Pop Goes the Music
If you were to inspect my record/cd/mp3 collection you would find an extremely eclectic sound village. Mozart, Bach, and Bono sit nicely on the shelf while Metallica, Norah Jones, and Jelly Roll Morton tip toe on the neighboring rung. In my world… music equals expression.
Ever since Jubal first jammed in the beginning of all things man has been in love with music. Each region and culture reflects a variant flavor and variety much like the hybrid offsprings of the plant world. But if I were to put a musical style up as my favorite it would have to be jazz. Jazz incorporates the broadest pallate and allows for the most spirit – expression, groove, mood, rhythm, and grace traveling across personalized interval stone paths. It’s the skee-bop in the skooby-doo.
Of course classical music is wonderfully brilliant as well with the ability to create grandiose visions of thematic splendor in one piece and simple moments of pizzicato delicacy in the other. I suppose what draws me closer to jazz though, is its delta earth and common-man upbringing. I do live in the New Orleans area afterall. So as a lover of the musical rainbow and a as musician, I’d like to offer up a few words on pop music and how I see it relating to the maturity of the Christian walk.
As I’ve grown older I realize that my fondness of current pop music becomes less and less. I think this is partly due to an aging phenomenon that occurs where songs that hold special places in your life no longer exist as just songs; they become memories. Each time you hear them your mind relives a story and you are not just hearing the song. As a result, we get into a habit of wanting to reminisce and find ourselves listening to that depository of music over a more current nostalgia-less feeding. The oldies principle sets in and another layer of appreciation arrives.
But I’ve also recognized a few other factors that make the pop genre less appealing over time as you grow older and solidify in the faith. Much of the trendy Billboard rotation is written for two main crowds of people: angst-ridden hate males and heart-broken love girls. There are exceptions but this rule is common enough to be a rule. And there is another section in there as well that I would call the audio-porn brigade; however, that sector is self-rejecting and encompasses a wide variety of genres but rests in a hyper-sensual groove that would embarrass even a hippie’s grandmother. While some parts of this corps may be redeemable within a marital context or some other framework, most of its product is still tripe.
Now the hate male segment consists of songs that have the lyrical tenacity of a spoiled child’s tantrum – dark, angry, disconnected, and alone. Its veins are filled with the frustration and the burning turmoil of those without wisdom. As the lost generations produce new songsters by the dozen, a youthful rebellion based upon a worldly reaction to normal circumstance becomes the “yeah man I hear ya” rally cry as millions of CDs hit the players filling another legion with lines of despair and solidarity.
The second segment contains songs written to croon and bemoan the brokenness of love and the loss of relationships. Soul mates have been separated and eros expectations have been crushed as feelings and emotional wrangling fill the libre. Besides being made of the least common musical denominator, each segment presents a weak biblical view of life and promotes an opposite sample of what so many Christian parents spend years attempting to deconstruct. In many ways it is like a refilling of a drained lake. It’s interesting that pop music contains no courtship love songs. Perhaps Sir Paul can write one of those someday.
And so it is that as we live more in the hope of Christ we should discover that we live less and less like an angry and hopelessly confused teenager for the glorious grace of God indwells our being. In these paths the attraction fades as the light of the Cross illuminates all things. Clinging to bitterness and past tension loses its flavor and so, too, does the allure. Why hold on to the darkness when you’ve been given eternal sunshine?
The anti-pop progression increases and as we experience what true love looks like. It is colorless, odorless, selfless and unconditional and not akin to the overly promoted chick-flick romanticism that consumes the silver screen. Nowhere is agape more personified than at Calvary where the King of Glory died for those not worth dying for. That love is not sap and sentiment; instead, it bleeds. In the throne room of the Ultimate the imposters are less beautiful and the trendy look more like plastic.
This is what I think happens as we mature in the faith. The flavor of past affections goes bland and we replace our sustenance with real meat. When you’ve had the McCoy you begin to leave behind the imitation. Your discernment increases and your choices change. This happened to me with church music as my affinity for CCM sunk in proportion to my fondness of the great hymns. Eating a steady diet of current pop music is like living in the drive-thru lane and ordering cheese covered chili tater tots three times a day. It might taste good for a short time, but soon you’ll weigh eight hundred pounds, be malnourished, and have to be cut out of your vehicle by the jaws of life. But if you’ve been enrolled as a keeper of the Truth and enlisted as a defender of that honor why would you want to be released from that which you’ve already been made free?