Cures Your Asthma, Too

It turns out that my dear colleague Doug Gay has inveigled me into giving a talk at the SOLAS Festival in two weeks. I’ll rehearse my survey of problems relative to the theological criticism of popular music; should be fun to present that to a less sober-sided audience than at the SBL meeting last year. Doug’s publicity release about my appearance does make me sound a lot more interesting than I am in real life, but I guess that’s why I never had a career in PR.
I’ll be carrying along my iPhone with a playlist of songs I might use to illustrate the points I’m making. In the presentation, I’ll highlight nodes where the theological criticism of popular music needs to do better, or to pay more sustained attention — such as

  • mediocrity of musical-theological reflection
  • Pervasive sexism in popular music (industry)
  • Pervasive racism in popular music (industry)
  • Status of diabolism in popular music
  • Non-Christian religions and popular music
  • Faith/spirituality as a lifestyle accessory
  • Religiosity and atheism among non-“religious” artists
  • Consumerism and popular music (industry)
  • Hermeneutics and popular music
  • “Christians” as stock figures in popular music
  • The ethics of affinity to (sexist, racist, consumerist, atheistic) popular music
  • The ethics of unwillingness to exercise theological discernment

Now, because I can’t carry all my songs to SOLAS, I need to make a capacious playlist of possibly-relevant tracks. I’ll put my starters in the comments (based on a list I’ve posted here before), but if any of you wants to propose tracks that align with one or another of these nexuses of theology/rock, please do leave a comment for me.

2 thoughts on “Cures Your Asthma, Too

  1. ‘“Christians” as stock figures in popular music’ I feel one could expand on that a bit – as in ‘Christians in almost every possible area of representation and discussion, to include what others “know” Christians believe.’

  2. Well, right, Rosemary — but since my assignment is “rock’n’roll,” I figured I would try to stay on topic.
    The songs I sent Doug as a starter were:

    • “Cobra Tattoo” by the Mountain Goats
    • “Sound of the Sinners” by the Clash
    • “And A God Descended,” by Dar Williams
    • “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
    • “The Only Black Kid At The Indie Rock Show” by the Cocker Spaniels
    • “My Sweet Lord” by George Harrison
    • “Never Went to Church,” The Streets
    • “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
    • “Postcards From Hell” by the Woods Brothers
    • “Thunder” by Prince

    But that was based on my winter list for the SBL paper, nd not so much focused on “exemplary selections to have available to play for the presentation on a moment’s notice. I’ll surely pick something from (early) Liz Phair or (late) Marianne Faithful relative to women’s place in rock, for starters.

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