I became a crystal healer and my ministry was to the sick
Creeping vines would send out runners and seek me in their numbers
I sold self-help tapes
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

And as world spread of my powers they would seek me far and wide
All sad faces at my window I would welcome them inside
I sewed clothes for them: cloaks and capes
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes

My house will be for all people who have nowhere to go
My supply of shining crystals a shield against the snow
There's more like me where I come from, so mark our shapes
Go down to the netherworld, plant grapes


Lyrics submitted by mdon06

1 Samuel 15:23 song meanings
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8 Comments

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  • +2
    General Comment"The sin of black magic is rebellion. Wickedness and idolatry are arrogance. Because you rejected the word of the LORD, he rejects you as king."

    I found two interpretations.
    1) a sleazebag exploiting the poor and making a mockery of Christianity
    2) A righteous man who believes in the tenets of most of what religion probably stands for, and who decides to be a selfless helper of people despite the fact that his actions will keep him from salvation himself (where the Bible quote comes in). He's hellbound, but he'll make things better along the way in a way he truly believes is right.
    eleventyon September 23, 2009   Link
  • +2
    General CommentIf any of you listen to the WFMU radio show Seven Second Delay (And you should), you may have scene the very hilarious episode that John Darnielle was a guest on. He sang this song and introduced it as being about the struggle of being a non-Christian making your way through a very Christian oriented world.

    Exact quote:

    John: "It's about trying to make your way with a different sort of belief system in a world--"
    Ken of SSD (Drunk): Yeah, kinda like Ravi Shankar...
    John: Kinda like Ravi Shankar, yes. It's about trying to make your way in a world that's kinda been overrun by Christians and Megachurches.
    DwightShelfordon July 04, 2012   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI just kind of assumed that this song was about a cult leader who lures in the poor and recruits them.... The "crystal healer" line implies black magic (as the Bible quote says), and I think the "cloaks and capes" line implies some sort of uniform.
    LtAxlerod932on November 16, 2009   Link
  • +1
    General CommentI'm very much in favor of the "Damned heretic doing what he feels is right despite what he's told" interpretation. It makes that last line even better:

    "Go down to the netherworld. Plant grapes."

    He's going right to hell for 'helping' these people like this. He knows this. Rather than escape his fate, he's going to try to make hell itself better. He'll just plant some fucking grapes down there when he arrives. Awesome.
    MrDeliriouson March 26, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentMy thoughts were almost exactly like your second interpretation.
    ABookOnAShelfon October 05, 2009   Link
  • 0
    General Commenti think the song is about john himself, selling his albums as "self-help tapes." and i believe "shining crystals" is a metaphor for the reflective surface of a compact disc, and with the amount of music john has released over the years, you could certainly call it a supply!

    i imagine those that listen to his music identify a lot with the echoes of internal ache in his song lyrics. "all sad faces at my window, i would welcome them inside"

    i especially enjoy the line, "there's more like me where i come from, so mark our shapes"
    ThePythonon November 19, 2009   Link
  • 0
    My InterpretationI feel like this song is about drugs. "Crystal healer" immediately makes me think of crystal meth. The ideas of alchemy and black magic apply to the fact that meth is primarily manufactured in makeshift laboratories by amateur chemists. Addicts craving a fix often say that they are "sick," so in that sense the dealer is a healer for them. Selling self-help tapes could be a metaphor for selling drugs or may refer to the fact that the sale of drugs is often disguised as the sale of less nefarious goods.

    The concept of a damned man who is resigned to his fate and decides to improve the hell he's in is definitely present here. If he's a drug dealer, he is one that believes that he is providing the people to whom he deals with a way to insulate themselves from the misery of their lives--"a shield against the snow."
    Cossette729on May 21, 2010   Link
  • 0
    General CommentI interpret it as like a Jim Jones mass suicide cult leader thing. Narrator's kind of demonic in some ways, "There are more like me where I come from," etc. Definitely a cult going on--self help tapes and homemade clothing? Come on. When he says "go down to the netherworld" it's like a creepy premonition--he asks them to drink the grape juice.
    JokermanDanceon November 06, 2013   Link

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