Thursday, September 28, 2006

Elton John alter call?

One of the thoughts that hit me during Sunday night's concert was how much it reminded me of the evangelical/pentacostal worship services I used to attend during my crazy holy roller days ten years ago -- especially when Sir Elton broke into his soulful extemporaneous singing (tongues?). Like any worship service, there were moments that the arena was singing a familiar song and the event was intended to provoke a musical (or spiritual?) experience. And there was an alter call-like moment before the encore when the standing crowd before the stage was allowed to seek His autograph (and blessing?).

I haven't been to any rock concerts recently. In fact, I think the last arena concerts I attended were a Christian concert, Newsboys with Jars of Clay (I think), and Live in the mid-1990s. I assume similar experiences can be had at other concerts. I'll know next week when I go to a rock concert, Muse, for my sister's birthday.

Rock music's heritage can probably be traced to American Christian worship music. I think "secular" rock is a little more genuine to me than contemporary worship music -- especially in light of the profitable contemporary Christian music industry. This is my own bias, but worship music in pentacostal/evangelical services is too manipulative. Instead of enjoying the music for its own sake, there's an assertion that a spiritual moment or God connection is taking place and that the music is merely part of the setting -- rather than acknowledging the fact that the music is provoking the feeling. This is especially apparent when a worship service's music fails to connect with worshippers (Is the Holy Spirit not present or are the musicians just simply having a bad day?).

I do have to admit that I sometimes miss some of the more manipulative contemporary Christian worship music since I've attended liberal churches (MCC, UU, UCC) for the last ten years. While I do enjoy the music these churches use from The New Century Hymnal, hymns just are not as blantantly, emotion-provoking as contemporary worship music. It may be because "liberal" churches are more analytical and careful about their beliefs and don't have an evangelical motive to market their beliefs to unbelievers. While I'm sure there are many (if not most?) commercial/professional musicians who share common beliefs as liberal faiths, they don't feel the need to brand their music or market it to liberal believers.

I'm not sure what the point of this post is or if there is a point. I'm not a musician, music expert or even a daily music listener. I guess the concert just made me reminiscence about old times. Not sure if it would qualify as reminiscencing about good times or bad times. In fact, I feel a little embarrassed to think I tried to be a pentacostal, hand-waving, Bible-thumping Christian. I one observation I have is that there doesn't seem to be an equivalent version on the liberal end of the fundamentalist-liberal religious spectrum. However, I can find some similar spiritual/meaningful experience within what fundamentalist Christians would describe as "secular" music.

2 comments: said...

I just bought a couple Amy Grant songs off of I-tunes the other day.

I couldn't believe I was doing it, but I genuinely like her music.

Does that make me gay?


Norm! said...

If enthusiastically going to an Elton John concert makes me an old queen, then downloading Amy Grant's songs makes you at least gay. You could have at least illegally downloading her music.

Isn't she a controversial "bad Christian"? Not only did she sell-out and cross over to secular music, but she divorced and married another divorced man. Shocking!