Behind The Song: “Take Me To Church” by Hozier

It’s the song that changed everything for him. When he wrote it, Hozier was struggling to launch his music career. He was living with his parents still, in their attic in Bray, Country Wicklow, Ireland. It’s there he wrote “Take Me To Church,” and also recorded a home demo of it.

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The indie label Rubyworks heard the demo and loved it. Their producer Rob Kirwan overdubbed many instrumental tracks over the demo. Hozier played all the instruments on it, and did all the vocals, except for drums, which were played by Fiachra Kinder.

The music video of the song, directed by Brendan Canty and Conal Thomson, reflected instances of everyday homophobia, and went viral, which propelled the song to become a global hit. It reached the top of the charts in twelve countries, and was nominated for the Grammy for Best Song of The Year for 2014.

We spoke to Hozier then about the origins of this song. It started with words, he said, which he developed, separate from music.

“Often I hold off with music till I have something that is right for it,” he said. “So I worked for months on the words, not exactly of that form and shape, but all the thematic stuff was there. I didn’t have the title.”

It was at the piano that the chorus – with title – arrived:

“I’m not a great piano player, but I love to play around. When you are unfamiliar with an instrument, you play it in a different way, and you come up with new ideas. And suddenly I just stumbled across the chorus. Those words and that music fell into place.”

Toying with the dynamics of what is considered sacred, he felt the title was an ideal allegory for sex and sexuality, but “tongue-in-cheek.”

The idea of ‘deathless death,’ he said, “has to do with the promise of everlasting life. Which is the core promise you are given in church. They promise you paradise after you die. But only when you devote your living hours, then you get something on the other end of it. And it’s quite a raw deal!”

“The line is also about what the French called ‘the little death,’” he said, “which is the orgasm. It’s a joke on that, about the act of loving somebody, and yourself in particular.”

Asked if the song was directed at anyone specifically, he said, “No.
I didn’t write it for any one person. It’s a love song but not so much about the object of that love.”

“Take Me To Church”
By Hozier

My lover’s got humour
She’s the giggle at a funeral
Knows everybody’s disapproval
I should’ve worshipped her sooner

If the heavens ever did speak
She’s the last true mouthpiece
Every Sunday’s getting more bleak
A fresh poison each week

“We were born sick,” you heard them say it

My church offers no absolutes
She tells me, “Worship in the bedroom”
The only heaven I’ll be sent to
Is when I’m alone with you

I was born sick
But I love it
Command me to be well
Aaay. Amen. Amen. Amen

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

Take me to church
I’ll worship like a dog at the shrine of your lies
I’ll tell you my sins so you can sharpen your knife
Offer me that deathless death
Good God, let me give you my life

If I’m a pagan of the good times
My lover’s the sunlight
To keep the Goddess on my side
She demands a sacrifice

Drain the whole sea
Get something shiny
Something meaty for the main course
That’s a fine-looking high horse
What you got in the stable?
We’ve a lot of starving faithful

That looks tasty
That looks plenty
This is hungry work

No Masters or Kings
When the Ritual begins
There is no sweeter innocence than our gentle sin

In the madness and soil of that sad earthly scene
Only then I am human
Only then I am clean
Ooh oh. Amen. Amen. Amen

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