The Absence of God

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The Absence of God is an acoustic folk song by Rilo Kiley and first appeared as track six on More Adventurous, on 2004-08-17. The song was composed by Jenny Lewis and Blake Sennett, produced by Mark Trombino and Mike Mogis. On the album recording, Lewis sings vocals and plays piano, Blake Sennett plays acoustic guitar, Pierre de Reeder plays bass, Jason Boesel plays drums, Mogis plays vibraphone, glockenspiel, and Wurlitzer, Mike Bloom play acoustic guitar, Nate Walcott plays trumpet, and backup vocals are sung by Kianna Alarid and Neely Jenkins.

Despite the title, this song has very little to do with atheism and is more about trying to figure out who you are, what life means to be you, and how to find love when you have a hard time loving yourself.


Being tucked in the middle, this song didn't initially standout from More Adventurous, but, the more I listened to the album, the more I appreciated this song, and it slowly grew to become my favorite track.

Some of the aspects of the song resonate with me personally, others I think are important to humanity as a whole. For example, I love the lyric, "I'm not my body," which I interpret to mean, my physical body isn't my identity, rather my thoughts and emotions are the real me. The follow-up lyric, "or how I choose to destroy it," is very important because we all have our vices, and none of us are optimally healthy, so it's wrong to wave people away as simply "an addict," without recognizing that they're still a person. I also really love the quotation of Morgan Nagler, "all of your failures are training grounds." The lyric, "the need to destroy things creeps up on me every time," doesn't fit to me, but it does remind me a lot of some people I've met and dated in my life.

As for the music, I like the acoustic guitar intro as well as the buildup at the beginning of the last verse. Jenny has a particularly pleading sound to her voice that I find beautiful, and, though I don't like how the vocals end, I think the song has a great instrumental finish.


The absence of god will bring you comfort, baby.
And plannin's for the poor,
So let's pretend that we're rich.
And I'm not my body,
Or how I choose to destroy it.

Folk singers sing songs for the working, baby.
We're just recreation for all those doctors and lawyers.
There's no relief for the Bleeding Heart,
'Cause they'll be losing bodies tonight.

And Rob says you love, love, love and, then you die.
I've watched him while sleeping and seen him cryin' with closed eyes.

And you're not happy, but you're funny,
And I'm tripping over my joy
And I just keep on gettin' up again.

We could be daytime drunks if we wanted,
We'd never get anything done that way, baby.
And we'd still be ruled by our duelin' perspectives.
And I'm not my perspective,
Or the lies I'll tell you every time.

And Morgan says, "Maybe love won't let you down,"
"All of your failures are training grounds,"
"And just as your back's turned you'll be surprised," she says,
"As your solitude subsides."

And Mike, I'll teach you how to swim,
If you turn the bad in me into good again.

And I say, "There's trouble,"
When everything is fine.
The need to destroy things,
Creeps up on me every time.
And just as love's silhouette appears,
I close my eyes and disappear tonight.

And somethin's gotta change
'Cause our love's the slowest moving train.


Album version.
Austin City Limits (starts at 11:52).
Live on October 2004-10-23.
Live at the Rio Theatre, Santa Cruz, CA on 2008-04-23.