Lady Gaga’s “Judas” Lyrics: Nashville Songwriters Weigh In

Written by April 4th, 2011 at 11:36 am

The lyrics to Lady Gaga’s upcoming single “Judas” aren’t all much of a secret anymore, thanks to the leaks, both accurate and inaccurate, that the Internet has spawned. The song, focusing on the singer’s romantic obsession with the man who betrayed Jesus, is going to infuriate some and go right over the heads of many. But the main thing it’s going to do is make Lady Gaga a lot more money.

The purported lyrics to “Judas,” according to Oh No They Didn’t! and Idolator are:

Dear Judas
My beloved you belong to me
No more backstabbing please
Your blood colored beads
Jealousy, Envy, Insanity
My evil Judas (death and vanity)
My evil Judas (death and vanity)
Let go of me, your poison ivy
My evil Judas (death and vanity)
Please let go, you’re Poison Ivy to me

[verse 1]
As much as I obsess
About the sick things you do
Follow you around and stalk your every move,
I know your laughing behind closed doors, but no more, cause
I’m just a holy fool,
Oh baby he’s so cruel, but I’m still in love with Judas, baby

Uggh (death and vanity)

[Chorus]
When he comes to me, i am ready.
I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs.
Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain.
Even after three times he betrays me.
I’ll bring him down, a king with no crown.
Judas look what have you done
My heart bleeds and you think it’s fun?

My evil judas(death and vanity)
My evil judas(death and vanity)
Let go of me, your poison ivy
My evil judas(death and vanity)
Please let go, you’re Poison Ivy to me

[Verse]

Second verse, same as the first
Your bible won’t save you now
From the glares of the everlasting light,
Remember those hot nights where you lied and lied on my bed
Stabbed me in the back
Let my blood trickle on your rose thorns
But he came and whispered in my ear and left me torn.
Cause I’m just a holy fool,
Oh baby he’s so cruel, but I’m still in love with Judas, baby
Uggh (death and vanity)

[Chorus]

When he comes to me, I am ready.
I’ll wash his feet with my hair if he needs.
Forgive him when his tongue lies through his brain.
Even after three times he betrays me.
I’ll bring him down, a king with no crown.
Judas look what have you done
My heart bleeds and you think it’s fun?
Oh no, oh no, oh no, oh no,
Jealousy, Envy, Insanity,
Misery, Rosary, Sunday,
Trinity, Infinite, Judas, I love you baby! Signed Mother Monsteriety.

My evil Judas (death and vanity)
my evil Judas (death and vanity)
Let go of me, your poison ivy
My evil Judas (death and vanity)
Please let go, you’re Poison Ivy to me

American Songwriter asked four renowned Nashville tunesmiths, of different generations, styles and religious convictions, for their opinions on the lyric. The first comment is from Cary Barlowe, a Grammy-winner for his contemporary Christian contributions to TobyMac’s albums who also has had songs cut by secular acts like Taylor Swift and Lady Antebellum.

Second is Don Poythress, who has had cuts on such mainstream country artists as Trisha Yearwood and Easton Corbin, but who is a church worship leader and one of Nashville’s best-known writers of Christian music.

Number three is Tommy Womack, son of a Southern preacher and onetime frontman of Nashville post-punk legends Government Cheese, and co-writer (with award-winning Americana guitarist Will Kimbrough) of Jimmy Buffett’s “Nobody From Nowhere.”

Finally, we spoke with Bobby Fischer, a veteran Nashville writer (Reba McEntire, George Jones) who, even though he’s now in his seventies, is still getting cuts and is still well aware of what’s going on in popular music, especially since he has a daughter who’s a playwright in New York and a son who works in music with teenagers in a North Carolina church.

Barlowe:

First off, Lady Gaga is the type of artist that shocks her audience anyway. That’s just who she is as an artist. The way she dresses, performs, her lyrics, etc…I think the lyric of the song obviously is about someone that she can’t stay away from. Someone who is bad for her and betrays her but yet she can’t get enough. I think she took it to far with some of the lines like “Your bible won’t save you now.” But then again, it’s Lady Gaga, and that’s just what she does.

Poythress:

You know, I almost hate to remark on a Lady Gaga song without hearing the melody because that’s usually the part of her songs I like the best. Seriously. Lyrically, this song seems to echo the age old adage that girls love bad boys! It hacked me off when I was in high school and it still does! She obviously chose Judas, the epitome of evil and betrayal, to highlight this point. And though this metaphor she gives you an endless array of imagery to choose from. It runs the risk of going a little over the top and losing any story line that rings true. Like using “poison ivy.” It seems a lover this cruel would give you more than just an itchy rash.

I was asked if, as a Christian, I was offended by this lyric and I’m really not. Secular writers have borrowed biblical imagery for generations, mainly because the bible is the best, truest, and most impactful work in history. It does bother me when someone puts the person of Jesus Christ in an untrue light, but I’m not too worried about Judas. If there is any reference to Christ in this song, it’s so concealed in metaphor that it makes no real statement. This lyric is kind of like Garage Band with words instead of loops. Take Matthew, Mark, Luke, a co-dependent relationship, splice them together and …voila! But I’ll bet the melody’s awesome.

Womack:

Well, Ms. Gaga, what hast thee wrought?

I don’t think she’s going all-out sacrilegious here. I mean, it’s not like Madonna’s “Like a Prayer” video. Although Lady Gaga clearly learned a lot at the Material Girl’s feet. What I’m seeing, looking at the lyrics, is that she’s singing to a guy who betrays her, three times. But she still loves him.

She’s obviously (to me) not singing as if she’s Jesus in the first-person; she just a woman who loves a jerk. Poor girl. And she gets a few biblical metaphors mixed up. Judas only betrayed Jesus once. It was St. Peter who pulled the trifecta, and he didn’t really betray him, just denied that he knew him.

Altogether, it’s a nice enough use of symbolism – I mean, nice enough for a pop song my son’s going to enjoy. I’m actually familiar with her material, thanks to him. He changes the radio to the station that plays her on the minute he gets in the car. I like Lady Gaga. She’s tuneful enough. I like her voice. It’s not great poetry. They’re just pop lyrics. That’s all, nothing more and nothing less. As a religious man, I’m not offended. But then, I like Black Sabbath too.

Fischer:

In my opinion, “Judas” seems more like biblical poetry and heavy grand opera. It’s more like something that needs to be acted out on stage, and not anything you would hear written in Nashville. But then, Lady Gaga’s having hits and she’s smart enough to use her talent and momentum. I doubt that Little Jimmy Dickens will cover it though.

American Songwriter columnist and professional song doctor Bill Renfrew gives his opinion as well:

At first it might appear as bad form that the writer isn’t sticking with 2nd person throughout, but I think it’s intentional. After all, reality is trumped by deep and meaningless every time when it comes to intrigue.

It’s well known that if you’re going to take on a theme that’s been beaten to death (ie, you hurt me but I can’t let you go) you’ve got to find a unique slant. That goal is clearly accomplished…however likening ones self to Jesus in a song for the sake of novelty, regardless of how you might actually feel about yourself, might be a tad over the top.

There are some vivid lines in there though; (“lying through his brain” comes to mind) and I like the wordplay with “lied and lied on my bed.”

I hope the music’s good.

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