Christian Music DJ, JB, Responds: “Dear Haters …”

DJ JB is A O.K.

Yesterday I extended to Air1 DJ JB (quick: say “DJJB” three times real fast—wait, don’t: I just bit my tongue trying) an offer to respond, via a guest post here on my blog, to yesterday’s “Why Would I Rather Listen to Belching Throat Singers Than Contemporary Christian Music?” Once he read through the comments to that post, he took me up on that offer. Take it away, DJ JB!

Dear haters readers of John Shore’s blog:

Raise your hand if you know a single Nickleback fan. Anyone?? Yeah, I don’t know one either. Yet, radio airplay and record sales tell me that they’re huge. Everything on the radio is all about mass appeal. John Shore doesn’t represent a typical listener to Christian music radio. Neither do the people who comment on his blog. So I wasn’t surprised when I read here so many negative comments about Christian music. The people who do listen to Christian radio don’t blog, don’t comment on blogs, don’t read blogs, and probably couldn’t even tell you what a blog was. (Okay, maybe the last one was a reach.)

As someone who has worked in Christian music for about ten years, I can tell you one thing: it stirs people. Still. It may not for you, me, John, and a bunch of other people, but Christian music sure does mean something to the 2+ million people who listen to our radio station. I know, because I talk to them on a very regular basis. What you might call pablum, someone else is calling a prayer that they couldn’t put into their own words. What you might call trite, repetitive, fake and commercialized, someone else uses to set the mood for worship, to line up their heart and mind to hear God’s word.

It’s funny. As I’m writing this, I’m listening to our sister radio station, which is considerably “softer” than my station. And they just finished playing the song “Untitled Hymn,” by Chris Rice. It’s an incredibly simple song, but it moves me every time I hear it.

For some, Christian music is hard to listen to. It has an ability to shine light on parts of our lives that we might prefer to ignore. It directly addresses issues that we might rather not have addressed. But I’d venture to say that all music does that. Christian music just ties it to a Savior.

If I had true disdain for Christian music, and refused to listen to it at all because for some weird reason I felt that I was better, or more “evolved” than it, then I might never have been turned on to some the really great artists that I now thoroughly enjoy. If I never listened to Steven Curtis Chapman, I would never have discovered that he was influenced by Bob Dylan. Because of Chapman I went back and gave Dylan a second chance—and now I understand. Derek Webb, early Third Day, Jars of Clay, Rich Mullins, Jon Foreman of Switchfoot, and many other such artists are not “commercialized.” They’re not fake. They’re not dialing it in. They’re very real.

To each his own. That’s all this really boils down to.

Well, with all that said, be sure to tune into me every weeknight, from 11 p.m. to 4 a.m. PST!

Just kidding!

Not really!

God bless all y’all!

JB

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • Ace

    Well opinions is opinions, but this paragraph –

    "For some, Christian music is hard to listen to. It has an ability to shine light on parts of our lives that we might prefer to ignore. It directly addresses issues that we might rather not have addressed. But I’d venture to say that all music does that. Christian music just ties it to a Savior."

    - is a bit over-the-top patronizing, and I take offense the notion that anybody who doesn't like contemporary Christian music must just be some sad sack who can't take a look in the mirror.

    • Ben

      Ace – gentle, gentle. Don't over-read what he's saying here…step back, look at the tone of the whole post. Does it come across as "if you don't listen to Christian music, you suck"? "To each his own" the man actually said.

      Maybe he's not saying "everyone who doesn't like contemporary Christian music is a sad sack who can't take a look in the mirror", maybe he's saying, "some people are made uncomfortable by contemporary Christian music because it takes them where they don't want to go." 'Some' and 'everyone' is a big difference.

      As for myself, I'm only uncomfortable with contemporary Christian music when the church band is doing its 20th chorus of "I'm going steady with Jesus" or the like and I need the bathroom…

      • Diana

        "As for myself, I’m only uncomfortable with contemporary Christian music when the church band is doing its 20th chorus of “I’m going steady with Jesus” or the like and I need the bathroom…"

        But that's the great thing about CCM! You can get up, go to the bathroom, come back…and have not missed anything at all!

