SONG MEANING: “Sunset Jesus” by Avicii is about a young man’s thoughts on a rise to fame, as he hopes to one day be the person on the billboard. “Sunset Jesus” references a man dressed as Jesus on Sunset Blvd in California; he’s a symbol to Avicii of frustrated dreams and possibilities.
Avicii just put out his album Stories, and I promise you that I couldn’t be anymore excited. I fell in love with “Wake Me Up” and “Hey Brother,” and now I’m excited about every single song on this new album. And the first one to catch my eye was “Sunset Jesus.” What does it mean? Why is Jesus’ sun setting? Is something wrong? All these questions crowded my mind; plus, the song is super catchy and very fun. All of this added up to me wanting to explain the song immediately.
If you want to listen to it more, I’ve added “Sunset Jesus” to my Spotify playlist “Clifford Stumme’s Pop Prerogative.” You can follow it to hear more songs I analyze or am listening to.
The song begins with an almost country lilt that prepares the listener for a relaxed story telling experience. (fitting with the album’s theme). Quickly, Avicii’s voice (at least I’m assuming it’s his–help with this?) fills the track.
He sings, “Try’na set myself up for the win,” suggesting this song will be from the perspective of someone trying to hit it big on his own. He wants to accomplish something and to do something great in his life. He explains that “[s]ome people got a dream that’s so much bigger than the town they’re in.” While Avicii (or Tim Bergling) does come from Stockholm, Sweden, not necessarily a small town, he is empathizing with those who want to be bigger than the place they came from.
A search like this can be exhausting and can leave a person feeling stuck, so he asks (or prays) for “love” and “peace of mind.” The phrase “ought to a start” refers to how he knows he needs to just get going and make something happen, but Avicii realizes that he needs “a little help with” his if he’s going to reach the heights he dreams of.
So, he heads to California and begs it to not “let me down.” In Avicii’s eyes, California seems “golden” with opportunity, but having been there, he knows that “there’s struggle all around” and that if he’s going to win, he may have to go through difficult times even still.
If you liked “Sunset Jesus” by Avicii, you may also like “What does ‘Can’t Feel My Face’ by The Weeknd mean?” or “What does ‘Style’ by Taylor Swift mean?“
While he’s having these thoughts, he meets “Sunset Jesus,” an interesting character dressed as Jesus who spends his time on Sunset Blvd with street performers and tourists. There’s not a lot about him on the Internet, but he does meet Snoop Dog in the video below:
It’s not clear how he makes his living, but Avicii met him and knows that Sunset Jesus “once was a waiter” but no longer has that job and is now “making money on the street.” Since, Sunset Jesus refused Snoop Dog’s money, it’s not clear how he makes that money. There’s also a Tumblr for people who see Jesus in LA if you want to read more.
According to Genius.com, Sunset Jesus came to LA to work as an actor, took a job as a waiter, and now hangs out on Sunset Boulevard. For Avicii, this is either a testament to the difficulties inherit in his dream to make it big in LA, but the fact that Jesus came to him could also be a “sign”–a mystical symbol that Avicii’s in the right place. He decides that it’s a good thing he met Sunset Jesus.
In the Chorus, Avicii sings, “My dreams are made of gold,” to testify to how high he is aiming for his future, but he’s also been through rough times: “My heart’s been broken, and I’m down along the road.” He’s been through a lot, but he has made progress. Even still, he’s worried that he may not be able to win before his dreams fade and he get’s too old to realize them. He reminds himself to “[b]reathe for a minute” and reminds himself, “I’ll be okay.”
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In the Third Verse, he’s “[s]taring at the billboard from the bus / Looking at the faces, thinking that could be anyone of us.” The mention of a billboard could also be a reference to the Billboard Hot 100, a chart that he must have wanted to top (and likely still does).
On his bus among strangers, he prays to Sunset Jesus for “hope . . . ‘Cause I know, one day, I will be in the sky.” After a few more repetitions of the chorus and pre-chorus and then a bridge, Avicii ends the song reminding himself to breathe and that he’ll be okay. He will continue to keep moving on.
What’d you think of “Sunset Jesus” by Avicii? Isn’t this song the coolest? Have you danced to it yet? I’m waiting for a good excuse. “What does ‘Cool for the Summer‘ by Demi Lovato mean?” may be a good next post for you to check out!
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Clifford Stumme is a blogger on CliffordStumme.com and a college instructor/desk-watcher at Liberty University. He likes juggling and reading/writing, and he is married to the wonderful and beautiful Wife April.