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We Are Where We Belong

Album cover showing the river and The Boatman

John Kirkvold

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(The short version)

Disclaimer: This article is opinion based with how I interpreted the lyrics and discusses the band’s views on religion. This article is in no way meant to persuade or sway people from their beliefs.

2011’s release of Quiet Company’s, “We Are All Where We Belong” is a controversial album mainly because of atheistic views on religion. However, what makes “We Are All Where We Belong” so great is how it is able to make what should be a lonely journey (the conclusion that there isn’t a greater power) one of self acceptance and beauty. The album uses a wide scope of vocals as what seems like an entire choir comes in at times, and a large variety of instruments such as the classic guitar and percussion instruments being mixed with string or even a trombone giving it that iconic brass melody. The use of this vast amount of instruments is what’s able to make the relatable theme of questioning one’s faith one of pure beauty. The lead singer of the band, Taylor Muse, calls it “essentially, a break up record, only the romance that’s ending was between myself and religion.” “We Are Where Belong” seems to loosely follow a character who faces a difficult decision when he is blessed with a baby girl. The new father is trying to decide how he should raise his daughter in terms of faith. This internal struggle comes with many sides as how he recalls some of his greatest memories being in church and that believing in something wrong is less scary than believing in nothing at all. However, the character also knows that coming to his belief that there is no god was very difficult when surrounded by people who did believe. At the character’s worst times, there was no guiding force and he was looking for answers where there weren’t any. “You shouldn’t have to waste your time on beautiful lies.” (Quiet Company 2011)

The song “The Confessor” opens with the metaphor followed closely throughout the entirety of the album, “The rivers wide, that I could not swim across it, so I convinced myself I’d walked upon the waves.” (Quiet Company 2011) The river represents one’s faith and how for some it’s an easy conclusion to come to. They choose to believe what they were taught from a young age. However for others, and this character especially, the river is too wide and simply swimming across or following your parents doesn’t suffice. Instead the character chooses to walk upon the waves meaning to believe something else or in this case nothing at all. Yes, in this story the protagonist is an atheist and through flashbacks we learn how and why he came to this conclusion. Unlike many atheists the character isn’t nihilist, meaning he doesn’t believe life is meaningless, in fact Quiet Company is able to convey a sense of spirituality in this conclusion. By not confining your morals by the ones found in an ancient text everyone can find they are where they belong.

In the song “Everything Louder than Everything Else” Quiet Company is able to give a mythology almost describing how they believe life started, “Long, long ago (back when the ocean was our home). We crawled out of the sea, so eager to breathe. We looked to the sky, and to the limits of our minds. To understand why all things die, and how we came to be. Thought we knew all we’d need.” (Quiet Company 2011) Quiet Company is giving a reason for why religion started. They continue when they claim it stems from a fear of death. Unfortunately their answer isn’t very comforting, “But when I go there will probably be no angels singing, no harps ringing, no pearly gates, nor devil’s flames. Just nothing, nothing, nothing, nothing.” (Quiet Company 2011) The intent of this line isn’t to scare the listener, rather it is to show that there will be no pleasure or suffering after death just the abyss which is enough to scare most people. As humans we have a fear of nothingness or the unknown it’s why the dark is so off putting. That is why they sing, “Wouldn’t it be grand to take some comfort in those same holy texts that pacify my friends? Well, it wouldn’t change the fact that all we know is we come and we go.” (Quiet Company 2011) The band believes that most of us do have a sense that in the back of our minds it is ridiculous for us to know what happens in the afterlife and a more realistic belief is that there is nothing at all. Yet we choose to refuse this because we would much rather believe in something that is wrong rather than nothing at all. Even the character who has been spewing this nihilist narrative telling everyone to get off their knees and stop praying gives into believing something when he is faced with death saying, “Don’t let me go, I’m not prepared. I’m so damned scared that I’m almost there.” (Quiet Company 2011)

Continue reading the full article by clicking the link below, otherwise read on: https://docs.google.com/document/d/1uwxXk3xN-s2chzk-8rigG3TV7zDxZeB4uRWKDIV6RVg/edit?usp=sharing

Quiet Company’s “We Are All Where We Belong” is a literary masterpiece. Through its simple yet deeper meaning lyrics it’s able to relate to anyone who may feel as though they don’t belong. The album as been the subject of controversy as it can at times preach atheist beliefs, however, even though the character comes to the conclusion that for his life it’s better not believe anything at all doesn’t mean you should. “We Are All Where We Belong” is more about self acceptance and being released in 2011 during the midst of the gay rights movement people believing that there was something wrong with them because of what is in an ancient text was and is a real problem. By following a character who spends his life trying to hide what he feels inside only to have it come out eventually the album is able to preach a message of self acceptance. The point Quiet Company was trying to make and the one you should take home is that whether you’re gay, straight, atheist, or christian “We Are All Where We Belong”.

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