Dancing and music serve as a barometer of culture. It tells us much about the attitudes of people. For instance, today’s bump & grind is hedonistic. But an even more important question is whether or not people are having that thing we used to call “fun.” Some, perhaps. But the simplicity says it reflects short-term satisfaction more than long-term positive lifestyle. That’s where my folks grew up — the world where life was to be enjoyed with relationships.
I grew up in the angry years, the 60s & 70s. Our music was angry. The fun was gone. There was little remaining the R&R of the 50s that was just an extension of swing. We ended up with the drive of the British hard rockers and the anger of the revolutionaries. Cynicism like MacArthur Park and Norweigan Wood. Existential ramblings like the themes from Valley of the Dolls and Dr. Zhivago.
More and more I am coming to enjoy the music of my parents’ generation. The excitement of the Glenn Miller trumped blast or the smooth jazz of the Mills Brothers and Nat Cole. It’s all for fun.
There are exceptions, of course. The Spinners. Hurricane Smith. Jim Croce. The Fifth Dimension. Of course lots more.
So I enjoy dance and listen the music of years past. Mills Brothers. The Tymes. Sergio Mendes. Not for any other reason than to back to a time when relaxation was less of an escape form life than a part of life.
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That doesn’t mean I don’t like Christian music. But frankly I know all the words (read: cliches) and have heard the music over and over for decades. It’s good stuff. But I know it. So I compensate by listening to the most fascinating era of music in my lifetime: Jesus Music. A bunch of young Christians making mistakes but putting out energy — trying really hard. That in itself is encouraging. They were creative. And they were having fun. Parchment Shamblejam is my favorite though I do enjoy some Larry Norma from time to time. Listen to their lyrics. Some horrible teaching there. But if people aren’t allowed to make mistakes they can’t learn and can’t be taught.
Music also serves as a barometer regarding the state of Christianity. And I find a lot of it repetitive and boring. Some is exciting — but that’s mostly in missions. We’re in a rut here.