Monday, February 29, 2016

Music 11 – Witchcraft, Rebellion, and Rock

Witchcraft is an ugly albeit biblical word. I have spent dozens of hours in research, and spilled the equivalent of gallons of ink on this blog to establish the undeniable link between rock music and witchcraft. Having done so it should not then shock us to find this music at the same time also closely associated with rebellion. An old Samuel sadly asserted to his one time protégé, Saul, Rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft. (I Samuel 15.23)

What is rebellion? At its root it is war against God. It is a revolt against His authority and those to whom He dispenses His authority. The devil, of course, was the first rebel. I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north. (Isaiah 14.13) He will not rest until he has fomented rebellion against God in the heart of every human and angelic being he can touch. It is easy to see, then, not perhaps in strict conjunction, but certainly that there is at least a loose association between rebellion and witchcraft.

Rock and roll was birthed in rebellion, the rebellion of the young against their authority. Bill Haley who13257 first topped the charts with a rock song in 1955 did so in the context of a movie soundtrack, MGM's Blackboard Jungle, which purposely attempting to display the "teenage savagery" of a rebellious group of inner city young people. Cliff Richard, in 1961's The Young Ones belted out

Mummy says no
Daddy says no
Brother says no
But they all got to go
'Cause we say yeah

No wonder Marlon Brando, when asked what he was rebelling against, sullenly said, "Whaddya' got?"

That initial rock generation's rebellion was against their parent's morals, the collective cultural habits of decency which they labeled as prudish. So Elvis swung his hips, the teenagers screamed, and suddenly sexuality was no longer repressed but flaunted. As the pop music of the 1950s and early 60s gave way to the British Invasion the rebellion led by the Beatles was not primarily a sexual one; it was the drug-fueled turn on, tune in, drop out of Timothy Leary's countercultural generational stick it to "the man." As the 1960s became the 1970s the rebellion against authority found focus in the student riots and the campus sit-ins of the Vietnam era. By the mid-seventies a new generation of rebellious rockers gave voice to Pink Floyd singing that kids "don't need no thought control" and Johnny Rotten's Anarchy in the UK as they lashed blindly out at everything. And just when we thought rock had run out of things to rebel against came 90s grunge with Nirvana's apathy, nihilism, and fascination with suicide.

The previous paragraph's wide-ranging simplistic recounting of the first fifty years of rock reveals a genre (and numerous sub-genres) that contains over and over again a similar thread – rebellion. Lemmy Kilmister of Motorhead told Spin magazine in 1991, "The essence of rock music is rebellion." Lemmy was right.

I do not deny that rock has become mainstream; in fact, I assert it. But I do deny that rock in so doing has lost its penchant for rebellion. Indeed, I would argue that as rock music has gone mainstream rebellion itself has also gone mainstream. There is now a generally accepted wisdom that teenagers are supposed to rebel against their parents and that young adults are supposed to rebel against their college administrators. It has assumed all the parameters of a youthful rite of passage as if an obedient young person is weirdly wrong. In the 1950s James Dean's Rebel Without a Cause generated an uproar; in contemporary America rebellion has become a main course.

It is interesting to note not only the correlation between witchcraft and rebellion but a similar correlation between the rise of rebellion in American society and the rise of rock music. If you don't believe that I dare you to try to take away the average American teenager's music. Rebellion and rock live in mutually pleasing symbiosis that feeds upon itself. And I do not just mean the lyrics; I mean the music itself.

Mark Applebaum
One of the most popular courses at Stanford University is Associate Professor Mark Applebaum's "Rock, Sex, and Rebellion." The student reviews for it available online are almost exclusively and effusively positive. As an active composer with a PhD in musical composition he not only researches and teaches about music he also writes and performs it. The basic thrust of his course is not a cultural history of rebellious rock stars and their antics although there is certainly enough material for such a course. His premise is that the musical structure itself is rebellious, and that it was birthed from the desire of various sub-cultural groups to make a statement of rebellion. When asked in one interview I read to proffer up a one line description of rock music he offered this: "It's a little glib but I think I can give you a quick 21st century sound-byte response – so I'll invoke Keith Richard's definition: 'Rock 'n' roll is sex and rebellion.' It's not a complete response but if you wanted a super-short version, it would be that."

