Song of the Week: Faust, Midas, and Myself

Posted by Andrew Groves | Posted in | Posted on Saturday, February 28, 2009

Switchfoot's song "Faust, Midas, and Myself" cleverly weaves together two stories of selfishness and greed and translates those stories into Jon Foreman's personal experience.

The first is Goethe's Faust in which the title character makes a deal with Mephistopheles, the devil. Faust, a Job-like character, is offered "everything [he's] ever had in fantasies." This also echoes the temptation of Jesus found in Matthew 4.

"Again, the devil took [Jesus] to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory. And he said to him, 'All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.'" -Matthew 4:8,9

The second story concerns King Midas. Overcome with greed, Midas asks the Greek god Dionysus for the golden touch, that everything he touches turns to gold. This seemingly wonderful power backfires when he accidentally changes his daughter into gold.

Jon Foreman's lyricism takes these two tales and shows the similarities that exist in his own experience. All of us experience temptation and failure, and more often than not, serious consequences follow. Thus, we must take heed of the warning that is presented in this song: "You've one life left to lead." We must remember to be responsible with the time we've been given on this earth because there are no do-overs.

Faust, Midas, and Myself
by Switchfoot
This one's about a dream I had last night
How an old man tracked me home and stepped inside
Put his foot inside the door and gave a crooked smile
Something in his eyes
Something in his laugh
Something in his voice made my skin crawl off

He said I've seen you here before; I know your name
How you could have your pick of pretty things
You could have it all, everything at once
Everything you've seen
Everything you'll need
Everything you've ever had in fantasies

You've one life
You've one life
You've one life left to lead

I woke up from my dream as a golden man
With a girl I've never seen with Golden skin
I jumped up to my feet; she asked me what was wrong
I began to scream
I don't think this is me
Is this just a dream or really happening?

You've one life
You've one life
You've one life left to lead

What direction?
I'm splitting up
This is my personal disaffection!

What direction?
What direction?
What direction now?

I looked outside the glass at golden shores
Golden ships and masts with golden cords
As my reflection passed, I hated what I saw
The Golden eyes were dead
A thought passed through my head
A heart that's made of gold can't really beat at all

I wanted to wake up again
Without a touch of gold

What direction?
Life begins at the intersection
What direction?
What direction?
What direction now?

I woke up as before, but the gold was gone
My wife was at the door with a night robe on
My heart beat once or twice, and life flooded my veins
Everything had changed
My lungs had found their voice
And what was once routine was now the perfect joy

You've one life
You've one life
You've one life left to lead

Comments Posted (2)

  1. Nice writeup my brother...this is a GREAT SONG! Switchfoot has really grown up into an awesome band...I like anyone whose lyrics cionsist of allusions to literature!

    PS- When do we get a Rich Mullins writeup?!?!

  2. Hey, Andrew -- I love this! Spoken as a true English teacher's son.