Tyler Glenn Trash

Neon Trees are arguably Provo’s most lucrative musical export. (Sorry, Imagine Dragons.) Over a few albums and a number of hit singles, the group has solidified itself not just as a leading pop act, but as a powerful emissary of Mormonism, with drummer Elaine Bradley producing an “I’m a Mormon” video a few years back and frontman Tyler Glenn coming out as gay while proudly touting his Mormonism at the same time.

It appears, however, that those times may be over. For every great group there is the inevitable solo record, and sometimes solo records show us the evolving side of the individual.

If his new lead solo single is to be believed, there have been two Tyler Glenns: 1) the frontman of Neon Trees and supporter of the Church, constrained in some ways by the needs of three other bandmates; and 2) unleashed solo artist who is clearly much angrier at the LDS church than he might have let on. Tyler Glenn #1 disappeared with the handbook policy change last year. (Indeed, Tyler said on the Mormon Stories podcast a few weeks ago that he left the Church.)

Glenn’s new single “Trash” is basically three minutes and forty-five seconds of Church-slamming. In it he physically drinks and talks about drinking, then yells at repainted portraits of Joseph Smith before spitting on one of them. With that, you’ve been warned. This will be offensive to many Latter-day Saints.

If you want to view it, hit up this link. We’re not embedding it because at the two-minute mark Tyler clearly makes some movements associated with temple work, and as open-minded and even-handed as we attempt to be at This Week in Mormons, we’re not hosting content that makes light of temple covenants, now matter how genuine the place of pain may be that drove its creation.

The lyrics are as follows:

I think I lost myself in your new religion
You say a prayer for me like a superstition
We were always made for love
We could always speak in tongues
On my knees and I’m seeing visions
Yeah, you remind me that seven sins are deadly
You used to baptize me when I wasn’t ready
Water never turns to wine
I’ve been drinking all the time
I think of you whenever I see fire in the sky

Your friends think I’m a freak
Why, what’s in my drink?
I can’t even think, but we got history
In all of this, I lost myself
Maybe I’ll see you in hell
Okay, whatever
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

I said my flesh is weak but the spirit’s willing
And you would sell my soul just to make the killing
If you wanted me to stay
I’d prepare my days away

Your friends think I’m a freak
Why, what’s in my drink?
I can’t even think, but we got history
In all of this, I lost myself
Maybe I’ll see you in hell
Okay, whatever
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

You keep throwing me out like
You keep throwing me out like
You keep throwing me out like
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Your friends think I’m a freak
Why, what’s in my drink?
I can’t even think, but we got history
In all of this, I lost myself
Maybe I’ll see you in hell
Okay, whatever
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure
One man’s trash is another man’s treasure

Let’s set aside feelings of offense that might come from a song so squarely targeted at Church establishment. Glenn is no doubt conflicted. How could he not be? There are no easy answers for gay Latter-day Saints. There are those who find that focusing on the atonement of Christ is what matter most (see our great interview with Greg Harris of North Star International), and others who might try to straddle the line and embrace natural tendencies. I am not here to label Tyler as anything other than a child of God, nor do I know how “actively gay,” for lack of a better term, he is. And I don’t care.

Glenn has openly been angry about Handbook changes from November 2015 that curtailed some of the immediate availability of blessings and sacred rites to children of gay parents, arguing that the Church is changing. This music clearly comes from a place of pain and frustration.

Above all else, though, are there any answers? Is there an appropriate response to a man’s frustration with his faith? The dichotomies at play are too complex for one pop song, podcast, or article. While personally I don’t agree that denigrating the image of a Church founder or mocking temple rituals serves a valuable purpose, I also don’t pretend to understand the anguish someone in Tyler Glenn’s shoes must experience. How must it be attempting to feel like one must serve two masters?

So there you have it. Some people go solo and basically keep making the same music, like Tom Petty or Bruce Springsteen (don’t kill me, but have you heard Human Touch?) while others do something entirely different. Mr Glenn is the latter, for better or worse.