“Window-shopping for purpose”: How I understand indie track Saganism vs. Buddhism

Young Jesus uses the format of “how-to” Youtube video as a humorous background to a serious song.

John Rossiter, songwriter for indie rock band Young Jesus told music blog BrooklynVegan in 2018 that the title “Saganism vs. Buddhism” came to him as he was waking from a dream. Rossiter toyed around with these two concepts put together side-by-side- as he had been studying Buddhism at the time- and found a Buddhist-like theme to help form the song. The lyrics seem like reflections on this influence in his life, not necessarily rehearsing the ideology word for word:

I have begun seeing with my third eye.
I have begun investments with my dad.
I have begun contacting various mystics.
I have begun buying rocks in stores.

I have begun my resignation.
I have begun a nihilistic laugh.
I have begun continuations,
Of centuries of thinking this will pass.

To me, the second stanza sounds as if there is struggle with adopting this ideology, the Buddhist proclamation that everything changes. He is settling into his beliefs, and living without expectation. There is search for in purpose in the first stanza, but, it seems detached- like he’s window shopping for purpose.

The actual song starts off simplistic, the beginning vocals remind me so much of indie band The National; vocals are monotone and overpower instruments. Drums are introduced heavily before guitar takes its turn to shine, and it breaks down like an undiscovered Brand New song! It calms down again for the second verse. The whole thing goes very experimental at a point, but always seems grounded by its steady drum beat.

And this track is only a little awesome taste of Young Jesus’ album The Whole Thing is Just There. I’m excited to listen to the rest of it and maybe I’ll see them at the Echo in LA! (May 2) They’ve been around the block a few times, and yet they are so underrated. Maybe this world isn’t ready for grittier, non-whiny indie rock.

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