        Okay. That was gratuitously mean. Sorry. I'll shut up now.

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          This made me laugh, and I have low blood sugar right now so that's really a miracle!

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        I don't think you understood the point Ace is making, actually. There is often a subtle message that people don't like evangelical elements of Christianity because they "just can't handle the truth". I felt the same way when I read that paragraph (and I like CCM).

        Christians often get very defensive when receiving criticism, it's like we have this expectation of people to temper their anger or annoyance with us because our intent is good. I'm glad the DJ countered some of the perspectives here, but I also agree that the impact of the particular paragraph Ace noted was suggesting that the root of the issues some have with CCM are spiritual – perhaps even spiritual disobedience or avoidance of truth – and Christians need to knock that kind of thing off, it's just not an appropriate assumption in casual (or internet) conversation with people we don't know.

        • Ace

          Thanks for clarifying, that was my problem, yes. In a word, seemed kinda snooty.

          I don't like Christian music largely because I don't like most modern, mainstream pop music, which is what the bulk of it is patterned after and generally sounds like. The content of the lyrics is irrelevant in that respect. I'm not "avoiding" anything but music that I don't care for. You could remove the vocal track entirely and I'd still dislike it.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Hi Ace,

            I'm glad I interpreted that correctly, I wasn't sure. For me, graphs like that one are a symptom of a much larger problem that I see occurring in Christianity. We are so confident in how we see the world and the incarnation within it that everyone fits into formulas. If person A doesn't like item B, then C is probably true. "C" being a problem with my spiritual health.

            But don't get mad at me because I've concluded that C is more than likely accurate! I didn't say it was accurate for "everyone", just "some" people, therefore it's OK to draw that conclusion and you shouldn't be mad at me for it and because you're mad? Well guess what. It's "C" for you too.

          • Ben

            I understand what you are both getting at (because I actually got that same first impression!) – I'm just saying, step back, look at the whole post and respond accordingly. Calling the author "over-the-top patronizing" and "offensive" because one paragraph was phrased in a way you didn't like and then claiming to know the full intent of the author based on what you've assumed is a revealing Freudian-slip, is over-reading.

            Maybe when a man says "some" he actually means "some"…

            Too many Christian voices do make the assumption that their worldview is rock-solid truth – I'll join you in fighting that.

          • Ace

            My comment specified the paragraph I took umbrage with. I did not call out the author on his entire blog entry, I quoted the paragraph and stated my issue with the contents of that paragraph.

            It wasn't a "Freudian slip" and I don't think term means what you think it means.

          • Ace

            Also, for future reference, merely adding the modifier "some" does not make a distasteful statement less distasteful.

            For example, you wouldn't make racist generalization about black people and then say "well I did just say SOME black people, I wasn't talking about you of course!" when someone calls you out on it and expect to get anything other than further disapproval, unless you are just severely lacking in brain cells.

            "Some" is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, sorryl.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Marry me Ace!

          • Megan

            "I take offense the notion that anybody who doesn’t like contemporary Christian music must just be some sad sack who can’t take a look in the mirror." …

            With regard to truly offensive statements "some" is not a get-out-of-jail-free card, but it does have actual meaning, i.e. "not all" or in this case NOT "anybody who doesn't like [ccm]".

            It looks like from the start you were trying to be offended, but don't you feel a little silly attempting to compare the statement to a "racist generalization"?

            Anyway, the bulk of JB's response focused on the quality of the music ("trite, repetitive, fake") and the mercenary aspect of it ("commercialized"). His addition of another legitimate suggestion as to why "some" people may not care for the music is probably just the product of thoughtful analysis (partially based on talks with listeners, according to his other comments).

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            I’m just saying, step back, look at the whole post and respond accordingly.>>>>

            Why are you policing how others respond to this thread? The Internet is the alter of Opinion where we all come to worship with our various offerings.

            and then claiming to know the full intent of the author based on what you’ve assumed…>>>

            Would you please copy and paste where I (or Ace for that matter) "claimed" to know the original author's intent? I communicated the impact that type of approach has, but wasn't aware of the incredible intent-reading powers I possess.

