No Gods No Masters

Album: No Gods No Masters (2021)
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Songfacts®:

  • Garbage frontwoman Shirley Manson grew up in a Presbyterian household, but it didn't take. When she was 12, she refused to go to church and declared religion a "sham." She kept her atheist views, as heard on this song, where she sings:

    Save your prayers for yourself
    'Cause they don't work and they don't help


    In her future, there are no gods or masters to obey.
  • The song was influenced by global protests against corruption and inequality, specifically in Chile, where Manson visited. She was shocked to see that protesters had graffitied monuments and other landmarks, but her local guides couldn't understand why she was so surprised. After all, aren't people more important than buildings and structures?

    This put Manson in a new mindset, and she got riled up over the political fight in America over Confederate landmarks like statues celebrating Civil War heroes of the South, which was trying to preserve slavery. "All these people, they have more value than a monument to slave traders, but they don't have more value in the consciousness of society, and I think it's devilish and obscene, and I want power to be dismantled, and a society re-imagined," she said. "So, this song is about re-imagining our society for the future, for our children and not making the same mistakes over and over again and allowing greed to corrupt our thinking."
  • This is the title track and second single (after "The Men Who Rule The World") from Garbage's No Gods No Masters album, which was almost finished when the pandemic hit in March 2020. They had to complete it remotely, which delayed the release.
  • The music video, directed by Scott Stuckey, starts with the band performing at what looks like a bar before cutting to a striking shot of Manson on a cross for the bridge:

    All our friends
    All our lovers
    All our babies


    The imagery doubles down on Manson's stance against organized religion.
  • Biblical themes run through No Gods No Masters, from "The Men Who Rule The World"'s tale of a modern-day Noah's Ark to "Waiting For God"'s paraphrase of The Lord's Prayer.

    "I'm just astounded to know that we call ourselves a faith-based society, and yet we are watching all this suffering and not doing anything about it," Manson told American Songwriter. "Sometimes people align themselves with God to try and absorb themselves, but it doesn't work that way."

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