Monday, February 20, 2006

Crumbs from your table...

Music is a pretty intimate part of my dormant identity. That is, my identity before the secret agent gig came along and I went into hiding (the agent relocation program) 3 years ago.

And I mean intimate as in playing, writing, and communicating with music...not necessarily having a CD collection. Although I did that too once upon a time. I got rid of almost all recordings I've ever had about 7-8 years ago. Occasionally I regret that, but mostly, it was a good move.

I was (and to a degree, still am) mostly into jazz. Or anything with a heavy improvisational nature (ala King Crimson-esque art rock). I use to play orchestral music professionally as well. I preferred most anything modern (20th century). And, of course, I love (and still love) to ROCK. The louder the better, baby.

Recently, Agent Wife and myself have jumped on the U2 bandwagon. This is a return ride for me since I listened to them briefly in high school. I could not escape the peer pressures of Joshua Tree and Rattle-n-Hum, even though I usually preferred music recorded around the year I was born. Give me The Who or Yes any day, baby.

U2 was cool and all back when I was in school, but I never really gave them much thought. I always assumed they were just wussy political rock. Sunday Bloody Sunday? Quit your whining. Don't get fooled again...

I also had a brief 4-5 year period where I was primarily known for "praise music" due to my charismatic dealings and those related peer pressures. The funny thing is...I've never really liked praise music. I love the CEO and I'm willing to play any kind of music, but church music just sucks. I never listened to it much (although let the facts be known... I played in a band that opened for Third Day once. Nice guys). When you're a musician, the charismatic culture places you on a pedestal and tells you that you're called to lead people into worship. How do they know what I'm called to. I was not called to provide emotional dance music for a bunch of christians to jump to. I am called to the poor through relationship. The praise thing was just a gig to me at the time.

The music I have written has always been instrumental. No Lyrics. Except my high school garage band once played a song I wrote called "Big Winnebago" - about my fantasy of driving around the country and helping the poor. Maybe I am prophetic. Well, except that Winnebago part. And the driving part. Then about 3-5 years ago I've penned and partially penned several songs (w/ lyrics) that couldn't be categorized as "praise music". They were really about truth and social injustice. These songs have yet to see the light of day.

Then, thanks to Agent Wife's sister (lil' sis), I get U2's newest recording for my birthday last month. I wanted to hear it primarily because of mentions of it in the blog world by people I trust.

I remember in high school people telling me that U2 was "christian" rock. I didn't know what that meant due to my coc upbringing. Back then the coc never used the words Christian and rock in the same sentence. Unless it was one of those tracts discussing the evils of Kiss and The Plasmatics. And, as you could expect, christians distance themselves from U2 because of the singer's use of the word fuck in various press meetings. I have no love or endorsement for defeatist language since there's much power in the spoken word. But it's funny...a person can follow the CEO, claim Jesus as his king, give much to the poor with love...but say a certain word and people of faith immediately shutdown and discredit you. "Fuck"...the unforgivable sin....that's a whole new blog post...

Back to the point...most of the tunes on this U2 disc are more about social injustice than praise or worship. That is, the kind of touchy, feely, bless-me kind of praise and worship . I assume acting upon injustice is a praise and worship of the CEO.

Bands from within the church realm (Delirious, Third Day, etc) may effectively preach to the choir. But outside the church camp, U2 has taken a "less talk, more action" approach. And the world's listening.

I've never put any faith in popularity contests like the Grammy's. But U2's latest is like...album of the year or something. Get this...a faith riddled, social injustice recording is the most popular disc on the planet.

I can't think of a better choice.

From the brightest star
Comes the blackest hole
You had so much to offer
Why did you offer your soul?
I was there for you baby
When you needed my help
Would you deny for others
What you demand for yourself?

You speak of signs and wonders
I need something other
I would believe if I was able
But I'’m waiting on the crumbs from your table

Where you live should not decide
Whether you live or whether you die
Three to a bed
Sister Ann, she said
Dignity passes by


The Unimogger said...

wha wha wha? Did you just drop the f bomb on your blog? I have half a mind to think that some folks are going to try to get your blog pulled from blogspot for the indecency.

I have been a U2 fan for a long time and even bought their 'pop' album because my collection would have been incomplete. One of my first favorite U2 songs was 'Bullet the blue sky'on the rattle and hum album. Bono breaks intos a spoken word diatribe about 'a preacher from the old time gospel hour, stealing money from the sick and the old' Bono's response 'Well the God I believe in isn't short of cash, mister...'

On their album war, the song titled 40 is a simple yet powerful adpatation of Psalm 40 and for a long time was a theme song for me.

ben said...

i'm convinced that even if jesus himself said the word fuck, the american church would give him a lecture about letting unwholesome talk come out of his mouth.


meanwhile, as you point out, people are hungry and thirsty and naked and it doesn't even register on the radar.

anyway, yeah, it's a great album. i wish more music made me think about important things.

Mike Exum said...

Personally, I am a metal head. But I have been a U2 fan since 86. Cool song. Great role model. Good guys.

Many blessings...

miller said...

the truth is spoken in many media. U2 was about to go big when three (i don't remember which three... i know bono was one) converted to chrisianity. it nearly broke the band up because the drummer didn't. i don't know what their spiritual life is like but i think that conversion has played a big part of their formation.

i've really noticed the message more through movies lately... the village is a perfect example.

however, for my message music pick, pink floyd is right at the top. their on the turning away from the momentary lapse of reason CD is a great example.


Agent B said...

Good note Miller: message music.

I've written about a couple of my favorites here and here.

The whole Who's Next album is prophetic to me...

miller said...


can you give me a call on the bat-communicator? i lost your digits (thanks to 3 under the age of 6) and your email (thanks to stupidity).

need to set up a meet for tomorrow at 3PM if possible. got another agent who really needs some of the old pro's to mentor him.

let me know.