An Analysis of the Lyrics of “I Constantly Thank God For Esteban”

Last week, I was talking with Meghan-Annette about the lyrics of Panic! at the Disco, mostly how “Time to Dance” still doesn’t really make sense even if you’ve read Chuck Palahniuk’s Invisible Monsters, “Lying is the Most Fun a Girl Can Have Without Taking Her Clothes Off” is the song on A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out that makes the most sense, and that the lyrics on Vices and Virtues are more coherent than the lyrics on A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out and Pretty. Odd..

After this conversation, I’ve decided to bring back the lyrical analysis after the dubious success of my post analyzing the lyrics of “Teenage Dream.” Over the next week, I’ll write an analysis of one song off of each Panic! at the Disco album, starting with “I Constantly Thank God For Esteban” off of A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out*.

Give us this day our daily dose of faux affliction
Forgive our sins forged at the pulpit
With forked tongues selling faux sermons

Throughout this song, the themes of phoniness in religion are brought up, starting off with the idea of “faux affliction” and “forked tongues selling faux sermons.”

‘Cause I am a new wave gospel sharp
And you’ll be thy witness
So gentlemen if you’re gonna preach
For God sakes preach with conviction

If you’re going to be fake about religion, make it seem like you mean it. If you think about modern evangelical Christian movements and megachurches, sermons tend to emphasize the sins of the people and how they must be perfect by following selective parts of the Bible.

Strike up the band
Woah-oh the conductor is beckoning
Come, congregation let’s sing it like you mean it

Again, sell the fake message.

No, don’t you get it, don’t you get it?
Now don’t you move

Like the person in “I Write Sins Not Tragedies” that hasn’t heard of “closing the Goddamn door,” the congregation doesn’t understand that in order to make their message seem believable they need to put feeling behind their singing.

Just stay where I can see you
Toss the lights!

I’m not sure if Brandon Urie is singing “Toss the lights” or “Douse the lights” here. “Toss the lights” makes more sense, but if you’ve listened to any other song on A Fever You Can’t Sweat Out, you know that not all of the lyrics in Panic! at the Disco songs make sense. (e.g. “Time to Dance.”) If it’s “Toss the lights,” that would suggest bringing up the lights on the events unfolding in a church, while “Douse the lights” would suggest that the lights are being cut to a black. Unless someone is pouring liquid on the lights to start a fire.

The chorus repeats.

We sure are in for a show tonight.

This ties into the theatricality of some religious ceremonies, or the show people are in for if someone doused the lights with a liquid to start a fire.

In this little number we are graced by two displays of character
We’ve got the gunslinger extraordinaire,
Walking contradiction

The fact that someone is gunslinger extraordinaire is not a contradiction, but another part of themselves is causing them to be a walking contradiction.

I for one can see no blood
From their hearts or the wrists you allegedly slit

The church allegedly kill someone? Or did the gunslinger extraordinaire allegedly kill someone?

And I for one won’t stand for this

Who would stand for someone being killed?

If this scene were a parish you’d all be condemned

I’m assuming this means a parish in a church sense, not a parish in the Louisiana sense. Either way, I’m lost on this lyric.

The chorus and the bridge repeat.

This song seems to examine the modern church movement and the hypocrisy associated with the megachurch trend. Or it’s about a wild night at a church where someone decided to start a fire by dousing the lights. I’m not sure. But churches are definitely involved.

*I had also thought of “There’s A Good Reason These Tables Are Numbered Honey, You Just Haven’t Thought of It Yet,” but had decided against it because of the length of the song title.

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