BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#225 - "Galaxies" by Owl City
Adam Young of Owl City talks with NRT's Kevin Davis about salvation, Hercules and the space shuttle Challenger.
 


Owl City's Adam Young--a 24-year-old small-town Minnesotan who had never been on an airplane until two years ago--has experienced many extraordinary moments over the past 18 months (including calling his mom back home on his cellphone while standing on The Great Wall of China).

Young's travels came in the wake of the blockbuster success of Owl City's major-label debut album--the lush, lovingly created Ocean Eyes, which was released by Universal Republic Records in July 2009.

Filled with whimsical melodies and blissful beats, Ocean Eyes topped the Billboard Rock, Alternative, and Dance/Electronic charts, and was certified platinum in the U.S. The album spawned the quadruple-platinum single "Fireflies," which hit No. 1 in 24 countries, including the U.S. (twice), and sold more than four million downloads. Its eye-popping success made Owl City an international phenomenon, selling nearly 12 million tracks worldwide, selling out headlining shows in the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand, and Asia, and racking up more than 98 million total plays on MySpace.

Young's adventures are evocatively detailed on the impossibly catchy electro-pop songs that make up Owl City's self-produced new album, All Things Bright and Beautiful, which finds Young expanding his sonic palette as he takes his listeners into a verdant musical dreamland. Throughout the album, Young retains his trademark optimism, letting the listener know that no matter how tough times get, there's always light at the end of the tunnel.

"I would feel weird if I were to communicate anything other than optimism, because it's just who I am," Young says. "It's always been in me to make Owl City a vehicle that sends a hopeful message. As a listener, I'm drawn to things that are really uplifting. When a certain melody grabs my ear, it makes me feel like I could be a better person."

About how music and his faith merge, Young says, “Music is something that is fused to who I am. It allows me to breathe deeply, it lets me feel, imagine, aspire and dream in the most beautiful ways imaginable. Music is something that I can't imagine living without, and though it means more to me than the world itself, there is something that weighs significantly heavier on the scale of all things valuable and important in my life, that being my relationship with Jesus Christ. I've never wanted to be shy about the reason behind why I do what I do, why I create art, why I dream and imagine. That reason is my faith in a God more powerful and omnipotent and full of love for us than words can even begin to describe.”

I had the great opportunity to interview Adam about the stand-out single, “Galaxies.”

Describe to us the message behind the song “Galaxies.” Please share any personal application regarding your walk as a Christian in the song, in particular the lyrics: “He is the saving grace of the galaxies... Dear God, You’re the only North Star I would follow this far.”

The song as an overall conception was written from the first-person perspective of the flight commander of the space shuttle Challenger that tragically exploded in 1986. I wrote the song reflecting what I would be feeling and how I would answer for my life if I entered into eternity in a split second the way the victims did. The song is all about what I would say for myself if, all of a sudden, I was face to face with God and I had to answer for my actions in life. It is a bold statement, and with that imagery in mind, God is my only North Star that I would follow regardless of what happens. There’s a sound clip with President Ronald Reagan speaking about the victims of space shuttle Challenger that exploded on the track “January 28, 1986.” In the sound clip, Reagan pays tribute to their bravery and how they “touched the face of God.”

Any Bible verses come to mind that go with the message of the song?

1 Peter 3:18-22: "For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit. After being made alive, He went and made proclamation to the imprisoned spirits— to those who were disobedient long ago when God waited patiently in the days of Noah while the ark was being built. In it only a few people, eight in all, were saved through water, and this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God. It saves you by the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at God’s right hand—with angels, authorities and powers in submission to Him."

How can listeners apply that message in their walks as Christians when they listen to the song?

For me, in terms of writing and creating songs, I write from my heart and not for popularity and success. My prayer has always been that the Lord would take whatever results from my creative endeavors and that God would use me as His vessel. God can connect messages with whoever, however He chooses. In some ways it is none of my business. I’ve always dedicated each song and album and prayed that the Lord uses me and my songs however He chooses and take them places I can’t take them.

This song in particular on the new album, in conjunction with “Angels,” are my prayers for God’s message to reach people. The lyrics “Dear God, I was terribly lost” are a parallel of my journey of my life before I came into a saving relationship with the Lord. For me, it’s like the whole galaxy was laid out before me and then I found God as my light. That’s where the idea of being on the space shuttle before it exploded and not having a Savior was frightening to me. That’s where my resolve came from and how this song is my bold statement of God being the only saving grace of the galaxy. In the song, I mention Hercules as an example of something vying for my attention and my faith. Hercules doesn’t have anything to offer me compared to Jesus Christ. That’s the whole message of the song.

Here are the lyrics:

Call back the cap-com,
Tick off the time-bomb,
Let felicity fly!
Armor the airlock,
Blanket the bedrock,
And kiss the planet goodbye!

Dear God, I was terribly lost,
When the galaxies crossed,
And the Sun went dark.
Dear God, You're the only North Star,
I would follow this far.

Fight back the flight deck,
Bring on the breakneck,
Cue the solar eclipse!
Summit the sunset,
Dovetail the dragnet,
And blow your backbone to bits!

Dear God, I was terribly lost,
When the galaxies crossed,
And the Sun went dark.
Dear God, You're the only North Star,
I would follow this far.

Oh telescope, keep an eye on my only hope,
Lest I blink and be swept off the narrow road.
Hercules, you've got nothing to say to me,
'Cause you're not the blinding light that I need.

For He is the saving grace of the Galaxies!
He is the saving grace of the Galaxies

Dear God, I was terribly lost,
When the galaxies crossed,
And the Sun went dark.
(Went dark)
Dear God, You're the only North Star,
I would follow this far.

I would follow this far.
(Galaxies, galaxies, through the galaxies, through the galaxies)


Like everyone else, I was hooked by “Fireflies” and “Vanilla Twilight” from Ocean Eyes. At the time, I didn’t even know Adam was a Christian and then he recorded a brilliant cover of “In Christ Alone,” and I’ve been a huge fan ever since. Some of the boldest Christian focused lyrics are found in my favorite song “Galaxies.” I’m really looking forward to hearing Adam perform this song at Creation Northeast on July 2, 2011.

No matter what, there isn’t a detail in our lives that God isn’t concerned about. His grace, mercy and forgiveness are always available to us and all we need to do is submit ourselves completely to God.

Proverbs 3:5-6 includes a great reminder to not lean on our own understanding, but instead acknowledge Him in all our ways and He shall direct our paths. Here’s Asbury’s Bible commentary on 1 Peter 3:18-22: “Peter exhorts his readers to fulfill their unique calling in the world. In 1:3-12 he expresses the content of saving grace; in 1:13-5:11 he exhorts his readers to conduct in keeping with saving grace.”

As this song boldly declares, Jesus Christ is our “only saving grace of the galaxies.” Amen.

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.

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