April 16, 2008

Why should the devil have all the good music? (part XXIV)

leigh_nash.jpg My continuing quest to become known as "that Jew who likes Christian rock" takes me today to the New York Times' Paper Cuts blog where I offer my list of 10 great Christian rock songs. Really.

Skeptics can listen to the songs here. Some will be old news to readers of this site, but there are a couple of new ones on there too. If you're at all moved to post a comment on the NYT site, please do so, since that's what keeps posts in the public eye. Sample comment topics could include your ability to be the first person to make a comment, comparisons of Christians (or Jews) to Nazis, and recommendations for web sites that offer discount pharmaceuticals.

Oh, in case you're wondering: no, I'm not allowed to say "sucks" on the Times site and, yes, I am the world's biggest hypocrite. I wanted to say "sucks," of course, in order to make the argument that Christian rock doesn't, which you'll recall was my position in a public debate a few weeks ago. If you have an hour to kill and an excessive amount of interest in the topic, you can now watch the entire debate -- well, until the tape runs out, but enough to get to the part where my opponent starts backpedalling -- on Vimeo (if anyone knows how to get around YouTube's length restriction, please tell me).

Debate: Does Christian Rock Suck? from Daniel Radosh on Vimeo.

In other RR! news Timothy Beal, the author of Roadside Religion, has a very nice review of the book on SoMA. And Radar has an excerpt from the chapter on Christian comedy. Yes, another excerpt. Pretty soon the entire book will be free on the Internets. (And of course, while you're there, click the little "recommend it" link). Radar pulled from my site this awesome clip from Prank 3:16, the Christian Punk'd, in which the jokers trick a young woman into believing she's missed the Rapture. It is horribly cruel and funny.

Also on YouTube now: the video of Bibleman vs. Jewy Jewstein, posted last week on Gawker, is ready to go viral.

Update: RR! finds its niche

Posted by Daniel Radosh


That "rapture" prank looked extremely fake, unless everyone who gets left behind is supposed to act like they're auditioning for a bad soap opera.

Yeah, but the mark's fear looked pretty real, as did the guilt and shame on the faces of her friends when they realized they'd probably gone too far. I just figured they used production interns instead of actors as the extras.

Did Paste magazine used to have a Christian focus? In the ed note to a recent issue, the editor says that Paste got off the ground via the founders' love for Over the Rhine, Pedro the Lion, and (I think) Sufjan Stevens. Till you started posting about Rhine and Pedro, I didn't even realize those were considered Christian bands. I knew of them, but thought they were just "indie." Stevens is a gimme, of course.

But the ed note never actually uses the word "Christian."

FYI: I played drums on that Sixpence song. Thanks for including it on your list. Pretty cool to be included. Thanks for listening, and I enjoyed the rest of the songs on your list as well. I'd never heard the Larry Norman song, and I'm glad to see you put Over the Rhine on the list as well. They are a wonderful band (and greatly influenced Sixpence, btw.) Cheers!

Jim: Funny, I didn't know about Paste until I started researching Christian music! If you look at the artists they cover there are several who don't usually get attention outside the Christian sphere - Mark Heard, Bill Mollonee... All of these are artists who would probably agree that there shouldn't really be separate spheres at all, and my guess is that's what the magazine's editors had in mind too. They were undoubtably Christian and wanted to cover the music they knew from that world, but never as a genre separate from the other music that they liked.

ok. i listened to all the songs. i heard the debate. and i honestly don't know how you came out on top. sorry.. i do know. your oponent was a moron!
yes he tried to narrow down the definition of rock n' roll (as i did before), but you, on the other hand consider anything as being rock n' roll and i'm sorry... it is not! there's a reason that songs and genres are classified as folk, or pop, or country, or electronic... that's because that's what they are! i mean, six pence none the richer? that's as folk/pop as it gets (and not that great either). it doesn't rock. it's folk pop. so is over the rhine (no big deal), so is the 77's(nothing to brag about). jonathan rudman is a little more pop oriented (kind of ok - reminds me of matt pond p.a.). vigilantes of love (country pop at most - and not too good). and andy hunter, which is electronic and although it does have the "let thy kingdom come" thing, that can even be taken as a seriously offensive sexual innuendo (if you're really conservative - but it's also an ok track). the only exceptions on your list would be Larry Norman (bluesy rock n' roll - not at all convincing), Pedro the Lion (pretty good actualy) and mewithoutyou (average) - i'll get to dylan later. so out of ten bands you get 3 that actually rock (sort of) and only one that is any good. not a very good score, i would say. still... that's not even the point, after all, taste is relative (allthough i have my doubts!).
what is the point (i think) is that your definition of (christian) rock is as broad as your oponents' is narrow. and as i pointed out, most of your set list is not rock (and by that i mean that... THEY DON'T ROCK!). but still... by your definition of "transformational christian rock" that deals in themes of "brokenness and failure" almost anything can be considered "christian rock". how many times have people tried to find hidden meanings in the "stairway to heaven" lyrics? probably as many times as they tried to listen to the words "i love satan" when playing it backwards! and if christian imagery and themes of "brokenness and failure" make a rock song, doesn't that make Black Sabbath a "christian rock" band?
and going back to your list. come on people! bob dylan as a born again christian??? give me a break. he's jewish!!! everyone knows he was clearly in turmoil and confused, and those are definetely not his best records. and that is not anywhere near one of his classics. yes, he's good with words, and he can carry a tune, but that does not make him a "christian artist".
and last, but not least... during the whole debate, you yourself state (many, many times) that for the most part "christian rock sucks"! so why deny it? it does suck! and what you tried to define as "christian rock" is not rock (and in a few cases) not even christian per se.
and why the hell does there have to be such a thing as "christian rock" anyway? why can't christians listen to all kinds of rock (or all kinds of music, for that matter)? ok, don't listen to death metal... but still... isn't that kind of attitude a little bit exclusive? prejudiced? intolerant?
oh, sorry... i forgot... that is what religion is all about, isn't it? or not? we (the believers)are going to heaven and you (non belivers) aren't!
how many types of different believers do you think can fit in heaven?

Hope I'm not preaching to the choir (as it were), but if you want to experience some excellent "pre-christian" (for want of a better term) rock, by someone who soon after embraced christianity, try Andy Pratt. Best known (if at all) for "Avenging Annie", Pratt's self-titled album runs the gamut from delicate and haunting to genuinely hard rocking with vocal gymnastics and jazz influenced dissonances. http://www.andy-pratt.com/

would jesus use the internet to discuss trivial things like you all seem to be doing? get on with your lives as believers and stop being like everyone else with your blogs and discussion boards, get out into nature buy a banjo or a guitar or something and but the psalms to music, is that christian enough for you...be different, not like the world with a "christian" label slapped on yous.

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