Pretty Unamazing Grace

I am being driven slowly insane by the current “hit” by Neil Diamond, entitled “Pretty Amazing Grace.” The poppy melody allied with lyrics that are trite, pseudo-spiritual, second-rate, second-hand poetry (the sort that I write but generally don’t get the opportunity to fob off on the paying public) is forcing me to change channel every time it comes on. Is it about a woman (called Grace)? Is it about an encounter with God (in Jesus)? Don’t know… And his website or sleevenotes don’t make it any clearer.
Neil Diamond has a history of using Biblical language in secular pop songs… And despite being Jewish, he doesn’t restrict his vocabulary to the Hebrew Scriptures… Among his more famous oeuvres are “I am, I said,” “Brother Love's Travelling Salvation Show” or “Holly Holy”, “I'm a Believer” “Lady Magdelene,” but his less well known songs include titles like “Save Me,” “Walk on Water,” “The Way” and are littered with allusions to John the Baptist and Christ... But this latest offering has prompted a rash of “Is Neil Diamond a Christian?” bloggery… I’m not going to make a judgement on that (less I exhibit some of the “pretty amazing gracelessness” evident in some of my brothers’ and sisters’ comments on various sites), but I will say that if this is an expression of faith of some kind, then it is, sadly all too reminiscent of the individualistic, privatised, “Jesus is my heavenly boyfriend” religion, that is evident in far too many modern praise songs… It is all “me” and “I”. There is no “us” or “we”. Yet I am with Jim Wallis in his assertion that while faith must be personal, it is never private. And I am not referring here to Neil Diamond’s reluctance to speak about his faith (or lack of it)… That’s just having enough sense not to alienate any of your market! Keep them guessing.
No, the question is, whether the experience expressed in Diamond’s “Pretty amazing grace” or Newton’s “Amazing Grace”, is then reflected by grace and forgiveness in our relationships with others?
But anyway, here are the lyrics for anyone interested…

Pretty amazing grace is what you showed me
Pretty amazing grace is what you are
I was an empty vessel
You filled me up inside
And with amazing grace
Restored my pride

Pretty amazing grace is how you saved me
And with amazing grace, reclaimed my heart
Love in the midst of chaos
Calm in the heart of war
Showed with amazing grace
What love is for

You forgave my insensitivity
And my attempt to let it mislead you
You stood beside a wretch like me
And pretty amazing grace was all I needed.

Stumbled inside the doorway of your chapel
Humbled and awed by everything I found
Duty and love surround me
Freed me from what I fear
Ask for amazing grace
And you a appear

You overcame my loss of hope and faith
Gave me a truth I could believe in
You led me to a higher place
Showed me amazing grace
When grace was what I need

Look in a mirror I see your refection
Open a book you live on every page
I fall and you’re there to lift me
You share every road I climb
And with amazing grace
You ease my mind

I came to you with empty pockets first
When I returned I was a rich man
Didn’t believe love could quench my thirst
But with amazing grace, you showed me it can

In your amazing grace I had a vision
From that amazing place, I came to be
Into the night I wandered, wandering aimlessly
Found your amazing grace to comfort me

Pretty amazing…

You overcame my loss of hope and faith
Gave me a truth I could believe in
You led me to that higher place
Showed me that love, truth, hope, grace
Were all I needed.

- Neil Diamond 2008


Buckeyes Nut said…
I found your blog via doing a search for this song. I first heard it last night playing on the "on hold music" of my cell phone provider. I think it is a beautiful song! However I do agree with you about how the praise songs are starting to e like.

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