            I actually resent you not bringing this up earlier. Had you made me aware of these abilities, I would have bought a lottery ticket this morning. No, wait – I would have stood in line for a lottery ticket and could have identified *why* the person in front of me was buying one which would have been about as useful as this entire exchange.

          • Ben

            "- is a bit over-the-top patronizing, and I take offense the notion that anybody who doesn’t like contemporary Christian music must just be some sad sack who can’t take a look in the mirror."

            Is a statement on the author's intent (as it is not a direct quote but an inference and it suggests the author's attitude and underlying opinions).

            " graphs like that one are a symptom of a much larger problem that I see occurring in Christianity. We are so confident in how we see the world and the incarnation within it that everyone fits into formulas. If person A doesn’t like item B, then C is probably true. “C” being a problem with my spiritual health. But don’t get mad at me because I’ve concluded that C is more than likely accurate! I didn’t say it was accurate for “everyone”, just “some” people, therefore it’s OK to draw that conclusion and you shouldn’t be mad at me for it and because you’re mad? Well guess what. It’s “C” for you too."

            This is also a statement on the author's intent for the same reason.

            You are both claiming that these things are what the author means even though he is saying something else. Once again, you both claim that "some" is code for "everybody".

            "Freudian slip n. A verbal mistake that is thought to reveal a repressed belief, thought, or emotion." If the tone of the whole post is inclusive but one paragraph represents how the author "really" feels (ie. not liking the music isn't preference but reveals your true heart) slips out then it qualifies as a Freudian-slip.

            And the whole point about racist speech is a false equivalency. It suggests that I can no longer say that some republicans find global warming statistics uncomfortable because it challenges their beliefs or that some elderly people find frank discussions of sex uncomfortable because it challenges their sense of propriety/beliefs. Besides, hate speech is evil and maligns a whole people group and I sincerely hope you are not putting me or the author of the post in that category…

            And finally, I am not trying to police anything. Points were made, I responded. I suggested gentleness but as the Republicans have shown us, it's much easier to malign your opponents in strident voices. Or mock them with ridiculous hypotheticals.

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            is a bit over-the-top patronizing", and I take offense the notion that anybody who doesn’t like contemporary Christian music must just be some sad sack who can’t take a look in the mirror.”

            Is a statement on the author’s intent (as it is not a direct quote but an inference and it suggests the author’s attitude and underlying opinions).>>>

            Saying that someone is coming across as patronizing is a statement on *why* they are coming across as patronizing? That doesn't make sense, as I understand intent, it is the *why* behind what someone chooses to do or say. Not, you know – the impact. And impact has just as much to do with the reader as it does the writer, so even that's all up in the air. But let's just use the terms accurately, Ace and I were commenting on the *impact* of what JB said, not *why* he said it. No one is being maligned at their core here. This is the blogosphere where we're all held accountable for the impact of our words regardless of their intent. One can either learn from another's reaction – one can ignore it – or one can jump to the uber-defensive or anything in-between. It's the internet!

            You are both claiming that these things are what the author means even though he is saying something else. >>>

            I really shouldn't even bother responding to this, but I'm just not doing that. I'm offering my *reactions* to what his words often *mean*. Try to understand the difference, I don't mean that condescendingly and I'm sorry – I know I am – but I'm not sorry enough to stop. You really are coming across as a bit of an Internet cop. It's not really adding much to the conversation, JB is obviously a grown man and we sparred a bit. He held his own just fine, and everyone still seems to be breathing.

            And finally, I am not trying to police anything. Points were made, I responded. I suggested gentleness>>>

            OK. Perhaps I should have said "Why are you playing Internet Miss Manners?" My apologies for the incorrect term. And if we're done here, I have some questions about the proper use of monogrammed napkins during a dinner party.

