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A Christian response to Papa Roach’s song “The Last Resort” (Part 1)

Papa Roach – Last Resort (Censored Version)

Amy Winehouse died at the young age of 27 and she had lived a life filled with drug and alcohol addiction. This series on Papa Roach is meant to provide answers to those who feel trapped. Hopefully it will people to avoid  troubles like Amy Winehouse experienced. 

Today I am starting a series of posts on this song  “The Last Resort” by Papa Roach.

The band’s place in the pop music landscape was established with the release of their breakout single, “Last Resort,” which was quickly picked up by MTV and nominated for a “Best New Artist Video” award at the 2000 Video Music Awards. The song is a gut-wrenching first-person chronicle of hopelessness that’s gone so deep the singer is seriously contemplating suicide.  For casual listeners, the song is very confusing. Listening to the song reveals the criticisms claiming the song promotes suicide could certainly be warranted. Kids who are riding the fence because of numerous other problems in their lives could interpret the song in a way that would give them permission to go over the edge, especially if they don’t know the story behind the song.

But the band is adamant about the fact that the song is about fighting to survive by overcoming depression, rather than allowing it to lead to suicide. “It’s not saying I can’t go on living. It’s saying I can’t go on living this way,” says Dick (Spin, 10/00). He also says, “Last Resort” has “a positive edge to it, as far as like, ‘Don’t succumb to it. Keep yourself afloat.’ With these problems in your life, find a friend you can confide in” (Sonicnet.com).

I know there are some curse words in the following song. I have eliminated both times the curse word is used. I really think that there needs to be a response to the young people who are saying things like the words in this song Here are some of the words:

Do you even care if I die pleading, Would it be wrong, would it be right, If I took my life tonight, Chances are that I might, and I’m contimplating suicide, ‘Cause I’m losing my sight, losing my mind, Wish somebody would tell me I’m fine, Nothing’s alright, nothing is fine, I’m running and I’m crying, I never realized I was spread too thin, Till it was too late andI was empty within, Hungry, feeding on my chaos and living in sin, Downward spiral, where do i begin, It all started when i lost my mother, No love for myself and no love for another,Searching to find a love upon a higher level, finding nothing but QUESTIONS AND DEVILS, I can’t go on living this way, Cut my life into pieces, This is my last resort.

Is there hope for youth that feel this way? There is hope in my view only if you realize that God exists and cares for you and your future. Seeking God is the answer just like Solomon found out in the Book of Ecclesiastes. Chris Martin of the rock group Coldplay seems to be on a similar quest to find spiritual answers.

Below is a portion of the article “Papa Roach—Infesting and reflecting youth culture by Walt Mueller.  

Twenty years ago I lived in Florida. The sun was always bright. The air was always warm. The ocean water was always blue. The tropical flowers were always beautiful. And my apartment was always home to an army of Palmetto bugs that somehow managed to survive visits from the exterminator and frequent fumigations. There were three other things I learned about these critters when I lived down south. First, everyone had them in their houses. Second, calling them “Palmetto bugs” was just a nice way of forgetting that the indestructible bugs were really nothing more than roaches. And third, there was really nothing you could do to get rid of them. 

For a home­­­-owner, the roach population’s ability to live and thrive even after being targeted for destruction is a nightmare. To kids who have experienced the chaos of relational upheaval in today’s confusing, selfish and oft-hopeless culture, the indestructible longevity of a roach can become an admirable quality.

Jacoby Shaddix is a young man whose difficult background left him close to hopeless and hanging on to life by a thread. Now 24 years old and known as Coby Dick, he’s the lead singer of the band named Papa Roach. While the name was originally taken from Shaddix’s Grandpa Roatch, there’s more to it than meets the eye. “We look at ourselves like cockroaches,” says Dick. “We’re survivors” (Rolling Stone,8/31/00). Judging from the band’s recent rise to mainstream music popularity, Dick and his bandmates are putting forth a message that’s resonating with a youth culture hoping to survive like indestructible roaches in a world seemingly bent on destroying their youthful hopes and dreams.

