In this somber song, I think Glen Phillips is referring to various things we’re enslaved to as “god.”
And we have more of them than we care to admit.
Obvious ones: drugs, overeating, junk food, caffeine, porn, addiction — whatever it is that you can’t control how much or if at all to have.
Less obvious ones: pride, reputation, money, possessions, affection, acceptance, approval — you’d rather stress yourself out and shorten your life than to lose some of these things.
But what they provide in return for your worship and dedication and sacrifice, is unsettlement, discomfort, and fear. And we get so used to them, that dishing out our life-force to receive such things become the norm.
I feel my body weakened by the years
As people turn to gods of cruel designs
Is it that they fear the pain of death
Or could it be they fear the joy of life
Pray your gods who rule you by your fear
For they are quick and ruthless punishers
Or lay upon my altar now your love
I fear my day is done
There are armies moving on
Be quick, my love
Well, whoever told you that the guilt, disquiet, and shame they provide is a normal part of your life — they were lying.
If they said, you can’t live without these things — those were lies, too.
It’s not too late. And even if you don’t turn things around enough to be actually peaceful and whole — being on the way there is so much better than being chained to these things.
People can change. We can change.
So start changing.