For the Greater Good of God – Iron Maiden

Iron Maiden are without any reasonable doubt one of the most influential band in music history. Born in London in 1975, they are still on the stage with fifteen...

Iron Maiden are without any reasonable doubt one of the most influential band in music history. Born in London in 1975, they are still on the stage with fifteen studio albums and 30 years of career behind them. They are also one of the few world-famous band to be composed by six members and notably three guitar players: the actual lineup includes Bruce Dickinson (vocals), Steve Harris (bass), Nicko McBrain (drums), Dave Murray (guitar), Janick Gers (guitar), Adrian Smith (guitar).

Their lyrics known to be inspired by literature, TV shows and movies, myths, history and even the bible resulting in beautifully written, powerful and meaningful songs.

For the Greater Good of God is quite a long track included in their 2006 album called A Matter of Life and Death.

This song is about religious fundamentalism and fanaticism. Written by Steve Harris, it’s typical of his epic songwriting with a long instrumental part leading to blinding solos.

It begins with a kind of sarcastic question, pointed to all those who present themselves as “man of peace” and then call to arms in the name of “holy wars“:

Are you a man of peace
Or a man of holy war
Too many sides to you
Don’t know which anymore

These dubious preachers with their “too many sides“, encourage the distrust and too often the outright hatred of whoever does not follow the same faith.

Lyrics become even more explicit in their critic against religious fanaticism and all it brings :

More pain and misery in the history of mankind
Sometimes it seems more like
The blind leading the blind
It brings upon us more famine, death and war
You know religion has a lot to answer for

The chorus itself is quite ironic, trying to unmask all the contradictions in the words of those who foment the hate of the masses in the name of God, or better “for the greater good of God”:

Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

For the greater good of God

The very last verse is a laconic acknowledgement of the failure of one of the main creeds of the Christian Church: the sacrifice of Jesus, died on a cross “for all of those who never mourn his loss” in order to free the humanity from pain. But unfortunately, he apparently did not count on human nature:

He gave his life for us
He fell upon the cross
To die for all of those
Who never mourn his loss
It wasn’t meant for us
To feel the pain again
Tell me why, tell me why

Here the complete lyrics:

Are you a man of peace
Or a man of holy war
Too many sides to you
Don’t know which anymore
So many full of life
But also filled with pain
Don’t know just how many
Will live to breathe again

A life that’s made to breathe
Destruction or defense
A mind that’s vain corruption
Bad or good intent
A wolf in sheep’s clothing
Or saintly or sinner
Or some that would believe
A holy war winner

They fire off many shots
And many parting blows
Their actions beyond a reasoning
Only God would know
And as he lies in heaven
Or it could be in hell
I feel he’s somewhere here
Or looking from below
But I don’t know, I don’t know

[Chorus:]
Please tell me now what life is
Please tell me now what love is
Well tell me now what war is
Again tell me what life is

More pain and misery in the history of mankind
Sometimes it seems more like
The blind leading the blind
It brings upon us more famine, death and war
You know religion has a lot to answer for

[Chorus]

And as they search to find the bodies in the sand
They find its ashes that are
Scattered across the land
And as the spirits seem to whistle on the wind
A shot is fired somewhere another war begins

And all because of it you’d think
That we would learn
But still the body count the city fires burn
Somewhere there’s someone dying
In a foreign land
Meanwhile the world is crying stupidity of man
Tell me why, tell me why

[Chorus x2]

For the greater good of God (x8)

[Chorus x2]

For the greater good of God (x8)

He gave his life for us
He fell upon the cross
To die for all of those
Who never mourn his loss
It wasn’t meant for us
To feel the pain again
Tell me why, tell me why

Categories
Sounds from the Bucket
Marco Principia

Born in Rome, his beloved city. Graduated with honors in Political Science and International Relations at Università degli Studi “Roma Tre”. Expert of current affairs and United Nations. Recently attended a course in Humanitarian Emergency at INTERSOS. Currently employed at CIES – ONLUS in the Coordination and Organization Office for Interpreting and Translation Service for Territorial Commissions for the Recognition of International Protection.
Huge fan of A.S. Roma.

One Comment
  • Brighter than a Thousand Suns – Iron Maiden
    8 February 2016 at 1:50 pm
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    […] up in the Cold War era amongst common fears of imminent nuclear war and destruction. As for “For the Greater Good of God” this song is also about  human stupidity: in this case shown by the splitting of atoms, […]

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