So, yeah, let's allow this music free reign in the life of our young people. Furthermore, let's embrace this music as a tool for God's church to use in order to reach people more effectively. That makes sense. Witchcraft. Rebellion. Rock. What's not to love?

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Music 10–Earthly, Sensual, Devilish

51TT5yYSR L._SX332_BO1,204,203,200_In Kimberly Smith's 2005 book, Music and Morals, she states often that the morality of a style of music will be evident in the behavior of those with whom it is closely associated.

This is a critical point for the primary philosophical support for CCM (Christian contemporary music, also sometimes called Christian worship music) is that instrumental music is neither moral nor immoral. Their position is that the music itself has zero to do with a song's morality or immorality. The latter flow exclusively from the words. But is that true?

The dominant form of music in the dominant culture of the world is rock. The dominant aspect of this dominant music is the rhythm, the beat. Assuming we ignore the words for a moment, is there any problem with this rhythm-heavy beat-soaked music? Perhaps the most major proposition of mine in the entirety of this blog series is that there is. I contend that rock music is itself immoral (bad) rather than a-moral (neutral).

For the last ten thousand words or so I have shown you this in painstaking detail via such music's connection to the occult world. I have supported that connection with a mountain of historical, ethnological, anthropological, and musicological facts. Indeed, I find it highly curious that my usual critics have fallen silent. I can only conclude either that they are all on vacation, that they think I've lost my mind and am not worth discussion, or that they have no answers for the facts I have piled up. I will leave you, dear reader, to your own conclusions. Along these same lines, in today's post I want to establish in your minds that this same style of music commonly called rock corrupts sexual morality as well.

I do not mean to impugn the motives of the brethren who disagree with me. They sincerely parrot what they have sincerely swallowed – there is no verse in the Bible that explicitly says instrumental music alone is corrupting. Yet their curious silence regarding one particular passage is so loud as to be downright deafening. Be not deceived: evil communications corrupt good manners. (I Corinthians 15.33) The English word manners is the Greek word ethos. This is its only use in the New Testament and is simply defined as morals or habits. One of my Greek dictionaries defines it as "the inherent complex of habits and attributes that determines a persons moral and ethical actions and reactions."

In twenty-first century America we generally use the word manners to refer to the common politeness that ought to mark the deportment of a gentleman or a lady. "Don't put your elbows on the table. Don't talk with food in your mouth. Mind your manners." But the word has a much deeper meaning than the polite customs of a civilized society. defines manners as "the prevailing customs, ways of living, and habit of a people." In short, the King James translators chose well when they used the word manners. It is the things that make up a commonly held set of good or bad habits, the morals of a people.

Albert Barnes said about this verse, "The sentiment of the passage is, that the intercourse of evil-minded men, or that the close friendship and conversation of those who hold erroneous opinions, or who are impure in their lives, tends to corrupt the morals, the heart, the sentiments of others." To this Matthew Poole agrees, saying, "though you may judge that they talk but for discourse sake, yet their communication or discourse is naught, and will influence men as to things of practice, and debauch men in their morals." A. T. Robertson in his Word Pictures in the New Testament also agrees. "Old word (kin to ethos) custom, usage, morals. Good morals here."

I am obviously going to great pains to establish this because the importance of it cannot be overstated. The single biggest argument being swallowed today by Christians in relation to their music is that it is neither moral nor immoral. It is neutral until someone adds words. But an understanding of this verse throws that argument out entirely, completely, in every effect. What is music? It is an emotional language. What do languages do? They communicate something. How do we know a particular communication is evil? By looking at what it produces – an evil manner or way of living, corrupted morals.

If I am right that music is an emotional language, and if I am right that there is a basic immorality to the beat-heavy music known as rock then it will be relatively easy to establish, especially since this is the dominant form of music in Western culture. In other words, sexually immoral behavior should be seen widely in those who are heavily involved in rock music.

