Song Review: Starving by Hailee Steinfield

June 15, 2017

I do a little bit of DJ-ing, and I'm always looking for new songs. My preferences are always for something that is well made, dance-able and  is in harmony with the Theology of the Body. It’s a big plus if it’s timeless- something that doesn’t go out of fashion.   It doesn't have to be the writer's intention to write a such a song. Indeed, sometimes there is a great joy in finding such a song.

 

The example I like to use is Save the Last Dance for Me. If we look at the meainigs of the body as male and female, it's literal meaning about a man telling the woman that he loves that she is free to enjoy the dance, but the last, and most important dance, is for him, But is has a spiritual meaning-it can also be interpreted as Christ telling the soul to enjoy the time here on earth, but don’t forget we are made to dance with him in heaven. While it was meant to be about romantic love, it just so happens to be theologically profound. Starving by Hailee Stienfield (featuring Zedd) is my new favorite such such song. Here's a plain video with the text:

 

I don't recommend watching the official video, unless you want to be convinced that the writer have no mystical ambitions. Not only that, but it fails to capture the essence of the song on the purely romantic level. To them it’s clearly a song about sex. But the lyrics are so easily re-interpreted as an experience of the Eucharist.  

 

Let's start with the main refrain:

I didn't know that I was starving 'til I tasted you
Don't need no butterflies when you give me the whole damn zoo
By the way, right away you do things to my body
I didn't know that I was starving 'til I tasted you

 

I didn’t know that I was starving ‘til I tasted you. I don’t think I could possibly say anything that makes it more obvious. The choice of metaphor is striking, because what she means by the metaphor is what we take kiterally when we taste Christ in the Eucharist.  This line could be taken from the lips of any number of saints in talking about the Eucharist! Until we receive Christ, we have no idea that we actually were starving.We were made for God. 

 

The second line also provides mystical truths. The world offers so little in comparison to what God offers us, and not merely eternal life. Even here on earth, if we should take  God offers us an abundant life in comparison to what the world offers. The world offers butterflies, but God offers us the whole, um, blessed zoo. The last line is perhaps the most jarring of the song, because I think that even after all the teaching on the Theology of the Body, we still tend to over spiritualize things. But the truth is God also works on our body. Most powerfully, God will give us a new body at the ressurection, one that can fully take in the whole blessed zoo. But here on earth God also does things to our body. Sometimes he will physically heal it, but what's more important is he makes it more, as I like to say, Theological. He makes it better express who he is by changing the desires and the feeling inside of us, if we stay in relationship with him. Along with that a relationship with God will also impact us emotionally. I can't tell you so often how joyful I am with God, or how  often I am angry and argue with him, or the frustrations, along with the butterflies. When we truly love someone it's not merely the butterflies we treasure, but also the hurt. There is a great scene in Daredevil season two when Frank Castle tells Karen Page how much he misses how his wife would hurt him. She could hurt him, he says, because he loved her. When others said hurtful things he could care less. But with her it was different. And it wasn't a kind of masochistic kind of desire, but rather a desire for intimacy- a realization that here were two people, connecting in a very vulnerable way, and that despite 

 

You know just what to say
Things that scare me

 

This so true! God is always telling us things that scare us. Jesus tells the apostles he’s going to his death in Jerusalem, and Peter is freaking out over it. God’s words are indeed scary; they are not at all what we expected to hear, and to hear them unsettles us, and yet when we hear them we know that they apply to us, and we truly need to follow them if we wish to be happy.


I should just walk away
But I can't move my feet

 

 When it comes to God, walking away can seem very attractive. God is scary, because you know that he is going to upend your entire life, and everything that was nice and settled will be tossed out the window. You want to make like Jonah and head west, away from where God is leading you. Yet you also find yourself entranced by God, and desiring him. 
  


The more that I know you, the more I want to
Something inside me's changed
I was so much younger yesterday, oh

 

A relationship with God does indeed change us. It makes us grow up. 

 

 

You know just how to make
My heart beat faster
Emotional earthquake,
Bring on disaster

 

 

This brings to mind what JRR Tolkien called the Eucastophe- the good disaster. An encounter with Christ will most certainly upend your life, and it’s a disaster you ultimately welcome.

 

So it's a song that is dance-able and theological. I don'tthink it's going to stand the test of time, but it is my collection, and I do expect to re-use it. 

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