Strange Religion


"Strange Religion" is a song by Mark Lanegan originally released on the album, Bubblegum, on August 10, 2004. It was covered by Dave Gahan and Soulsavers and is the second track on Imposter.


(from original recording)

Can you stay here next to me?
We'll just keep drivin'
Because of you I see a light
The Buick's a Century, a '73 like you
Some strange religion
I get my hands on some money momma, and a shot in the night
Stared down the past and just scarred my eyes
Now I know there's no easy ride
She's been the kind who would take it in stride
Some jack of diamonds kicked her heart around
Did they know they were walking on holy ground?
Almost called it a day so many times
Didn't know what it felt like to be alive
'Til you been a friend to me, like nobody else could be
Keep my hands on the wheel now momma
Gonna honestly try
She looked past the scars and the burned out eyes
You could see I'm no easy ride
She's just the kind who might get you to buy
Some strange religion
This jack of diamonds kicked her heart around
Shoulda known they were walking on holy ground
This life might eventually just be the end of me, will I still be with you
Get in next to me, just keep driving
Cause of you I been alive
And this Buick's a Century, '73 like you
Some strange religion
The Buick's a Century, '73 like you
Some strange religion

Dave's Take

"For me, growing up, religion was terrifying. Singing in church, though, actually made me feel as if I belonged to something. I really enjoyed that. Moving from there, and trying to find love — or hide from it — they're all so close, yet far away from us, sometimes. 'Strange Religion,' for me, metaphorically also describes that relationship with another person, maybe the last person in the world who would reveal something to you about the position you find yourself in. I hear someone that I clearly identify with in Mark's voice."1

"I first heard this song when recording Hourglass in my old studio on Varrick Street in New York. I never stopped playing it during the making of that album, and it has stayed with me ever since."2

My Take

I feel like this song has a lot of similarities to "Personal Jesus," lyrically speaking. Now, why do I say that, other than the obvious Depeche Mode reference? Well, it seems like it's describing a woman who is a "savior" of sorts, to the point of almost being worshipped by the person describing her, who in contrast, doesn't seem to think very much of himself ("I'm no easy ride"). Whether this describes a romantic relationship or a relationship between a son and a mother (which I've also heard as a possible interpretation), this is a very strange religion, indeed. Sound familiar? Anyway, speaking of familiar, Dave has a lot of connections to this song- more than we probably know; of course, Mark Lanegan has been a longtime friend of his and occasional collaborator (plus, they've both fronted Soulsavers a few times). Also, Mark mentions the "jack of diamonds" twice in this song, so it would be interesting to know what that phrase means. Simply put, it's one of the cards in a playing card deck, but in something called metasymbology, which is associating characteristics of individual playing cards with a person based on their birthdate, the Jack of Diamonds is known to be "mentally keen; sharp and clever, and are always looking for (and finding) the thing that pays off."3 It could also very well be a reference to the 1967 movie, Jack of Diamonds, where the main character learns how to be a jewel thief.

As for the vocal treatment of this song, Mark has a very languid and subdued style of singing, almost to the point of talking to the music (as opposed to singing), so this one will be very interesting to hear how Dave approaches it; I think his version will sound very different.

After hearing Dave's version now, I am surprised by how similar, rather than different, his version sounds. He seems to be trying to channel Mark's languid singing style, as if he's purposely holding his voice back; it sounds very airy and whispery. Closer to the end, though, he does start to sound more like himself, with more sound than air in his vocals. I don't know if this very subtle change in vocal delivery was deliberate or not, but it is somewhat interesting. Finally, hearing the words, "Almost called it a day so many times / Didn't know what it felt like to be alive," sung by Dave does bring back a poignant reminder of what he went through in his past, so there's no question that his delivery of this song is full of truth and honesty.

Music Video

There is no music video for this song.


  1. "In Conversation: Dave Gahan on Finding His Voice with 'Imposter'", Flood Magazine (November 16, 2021)
  2. Imposter: A Story of Songs (tour program) (December 3, 2021)
  3. "Jack of Diamonds", (Retrieved on October 4, 2021)