A lot can happen between the time a songwriter writes a song and when the public hears it. Rarely has that been more apparent than in “Survival,” which was written months ago before the current pandemic and protests. After a 35-second acoustic intro, we hear the opening line “Got the devil on my throat.” Coming on the heels of George Floyd’s death after a Minneapolis police officer kneeled on his neck for over eight minutes, the song’s opening line definitely commands attention.
“I’ve had that lyric for a long time,” says Bear Rinehart (writer and lead singer for NeedToBreathe). “Part of how I write songs is these mental pictures that you get from a lyric and I’ve always felt like that lyric was more about me when I wrote it — do I have the right words to say or is my voice strong enough? It was more about that, sometimes the way [people] feel kind of silenced at times. . . It is more powerful now in this moment. I think a lot of times songwriters are like that. We’re in the moment and we don’t really know what it means when we write it. People, I hope, are spurred on by that image of George Floyd because I think it’s impossible for a human to see that and not want to change things or not want to make a change in yourself.”
Survival is definitely from the viewpoint of a believer as Rinehart sings in the chorus “Jesus come quickly, I need you for my survival.” “We didn’t write it as a protest song,” Rinehart says. “There is an important message in the song in the sense I need you for my survival. That’s kind of the beginning of this conversation that we’re all having is that we’ve all failed and we need something bigger than us. That’s the premise of what our band is always talking about. It starts with understanding how wrong we are and I think that’s very powerful now. I hope people will take the song in that way at least to say, ‘Man, we did not have it figured out.” It feels like these conversations have been really tough in the last few weeks.”
I know that I’m foundAnd I can't keep from hidingDon’t have as choice but I get stuck decidingI am a man in need of a constant revivalJesus come quickly I need you for my survival