          • Ben

            "When choosing napkins to use, try to keep in mind the size of your table and plan accordingly. Having monogrammed napkins may seem like a beautiful idea, but if you do not have room to fold them in a way that shows the monogram, what's the point? Instead you can use this as an opportunity to add a little bit more flair to your table setting with colorful linen napkins that complement your dishes or centerpiece."

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            Ben is my new favorite commenter.

          • Ace

            Well, Ben, I certainly don’t agree with your Internet Debate Policies, but I do like your Monogrammed Napkin Policies.

  • Nathan

    My problem really is with the label of "Christian" for music. It cheapens the name into a marketing tool. Call the music inspirational or praise music, but the word "Christian" is already so misused, politicized, and commercialized. Not to mention that so much of the music called "Christian" isn't. If it prepares someone for prayer using bad theology, that individual is praying to an idol, right?

    • Diana

      Hey Nathan!

      I almost agree with you on this. Almost. Certainly I am in total agreement with your first three sentences. We should probably go to the zoo now and see if the other leopards have changed their spots.

      As far as your last two sentences…yes and no. Yes, so much of the music called "Christian" probably isn't. Then again, there are a lot of songs that are not deliberately written from a Christian viewpoint that move me tremendously because I hear the voice of God in them. I'm not going to name names because it's a deeply personal experience for me, but those songs do exist.

      Also, who decides what's bad theology and what isn't? Besides, I think the parable about the wheat and the weeds applies here (Matthew 13:24-30). Also the words of Gamaliel in Acts, Chapter 5 (vs. 33-39.)

      • JB

        Very well put!

        • Diana

          Thanks!

  • http://susanne430.blogspot.com/ susanne430

    Nicely stated. Obviously there is a market for CCM thus the number of stations, artists, songs. We should be more tolerant of others' likes and dislikes. Thankfully there is music for everybody's taste out there. :)

  • Diana

    I think I like one song by Nickelback. I think. I'm not sure. If I do, it's probably not in my personal list of Most Beloved Songs of All Time. Oh well.

  • Stuart

    The broad brush stereotyping of days gone by just don't stick like it used to!

    It is a reality that many people love and accept CCM and that's fine and those of us for whom it grates rather than resonates, will just have to deal with that. There are more important things we need to be arguing about!

    We can however be thankful for the POD's, Toby Mac's, U2's, Living Stone's etc etc, who can also connect us with the Christ that we follow!

    Nickelback, for what it's worth, amaze me with their ability to write very thought provoking "life" songs, followed by overtly sexually crass songs. But then on reflection, it's not that much of a surprise.

    Stuart

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Nice, Stuart, as always.

    • http://redcarstudios.deviantart.com Rich Durst

      Stuart: I have the same reaction when listening to Big & Rich, specifically their "Horse of a Different Color" album. They've got deep, moving songs about spirituality; some really poignant and thought-provoking songs about life, loss, and relationships; and some rollicking fun rock/country mash-ups . . .

      And then stuck in the middle there is the abominably crass "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy."

      And all I can think is, "WTF?"

      • Diana

        Hey, I like "Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy!" That song's hilarious!

        Oh well. I never said I had good taste.

        • http://redcarstudios.deviantart.com Rich Durst

          If it weren't for the meaning and message of the lyrics, I'd love it too. :P It's enjoyable musically, and most of the lyrics are just downright fun. But the tagline of the chorus, and one of the later verses (maybe the bridge, it's been a while since I listened to it) just make my skin crawl, and ruin the rest of the song for me.

          • Diana

            Okay, I read the lyrics and I think I see what you mean.

  • gooseberrybush

    I think I like Nickel Creek better than Nickelback, and I don't even listen to much country music. For that matter, I don't listen to much contemporary Christian music. There are, however, some really talented people that make contemporary Christian music, same as there are in any genre. I've had the good fortune to see Amy Grant, Carman, and Michael W. Smith in concert. Carman's not my thing, but there's no denying that the man is talented. I love Rich Mullins' music and Steven Curtis Chapman, two artists that J.B. mentioned. I've actually purchased more than one album of Mr. Chapman's. He's fabulous.

