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  #1  
Old 02-13-2004, 12:33 AM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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"When the New York Times said God is dead..."

So I'm listening to Levon and this line makes me think "What does this refer to?"

I can't seem to find anything on Google or even the Times website itself, other than other references that make it seem like everyone should know about it anyways. I'm beginning to think it never happened! So, when did the Times say "God is Dead"? In reference to what historical event? This is driving me nuts, since I KNOW I've head of this before (unless it's a memory of the song...argh!)! Is the original article available online?

Thanks!
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  #2  
Old 02-13-2004, 12:39 AM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Thinking of this, perhaps?
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  #3  
Old 02-13-2004, 01:28 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Here's the April 8, 1966 cover of Time magazine:
Is God Dead?
Quite a few people got upset about it.
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  #4  
Old 02-13-2004, 01:30 AM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Squink
Here's the April 8, 1966 cover of Time magazine:
Is God Dead?
Quite a few people got upset about it.
Nice find, Squink. Good thing no one beat you to it! Oh wait....
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  #5  
Old 02-13-2004, 02:29 AM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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I'm hoping that SDSTAFF David get's a look at this thread. He did a good job with letting us know who Alvin Tostig was: (With help from SDMB Libertarian)

See :http://www.straightdope.com/mailbag/mlevon.html

I had a little luck tracking down more info.

I went to Elton John's website, but he wanted a 'small annual fee' to ask questions.

I went to Bernie Taupin's website, but all he wanted to talk about was his 'paintings'.

I did find a good 'ol "idunno" from:

http://www.eltonlinks.com/faq.html#qa5 (Question#3)

Quote:
Question: In the song Levon, Bernie Taupin wrote the lyrics: "And the New York Times said God is dead, and the war`s begun...". I was curious if that was the actual headline, if the New York Times was the publication in question, and what event sparked this headline...
Answer: I'm not sure exactly if it was a real headline or just something Bernie made up. It would make sense that the war he's talking about would be the Second World War. The family would go like this: Alvin Tostig, father of Levon, father of Jesus. The song having been written in the early 70s, it would be logical that Levon would have been born around the beginning of World War 2. As for God being dead, I don't know. Again, it might have been something Bernie made up. :-)

I did find this for you though:

http://www.enterstageright.com/archi...03nyttruth.htm

Quote:
By 1959, what more evidence of the fathomless failure of Marxist thuggery was needed?

A few years later, the New York Times proclaimed "God is Dead." The newspaper neglected to mention, however, that new gods were moving into town
And: (From an American Pie site, no less)

http://www.swopnet.com/music/american_pie.html

Quote:
They caught the last train for the coast


Could be a reference to wacky California religions, or could just be a way of saying that they've left. Or, perhaps this is a reference to the famous "God is Dead" headline in the New York Times.


The day the music died
I had found a couple of references to Time Magazine declaring that God is dead on their cover. I checked out every cover from 1958 thru 1967 and couldn't find a thing.

In a final attempt, I went to the source...the New York Times. They charge for anything older than seven days, but they do let you take a free peek.

From: Jun 13, 1953

Quote:
WHITE GOD,' 31, IS DEAD:Maj, Williams-Hunt, Protector of Malay Aborigines
(It's an obit)


From: Jan 7, 1970

Quote:
'God Is Dead' Theme Assailed by the Pope
(Hmm...a little warmer)

From: Oct 17, 1965

Quote:
' New' Theologians See Christianity Without God
(Date's wrong..."On a Christmas day, When the New York...")

But wait!!!!

From: Dec 25, 1944

Quote:
NEW GODS BLAMED FOR WORLD AT WAR: Dr. Bell Sees the Struggle as a Bid for Power by the Totalitarian Nations

Although many persons think of God as dead, Christians are convinced that He is the only God that lives, and that He lives independently of whether man remembers Him or forgets Him, the Rev. Dr. Bernard Iddings Bell of Providence, R.I., said yesterday in a sermon at Trinity Episcopal Church, Broadway at Wall Street.
Could that be it? The month and day is right. We have to guess the year of Levon's birth, but 1944 has gotta be close. ANd actually, the song doesn't say that they were in the same article.

Quote:
He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas Day,
When the New York Times said God is dead,
And the war's begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today.

And he shall be Levon...
I don't know...

Anywho, I hope this helps. I have a few e-mails out there. If I get anymore info, I'll post it. Thanks for the challenge.

Paul
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  #6  
Old 02-13-2004, 02:35 AM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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Doh!!!!!!!

How the FLOCK did I miss that cover!!! I must have skipped 1966.

And now that I think about it...I was in the wrong decade anyway. I guess I went to that timeframe because of

Quote:
By 1959, what more evidence of the fathomless failure of Marxist thuggery was needed?

