Bad Songs and Bad Memories8 May, 2008
When I was in my senior year of high school, I met my first girlfriend. She was the product of a Catholic upbringing, but had been ‘born again.’ She tried very hard to convert me, to convince me to accept Jesus as my personal saviour and be born again (I thought at the time (and still do) that the first time was most likely enough for my mom).
The summer after my senior year (or maybe it was in the late spring (not sure (it was a long time ago))) she called me and asked if I wanted to go to a concert. Sounded good, so I said yes. She said to bring the brick (my VW Microbus was painted brick red (with a white top (looked kinda like a rectangle of Red Velvet Cake with Ermine Icing))) as ‘the gang’ (all born-agains (but good people (and (usually) fun to be with)) would be coming along.
The concert (up at the Hagerstown fairgrounds) was Petra. There were three other bands before the headliner. For those who don’t know, Petra was a Christian Rock Band. The concert was, to say the least, excruciating. The bands were three chord wonders in spandex, with the added bonus of horrible lyrics. Songs about Gods love. Songs about Jesus’ love. Songs about the Bible’s love. Luckily, when Petra was on, I couldn’t understand the lyrics (their sound boy couldn’t quite figure out that the vocals should be at least as loud as the instrumentals (and the thumpa-thumpa-thumpa of the bass was discoesque)). Unluckily the lyrics were displayed above the stage (this was hi-tech for 1985). Luckily I had forgotten the lyrics (until recently (when Myers posted about some Christian Rock demos)).
As we drove away after the concert (heading for Pizza Hut), I rumaged through the cassettes (not an eight-track in this vehicle) and popped in The Wall by Pink Floyd. Oddly, everyone in the van, all the born-agains, had the same reaction: “Ahhhh. Real music!” So why the hell did we suffer through three hours of Christian Rock?
Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I have nothing against religious music. Bach’s St. John’s Passion is one of my favourite pieces, and I greatly enjoy Mozart’s Requiem. I love Gregorian Chants (though they freak my wife out). I even enjoy religous folk music and some gospel tunes (not so much for listening, but for playing and singing). I do have something against bad music.
Whether it is fairground rock bands or a neophyte violinist, poorly performed music grates (and I know that everyone sounds bad, then mediocre, and then some become good as they learn more). But even worse is bad music. Bad music, even performed well, is just plain painful.
If any of ya’ll have the guts, go over to WFMU and listen to some of these Christian Rock Demos. And keep in mind that they were actually trying to convinced people to record them professionally.