    A lot of contemporary Christian music is crap. So is a lot of Top 40 or adult contemporary or whatever kind of music to which you care to listen. A lot of contemporary Christian music has such hair-raisingly bad theology that it puts a buzz kill on my worship instead of inspiring me. It's like the lyrical equivalent of the Left Behind Series. But not all of it is like that. I don't like every single song that's played on the radio every day, no matter which station I'm listening to.

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      I like Nickelbutt. They don't really get enough airplay, though.

      • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

        (Oh, and did I mention I'm going to start trying to grow up? Won't that be great?)

        • Gina Powers

          John: what the hell for? And actually, Nickelback gets a good deal of airplay….I'm thinking their 15 minutes may have run it's course, though…we'll see.

  • Bill

    I commented on John's article and here I am again. I used to enjoy "Christian" music until, as a gay man, I became so put off by the Christian right (?!) attacks against us; the lies, the deliberate spread of misinformation and fear mongering and the disingenuous use of the Bible as a weapon. There's certainly a lot of goodness in Christianity and Jesus is certainly a roll model worthy of worship (tho I think he would have disagreed with that; he would have wanted the focus on his message, not him). But there's also a lot of very serious evil coming out of Christianity and one of the most prominent evils is the widely but subtly presented oppression of critical thinking. When I talk to my evangelical sister about these things I try to get across the reality of how the far right/fundamentalist noise machine (of which Christian music seems to be very much a part) is drowning out the message of Christ and threatening to destroy Christianity's credibility.

    JB seems very sincere and respectful and I suspect he would agree with much of what I'm saying. He doesn't come across as self-righteous and patronizing to me. He deserves my respect and I make this plea to him and other Christians who have influence on the public. PUT THE FOCUS BACK ON THE MESSAGE OF JESUS and off politics and power. Steer your messages/music away from and around the power hungry political christian Right(?!) noise makers and keep it on the theology of Love.

    That said, I repeat; much of "Christian" music is vapid, sappy, repetitious chewing gum for the mind and spirit.

    • JB

      I understand where you're coming from. The message has always been Jesus…and always will be, at least as far as I'm concerned.

      There's a church in Florida who is planning on burning Qu'rans on the 9/11. The Westboro church in Kansas likes to protest at the funerals of dead soldiers. The world is full of idiots who are going bend their interpretation of the bible to fit, and defend, their actions. I'm not going to let a handful of morons ruin what I think is a good thing. I'd encourage you to do the same.

      • Ace

        Yea, I heard about that Qu'ran burning thing, along with their plans to protest openly-gay Gainesville Mayor Craig Lowe.

        I guess they didn't want to be out-crazied by the Westboro Baptist Church crowd.

        Though I'm not sure that's a competition I'd want to win, personally.

        Some people….

  • Tim

    Thanks for responding, JB. Here's my honest take…John Shore is a rebel writer. His stuff is outside and, well..somewhat cynical around the edges. Birds of a feather flock together so I'm not surprised that CCM got shat upon while trying to sun itself down at the Shore Line (heh-heh).

    One might think that because I used to be a keyboardist on a worship team, I would have a decent collection of CCM. Nope. Not one CD. I've had the occasion to meet and even play with some of the artists that made their way up and down the ladder of CCM fame. Like everyone else…some where authentic down-to-earth lovers of God who were jazzed to make a living doing what they loved. Others were insufferable pricks with egos larger than their inflated fan-base.

    What always gets me, is that in spite of the insufferable pricky-ness of people, God is still glorified and worshipped. It never ceases to amaze me. I have a feeling that six of the 12 Disciples were complete and utter a-holes. I sort of like that. It increases my odds of being used by Him.

    Cheers

    • Diana

      I like this!

    • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

      Outside? Cynical around the edges? What am I, a werewolf with a bad aura?

      I swear. I can't let you people comment on anything.

      Though this IS a good comment, Tim. Thanks for it.

