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Drawn Off Topic: Supertramp co-founder Roger Hodgson on God (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)
Drawn Off Topic: Supertramp co-founder Roger Hodgson on God (Anthony Jenkins/The Globe and Mail)

Drawn Off Topic

Composer Roger Hodgson on God and music Add to ...

Roger Hodgson co-founded the rock band Supertramp, which sold more than 60 million albums worldwide. He composed many of the band’s signature hits, such as The Logical Song, Dreamer and Take the Long Way Home, before leaving the group in 1983. His latest release is Classics Live. He will be performing at Casino Rama in Orillia, Ont., on Nov. 16 and 17 and at the Colosseum at Caesars in Windsor, Ont., on Nov. 18.

Are you a religious man?

A spiritual one. I’m not a religious one.

What’s the difference?

I feel my relationship with God is very personal. Everyone’s relationship to God is very personal. Everyone has a different path to connect with that place inside where God is to be found. To band a whole bunch of people together as a religion doesn’t necessarily mean they have the only way.

Were you born into a religious faith?

I was born into the Church of England, which is kind of like Protestant. I was taught God in a boring way that didn’t really interest me or inspire me. There were so many things that didn’t make any sense.

Did you stay with faith, or at some point did you have none?

I think there was more confusion than anything. There was a real longing in my being to find something that made sense, to guide me. I was in boarding school for 10 years in England. It was quite a harsh environment and I was quite a shy, sensitive child and it was hard for me. I closed down on a lot of levels and left school pretty confused and wondering where I could find stability in my being. I wanted to know who or what God was.

Over the years, my search for some meaning for myself found its expression in my songs. Music became the doorway for me to connecting with a very magical place inside me where I believe inspiration comes from. I believe when [I] get out of the way, ego and mind get out of the way and I let the music take me, magic happens and that is where a lot of [my] songs are born.

Is songwriting a God-given gift?

I think most things are a God-given gift. I think they can be the best they can be, when we don’t put ourselves, our ego, in the way.

How do you express your faith in God in your songwriting?

It’s really how I try to be as a human being each day. If there was a purpose to life, I do believe we are here to learn how to live. I believe God is love in its purest and simplest definition.

That’s a beautiful philosophy. Some fervently religious people can be a pain – zealots who can turn people off them and off God, even.

They turn me off. And that’s why I kept my relationship very private. When I wrote about God in my songs, I sort of wrote about it so it had a dual meaning. If you wanted to believe it was a song to God, you could. If you wanted to believe it was a song to a girl, you could also.

In the song Babajii, on Supertramp’s Even in the Quietest Moments album, you sing “What is it that makes you believe in you?” What does?

Experiences I’ve had in my life. That song, for example, comes from when I read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. It was like nothing I had come across. It really changed my life and sent me on a search.

Would you recommend that book over the Bible?

I do recommend that to anyone who is searching. It depends what you are searching for.

Do you have moments of doubt? Christ had doubts in the Garden of Gethsemane, as I recall.

I never had doubt in God. I had doubt in myself many times. To me, God is probably the most difficult thing to talk about. I have been [too] turned off by the preachers to ever become a preacher myself in any shape or form. My songs [are] very self-honest because that’s where I express my longing to love and my longing to know God.

Looking back, I didn’t even know I was doing that. In a way, that’s where I went to pray. To me, when a song came through, it was the closest thing I had to extreme happiness. It was that connection. It was magical. It was true inspiration.

God-given inspiration?

I have always believed that true inspiration comes from a higher power, whether you want to call it God or something else. Even though I had to provide the talent in knowing where the fingers have to go and the passion, the longing, I really believe that was the doorway for God to write these songs – a lot of them, anyway – through me.

What of songs written through perspiration, not inspiration – just grinding one out. Where is God there?

There are a few of those and, to tell the truth, they haven’t stood the test of time.

Is God pleased with your work?

I don’t believe God is really judging us. I think we judge ourselves. We have the ability of being in harmony with the highest decision we can make. In order to make the highest decision, you’ve got to listen to your intuition, your instincts and your heart. When I have done that, I’ve attracted a lot of grace in my life.

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