Friday Music

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Anyone who reads this blog will know that I have a downer on the idea of ‘Christian music’. Much I have heard has been derivative ‘music lite’ with clunking lyrics foregrounded. And the negative view of Christian music is….

Besides which, why is does idea that is fundamentally concerned with outsiders (Christianity), produce music that is ‘safe’ for insiders.

I do, however, have a soft spot for Gungor- I like the musicianship and the attempt to try something different. I also like the way that Michael Gungor writes in a similar vein about ‘Christian Music’.

This song came up on my playlist as I was driving away from a lunch stop last week where a man had just poured out his life story, brokenness and eventual recovery. It seemed somehow fitting.

Post Easter*

For those who have stayed the course over the last few days and read some of these posts, it is not that I don’t believe- I do. It is just that I react very strongly to a portrayal of faith that is all sunlit uplands, with the tacit message that if you are not like that something is ‘wrong’. If pain exists in those in circles, it is quickly hushed up with bad poetry or an uplifting song in G (sometimes the same thing…).

But if you are outside faith or hurting: I don’t think a message of an eternal Sunday does much for you either.

I guess I am a Good Friday/Easter Saturday kind of Christian- I know Sunday is coming….. but sometimes Sunday is a long way away.

Anyway, it is Bank Holiday- time to lift your pallid face from the web and face the driving ice,hail and plague of frogs that comprises a British Bank Holiday.

Here is something uplifting, but with a trace of wistfulness. I like it. If you expected a light hearted April Fool- you are on the wrong blog….

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*…and for those eager liturgists, I know we are not post Easter: it is the Easter season

Friday Music

The story is well rehearsed out of my own mouth and on this blog.

I’ve always had a love of music; at it’s best it ‘recognises the pain in me’, as The Verve put it. When I was first a Christian, someone introduced me to Christian rock; very quickly I realised I didn’t like it. It seemed like a pale pastiche of the real thing; predictable songs, music-lite, no lyrical mystery and little recognition of pain or mystery since Jesus was always the (immediate) answer.

I have tried, really tried, over the years to listen to ‘Christian music’ that people have told me about. Each time I have come away disappointed; the styles may change, but to my ears it had the same flaws as I outlined in the last paragraph. In fact, the next time I hear sub Coldplay major chords, with a chorus lyric like ‘and we will rise up’, I may have to hit someone.

Over time I have discovered artists who may well be Christian but function in the normal market place and I have found some really interesting ones, making their own path. But each time I have thought ‘Surely there may be someone who tries to do something differently with the Christian music sphere?’

In time, I discovered Gungor- I featured an acoustic version of one oftheir songs a few weeks back. I managed to get their last album at a real cost to me of less than £2 (don’t ask) and it is really good. I think I might play it often. This one is a more upbeat one. They sound like….themselves….. but I hear echoes of Mumford and Songs, Sufjan Stevens, Damien Jurado, even a slight Sigur Ros.

The lead guy has a top blog as well….http://gungormusic.com/category/blog/ in which he often rounds on the ‘Christian music scene.’

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Friday Music

I grew up in Christian experience at a time when ‘Christian rock’ was to be feared. A kind of ‘music lite’ with no soul and lyrics that set your teeth on edge. Or at least that is what I thought at the time. I can make no comment now as I largely don’t listen to it, although when friends have said ‘you must listen to this, it is amazing’ I have done and been disappointed.

However this version of this song is fantastic. It defies genre and it is what it is: unique. I would pay good money to see this.

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More on ‘Christian’ music

A while ago, I put this on this blog and I think it is fantastic, so I’m reposting it:-

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Searching around to see if I could pick up the CD cheap to see how good it was I found the artist’s blog and I loved it.

In particular I was attracted by this post ‘Why the Christian music category shouldn’t exist’  http://www.gungormusic.com/blog/?p=65

Some gems:-

‘Imagine you were hungry for some pizza, so you do quick Google search for nearby pizza joints.  You discover a new one only a few blocks away from you and it’s called Pete’s Christian Pizza.  And of course the logo is a Christian fish on a pizza.

“What a strange name for a pizza place”, you say to yourself.

“How can pizza be Christian?”

I’m not sure what decision you make at that point.  Me, I probably opt to not go for it.  I figure that if they need to slap Christian lingo on there box to try to sell that pizza, there might be something wrong with that pizza…

Does anybody but me find it not only odd but actually offensive to walk into a record store and see a “Christian and Gospel” section?’

and this

‘So certainly this category of “Christian music” can’t be solely based on lyrical content.

What else could it be based on?  Whether or not the artist is a Christian?  Certainly not, there are plenty of Christians in the other sections, and there are a number of people who are not actually Christians who are in the Christian section, so that can’t be it either.

Um… running out of ideas here…the record label? Well, I’m not even sure what a Christian record label would be defined by, but nearly every Christian record label is actually owned by a larger mainstream label, and all of these companies have people involved in the business that aren’t Christians.  Conversely, there certainly are Christians within mainstream record labels all over the place as well, so that can’t be what defines this category either.

Where this leaves us is that it makes no sense.  But it exists.  So why does it exist?  Well, I will tell you my friend.  Money.  That’s all.

There was (or perhaps used to be) a large enough market segment of the population that would gravitate towards a sign that said “Christian” on it.  I lived in Tulsa for a little while, and trust me, it would be far more likely to see something like “Pete’s Christian Pizza” there than it would be to see it in Denver.  Why?  Because there are enough of the type of Christians that would gravitate towards that fish symbol when making their pizza decisions that it makes commercial sense for Pete to put that fish on that pizza box’. 

Read the whole entry and the comments-  http://banksyboy.blogspot.com/  I’m looking at you…..

Some music and a video

I had seen this before, but then I picked it up via http://miketodd.typepad.com/ (post headed ‘Gungor’). I love it.

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Not long after I became a Christian/started to follow Jesus, I discovered a genre called ‘Christian music’. Not long after that I wondered why people listened to that genre; I didn’t think it was very good. It didn’t seem musically compelling to this (then!) 18 year old; there was no tension- everything was resolved and the lyrics were bland.

I’ve had an irrational prejudice against the genre since then and few things I have been introduced to have made me revise that opinion. Don’t get me wrong; I have huge respect for artists who are Christians who have tried to make it in the marketplace outside of the ‘Christian market’ (there is something about human beings in that we love our caves, our safety; often preferring it to the cold); I think that has more integrity.

Anyway, before a predictable rant develops, I really like this song combined with the video. It is catchy, ironic, playful and altogether lovely. I hope you do too.