      • Tim

        Well you're not exactly Lon Chaney Jr., but you do seem a little Lycanthropic at times…bad aura notwithstanding. And yes you DO swear and you DO let us comment. That's why we love you John.

        And I hope you know I meant "outside" in the most flattering way.

        Shore, Yancey and Miller. My Christian literary Manny, Moe, and Jack.

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Well, the good news is that we all have the same literary agent. The bad news is only one of us has yet to make her any Actual Cash.

          But thank you–and yes, I do know you meant outside in a good way. You meant outside where the party's happenin.

          CUZ WE ROLL JUS LIKE THAT!!

          • Diana

            Okay, which one is Miller? I've heard of Yancey. Obviously, I've heard of Shore. But which one is Miller. First names and specific writings would be helpful here. Thanks guys!

          • Tim

            Hi Diana-

            Donald Miller. Blue Like Jazz is probably his most known, but he came out with another one, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Like John, and Philip, they write stuff that really makes you think.

          • Diana

            Thanks Tim. I have heard of him and now I have more books to add to my wish list at Amazon. I'm not sure now whether to laugh or cry, but hey! Thanks again.

    • Jeannie

      "What always gets me, is that in spite of the insufferable pricky-ness of people, God is still glorified and worshipped. It never ceases to amaze me. I have a feeling that six of the 12 Disciples were complete and utter a-holes. I sort of like that. It increases my odds of being used by Him. "

      Me too. Great comment!

    • Laurie McNeece

      I LOVE this!

  • Jeannie

    It's funny. Back in the day I only listened to CCM. Once my life expanded and I discovered the universe of music outside CCM I all but quit listening to it. This blog the last couple of days has whet my appetite to take a second look at it and check out some new bands.

    Hey, some people hate country music too. I love it. To each his own…

  • Sam

    JB,

    My issue is not so much CCM itself – as my comment went there is "crap and creativity" in every musical genre – but that the stations do not play more variety.

    I listened to one in the D.C. area, stopped for a year or two, tuned in again and heard a lot of the same songs.

    Where's the variety? Where's the 77's tune "Pray Naked," or Daniel Amos, Larry Norman, Randy Stonehill, Steve Taylor and their more recent descendants?

    I do better using Pandora and plugging in those names. My Bob Dylan channel is right next to the Larry Norman and Laurie Anderson channels.

    And as Chris Rice asks "What IF Cartoons got saved?"

    "Yaba-dabba-do-ya" ya'll.

    -Sam

    • JB

      The answer is easy. It's mass appeal. Mass appeal doesn't lend itself to variety. Maybe variety within what's already widely accepted by the target audience. I remember as a teen, I'd hover over the import section of my local record store, because I wanted variety.

      Never expect radio to quench EVERYONE's musical thirst. It won't, it's not supposed to. It's ONE piece of the musical landscape. That's it.

      • Ace

        "The answer is easy. It’s mass appeal"

        Which is why I turned the radio off in the 11th grade (circa 2000) and haven't turned it back on.

        I do quite like my mother's old record collection though. Jethro Tull, Crosby Stills & Nash, Simon & Garfunkel… I think my generation got cheated by comparison, frankly.

        Broadcast radio is a dying medium for a reason, frankly. You get a LOT more variety on the Satellite channels, and even moreso on internet outlets like Pandora. It's one thing to flip on the radio on a 20 minute drive to work, but nobody wants to listen to the same 12 songs all day long.

        • JB

          "Broadcast radio is a dying medium for a reason, frankly"

          People have been saying that for years. It's not dying….it's changing. There will ALWAYS be a need for local terrestrial radio. It doesn't own the biggest share of the audience anymore, but it will always be around.

          The iPod was supposed to kill radio, but when Apple introduced new versions of the iPod last year…..guess what….. they had radios in them.

        • Diana

          "…nobody wants to listen to the same 12 songs all day long."

          This is true.

        • JAy.

          I remember growing up that if I wanted to record a song on the radio (yes, I made my own "mix" tapes this way), I would listen for the song. When I heard it, I would set up my tape and press record 56 minutes after the song ended. I would then record the entire song. It worked almost every time.

