When the Music Fades...
As the whole world knows...Prince died last week. Or The Artist Formerly Known as Prince.
I find myself having very little response to that since I didn't listen to Prince. I know his songs in passing, from hearing them in stores, on the bus, or at dances (gasp). But, I never sat down and listened to his albums. I don't own them. I really have know very little about his music or him as an artist.
For many of us raised in a fundamentalish (fundamentalism while insisting we not call it that) brand of Christianity, music was something that came with many footnotes and qualifiers. There were limits on lyrics, content, what the band wore, who their audience was, and how they carried themselves. Once Christian music (CCM) really took off in the late 80s, then there was no need for "secular" music at all.
Now not everyone was subject to this. There were many kids (whose salvation was in question) who still listened to the radio. But the truly faithful shunned that evil influence. We listened to Christian music. Sanctified, purified, and often not very good music.
My dad wasn't a fan of the stuff and he didn't encourage my devout dedication to Christian music. My youth leaders did. And, given my personality, I was going to keep to the task and only listen to Christian music. I loved Truth (basically a touring choir with saxophones and brass). I loved Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman. Petra was a staple. I liked Stryper for a bit but didn't stay with heavy music, it was too worldly. Spent a stint with Steve Green and Sandi Patti, but that's not really kids music. DC Talk made the world go round.
My first concert was Truth. My 16th birthday we went to the Palace in Detroit to see Michael W. Smith. It awesome. I saw DCTalk many times in concert in multiple states. The only music festival I went to was in KC where there was a Christian tent at the large festival. A little too dangerous you know...being so close to that other music.
Sadly, this lasted until 6 years ago. Towards the end, I couldn't stand a lot of Christian music. I was tired of the chord progressions, the cliches, the guilt, the happiness, the lack of real life. My life no longer felt like a Christian song. But what's a good Christian to do. I would flirt with the oldies station but couldn't bring myself to listen to modern stuff. And so, music, which has always been a huge part of my life, became really painful.
There's a much larger story here about how I started listening to music again. But, suffice it to say, I eventually fell in love with EDM and the Black Eyed Peas. I love Ellie Goulding. I've see One Republic twice at Red Rocks. (Now that's a concert!!) I've seen several other concerts and learned that there are beautiful, heartfelt lyrics and meanings in all kinds of music.
In fact, as I step away from a fundamentalish view of the world, music has become a means of healing and hope. Songs that might have been written for other reasons, speak to the brokenness that happens when our spirituality is shattered. In fact, they have a lot to say.
So, as the we mourn Prince (and David Bowie) maybe it's time to explore their music so I can understand what was so amazing about these artists and music they gave the world. They tapped into the human experience, as different from mine as it was, and touched the lives of millions. And that's something worth listening to.
Irony #1: I just heard Purple Rain on the radio and my first thought was - "Wow, that has really influenced modern Christian worship music." Huh, I wonder how that happened...
Irony #2: Prince was a practicing Christian.
Irony #3: My old youth leader listened to secular music all the time...huh.
Irony #4: Dancing, which requires music, is good for the body, mind, and soul.
An no, I'm not the only one ;)
Prince Helped Me Overcome a Religious Upbringing That Shunned Secular Music