As I’m giving a talk Monday afternoon about the relation of theology to rock music, it’s only fitting and appropriate that I forestall workin on it by putting together a playlist of the kinds of song that particularly interst me as a theologian. I’m ruling out U2 and Bruce Cockburn at the outset, not out of distaste but because they’ve been the focus of a lot of theological spotlights. I’d rather not pick performances that ordinarily would be recognized as straight-ahead gospel (though I may be soft on that judgment). My favorites for this exercise invoke, or flirt with, or hint at theological themes without coming out and clobbering you over the head with them. Or if they do make the theological motif explicit, the selection in some other way inflects the overt theologizing with a less straightforward nuance. Or, maybe I just like it, so there.
What I’ve got in the playlist right now is:
- “Cobra Tattoo” by the Mountain Goats
- “And A God Descened,” by Dar Williams (most of The Green World would fit this list)
- “How a Resurrection Really Feels” by the Hold Steady
- “We Walk The Same Line” by Everything But The Girl
- “The State I Am In” by Belle and Sebastian
- “Holy Spirit” by Michelle Shocked
- “Jesusland” by Ben Folds
- “Something Beautiful” by Sinead O’Connor
- “Way Down In The Hole” by Tom Waits
- “Get Up Off Our Knees” by the Housemartins
- and “Thunder” by Prince, which gives my talk its title (“C’Mon Save Your Soul Tonight”
I’ll think of more — always working on gender balance, and I have to put them in order — and I might slip in George Harrison’s “All Things Must Pass” to honor Dale Allison’s paper on George in the same session, and maybe a hiphop selection to honor Valerie Bridgman’s paper (“Jesus Walks” would be obvious), but for now that’s it.