A few years later, the New York Times proclaimed "God is Dead."
Sorry I fudged it up.

In a realted story, I'm thinking about cutting back on the weed.
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  #7  
Old 02-13-2004, 02:42 AM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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OK, I fingered it out...

I went back to the Time cover archive, fo 1966 and realized I had been there. The thing is, I still didn't see Squink's find. So I looked harder and realized that there was more than one page of thumbnails. The "Is God Dead?" cover was on page two.

I'll be more careful next time.
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  #8  
Old 02-13-2004, 02:44 AM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcroughn
How the FLOCK did I miss that cover!!! I must have skipped 1966.
Nevetheless, I must say that was an impressive bit of researching! You deserve at least a pat on the back for going to all that effort. Shame about the oversight, though.
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Old 02-13-2004, 02:49 AM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Q.E.D.
Nevetheless, I must say that was an impressive bit of researching! You deserve at least a pat on the back for going to all that effort.

So...what are you saying...don't cut back on the weed?
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  #10  
Old 02-13-2004, 08:32 AM
Squink Squink is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcroughn
I had found a couple of references to Time Magazine declaring that God is dead on their cover. I checked out every cover from 1958 thru 1967 and couldn't find a thing.
I found it the easy way.
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  #11  
Old 02-13-2004, 11:45 AM
mnemosyne mnemosyne is offline
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Is the TIMES magazine published by the New York Times? I suppose that is the reference - harder to find when you're googling "God is Dead"rather than "Is God dead?"

Although QED's link mentions that the NY Times picked it up - was that their actual headline? I guess not, since we can't find it. Still, a few questions have been answered! Thanks!

the version of Levon I'm listening to is by Billy Klippert, at Canadian Idol - I still get shivers listening to him! And he signed a record deal! Woohoo!
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  #12  
Old 02-13-2004, 11:33 PM
Wendell Wagner Wendell Wagner is offline
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mnemosyne writes:

> Is the TIMES magazine published by the New York Times?

It's _Time_ magazine, and, no, it's not published by them.
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  #13  
Old 02-14-2004, 02:55 AM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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That being so, isn't the link to the Time Magazine's cover irrelevant and pcroughn's find of an article that fits perfect and is from xmas day 1944 perfect?
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  #14  
Old 02-14-2004, 02:57 AM
Princhester Princhester is offline
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I'm hoping that my command of the english language will return shortly. In the meantime, I think you know what I meant to say.
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  #15  
Old 02-14-2004, 03:06 AM
Q.E.D. Q.E.D. is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Princhester
That being so, isn't the link to the Time Magazine's cover irrelevant and pcroughn's find of an article that fits perfect and is from xmas day 1944 perfect?
You know. I must admit you might very well be right.
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  #16  
Old 02-14-2004, 01:20 PM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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Let's give 'em something to talk about...

I'm still waiting for responses to the info requests I sent (NYTimes, Elizabeth J. Rosenthal [EJ Biographer] and "Stephan"[the president of the "Official Elton John Fan Club])

But here's some other interesting "related" info.

On Dec 25, 1876, the New York Times printed an article which mentions the name 'Tostig'. This is listed in one of the pay sections, so I don't have it, but here's the free sneak peek:

Quote:
Stimulated, it would seem, by the example of Swinburne and other younger poets, Tennyson has lately ventured into the drama, and with "Queen Mary" gave the world to understand that the old lion was not yet to be supersaded by any of the new literary aspirants.
I'm guessing that the article refers to Tennyson's "Harold" where Tosig is Harold's brother. So it's probably a coincidence.


If you search for the meaning of the name Tostig, you get:

Quote:
Your name of Tostig has created a most expressive nature, idealistic and inspirational, driven with a strong inner urge to be of service in some way that would uplift humanity as a whole.
Which is interesting. I found a theory out there that says that whole song is about Christ. I don't necessarily buy into it (yet, I'm keeping an open mind), but it is interesting.

Even more interesting is that Levon is a Armenian form of Leon, which means "Lion." Lions are the King of Beasts and isn't God refered to as a lion?

So Levon is God. His son is Jesus (the Jesus).


Levon wears his war wound like a crown
(ref. to crown of thorns? victory of Satan, et. al. and is now King of the ether?Kingdom of Heaven?)
He calls his child Jesus
`Cause he likes the name
(pretty straight forward)
And he sends him to the finest school in town
(the finest school is the school of life. Jesus was sent as a teacher)

Levon, Levon likes his money
(God's loaded! Riches of heaven, christians?)
He makes a lot they say
(christians?)
Spend his days counting
(christians?)
In a garage by the motorway
(ya got me...?)

