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Meaning Behind “Take Me To Church” By Hozier

Take Me To Church by Hozier hit number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart and number one on the Adult Top 40 chart, but do you know what this track is all about? We’re going to dive into the meaning behind Take Me To Church by Hozier, so read on to find out what made this song such a hit! 

Origins

The origins of Take Me To Church date back to 2013, which is when the Irish musician Hozier wrote the track in three months while he was living with his parents in County Wicklow, Ireland. He recorded the song in between his open mic work after he had gone through a horrible breakup. As a struggling musician, he was making his own music and recording his own demo tapes. Take Me To Church was recorded in the attic of his parent’s home using a backing track that had been programmed. 

There are only two people on that first demo tape of Take Me To Church, which were Hozier and Fiachra Kinder, the drummer. Rubyworks, which is an independent label, caught wind of the track and hooked him up with Rob Kirwan, who was a producer. The song then underwent some work once Kirwan got involved, such as adding live instruments.

While live instruments were added to the track, Kirwan thought the raw original vocals were powerful and special, so he kept Hozier’s vocals from the demo. It didn’t take long for the work to be completed, and in September 2013, the single Take Me To Church was released. 

Music Video

Hozier - Take Me To Church

In September 2013, the music video for Take Me To Church was released with help from Conal Thomson, Emmet O’Brien, and Brendan Canty, who helped direct the video. The video was in black and white since there was hardly any money available to make it. Two men, who are in a romantic relationship, are the subject of this video. 

Stephen Fry, an actor, shared this video on Reddit which made it to the front page, and that is really how the song Take Me To Church started to go mainstream and become a viral hit. Island Records and Columbia Records decided to license the track, and it only took until early 2014 for the song to become a global phenomenon. 

Inspiration 

Hozier said that the inspiration for Take Me To Church partially comes from Christopher Hitchens, who was an author, and Fulke Greville too, who was a poet. He went on to explain that it was supposed to be a celebratory song about sexuality.

Unfortunately, it received backlash for people assuming it was homophobic based on the video being about two gay men. Hozier also said that it was a critique of the Catholic Church, but so many people misinterpreted all of it and didn’t realize it wasn’t about going to church. 

Chart Success And Performance 

In October 2013, Take Me To Church had its first success in his home country of Ireland where it charted on the Irish Singles Chart in the number two position. It hit number one on the charts in multiple countries in 2014, with it reaching number one in 12 and hitting the Top 10 in more than 21 other countries and territories. Specifically, it went to number one on the Hot Rock Songs Billboard chart and stayed there for 23 weeks consecutively. At that time, it broke records for staying number one on the Hot Rock Songs chart for that long. 

In December 2014, it peaked at number two on the Billboard Hot 100 chart, unable to beat out Blank Space by Taylor Swift. The track stayed there at the number two position for three weeks consecutively. It was also nominated for Song Of The Year at the 57th Grammy Awards, although it lost.

While the track was a huge hit on YouTube, it ended up gaining more traction on Spotify where it had more than 87 million people listening to it in 2014, and it became the number one streamed song on Spotify for the year 2014. 

What Is The Real Meaning? 

Hozier had explained the meaning of the track more than once through the years since it’s often misinterpreted, and he said that Take Me To Church was meant to be a song that calls out the Catholic church for its stance on homosexuality. It’s supposed to be attacking the church on this particular stance and isn’t attacking the church or religion as a whole. 

He then went on to say that it’s a track dealing with how homophobia is rampant, especially within the Catholic Church. It deals with how oppressed people in this community are in countries such as Russia. The music video and the song are aimed at how instead of accepting and loving each other, values and policies have created conditions where people with different lifestyles are oppressed and attacked, such as the homosexual community. 

In the music video, the two gay men are attacked after they were making out and tortured by a mob, and you’re supposed to be more upset at the gay men being attacked rather than be upset you just witnessed two men kissing. If the kissing is what has upset you more than the men being violently attacked by the mob, then you are the problem according to Hozier. 

The Lyrics 

There are two main themes within the lyrics of Take Me To Church, which are the anti-church theme and the bad breakup Hozier had and the woman he loved. 

At the beginning of the song, he talks about how he regrets not having worshiped his ex-girlfriend and then goes into detail about how this woman was like a God and how God spoke through her. He begins to attack the church and talk about how it’s nothing but poison with the rhetoric that the church spews. He talks about how this woman can teach us all the meaning of life more than the church. 

Within the next part of Take Me To Church, he begins saying how having sex with this woman brings him closer to God than any church could, and how when he’s with this woman, he feels like he’s in heaven. Going into the chorus is really when he heavily attacks the church talking about how the church makes you feel like a sinner and how shameful it is that they attack and demean those who attend for certain actions that the church believes are wrong. 

He begins to talk about his beliefs that whether you’re straight or gay or somewhere in between, sex is what shows someone you love them, and it’s more loving than religion. He details some pagan imagery including a goddess and sunlight. You get the feeling towards the end of the track that he believes sex is the true satisfaction of a happy and good life, and it should be pursued and not frowned upon or shied away from. 

He then goes into his main point again where he compares his love to the church and uses his love to attack the church. Ultimately, sex and love are stronger and more important than the church, and those lyrics have been misconstrued since the song was released as an attack on gays instead of an attack on the Catholic Church. 

Covers 

Take Me To Church has been covered by several other artists over the years. In 2014, on the television show The Voice, Matt McAndrew covered it. That cover made it to 92 on the Billboard Hot 100 and hit the iTunes charts too, making it to number five. 

In 2015, on her YouTube channel, Ellie Goulding released a beautiful rendition of Take Me To Church. Pop star Demi Lovato also covered the song during her performance at the Live Lounge in November 2015. 

American Sign Language interpreter Amber Galloway Gallego performed it in sign language in 2015, and that same year, India Carney also performed the track during the Top 12 Act portion of season 8 of The Voice

Additionally, on the YouTube channel Postmodern Jukebox, Morgan James covered Take Me To Church. Gun, a Scottish rock band also covered the song in 2015 and even released a video for it which went onto the album R3L0ADED, a best-of compilation. 

Vampires Everywhere released a rock version of the track on the album Ritual in 2016, and it featured the vocal work of Alex Koehler. The Agonist, which is a metal band, released a cover of the song in 2017 through Napalm Records, and during America’s Got Talent season 10, Sharon Irving also covered the track, and it led her to move onto the semi-finals of the show.

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