26 April 2006

Letting Go

My BrickFriend wrote a list yesterday of some albums (CDs now) that he recently purchased. I've been making my way through the list and listening to the music. He and I have a friendly debate about music, but mostly it has to do with U2. He doesn't like them and I do ... which is probably stating it mildly in both of our cases. There are a lot of other bands that we both like.

I was knocked over yesterday when I saw Dire Straits mentioned in his list. On one hand, I used to love Dire Straits. On the other, I had forgotten about them. I have a lot of memories tied up in Dire Straits ... my first views of Washington DC have Sultans of Swing playing in the background from a class trip when I was in highschool. They were cutting edge rockers in the '80's without being punk (which I also enjoyed). They rank up there with Talking Heads. Cheap Trick tried but never came close. R.E.M., They Might Be Giants, Indigo Girls, Annie Lennox, the Pretenders ... moving toward punk we listened to The Clash and Big Audio Dynamite (but neither of those bands have stood the test of time).

For some strange reason I have always gravitated towards music that is interesting. The lyrics have meaning and many layers. The music itself has depth, artistry, grain. In short, there is something interesting to listen to. I can't always describe it and I never know the names of band members (which is why it's so amazing that I know so much about U2) and can't talk knowledgeably about it, but I know good music when I hear it. This is astonishing to me because when I was growing up the only music in our house was on the AM radio, a couple of albums by the Kingston Trio, and one by Johnny Cash. Then I went through my pre-pubescent crush stage and fell in love with Donny Osmond so I had several of his albums. But ... that doesn't count.

Then in 1990 LightHusband and I joined an evangelical church and gradually discovered that all of the music we listened to was going to lead us down the path to perdition. That, really, if we wanted to be safe we needed to stop listening to that evil music and only listen to CCM (Contemporary Christian Music). Both being oldest, compliant children and wanting to be good new Christians, we did this. But we're also musicians. CCM is boring. It's not quite as boring or limited now as it was in the early 90's when it was dominated by the likes of Amy Grant. But the lyrics are so monotonous and obvious. Why not just slap the listener in the face with a dead fish and get it over with? The lyrics also tend to be emotionally manipulative. The more the musician can make the listener cry, the better the song must be ... right? Wrong! (An aside here ... I think this is why I love U2 so much. They sing about God in the most oblique manner. Their lyrics are so layered, and have such depth and texture that you can listen and hear many things each time you listen to a song. This is something that most musicians in the CCM industry have yet to learn.)

I realized last night as I remembered all my long lost bands that the church had stolen something from me. I'm angry about that. It was unnecessary. A song is a song. A book is a book. These things are, relatively speaking, morally inert and cannot hurt anyone. I'm not suggesting that things like pornography are morally inert (I wouldn't go that far). But an average song, or average book (like Harry Potter) is. It's what the listener or reader chooses to do with the information in the song or book that makes the morality come alive. For the most part the church is filled with adults (some of whom have children). It seems to me that adults could be firm enough in their faith that they can read or listen to anything and be discerning, not fearful.

In many ways I think I ought to be grateful that now I have a faith that will carry me through many things. I love God. But today I'm angry with the church that stole 12 years from me, and took a lot of my self away. Took things that God never intended to take. This is all still bubbling up. Some days I think I've forgiven it all. Other days ... I wonder how long must I sing this song?


Blogger yipeng said...

Your post really intriged me. So now after 12 years you can go back to listening the those bands? (the ones that are left i mean)

How do you know its something God never intended to take?

4/28/2006 12:12:00 PM  

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