2000, 2007: Shellac, Subtle - “Prayer to God”

For Doseone of Subtle, covering Shellac’s “Prayer to God” was an appropriate way of dealing with feelings about an ex-fiancée who had taken up with someone else while he was on tour. Ending the lives of the two parties involved, as the songs’ lyrics suggest, was not. Writing a new song must have seemed unnecessary when Shellac’s ode to jealous murder already existed.

Because songs about situations usually bear no more than a family resemblance to the intense emotion that gave birth to them, a soundtrack to difficult times seems more comfortable for artists than a fresh stab at greatness. If one were to respond completely insensitively to Doseone’s ‘situation,’ “Prayer to God” is the perfect wounded karaoke number because it isn’t something shiny and new; it’s old, borrowed, and blue. And as well as serving up the requisite jilted lover’s blues, it also turns the air blue with a sweary chorus of “fucking kill him.” Doseone really cranks up the demon/voodoo motor of the song, scrunching up his body and flattening his voice to its most nasal and nasty.

The story behind the performance can be verified in an interview he gave to Pitchfork, which — as they might have said in the olden days — was candid, an understatement in fact: As Doseone tells it, “Prayer to God” was prophetic — when an unusual soundcheck was played (the first time he heard the song), he knew something was up back home. I don’t know whether Steve Albini sold his soul to the devil by the roadside to make this song, or whether it was inspired by a real-life kitchen-sink drama, but whatever conspired to make it, ‘tharr be demons’ now somewhere in the mix. The song is eminently useful for angry people the world over — perhaps if put forward, it would steal the UK Christmas No. 1 from Simon Cowell a second time. Which would really piss Albini off.




There’s a lot of good music out there, and it’s not all being released this year. With DeLorean, we aim to rediscover overlooked artists and genres, to listen to music historically and contextually, to underscore the fluidity of music. While we will cover reissues here, our focus will be on music that’s not being pushed by a PR firm.

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