Turn on your radio and/or MTV and it won’t be long until you realize the music and message of Papa Roach has connected with today’s mainstream youth culture. What is it that’s made them connect with so many young ears, eyes, minds and hearts? What’s the message and worldview communicated in and through the music of Papa Roach? Is there anything we can learn from their growing influence among our kids? As with all other popular music, there’s more to Papa Roach than meets the ear. We need to dig deeper to look beneath the band’s lyrics and music to discover who they are and how that identity has facilitated their growing connection with kids. Looking more deeply at the Papa Roach history, music and appeal offers deep insight into the collective and individual values, attitudes and behaviors of today’s children and teens. 

Papa Roach’s Story

The roots of Papa Roach go back to Vacaville, a small town in California where the kids say there’s little or nothing to do. Like so many other kids in Vacaville, Coby Dick says he was “a wild kid” (Rolling Stone, 7/6-20/2000). When he describes his “rough” childhood he talks openly about his hyperactivity, mood swings and bed-wetting until the age of 16. When Dick was barely into his middle school years, his father left home and didn’t speak to him for 12 years—and only after Dick called his dad while writing the band’s current album, Infest 

Always interested in music, Dick became proficient on the bass clarinet and played in an award-winning woodwind ensemble while in high school. By the age of 17, Dick had left home to live on his own in a rented room while making money as a dishwasher. When he was 19, he decided to deal with his personal issues by writing his life down in the form of lyrics as “a way to vent frustrations with things that’ve happened in my life. This is the perfect way for me to get some things off my mind and come to peace with certain situations” (Alternative Press, 10/00). Dick wears the chaos on his left bicep where there’s a tattoo of a house engulfed in flames. “It’s a representation of my family falling to pieces” (Spin, 10/00). Today, Coby Dick is the band’s lead singer, lyricist and songwriter. The music of Papa Roach reflects his thoughts on the first 24 years of his young life.

Drummer David Buckner (age 24) hooked up with Dick in 1993 when they were playing football together back inVacaville. An accomplished violinist, Buckner opened his family’s garage for the band’s original rehearsals. At that time, the band consisted of Dick, Buckner, bass player Will James and a trombone player. They made their performance debut at a high school talent show.

After a short time they canned the trombone player and added guitarist Jerry Horton (age 25). To this day, Horton doesn’t fit the stereotype of a rock and roll musician. He remains committed to being “straight-edge,” a moniker describing his decision to never take drugs, never smoke and never use alcohol. His bandmates claim they’ve never heard him use profanity. 

During the early years, the band played club shows, and handed out a series of self-released EPs and demos on the street. They released Potatoes For Christmas (1994) and Coca Bonita (1995) before Will James left the band because his ongoing involvement in a church camp kept the band from practicing over the summer months. Their local following grew and they hired their roadie Tobin Esperance (age 20) in 1996 to replace James.

The band self-released two more albums: Old Friends From Young Years … Let ‘Em Know (1997) and Five Tracks Deep (1998), the latter of which convinced the folks at Warner Brothers to finance a demo record for Papa Roach. But in a strange turn of events, Warner Brothers abruptly dropped plans for the band as they were rejected by several record labels. Then in October 1999, the band signed on with Dreamworks.

In the months since then, Papa Roach released an album, joined the Summer of 2000 Vans’ Warped Tour, and has toured with Korn.

For more information on resources to help you understand today’s rapidly changing youth culture, contact the Center for Parent/Youth Understanding.

Help for the Suicidal

God offers you true, living hope–not a false hope based on your death.
By David Powlison

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Are you having suicidal thoughts and feelings? Perhaps you are convinced that life is not worth living. You feel like your world is collapsing in on you. Your life seems hopeless—like a black hole with all love, hope, and joy sucked out. If you are contemplating suicide, you have already done a lot of thinking about your life.

But have you thought about how God views your life?

Right now you are living in a world of despair. You can’t see any solution to your problems. You’re not looking forward to anything. The future seems empty.

God’s perspective on your life is very different. Your life is precious to Him. He knows everything about you—even how many hairs are on your head (Matthew 10:30). Your life is so significant to Him that He forbids you to take it. God says that all murder is wrong, and that includes the self-murder of suicide (Exodus 20:13).

Bring your hopelessness to God

God is not surprised or put off by your hopeless feelings. He wants you to bring your despair to Him, and cry for help right now, in the middle of your darkness and pain. Throughout history God’s children have cried to him and He has helped them. Listen to the voice of David who cried out his despair to God thousands of years ago, “In the day of my trouble I call upon you, for you answer me” (Psalm 86:7).