He was born a pauper to a pawn on a Christmas day
(Does 'he' have to be Levon? Jesus was born a pauper to Joseph, a pawn in God's plan)
When the New York Times said God is dead
And the war's begun
Alvin Tostig has a son today
(Could these be three things that the NYTimes printed on Christmas(s) over the years?)

And he shall be Levon
And he shall be a good man
And he shall be Levon
In tradition with the family plan
(God's plan of sacrificing Jesus to save humanity?)
And he shall be Levon
And he shall be a good man
He shall be Levon

Levon sells cartoon balloons in town
His family business thrives
(Are cartoon baloons the rubber blow up kind, or the speech bubbles in cartoons?)
Jesus blows up balloons all day
(gives ideas for folk to talk about)
Sits on the porch swing watching them fly
(Jesus is aware of the spreading message, how fast it is spreading and what the implications are.)

And Jesus, he wants to go to Venus
Leaving Levon far behind
Take a balloon and go sailing
(Jesus has his doubts about "the family plan)
While Levon, Levon slowly dies
(What would happen to God, without his followers, What if Jesus said "to hell with it"?

So who is Alvin Tostig? Just a feller who's son's birth announcement was printed in the NYTimes on Christmas. That's Dec 25, Christmas, not orthodox Christmas (January whatever). The Christmas when the NYTimes said: 1) God is dead, 2) The war's begun, and 3) Alvin Tostig had a son, today.

There is also a duality of Levon and Jesus, where some lines appear to apply to both. But God and Jesus are the same entity, just different forms. Jesus is a man, but he is also God (Levon)

"And he shall be Levon
And he shall be a good man
And he shall be Levon
In tradition with the family plan
And he shall be Levon
And he shall be a good man
He shall be Levon"

This is even written in sort of a Biblical style.

Lev 1.5: "And he shall kill the bullock before Jehovah"
Num 5:7 "...he shall confess his sin which he hath done: and he shall make restitution for his guilt in full..."
Prov 5:23 "He shall die for lack of instruction"

Bernie could have written, and Elton could have sung: "He will be Levon..."

I looked at other Bernie Taupin lyrics for use of the word shall. I hope you're sitting down. Bernie uses the word shall in:

Bennie And The Jets - Also contains the lines, "We'll kill the fatted calf tonight
So stick around" and "Hey kids, plug into the faithless, Maybe they're blinded, But Bennie makes them ageless". This might have some Judao-Christian undertones.

Live Like Horses: Also contains..."I stepped onto the moving stairs, Before I could tie my shoes, Pried a harp out the fingers of a renegade, Who lived and died the blues" (Archangel Michael?) "I stood in line to join the tribe, One more customer of fate, Claimed a spoke in the wheel of the wagon train, On the road to the golden gate"

And there's more, but not looking to break the record for the longest post.

So, does Bernie Taupin pepper his songs with veiled religous references? A look at his bio finds his childhood as growing up in "a strict Catholic household". Other than that, I can't find any references to him being particularly 'spiritual' in any aspect of his life.

Like I said, it's interesting to think about whilst I await a reply from the experts. Hell, maybe it's a new thread. Or maybe I just want to keep this thread alive until the OP is answered once and for all.
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  #17  
Old 02-14-2004, 01:25 PM
robo99 robo99 is offline
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This may be somewhat related but could the term:

"Who died and made you God?"

originate from this time period? I've seen one newsgroup reference of it being used in a schoolyard in 1944 of all years.
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  #18  
Old 02-18-2004, 08:44 PM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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A reply from the New York Times!!!

You can imagine my great enthusiasm when I checked my mail today and found a reply from the New York Times. "It's here! It's here", I shouted. Hand trembling on the mouse, I clicked the message open. Finally, once and for all, a definitive answer to the question, "What the...New York Times...God is what?"

As the page loaded, visions of accolade raced through my head. I’m sure my accomplishment would meet with praise and adulation. A ticker tape parade didn’t seem out of the question. After all, I knew and was telling the world what Bernie Taupin meant when he said “When the New York Times said God is dead, and the war’s begun”. It was I that would lead the SDMB into a glorious future with a more complete understanding of the world…well the world of pop music, anyway.

Finally the page loaded, I squinted through watery eyes, tears streaming down my cheeks, barely able to make out the words through the blur of emotion. I struggled, and finally the letters came into focus.

Quote:
Thank you for writing to The New York Times on the Web.

Unfortunately we can't interpret or comment on what Elton John -- or
any artist -- may have had in mind for their lyrics, inspiration for their
art.

We hope this helps.

Regards,

Jason Fairchild,
The New York Times on the Web
Customer Service
www.nytimes.com/help
Yeah....wait…huh?!

