all, of the songs featured on Music Mondays. This playlist will exand with further research and your suggestions. So, please send me your suggestions. Also, support your favorite artists. Happy listening. 



About the Author: Cody Hashman

Cody Hashman's photo
Cody Hashman is a Campus and Community Organizer at the Center for Inquiry. He graduated from the University of Northern Iowa, with a degree in Psychology, where he was the co-founder and president of the UNI Freethinkers and Inquirers.


#1 Ed Beck on Monday August 29, 2011 at 1:28pm

Good call on the Josh Ritter.

#2 UpstateUnited on Monday August 29, 2011 at 1:41pm

I like hip hop, and i think that it provides a powerful platform for an atheistic message.

Greydon Square is a veteran and has a degree in physics. - Greydon Square -- Squared Greydon Square -- Special Pleading Greydon Square -- Stockholm Syndrome (My favorite, I like music that gives offense to theists)

#3 Naomi (Guest) on Monday August 29, 2011 at 6:57pm

The Ocean - Origin of God

"A prime mover only shifts the problem
If every complex structure needs an architect;
Then this prime mover must be even more complex than anything he created

Who made your architect?
Who made your architect?
Where does he come from?
What is he made of?"




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