Today is your day of trouble. Tell God all your sorrows, all your troubles, and all the reasons suicide is on your mind. Do you feel, like David, that you are in the “depths of the grave”? Ask God to hear your prayer and listen to your cry for grace (Psalm 86:6). On this day the living God promises to listen to you and help you.

Your reasons for despair; God’s voice of hope

Why are you feeling hopeless? Are you struggling with physical suffering? A broken relationship? Shame and guilt from mistakes and failures? An unrealized dream? What problem do you believe suicide will solve?

Your suicidal feelings and actions don’t come out of the blue. They have reasons you can discover and understand. Your particular reasons will show you how you’re experiencing, interpreting, and reacting to your world. When you discover your reasons, you will also be describing what is most important to you. The loss or pain that makes you feel like your life is not worth living points to the thing that you believe would make your life worth living.

We will look at four kinds of reasons for hopelessness. As you read, look for the specific reasons you are feeling hopeless. And then listen to what God says to you about your particular troubles that brings hope.

1. Unrelenting suffering. Your hopelessness might stem from overwhelming suffering. The death of someone close to you, your own chronic pain and illness, postpartum depression, a broken relationship, poverty, racial prejudice, etc., are all situations that can fill you with despair.

If this is why you feel hopeless, read through Psalm 31. Written by David, these words vividly capture the feeling of wasting away with grief.

Be gracious to me, O LORD, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
(v. 9-10)

Is this what your life is like?

But this psalm is also filled with hope. David remembers that God sees him in his affliction and knows all about his troubles. He remembers that in God’s presence he is safe:

Oh, how abundant is your goodness, which you have stored up for those who fear you and worked for those who take refuge in you, in the sight of the children of mankind! In the cover of your presence you hide them from the plots of men; you store them in your shelter from the strife of tongues.” (v. 19-20)

David’s life, like yours, was full of troubles and discouragement, yet because God was with him, he has hope. He says, “But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to you for help” (v. 22). And he ends with this call: “Be strong and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the Lord” (v. 24). David is able to endure with courage because God is with him.

God is calling you to persevere in your suffering, but not by simply gritting your teeth. Persevering through suffering is only possible when you put your hope in the living God. He promises to come near to you, to be present with you, and to let you experience His goodness right in the middle of your pain and difficulty.

2. Personal failure. Your suicidal thoughts and feelings might be related to mistakes and failures. Is your hopelessness an attempt to atone for your sins, to punish yourself, to avoid feelings of shame? Perhaps you are so full of guilt and shame that you don’t want to be around people or even continue to live. Can you find hope when you’ve blown it so badly that you think you will never be able to hold your head up again?

The amazing thing about the Bible is that it is full of real people who made serious missteps—just like you. David wrote Psalm 32 after he committed adultery, got a woman pregnant, and then tried to cover things up by arranging to have the woman’s husband killed. You can read the whole story in 2 Samuel 11-12.

In Psalm 32:3-4 he vividly describes his experience of despair. Perhaps you are also feeling like this:

… my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long.
For day and night your hand was heavy upon me;
my strength was dried up as by the heat of summer.

David’s experience of guilt and failure comes partly from God and partly from his own conscience. But why is this psalm full of joy instead of shame? Because of what God has done for him in the middle of his nightmare of guilt. His joy comes from God’s forgiveness of him and from God’s promise to guide him (Psalm 31:1-2, 8).

Here’s someone, like you, who is living with terrible personal failure. But instead of meditating on his failures and turning his sins and mistakes over and over in his mind, he chooses to remember who God is. He knows the God who forgives. He trusts the God who promises to keep his eyes on him, who will personally instruct, lead, and counsel. So he ends like this, “steadfast love surrounds those who trust in the Lord,” and adds a call to joy, “Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, O righteous, and shout for joy, all you upright in heart!” (Psalm 32:10-11).

What an amazing turnaround—someone who knows his sinfulness, but also knows God’s mercy, can be called righteous by the grace and mercy of God. You, too, can experience what David experienced. But to do so, you must seek this Lord. David described how he felt after his sin was exposed, but he hadn’t confessed his sins to God. His vitality drained away, he felt hopeless and lifeless. If that is how you feel, then do what David did—go to God with your sins and failures.

