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The meaning of the Ghost song “He Is”


The meaning of the Ghost song “He Is”

Led by Tobias Forge or his alter-ego Papa Emeritus, Ghost became one of the most praised and successful bands from the last decade and continues to get bigger. They already have 5 studio albums in their discography, besides many EPs and singles that were heard millions of times by their fans.


What makes the Swedish band so unique is that they mix Heavy Metal, Pop and many other styles, creating a really unique sound. That could be heard in all their albums, including their third one called “Meliora” released in 2015. Almost 10 years after the release of that album, many tracks continue to be part of their live setlist and one of them is “He Is”. But what is the meaning behind that song written by Tobias Forge, producer Klas Åhlund and Martin Persner?

The meaning of the Ghost song “He Is”

A powerful ballad that can really define what Ghost is musically, “He Is” actually talks about death and the power of destruction, which is also credited to the Devil, which is obviously a common theme in Ghost’s songwriting. But the track was also influenced by the loss of a personal friend of Tobias Forge, which was Selim “SL” Lemouchi. He was the guitarist and vocalist of the Dutch Occult Rock band The Devil’s Blood and tragically decided to take his life in March 2014 at the age of 33.

Before the identity of Ghost’s mastermind Tobias Forge was revealed, he usually gave interviews to promote the record as a “Nameless Ghoul”, name the band called the other members, and in an interview with Loudwire back in 2016 (Transcribed by Rock and Roll Garage) he explained how the song was written and the influence of Selim’s death to the lyrics.

“There’s various degrees of really personal meaning in there. One of them is the one that sort of I guess of publicly known within our fan circles which is about Selim (Lemouchi) from Devil’s Blood that decided to take his life. We were far apart geographically and we didn’t see each other that often. But every time we met it was definitely, (like) we had something in common.”

He continued:

“We were easily speaking to each other about different things and we had a real blast a few times where that was extremely strong. As I was saying, ‘He Is’ the song, with his own demo lyrics, didn’t really have a bite, because we knew the song was good but the lyrics were basically bogus. It was just a demo lyric, we recorded basically all our albums many, many songs have been demoed with complete bullshit lyrics. So it was one of those songs that had lived for a little bit too long with a demo lyric.”

“So we were so used to that and hearing the demo lyric that it was almost hard. There is a word for that is called ‘demotitis’. That means you have grown attached to the demo to the point where you’re unable to sort of do it again. With Salim’s passing the lyrics came and all sort of made sense. Well obviously, the suicidal elements in the song, directly obviously sort of leads to the idea of someone taking his or hers life. It’s just a faith to the great beyond. Is in this case is Satan, the great destroyer or whatever. But for me personally, it is even more personal,” the Nameless Ghoul said.

His wife also inspired the first version of the song

The first version of the song was actually inspired by Tobias Forge’s wife Boel Forge in 2007. At the time they were just friends and she had already traveled to many other places, including Italy. She loved Italian smarmy music and used to translate the lyrics of some tracks to Forge, who was then inspired to write a song like that which became kind of the first demo of “He Is”.

He recalled that in an interview with Värvet podcast in 2018 (Transcribed by slavghoul). “The original lyrics were actually Italian. My girlfriend at the time, who is now my wife… When we met, I was 25, I hadn’t traveled very much. And since I wasn’t working, I didn’t have much money. Then I met Boel who was hard-working and had done lots of fun things. She’d studied in Italy, things like that. (She’d seen the world,she’d seen more. And I quickly tried to ‘man up’ and be a bit cool. I tried to hide my envy, I tried to play cool. But I have a predilection for Italian manners and Italian food, so I wanted to make a joke”.

Ghost leader continued:

“She liked a lot of smarmy songs. I like a lot of Italian prog music, but she also likes smarmy Italian music. Eros Ramazzotti is well known, but there’s a myriad of singers like him. She would sometimes translate the lyrics, which was great fun. Because all the lyrics are like, you know. ‘Where did you go? Where are you today? Our lives could have been so much more fun.”

“Let’s meet downstairs and escape together’ It’s all very moisty. There’s a lot of instigations to escape boredom, a lot of infidelity. ‘Let’s meet for a holy night, but tomorrow we’ll go separate ways.’ So I wrote a song that was supposed to be a travesty of that. It was called Lei È, which means ‘She is’. And that became ‘He is’,” Tobias Forge said.

The meaning of the song actually took a different route with the release of the official video. Since it shows a false preacher, more interested in the money of their followers and on the women. So by watching the clip, many fans believed it was actually a song talking about the stereotype of the famous TV Evangelists.

“Meliora” was the album which gave Ghost their first Grammy Award. The band was awarded in the “Best Metal Performance” category for the song “Cirice” at the time.

I'm a Brazilian journalist who always loved Classic Rock and Heavy Metal music. That passion inspired me to create Rock and Roll Garage over 6 years ago. Music has always been a part of my life, helping me through tough times and being a support to celebrate the good ones. When I became a journalist, I knew I wanted to write about my passions. After graduating in journalism from the Pontifical Catholic University of Minas Gerais, I pursued a postgraduate degree in digital communication at the same institution. The studies and experience in the field helped me improve the website and always bring the best of classic rock to the world! MTB: 0021377/MG

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