Wow! F-YOU, MAN!!! (and by man, I mean Jason Fairchild)

What do you mean, “You can’t comment on what Elton meant”! Can you comment on what your paper may have written on a “Christmas Day”?

And to add insult to injury, the line, “I hope this helps.” You know damn well it doesn’t help! I hope you’ll have help when you try to dig my foot out of your collective asses!


Needless to say...I’m not done.
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  #19  
Old 02-18-2004, 11:17 PM
cornflakes cornflakes is offline
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Interesting commenst about the names Levon and Tosig. The best literary analysis I've heard of the song was given in this thread by Libertarian. The names would seem to help flesh out the characters.
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  #20  
Old 02-19-2004, 12:40 AM
Engywook Engywook is offline
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....but for those of us who would want to read the Time Magazine cover story,

Is God Dead?

from 1965, is it posted online?
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  #21  
Old 02-19-2004, 02:25 AM
Ranchoth Ranchoth is online now
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Well, there was that old "Kids in the Hall" sketch...
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  #22  
Old 02-19-2004, 11:35 AM
beajerry beajerry is offline
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Damn Nietzsche's sister!
Because of her, his proclaimation didn't make the early press.
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  #23  
Old 02-19-2004, 02:04 PM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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I got a reply from expert #2, noted EJ biographer, Elizabeth J. Rosenthal. This time I kept my hopes in my pocket, lest suffer a repeat of the NYTimes incident.

Ms. Rosenthal writes:

Quote:
Hi Paul,

I'm very sorry for taking so long to respond. I was away for a few days and neglected to indicate that on my "expert" profile.

Anyway, I don't think the New York Times ever declared that "God is dead." Somehow, I don't think they'd ever take it upon themselves to do that. However, during the era in question, there were prominent discussions questioning all sorts of orthodoxies and the NYT may have asked the question, "Is God Dead?" in a headline. Please note, though, that I'm not sure of this. Also, some have speculated that Levon contains veiled references to a popular book of the time, "Future Shock" by Alvin Toffler, and that "Alvin Tostig" is a messed-up anagram of "Toffler." Again, this is speculation.

What makes this matter all the more frustrating is that Bernie Taupin, Elton's lyricist, was often so cryptic in his writing that even he didn't know what he meant!

That's about all I can tell you!

Elizabeth J. Rosenthal
Well, it doesn't exactly answer the question, but sure gave it a shot. That E.J. Rosenthal is a class act, in my book. I know that plugging products is frowned upon here. But for the sake of establishing Ms. Rozenthal's credibility, I'll mention that she is the author of good book about Elton John. I'm sure a search of the i-net will yeild the title, should you so wish to inquire

I guess we're just going to have to contact Bernie Taupin. But how do I go about doing that?

A gallery in California sells his paintings. They must be in reqular contact with him....

I'm sure that there's a place to send fan mail. But how effective can that be? There must be a lot of mail going there, and how will my little letter catch anyone's attention?

I guess I can fly out to California and knock on his door. Celebs are impressed by things like that.

Ya know. I bet Cecil, with the resources of the Chigaco Tribune at his disposal would have little or no trouble getting the job done. Perhaps, he or one of his staff can take a stab at it?
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  #24  
Old 02-19-2004, 04:11 PM
Voyager Voyager is offline
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I'm impressed by this research!

Alvin Tostig - Alvin Toffler is interesting. I read Future Shock, and I don't remember anything particularly relevant, but could the war be Vietnam, not WW II? Jesus wanting to go to Venus could set the song in the future, after all. The "God is Dead" cover was quite famous at the time, and was still remembered when the song was written, so perhaps New York Times scanned better than Time for they lyric.
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Old 02-19-2004, 08:43 PM
Qadgop the Mercotan Qadgop the Mercotan is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pcroughn
I bet Cecil, with the resources of the Chigaco Tribune at his disposal would have little or no trouble getting the job done. Perhaps, he or one of his staff can take a stab at it?
Um, Unka Cecil is not affiliated with the Chicago Tribune. He has ties with the Chicago Reader, a fine and interesting weekly Alternative paper. And I think his staff consists mainly of Ed Zotti, and the admins, moderators, and volunteer SDSAB members, along with the Teeming Millions.

So, in a way, his staff has already taken a crack at it!
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Old 02-19-2004, 09:04 PM
pcroughn pcroughn is offline
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Doh!!!

It takes a pretty big man to admit when he is wrong. I wish I were that man.

Where did I get that he worked for the Tribune?! Wow. In fact, my whole image of Cecil Adams has changed in the last week. I always thought of Cecil as a dude in an office of the Chicago Tribune, with a handful of researchers, working away to solve the mysteries of humankind.


Anyway, thanks Q the M, for setting me straight. (really)

Remind me to give you $20 the next time I see you.
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