BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#592 - "Good to be Alive" by Skillet
John Cooper explains where "Good to be Alive" fits into the broader story of redemption woven throughout Skillet's album Rise.
 


Skillet is one of the best Christian rock band success stories of the past decade. From the self-titled debut album in 1996 until now, the band has continued to redefine itself into the superstar rock band that released one of this decade's best-selling rock albums, Awake. For me, Skillet's combination of strings, keyboard, guitar, drums and John Cooper's powerful vocals with his wife Korey and drummer Jen's background vocals is meant to be heard and experienced live.
 
I've seen Skillet perform the new songs from Rise at Creation Festival and most recently at Winter Jam. Each time I've seen them in concert, Skillet has put on such an engaging and energetic rock show that one can't help but leave their show as a "panhead" (the name hardcore Skillet fans are proudly called).
 
Rise fires me up about my faith in Jesus. Skillet has an amazing opportunity to reach the lost for the Kingdom of God with their transparent lyrics and incredible musical talent. This album is chock full of songs you can proudly share with your friends and family. I go on the same journey as the main character throughout Rise, and I am very moved by the time the album proclaims that Jesus is our "Salvation." Amen to that!
 
I had the great opportunity to interview John Cooper in-person at Winter Jam about his great new song "Good to be Alive." Here's what he had to say.
 
Please tell me the personal story behind writing this song.
 
When we came up with the title for the song, we figured there were already a lot of songs called "Good to be Alive." I didn't find a whole lot of examples, but I wondered if it was so obvious that someone would have already said it. I thought it was a great way to say what we are feeling. To me, if there's a Scripture that I would tie-in to the message of the song, it's about "learning to be content in all things." When things aren't going well, remember that it's good to be alive.
 
We're still here, we're still kicking and God's still got a purpose for me. If I trust in Him and I'm content during those bad times, then the brightness will be even brighter. Things that mean something personally to me are found in lines like "driving down this highway, soaking up the sun, got miles to go before we're home, and the journey's just begun." That means a lot to me a little bit romantically. I didn't write the song for my wife, but songs can mean different things.
 
Something Korey and I ask each other all the time is "what is our next adventure?" It's the positive way we try to look at some of the hardships we've had, like bringing our kids on the road, and the first day of Winter Jam our bus broke down. I said, "Hey honey, it's an adventure." At 7 a.m. we're unloading our bus into a hotel room. I think God wants to show us all that there are going to be ups and downs in life. We certainly hope that He has a purpose for us. The Bible teaches us that He does. That's what the whole "journey's just begun" is referencing.
 
Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV): "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
 
Lamentations 3:22-23 (The Voice): How enduring is God's loyal love; the Eternal has inexhaustible compassion. Here they are, every morning, new! Your faithfulness, God, is as broad as the day.
 
Lamentations 3:25-26 (NKJV): The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, to the soul who seeks Him. It is good that one should hope and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.
 
Matthew 6:32-34 (The Voice): Outsiders make themselves frantic over such questions; they don't realize that your heavenly Father knows exactly what you need. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and then all these things will be given to you too. So do not worry about tomorrow. Let tomorrow worry about itself. Living faithfully is a large enough task for today.
 
Romans 6:23 (The Voice): The payoff for a life of sin is death, but God is offering us a free gift—eternal life through our Lord Jesus, the Anointed One, the Liberating King.
 
Romans 8:28 (NKJV): And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
 
Philippians 4:11 (VOICE): I am not saying this because I am in need. I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances.
 
What is the takeaway message of the album?

As we've mentioned in our previous discussion, there's a very big story that this record is telling. It's a concept record. Song one to song twelve is telling the big story. The character is having a lot of ups and downs. The reason is because that's how life is.

Even when you make a decision for Christ, things aren't always easy, and unfortunately there are still struggles. "Good to be Alive" comes after "Sick of It," where the character is mentioning all the things in life they want to get rid of— hurts from others and hurts from inside. This song is an answer, waking up to the fact that there are a lot of blessings in our lives and to stop focusing so much on terrible things.
 
Within "American Noise" and "Salvation" you're getting a quick picture of the transformation process of the character in our story. In "American Noise," which is track six, the character in the album finally decides that he's not going to be good enough to make himself happy. He realizes that no matter how much he tries to change his surroundings, in his own heart it doesn't feel right, and there's no hope. That is when he reaches out to Christ. There's a Scripture reading from Isaiah 53 before the song "Salvation" which is read by my daughter, and it's a prophetic Scripture about Jesus coming to take our sins upon Him. Then it goes into the song "Salvation."
 
That's why I feel this record is so evangelistic, because it is all of our stories. We can all relate to the search for significance and hope in a fallen world. The song "Salvation" is about feeling all alone, with nothing to live for, but reaching out for Christ, and Christ is now my reason to live. He is my salvation, and He is everything to me. That song is the climax of the record. The character in the album feels better after salvation. It's not just about feelings, but it is also about Truth. Having a new identity in Christ leads to a celebratory song, "What I Believe."
 
Lyrics:
When all you got are broken dreams
Just need a second chance
And everything you want to be
Gets taken from your hands
We hold onto each other
All we have is all we need
Because one way or another
We always thank it's you and me

This life could almost kill ya
When you're trying to survive
It's good to be here with ya
And it's good to be alive

It's good to be alive
I was lost and I was gone
I was almost dead inside
You and me against the world
It's a beautiful night
It's good to be alive

It's good to be alive
It's good to be alive
It's good to be alive
It's good to be alive
It's good to be alive

Driving down this highway
Soaking up the sun
Got miles to go before we get home
And the journey's just begun
We hold onto each other
You are everything I need
You feel like forever
You're a second chance for me



One of the main themes throughout the past two Skillet albums, Awake and now Rise, is making a decision to live for Christ and not for ourselves. John's description of being at war with the world in "Awake and Alive" is exactly the battle we face every day as a Christian. Jesus assures us in Matthew 6:32-34 to "seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
 
Personally, I hear my own story in these songs as the main character in the songs goes from being "Sick of It" to knowing it is "Good to be Alive" and ultimately proclaiming "What I Believe." The songs represent a spiritual awakening and how eternal life is found in "Salvation." There is no other name under Heaven by which we are saved than our "Hero," Jesus Christ.
 
For me, the most encouraging part of the song is the message that I don't have to be perfect or rely on my plans, but that God knows me and loves me just as I am. That is cause for celebration. We need to live each day knowing that despite circumstances, God has a plan for "those who love Him, who are called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28). We really bring nothing to the table. 
 
This song has quickly become one of my all-time favorite songs by Skillet. Between John's vocals and the excellent message behind this rock anthem, I can't get enough of the song. There are several lyrics that really speak to me, in particular: "You are everything I need. You feel like forever, You're a second chance for me." Once you are a follower of Jesus, you know that He is everything you need, He is forever, and He is a second chance. Amen to that!
 
(Listen to the song here.)


 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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