The absolute fact is I could end this post right here for my point is made. It is so blatantly obvious that the cliché runs, "sex, drugs, and rock and roll." These three things go together like America, mom, and apple pie. It is patently indisputable, and has been observed by every intelligent student of twentieth century music.

For instance, consider the following as a sample:
The West is the only civilization to have created an art form whose sole purpose is to attack morality.
- cultural critic Martha Bayles, Hole in our Soul: The Loss of Beauty and Meaning in American Popular Music

Rock music has one appeal only, a barbaric appeal to sexual desire - not love, not eros, but sexual desire undeveloped and untutored. Rock gives children, on a silver platter, with all the public authority of the entertainment industry, everything their parents always used to tell them they had to wait for until they grew up and would understand later.
- Allan Bloom, The Closing of the American Mind

Listen man, what takes place on the stage of a rock concert doesn't happen spontaneously. It is carefully planned to elicit a sexual response from the audience.
- Terry Knight, manager of Grand Funk Railroad

Pop music revolves around sexuality. I believe that if there is anarchy, let's make it sexual anarchy rather than political.
- Adam Ant

When you're in a certain frame of mind, particularly sexually-oriented, there's nothing better than rock and roll.
- David Krebs, manager of Aerosmith

Rock 'n roll is synonymous with sex and you can't take that away from it. It just doesn't work.
- Steven Tyler of Aerosmith

I'm in rock music for the sex and narcotics.
- Glenn Frey of the Eagles

You can feel the adrenalin flowing through your body. It's sort of sexual. I entice my audience. What I do is very much the same as a girl's strip-tease dance.
- Mick Jagger of the Rolling Stones

I do deliver sex appeal. It's part of modern rock.
- Freddie Mercury of Queen

I feel spiritual up there. Think of us as erotic politicians.
- Jim Morrison of the Doors

Rock 'n roll is 99% sex.
- John Oates of Hall and Oates

Rock music is sex and you have to hit them in the face with it.
- Andrew Oldham, manager of the Rolling Stones

Rock n roll is music.
- Jimmy Page of Led Zeppelin

That's what rock is all about - sex with a 100 megaton bomb, the beat.
- Gene Simmons of KISS

Rock music is sex. The big beat matches the body's rhythms.
- Frank Zappa

The historically accurate truth is that Alan Freed, who first popularized the term "rock and roll" almost certainly got it from a 1951 Dominoes rhythm and blues hit, "Sixty Minute Man", which is nothing more than a paean to sex. The Dominoes got it from the popular usage of the term in the juke joints and R and B circuit of the 1940s American South.

Look a here girls I'm telling you nowdownload
They call me "Lovin' Dan"
I rock 'em, roll 'em all night long
I'm a sixty-minute man
If you don't believe I'm all that I say
Come up and take my hand
When I let you go you'll cry "Oh yes,"
"He's a sixty-minute man"
There'll be 15 minutes of kissing
Then you'll holler "please don't stop"
There'll be 15 minutes of teasing
And 15 minutes of squeezing
And 15 minutes of blowing my top

With this fact rock critic and historian Michael Ventura emphatically agrees in his essay I have already cited in this series, Hear That Long Snake Moan, in such graphic language that I cannot even quote it with specificity here. The paragraph in question ends with, "When, finally, in the mid-fifties, the songs started being played by white people and aired on the radio – "Rock Around the Clock," "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Reelin' And A-Rockin' " – the meaning hadn't changed. The word was so prevalent that the music began to be called "rock 'n roll" by disc jockeys who either didn't know what they were saying or were too sly to admit what they knew. The term stuck."

Apparently, however, the only people who cannot recognize the explicit connection between the rhythms of rock and sexual excess are the Christians of contemporary America. To them, it just makes sense to use rock music to attract and hold people to the modern church. After all, that is what they like.

I agree it makes sense. James does too. In fact, he calls it wise, albeit the worst kind of wisdom. This wisdom descendeth not from above, but is earthly, sensual, devilish.

James was ahead of his time. He just perfectly described rock music 1900 years before it began.