Monday, August 28, 2006

Rockin' in the Real World

So, I love CBC radio. No pulp, no pop, no ads hurting my psyche. It's usually on in the van, in the kitchen, in my studio.
On Saturday I heard this local guy, and I just had to contact him. He was gracious enough to send me a transcript and give me permission to post it here. He also sent me the mp3 version. If you contact him, at he'll probably send you the link too. Give it a listen. Tell him I said hi.

Here is the whole thing. Authored by Jonathan Gonyou, assistant pastor of "worship arts and maturity" at Stony Plain Alliance. Great stuff!


Some of you out there in radio-land may not even know that there'’s a whole sub-genre of music out there called "“Christian Contemporary"”. You'’ve got your Newsboys and your Michael W. Smiths and your Jars of Clay. And it'’s all come a long way baby. In fact I'’d put up the likes of unknown quote "Christian bands"” like the Violet Burning against Radiohead and the "“Lost Dogs"” against "“Wilco" any day of the week.

There is a lot of people who classify or maybe qualify music of "faith" by it"’s "“JPM"’s or“ "Jesus's’ per minute"”. I wish I were making that up.

But if you'’re like me and believe all truth to be God'’s truth, than maybe a gospel song isn'’t just about being on a Christian record label or getting Christian radio airplay.

There'’s the usual suspects of course. Johnny Cash has been singing and writing gospel songs his whole career and his last recording "“The Man Comes around"” is straight out of the last book of the Bible, Revelations. U2 have worn their faith on their sleeve and have written more overt "“Christian"” songs than your typical southern gospel quartet. Check out their song "“grace"” or their perennial concert closer "“40"”, verbatim from Psalm 40. Bob Dylan wrote 2 landmark Gospel albums with classics like "“Saved", "“Gotta serve somebody", ” and "“Lord protect my child"”. Willie Nelson, the Byrds, Moby, Kanye West, Al Green, Stevie Wonder, Switchfoot, Sixpence to name a few have written profound songs of faith and devotion (a little DePeche mode reference there for you synthpop geeks).

But some of my favourite quote "“gospel"” songs come from the least likely of sources.

Prince, of all people took a break from writing soft core porn to music to pen one of the most compelling songs about that day 2000 years ago, that changed the world. "“The Cross"” is only 2 chords but persuasive and touching.

Indie poster boy Sufjan Steven'’s song "“The transfiguration" ” from the album "“Seven Swans"” is a riveting account of Jesus last few days on earth.

And is there a better song ever written than Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen? A word that transcends language and culture. The most succinct word of adoration to God. Jeff Buckley'’s version is, in my humble opinion, the best.

How about Lauren Hill'’s "“into Zion"”. A Biblical allusion and ode to the miracle of life of her newborn son.

And the Violent Femmes, ya, I said it: the Violent Femmes have more JPM'’s than, well, than you'’d ever expect from a band with the name "“Violent Femmes"”. Check out "“Jesus walkin'’ on the water"” or "Faith"” or "“Rejoice and be happy"” almost a transcript from the sermon on the mount.

And finally, the Velvet Underground, known more for writing gender-bending- drug-binging stories of New York'’s underbelly and yet when Lou Reed sings "“Jesus, help me find my proper place, help me in my weakness, ‘cause I'’ve fallen out of grace."” Well, it cries of a man, of all of us, in need of redemption. And I don'’t know about you, but I'’m one Pastor in need of redemption.

Gonyou out.

1 comment:

Karyn/Mom said...

At a worship conference one time a LONG time ago, the "keynote speaker" shocked many by saying that there is music that worships God/draws people to Him and there is music that worships evil and draws people away from God and then (here's the shocker) There is all the rest - just good music that worships neither God nor evil.
I would add that if the lyrics/music contain Truth - how could it be evil? That is Truth with a capital "T".
Now, all you have to do is listen to country music and you find all kinds of songs that are about Truth. Many are even overtly about Jesus.
How many Christians (I was once one of them) never hear the Messages of Truth being sung to the world because the artist is is "secular"? Ever listen to Paul Brandt or Josh Turner? Those secular singers pack an evangelistic punch, I tell you. I remember when MWS and Amy Grant were soundly criticised for "crossing over" into the secular market. Was their motivation financial? Maybe. Did their songs contain Truth? Yes. Were people drawn to the author of Truth? Yes. 'Nuff said.