Here is a wonderful description of seeking God in the middle of your failure and guilt, David says, “I acknowledged my sin to you, and I did not cover my iniquity; I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD,’ and you forgave the iniquity of my sin” (Psalm 32:5). Notice that David is turning to God with his failures—not to those around him. He doesn’t live in shame anymore because he is forgiven. He can hold up his head, even though everyone knows about his failures, because God is with him.

And then David gives the key to having God with him, “Therefore, let everyone who is godly offer prayer to you.”   He knows that prayer brings him into God’s presence where he is safe from trouble, even the trouble he brought upon himself.

3. Failed dreams. You can also struggle with hopelessness when the thing that has given your life meaning is taken from you. Perhaps it’s a job you didn’t get, an unrealized life goal, or your children turning out a certain way. Whatever you have organized your life around, its absence can leave you feeling empty and despairing.

Perhaps you didn’t know how important your dream was to you until it didn’t happen. Now you are experiencing the hopelessness of a failed dream. But what does your failed dream reveal about where you find meaning? When what you have lived for is taken from you, it can feel like you are dying. You are in so much pain that suicide seems like your only alternative. But God has a better way. He will give you true, lasting hope that can never be taken away from you.

God says, in Psalm 33, that it is He who “frustrates the plans of the peoples” (Psalm 33:10). Later in the psalm he says why—because all those hopes are futile. “The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation, and by its great might it cannot rescue” (Psalm 33:16, 17).

These are things that people trusted in thousands of years ago. What you trust in—those things on which you built your life, your identity, your success—are different, but the result is the same. Anything you trust in besides God’s steadfast love for you is futile. When you put your hope in God’s love, He will deliver your soul from death (Psalm 33:18, 19).

Let the death of your dreams be the door into putting your trust in God’s love for you. He will be your help and shield. As you “trust in His holy name,” He will deliver your soul from death, from thoughts of death, and from trying to take your own life.

4. False hopes. Perhaps your suicidal thinking is not from hopelessness, but from false hopes. Dreaming about and planning your suicide is what brings you hope. You believe that killing yourself will bring about some wonderful answer or solution to your problems. If you have been deeply hurt by someone, you might see suicide as a way to make others suffer. You might hope that suicide will bring an end to your suffering and those you love will be better off without you. Or you might hope that your suicidal gesture will get you what you want—attention, love, or even a break from the pressures of life. But whatever your hopes are—“I’ll be in a place of peace,” or “Then everyone will know how much they made me suffer”—if they include suicide as a solution they are a false hope.

Suicide is never an answer. Two wrongs never make a right—don’t forget that suicide is a great wrong. If you have been wronged, please don’t think that suicide is the way to make that wrong better. God offers you true, living hope—not a false hope based on your death. Hope from God comes in the midst of evil and trouble and it is a hope that will never end.

Paul talks about true and living hope in the second half of Romans 8. True hope comes from knowing God as your Father and receiving His Spirit as a gift. Living as a child of God means that instead of responding to trouble by hurting yourself, you go to your heavenly Father for help. He gives you his Spirit to help you in your weakness and even teach you how and what to ask for (Romans 8:15, 16). It’s the Spirit of God that will teach you that your present sufferings “are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed” in you (Romans 8:18).

We live in a world where bad things happen. But you have received the best gift of all: the Spirit of life, the Holy Spirit of Jesus. You have been given the gift of a relationship with God now that will lead to an indestructible life forever. There is nothing in this world that can separate you from God’s love—not trouble, distress, hardship, or anything in all creation (Romans 8:35). God’s love will keep you safe, and it’s yours for the asking.

The resurrection—your reason for hope

How do you know that the promises God makes to you are true? How do you know that the living God gives true, substantial hope? Because Jesus defeated death when He died on the cross and rose again. Peter explains it this way, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, ” (1 Peter 1:3-4).

Jesus is alive. His resurrection is your guarantee that real hope can be yours. Your hope is not based on a vague belief that changed circumstances, time passing, or a new set of friends will cure how horrible you feel. It’s a living hope based on the physical fact of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Because the resurrection really happened, your story will end in life.

The passage goes on to say, “to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading.” When you have this living hope, then what you get out of life (your “inheritance”) won’t be destroyed or ruined by your troubles.

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