At the moment, I can’t find a song that speaks so directly to the problem of being human (known theologically as sin) as the Cage the Elephant’s recent single “Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked.” According to the song we are all wearied sinners trying to find a way to deal with the mess of our lives. (The chorus is below, for full lyrics go here)
“There ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Money don’t grow on trees
I got bills to pay, I got mouths to feed
Ain’t nothing in this world for free
No I can’t slow down, I can’t hold back
Though you know I wish I could
No there ain’t no rest for the wicked,
Until we close our eyes for good”
In the song, the singer asks different people why they committed their crimes and each time the simple answer is “there ain’t no rest for the wicked.” The interviewed criminals in the story are all caught in a the cycle of their transgression, trying to pay a debt they cannot afford. The world itself is against all their efforts to make amends- nothing is free and everything is scarce. They know that life isn’t as it should be and long for release from their imprisonment.
But what is most striking about this song is that the singer sees each criminal and (as the video demonstrates) he sees himself in each of them. In other words, the problem is universally applicable to everyone. We are all the thief and the harlot looking for free pass to pay for everything that the world demands of us. We long for an intervention of grace which pays our ransom and gives us true rest and freedom.