Music Appreciation 101

Music is something I can either go a really long time without getting into or something that spurs me on to play a D.J. in the car jamming to tunes that make me believe that I truly have a voice like the late great Whitney Houston. (I do not. I really probably sound more like a cross between William Hung and your Great Aunt Petunia singing in the shower. Except for this one ego booster of when a lady sitting in front of us at church turned around and told me that she didn’t need to sing because she enjoyed hearing my voice so much. Wow. That was an amazing “pretty voice” ego booster. But, I digress). Anyway- it’s something that my husband and I have valued quite differently from each other.

We just inherited a giant pile of CD’s from one of his music industry bosses to sort through. It was sort of like Christmas as we went through them all. I have quite an eclectic taste in music. My jives span from oldies from the likes of Elvis, Buddy Holly, & the Beach boys to N’Sync, Backstreet Boys, & Brittany Spears to Tim McGraw, Faith Hill, & Johnny Cash to U2, Coldplay, and Adele to KC & JoJo, Will Smith, Monica & Brandy to Third Day, Avalon, & Mandisa.  See. I am an undefined musical mess.
My husband, on the other hand, knows all of these obscure bands that either no one has heard of but audiophiles or that he discovers before the charts do. He’s really good at that. He loves vinyls so much that he organizes them over and over and over just to see what’s in his collection. The reason we inherited that pile of CD’s is because his boss knew this about him and that he would be the perfect guy for that odd job.
I’ve had music on my mind a lot lately because of the job that God has opened the doors for David to work in. As I was washing the dishes tonight, I flashed back to one of the first conversations David and I ever had, which spurred me on to send him a package of CD’s just in time for his birthday. I really didn’t know that I had romantic feelings for him at the time, but I genuinely cared for him.
We each came from different backgrounds related to music. Basically, I was raised on Gospel & Oldies. Every day on the way to school, we would ride with my Dad, who happened to be my Pastor as well, and jam out to oldies on Magic 96.1 and also listen to the Christian Radio Station sporadically. Some of my best memories are of my sister and me singing to the top of our lungs with my dad to oldies and he was drill us asking, “Who sings that?” If we got it wrong, he would always tease us and say, “No!!!! It’s _____! You’re uneducated!” I loved it when he did that. I loved it even more when I would guess the correct musician and he’d say, “Yep!” It was no secret how much he loved oldies. The whole church knew he was an Elvis fan. And that was just fine. Because they knew his heart for Jesus penetrated everything he encountered.
I remember a teacher in high school challenging us about music. I totally agree with the mantra of “garbage in, garbage out” that he was encouraging us with. He was educating us that its important to balance the music we listen to. There is certain music that should be listened to more as “candy” than as the meat we listen to. I have to be honest. While I listen to Christian radio every morning on the way to work to start my day, I can really relate to some of the songs that are played and have a wonderful worship/ mind preparing experience. Yet, there are other times when I just have to turn the radio off or to a different station because it all begins to sound the same and I don’t feel challenged or engaged. Those are the times when I either turn it off completely, listen to candy (Ha! Candy for me probably would be old school R&B like Brandy & Monica…So full of Soul & Passion, but not really doing much for any kind of personal development).
Anyway- back to my story that I was beginning before all of this background information. So, when David and I first started talking about our tastes in music, he shared that sometimes he really struggled because he did not like a lot of Christian music because it just wasn’t good. Good as in quality- not necessarily lyrics or anything like that. He had grown up going to church camps that guilted you into destroying all of your non Christian CD’s in a fire. I will admit, I broke some of my ownCD’s as well that really were not edifying and had some lyrics that I realized after buying them that just were not clean. That was a wise choice destroying those. However, the ones David was encouraged to burn (not reproducing burn, but toasting on a hotdog stick burn) were from musicians that did not represent anti- Christ messages. Actually some of them probably pointed more to Christ than some Christian bands do.
So, David and I had the candy conversation that I was discussing earlier. He liked what I had to say, so I took it upon myself to send him some meat, candy, and education. (IE: A Christian Mix, A bunch of random songs I like, and a Country Mix because he hated Country). He reciprocated. I found that most of the selections he chose for the CD’she sent me were far superior to mine.
For years I have listed to the music he has introduced me to, just learning the songs. I am very guilty of zoning out in songs and not really paying attention to the lyrics. He truly pays attention to the lyrics, though, and corrects my moments of “you’re not educated.” I do educate him quite a bit,though, in the Oldies, Country, and R&B realms, which is quite fun! His education is far wiser, though.
He has helped me to realize that the music penetrates of our culture plays a humongous role in the shaping of our minds. Theoretically, I already knew this. I AM an English major, you know. I know this from the progression of literature in our civilization. It was so much more obvious to me in literature than it was in music. That is until Cold Play connected it for me. They happen to be David’s favorite band. I realized what literary geniuses and flops there are in the music industry. If you look to their two latest records, you see the theme of the first one is “Lost” and the theme of the second album is “Paradise.” Duh. John Milton’s Paradise Lost. How ignorant I was.
Previously, I would have thought of bands like Coldplay as “Candy” and sort of encouraged David not to immerse himself in that. Yet, their lyrics are so much deeper than my shallow interpretations. We do all have a Paradise Lost, don’t we? We’ve fallen away from how our Creator intended for our lives to be- perfect harmony. We all search for something to fill that God shaped abyss in our hearts. I’ve read interview after interview from that band in particular and wow. It is incredible to see God at work in their lives to bring Him to Himself through His Son, Jesus. At the moment, I don’t know that they’ve totally found Him, but oh the things He has done to reveal Himself to them- like reading the entire book of Revelation! That just blows my little so-I-thought organized mind. His ways are not our ways.
So, what is the point of me writing this post? Is it just to talk about my progression in musical taste? No. I think it’s to thank my husband, who some how was attracted to me after I sent him that first musical package. He has helped to mature in my thought process of the importance of music and to not take it for face value- individual songs with individual words, but to look at the depth of the gifts that God has given to talented musicians who are made in His image and searching for Him, finding elements of His truth along the way in a world where Paradise was indeed Lost, but has been redeemed through THE Truth, Jesus Christ. May each artist’s search end in redemption and each wandering heart be tuned to the melody of His Amazing Grace.

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