A tribute to Tyler Glenn and his new album Excommunication

John Dehlin Blog, Disciplinary Councils, Ex-Mormon Stories, Homosexuality, Mormon Stories, Music 20 Comments

tyler-glenn-excommunication-400Today is the release of my dear friend Tyler Glenn’s new album: Excommunication.

In my view, this album is a one-of-a-kind masterpiece. It is not only a simultaneously raw and joyful listening experience; it is also a singular creative achievement as it explores 21st century religious faith transitions more deeply, more intimately, more effectively, and more powerfully than I believe anyone has ever been willing or able to do.

If I could emphasize one thing – it would be that this is an ALBUM, not a series of singles.  Please give the album a full listen start to finish if you can.  To me, it represents a full spectrum of Tyler’s journey – both in dealing with his faith transition, and in coming to accept and even celebrate his sexuality.

Having said that, my favorite songs right now (in no particular order) are as follows: (including my own interpretations of what the songs are expressing, and/or some lyrics):

1) Sudden Death (OMG) – Tyler expresses/explores the initial shock of his faith crisis. “I never asked to fall from grace. Catch me I’m starting to fall! Don’t know what all this is for! Keep comin at me with your disrespect. You went and started a war. Now I don’t care any more. I keep on living like it’s sudden death.”

2) Gods + Monsters – I believe that this is, in part, an album about a former boyfriend who cheated on Tyler, but I think it is about religious leadership who manipulate and disappoint. “Players only love you when they’re playin. I believed in Gods and Monsters too. Then I found out they’re all imposters just like you. Somebody take me higher, and higher.”

3) Midnight – Tyler’s breakup song with with Mormon God, which naturally follows after one’s own self-acceptance. “I’m giving back to you things I thought were true. God, where the hell are you hiding? My hands are in the air and I’m excited. I’ve been on the run, so I’m not coming. It’s alright. I’ll probably talk to you at midnight. God I could never be like you. I can’t change, I can’t change, and I don’t want to. I’ve been on the run, so I’m not coming. It’s alright. I’ll probably talk to you at midnight. Fear. That’s what it was just to be clear.”

4) John, Give ‘Em Hell – A beautiful personal tribute by a dear friend.

5) Devil – A song of hope. “I’m singing hymns at the top of my lungs. I found myself when I lost my faith. I found myself when I lost my faith. Don’t pray for me. I found myself when I lost my faith. So if I’m the wicked one, I’m still my mother’s son (Deb Christine Glenn, Nan McCulloch), and you’ll never take that love away.”

So honored to call Tyler a friend. But he is also a brilliant artist.

Yes this is an album about anger and sadness. But it’s also an album about personal empowerment, and healing, and growth, and hope. In short, it is an album about the full range of feelings and experiences that accompany an empowering faith transition.

I’m teary as I write this. For all of you who have or who are experiencing a faith transition – I hope you can connect with the album as I have/am. There is something so powerful that music can do that nothing else quite can. And Tyler has done this brilliantly (in my view).

Thanks for the gift of this album, Tyler Glenn. You have become the voice of a generation – and I couldn’t be prouder to have you – YOU – be that voice.

P.S. You can purchase the full album below. Please support Tyler if you are willing/able.

https://itunes.apple.com/us/album/excommunication/id1158436425

Comments 20

  1. Thanks John for all you DO! Great tribute to you! I just want the people that have got over the hump, to know how hard it is for indoctrinated to accept the things this album is saying and how it portrayed. So very powerful but plays with all the indoctrinated thought of learning open minded listeners. LDS shackles and close minded thought cage common sense. Open mind and common sense can overcome but wow….very hard. Every leaving member is at a different stage and it is easy to forget that …when you have got over the hump. Maybe that’s a new title for Tyler… Over the Hump! ha ha Be well….and strong both of you and all that are struggling.

  2. John Dehlin, will you speak out against Tyler Glenn’s video “Shameless,” where he sexually assaults a General Authority he identifies as Thomas S. Monson?

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      1. Perhaps you should read his interview with Billboard magazine, John.

        Reporter:”In your new music video, for “Shameless,” you play with religious iconography again. This time, the tone is less angry and more playful. Where did you get the idea to tie-up, lick and then dance with a masked Joseph Smith?”

        Glen:”Well it’s actually not Joseph Smith. Originally I just wanted some sort of general authority figure. I knew that those who knew my background would know it was an authority from the Mormon church. But that’s kind of why we made the anonymous old man mask — to kind of give more of a vagueness. To me, I’m definitely tying up the leader of the church and showing him that I’m shameless.”

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          1. Also, it could be looked at as a metaphor for the leaders being forced to come “face-to-face” the fact that there ARE gay members of the church, and that the LGBTG+ struggle is real, and that they have a voice worth listening to. No more dodging it. No more excuses. If it’s assault, it’s only assault from a certain perspective. Conservative LDS people believe that they are “assaulted” just by hearing such an album exists. Or they feel “assaulted” when they hear people speak up for gay rights, etc. So, the idea that this imagery appears to be assaulting, is exactly the point. The fact that he is telling his story so powerfully is an assault from the leaders perspective.

            That’s how I think about it anyway.

