The music hit sensation Depeche Mode, which translates to “Hurried Fashion” have been a nostalgic presence in pop culture for almost forty years. Their songs often evoke a deeper sense of awareness. Some suggest outright that the band nor any of its members are in no way whatsoever Christian, or faith-based. I would sternly beg to differ.
For a long time, Depeche Mode have written and performed songs such as “Songs of Faith and Devotion” and more recently, “Presence of God”. There are other songs within the band’s suitcase of tunes that likewise express a well-received overtone of faith infused harmony.
Last year the band lost one of its founding members, keyboardist Andrew Fletcher. Fletcher was 60 when he died and undeniably departed fracturing a significant hole within the eighties pop band.
Depeche Mode understandably mourned the passing of their late bandmate and friend. However, the passing is not deterring them in resuming their journey of personal faith in the continuance to create music and tour for fans near and far.
Eleven years ago, Depeche frontman Dave Gahan conducted an interview with CNN, in which interviewer for the media juggernaut attempted several times to unsettle Gahan with their line of questioning. The title of the interview-article was “Depeche Mode frontman Dave Gahan Gets Spiritual”. Here is an excerpt:
CNN: Speaking of blessed, you explore spirituality on this album, especially on “Presence of God,” and have said that may make people uncomfortable. Sure, it’s more direct than what Depeche Mode usually does, but was it really such a major departure?
Gahan: Not at all. I think that’s because Martin [Gore] and I shake from the same hip as well. In the past, especially in the “Violator” and “Songs of Faith and Devotion” period, I felt like Martin was writing songs about me or for me. He wasn’t really; I was younger then. But we had those same doubts, and quite often seemed to experience the same weird, dark sense of humor. “Presence of God” is really that understanding that sometimes when you step out of your own shoes and just open your ears and listen to what’s going on around you, you get answers to the questions you were asking. The title “The Light the Dead See” works so well because sometimes when you’re still and not trying to steer things in a certain way is really when the magic can happen. It’s when I’m trying to figure that out for myself that I get into all kinds of trouble.
CNN: It’s a delicate balance to explore these subjects in your lyrics and not alienate the audience by coming across as tortured or preachy. How did you manage to pull it off?
Gahan: I’m glad you heard that. There was no torture at all. It really came easy, this stuff. For me, that doubt and that faith are so close. It’s impossible to deny that happening around you when you really kind of let go of trying to control things. But it’s not hokey in any way. I’m not trying to tell you what to do. It’s purely my experience of feeling like I really belong, and then moments of really what the f–k am I doing? We all have that. I tried to keep that as open as possible without directing. I don’t want to direct you. I want you to listen and conjure up your own thoughts.
It was refreshing to read that Gahan stayed-the-course and refused to become unhinged by the pesky CNN reporter’s wanting-to-become-sinister line of questioning.
Perhaps Gahan’s acknowledgement, albeit, quest to better know his faith and God is what has allowed he and the rest of the band the peace-of-mind needed to continue beyond the loss of Andrew Fletcher. Which leads us to the band’s latest song, “Ghosts Again” that many presume is an homage to Fletcher. The band, however, says that it is not.
The music video to “Ghosts Again” is directed by photographer and director Anton Corbijn. Fans say the music video reflects the theme of the band’s 15th album, “Memento Mori”. This was released this past Friday, March 24, the year of our Good Lord, 2023, and features charter members Martin Gore and David Gahan playing chess in a re-enactment of Swedish director Ingmar Bergman’s 1957 cinematic classic “The Seventh Seal,” where — Death plays a mortal in a contest to claim his soul. Isn’t that interesting.
“Memento mori” is utilized by Depeche Mode as an artistic image that reminds us all of death’s sudden inevitability – one for which we must be prepared because today, this hour, this evening, this morning, or this afternoon is not promised to any one of us. Maybe, in some ways, Depeche Mode whether cognizant or not understand this truth and are attempting to give homage to the one True Lord God who breathed life into them in the first place… A quote from the writer of songs from the new album reads: “The album, it’s not all about death and it’s not all depressing,” insisted the man who wrote such tunes as “Blasphemous Rumors,” “Personal Jesus”, and “Walking in My Shoes.”
As for the new album and song’s critical responses, here are thoughts from several Reddit users:
“I love the return to a more dance sound after two very rock-influenced albums. The 80s vibes are also strong”.
“I wish they will use as much 80s synth sounds as possible, that is their amazing signature sound”.
“I am amazed of how artful Martin and Dave entangle in the video taboo, harsh subjects”.
It would appear that fans enjoy the new album/songs and are equally as intrigued with its spiritual overtones.
The takeaway from Andrew Fletcher’s passing for Depeche Mode is that they have continued and fans are very appreciative. The takeaway in terms of far more fulfilling life-lessons is that – our time on earth as mortals is very short. Death comes swiftly and in an instant, sometimes unexpectedly. Life is eternal, that is true, yet where any one of us ends up on the other side of “mortal” is a choice that we must make immediately before it is too late, and there is but one choice and one way. Gahan himself sang about it and Jesus Christ: Someone to hear your prayers. Someone who cares. Someone to hear your prayers. Someone who’s there. Lift up the receiver. I’ll make you a believer. Reach out touch faith!