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Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Blast! Another brilliant idea stolen!

I have long said that if I ever get around to writing a book, I would love to do something on the Christian rock scene. In my time at The P-C, I have covered Christian bands and visited festivals such as Lifest and Power of One. I also went to a ton of Christian rock shows as a kid. (Anybody else remember Degarmo and Key?) I find the scene absolutely fascinating for a number of reasons. One, it's a genuine youth subculture with its own stars and mores. A band like Audio Adrenaline can fill an arena and yet draw blank stares from non-Christians. Two, it is built on a pile of contradictions, the central one being that it's an industry for people who claim (and really do believe they have) no interest in stardom or money. Plus, nobody outside the Christian community has written about it, so it is fertile ground.

Was fertile ground.

Two weeks ago I was in a Barnes and Noble and came across "Body Piercing Saved My Life," a book about (you guessed it) the Christian music scene by former Spin writer Andrew Beaujon. I haven't read the book yet, but it sounds like Beaujon takes a very empathetic look at the artists and fans. I'm relieved by this, and surprised. Rock journalists probably dismiss Christian music more uniformly than any other genre, a practice that shows obvious bias and clear stupidity. Sure, a lot of it is dorky, but a lot of it is also really good, and there's a case to be made for the overwhelming influence of religon on secular music, from Elvis Presley to Al Green to Prince to U2 to Beck. Besides, even if you hate the music, it's still a culture worth looking at.

Here's a good interview with Beaujon from Fluxblog. Look for Beaujon's comments about the difficulty of getting the book published.

I haven't completely ditched my Christian rock-related writing. I'm currently working on a story about the connections between local bands in the Fox Valley and local churches. I already have some really good stuff from Cory Chisel of the Wandering Sons and Greg Sampson of San Damiano, a church group that meets at Appleton music club Tom's Garage. Look for it later this month.

9 Comments:

Blogger Thomas Roz said...

Hmmm, that was a good interview. I had to cover "Power of One" a few years back, and I'll admit, I was pretty bummed about being there. The kids were nice, though, and I wasn't analyzing the music or anything for the piece.

I always thought the lyrics to Pedro the Lion's "Rapture" were pretty clever, especially when you consider the juxtaposition of sex and religion. Also, didn't Sixpence None the Richer cover "There She Goes" by the La's, and isn't that song rumored to be about heroin. Tsk, tsk ...

And no mention of Scott Stapp. Bummer.

5:49 PM  
Anonymous gavin said...

I would seriously like to know why Christian rock can't produce a single decent song. The closest they've done is give us Jars of Clay, whose new album is wretched.

Audio Adrenaline is so-so, Chris Rice is blah, East West, Lost and Found, Kendall Payne... I can do without it in my life. Rich Mullins is alright, MC Hammer rules if that's Christian rock, the Newsboys are decent but still pale compared to pop music, and I guess I almost like Skillet, but not really.

And what is up with Christian heavy metal? And are any Christian rockers really Christian? Are any of the fans? I'm rambling but these issues really disturb me.

8:49 PM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

Artists that have recorded songs or entire albums about God: Hank Williams, Elvis Presley, Al Green, Johnny Cash, U2, Bob Dylan, the Byrds, Sam Cooke, Sunny Day Real Estate, the Beach Boys and many more I can't think of right now.

I'm sure you can find a decent song in there, Gav.

10:07 AM  
Anonymous bizzle said...

paul simon, sufjan stevens, the new kentucky quarter, john davis, kanye west...
there are so many.

1:04 PM  
Anonymous gavin said...

Steve, you know I was referring to the genre "Christian rock" and not using it to label any band that happens to be Christian. That would just be silly.

Of course the bands you listed have all made wonderful music (especially the Beach Boys). Even U2 on an off day. But I don't think anyone would label them "Christian rock" and I certainly don't expect to find their CDs at the Christian bookstore or played on the so-called "Christian" radio stations.

2:16 PM  
Anonymous gavin said...

P.S. Bob Dylan is Jewish.

10:47 PM  
Blogger Steve Hyden said...

P.P.S. Dylan converted to Christianity in the late 1970s. See albums Slow Train Coming, Saved (duh) and Shot of Love.

Don't test me on Dylan, son.

10:51 PM  
Blogger mark said...

the other uncle bob

1:24 AM  
Anonymous gavin said...

I admit it, I've been pwned. Well played, Steve. Well played.

3:09 PM  

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