I am not somebody who identifies with any particular religion – I find many of them intriguing, thought-provoking, and I can identify with aspects of various creeds and beliefs. Driving home from soccer recently, I found myself listening to “Hello” by Adele on the radio (as many of us probably have). As I listened to the lyrics, I was surprised by the direction my thoughts went – not to some fabricated significant other, whose breakup I was pretending to painfully relive, but to the God many of my peers and relatives worship. I can’t say what brought this on, although I did recently finish reading a very well-written novel on a deeply Christian southern community, and perhaps this stirred my subconscious mind into what it did next:

It was both fascinating and surprising to imagine Adele’s singing as a one-sided conversation in which she addresses God in a casual – yet somehow heartfelt – prayer:

“Hello, it’s me
I was wondering if after all these years you’d like to meet
To go over everything
They say that time’s supposed to heal you
But I ain’t done much healing”

Is she regretting a sin? Is she seeking repentance, or forgiveness?

“There’s such a difference between us
And a million miles

Hello from the other side
I must’ve called a thousand times
To tell you I’m sorry
For everything that I’ve done
But when I call you never
Seem to be home”

This was perhaps the moment that I got a bit over-excited as my nerdy, literary-analyst-self began to truly notice the astonishing similarities between Adele’s song and the conversation with God that could easily exist in anyone’s head (my English teachers last year may have done a little too well in encouraging us to analyze the rhetoric and symbolism in our daily lives…).

The “million miles” could easily be referring to the vast distance between a person’s location on Earth and God’s in the sky, or in heaven. As the narrator struggles to connect with God, as many of those who go through tough times do, she admits that her faith is difficult to maintain because she never gets an answer – “you never seem to be home.”

“Hello from the outside
At least I can say that I’ve tried
To tell you I’m sorry”

Here, it’s almost as if the speaker has given up on God, and that she’s done her moral duty by apologizing for a sin, and now it’s up to him to forgive her – and whether he does or not won’t make a difference to her.

While Adele clearly didn’t mean for her song to be interpreted this way, it’s still thought-provoking to do so, and makes me wonder what other religions and ideas can be projected into well-known songs. Obviously, this can’t be done for many – if not most – popular songs these days (“Gas Pedal”, anyone?), but what about “One Call Away”? Could you imagine a middle-aged mother trying to send a message to her bitter, increasingly independent daughter that she still loves her and is there to support her? Or, how about “Stressed Out”? While the artists meant it to be a discussion of adult life, it can easily be applied to high school (junior year…).

So, the next time you’re driving somewhere, listening to the radio, tune in to the lyrics. What are they saying? What could they be saying?