Walking in My Shoes

This 1993 hit single from Depeche Mode’s album Songs of Faith and Devotion might not have much to do with Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy if it weren’t for director Anton Corbijn. Clearly influenced by Dante’s descent into Hell, his pilgrimage through Purgatory, and his ascent into Paradise, Corbijn’s video opens with lead singer Dave Gahan peering out from the darkness, an image which speaks to opening lines of the Inferno: “In the middle of the journey of our life I came to myself within a dark wood where the straight way was lost.” Throughout the video, the arduous winding road to redemption remains an ever-present backdrop against which Dante-esque characters blatantly commit “sins” before our eyes. Yet, while Dante travels the path to attain an enlightenment that “leads men straight on every road,” the lyrics of Depeche Mode’s song invite listeners to travel another path. The narrator in this song is “not looking for a clearer conscience” nor “for absolution / forgiveness for the things” he does. While the lyrics divulge neither what this confessed sinner has done nor the sins committed against him, sins for which both parties would likely be judged harshly, the song’s refrain, “try walking in my shoes,” instructs us to reevaluate the routes we take to our moral judgments of others.