        2. Yeah, I’d say that the imagery in the video is about reclaiming power over the abstract concept of LDS religious authority and over the harm he’s felt at the hands of that authority, not about personally targeting a specific human being. Ultimately, by revealing himself under the mask, I think Tyler is conveying the idea that the only authority that leaders hold is the authority that we give them. Is it disrespectful imagery? Def yes. Is he advocating that real human being LDS authorities be treated that way? I think it’s safe to say that that’s a def nope. Are people free to feel bothered by it? For sure. Would I have treated the authority figure that way in my music video? Nah, I would have tied them up and forced them to watch endless re-runs of I Love Lucy with only Peeps and slightly-stale fortune cookies for nourishment.

  3. Just bought the album via iTunes today, still have my fingers crossed for a Vinyl release as I would love to buy it in that format as well. Every song I have heard on this album is amazing, can’t wait to listen to the rest.

  4. Even if Tyler is depicting an assault on a general authority, it is still just art. It is symbolic. General authorities represent the church and its policies, policies which have caused harm . . . shame, self loathing, suicides. I get it. Tyler is claiming his own power and truth with an “in your face” insistence that he will not give the church the power to make him ashamed of who his. When J. Reuben Clark said, ““If we have the truth, it cannot be harmed by investigation. If we have not the truth, it ought to be harmed,” he was not advocating violence or criminal actions, just truth seeking, and let the chips fall where they may.

  5. RAW. Powerful stuff. I hope Tyler can find a place of peace, and find hope again. If his songs about lost faith & frustration are this powerful, I’d love to hear what his songs about hope and love might be.

    That last song, when he sings “I’m still my Mother’s son”… I felt like the entire lyric about Mother might be referencing the feminine divine, and not only his earthly mother.

    Thanks for sharing.

  6. I’ve been loving all of his songs as they’ve been released and was looking forward to hearing John, Give ‘Em Hell. The way he feels speaks for many of us. Mormon Stories helped me to open my eyes to the truth and I’m so grateful for the work you do. I’ve been listening to Excommunication on repeat all day and as a musician and music lover, it’s more than I could have hoped for artistically. As someone who has left the church, the lyrics speak to my heart.

  7. I love the song he wrote for you. It’s often stuck in my head. The podcast on why people leave the church started me down the rabbit hole. I feel bad admitting this, but for the longest time I wasn’t sure what to think of you because I was worried you were trying to lead people astray. This song captures all of those emotions I felt. Thanks for being a beacon of light.

  8. I’ve never been a big fan of rock music and rarely listen to the type of music that Tyler makes. In fact, I’d never even heard of Tyler or Neon Trees until Tyler was on Mormon stories. Tyler’s story and the music on this album however speak to me. Excommunication’s lyrics are beyond powerful and put to music, tell a story that helps fill the holes of confusion, disappointment and betrayal that the LDS church has left in me. TRASH is probably the most scandalous music video I have ever watched. When I hit play to watch the video for the first time, all of my TBM bells and whistles were going off, but I ended up LOVING the song as well as the video. I related so much with the raw emotion and message that the video was trying to communicate. After watching it, I couldn’t believe that something so supposedly “evil” could resonate so much with me. Thank you Tyler for that. I also love the song John, Give ‘Em Hell. I’m glad Tyler’s producer was so excited about that song because I think it adds a lot to the album. It is calming and hopefull to me. The lyrics to Devil describe many of my feelings, especially on Sunday mornings. I’ve lost much of my faith but still haven’t found myself yet. I’m grateful for people like Tyler, John, and many of the guests on Mormon Stories who teach me and help me feel like I’m not so alone as I try to find myself on this faith transition journey. When I turn to the church to try to find comfort, hope or answers, I don’t get much. It hurts to be called a patty cake- taffy puller and only receive fluff-type answers and explanations when I’m going through what feels like the most significant trial of my life. People like Tyler and the Mormon Story guests are giving me “something to hold on to.” The fact that an almost 40, Molly-Mormon Mom like me can go from being so closed off to anyone or anything that isn’t church approved to an LGBTQ ally, a Tyler Glenn fan, and feeling like it’s okay to have and explore questions and concerns that have been set aside for so many years illustrates the power of people sharing their stories and especially putting those stories to music! Kudos to Tyler Glenn for using his crazy-amazing talents to change hearts, touch souls and promote understanding! I still can’t believe an evil rock star could have such a profound impact on my life!

  9. I have to say I really liked all of them it speaks to betrayal which we all have felt. Nice job Tyler.
    I was wondering did they formally excommunicated you, Did you resign or are you in limbo ?
    I was wondering if they had the guts to come after you. Regardless I’m so happy for you it’s nice to be Free.

    and no I’m not Tyler, Glenn is my first name : )

  10. Thank goodness I get to mow my grass by myself and ear buds…Had tears flowing, must be allergies. Can’t wait to get the whole album!!

  11. Tyler your music and words touched me deeply and I relate to so much even though I’m a straight 65-year-old woman
    It doesn’t matter!! we share that heartbreaking experience finding the church is a fraud — and then being rejected for admitting that truth
    I remember you’re early podcast with John when you still had so much hope in the church even though it was hurting you — I would say you are naïve — and I’m so sorry you had to see the truth and the pain that came with it — but eventually move through the grieving passes you will experience a great sense of relief and calm

  12. This album gives me so much hope in the rising power of voices that challenge the leadership of the church. It takes courage, creativity, and deep authenticity. All things that Tyler Glenn harnessed so beautifully, especially in his song Midnight. It is a terrifying thing to look the LDS figure of God in the eye and say, hey, I am not really feeling your love or support. So thankful for this portrayal and I think anyone who has been through the struggle will be encouraged.

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