          Glad that my tastes have changed over the years. Probably haven't listened to mainstream broadcast radio for more than 10 minutes in the last year. But I do listen to CCM – at least when I am in my home town. Enough variety on that channel. But I do understand the complaints about lack of variety. Some stations are truly terrible in this respect, genre not withstanding.

      • Tim

        Amen, brother. I was a fan of XERB growing up in Southern California. Wolfman Jack played Muddy Waters, BB King, R&B and lots of sweet funky funky soul. Heard it all first on the X.

        I couldn't listen to most of the top 40 crud without falling asleep. When one of my friends overheard me listening to James Brown at the Apollo in 1962, he said, "why you listening to that jigaboo music?" I said, "Because I LIKE it!" Three years later EVERYBODY was listening to James Brown. My brother and I were listening to Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield back when Bob Dylan was still playing coffeehouses and clubs in Greenwich Village. Musical tastes are cultivated at an early age. I knew instantly why Top 40 was popular. It was repetitious and easy to remember. It's the same with all music.

        I wish there was a Christian version of XERB.

    • JB

      It's funny that you mention that Chris Rice "Cartoon" song. I remember talking to him years ago. He hates that song. The guy is a great song writer, and composer. And yet, he'll most likely be remembered for a song he wrote for a junior high camp.

      • Diana

        That's okay. Randy Newman gets most of his recognition for having written "You've Got a Friend In Me" for "Toy Story," and he finds that vaguely irritating. He'd much rather be remembered for writing his version of "Faust" or one of his satires such as "Short People" or "I Love L.A." Ah well, I guess we just don't get what we want in this life.

      • http://redcarstudios.deviantart.com Rich Durst

        At least not everyone will remember him for it. I'll always remember "Smell the Color 9." That whole album, in fact.

  • Elizabeth

    I alluded, albeit rather gently, to my ignorance of CCM in yesterday's comment. I disliked the label that lets a certain marketers dictate who's Christian enough, but I also admitted that it was mainly the *idea* of it that drove me crazy, not the music itself. l have preconceived notions that stand in the way of trying CCM. That's lazy and wrong of me. Of course there are inspiring artists working in all genres. I'm reprimanding myself now as I would any other bigot.

    Luckily, I now know someone in the business, someone who listened to my tirade and is now pointing out some artists I would have otherwise overlooked. Thanks for that. I look forward to hearing more from you and the people you recommended.

    We like to get heated up around here, but I like to think that once we've said our piece, we take the time to really listen to one another. That's largely been my experience, anyway. I hope you become one of John's regulars — you've got the gift of gab and thick skin necessary.

    PS: My friend Ron is an admitted Nickleback fan. He owns the CD and everything. He's so clueless, he doesn't even know it is, at best, a guilty pleasure. In true Christian fashion, I forgive him; he knows not what he does. But it's hard.

    • JB

      I'm planning on sticking around. I'm more of a "reader". But I HAD to chime in on this one.

      I once owned a couple of Poison CDs. Never told anyone until now.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

    Actually, I love Nickelback's song, "Rockstar." Its poetic.

    Thanks JB for your spin… no pun intended. Ok, maybe a little. The non-commercialized artists you mentioned are some of my favorites. I have their music (well, not Jon Foreman, but the rest) and enjoy it on the train.

  • JB

    Oh, and one last thing……STOP SAYING CCM. No one uses the term CCM…..no one. The only people that use it are people on the outside of the industry…who talk about the industry. Wait…..

    Anywhoo…. No one I know uses that term.

    • Ace

      We just got really tired of typing out "contemporary Christian music" IT'S TOO MANY LETTERS ARGH HAND CRAMP!!!

      • Diana

        This.

    • Elizabeth

      Dude, I text all of my comments on my cell phone. I'm sticking with CCM.

      Wait a minute… what if you grabbed on the initials CCM as a label for newer, more innovative forms of contemporary Christian music? Kind of like Alternative, before it got co-opted to mean anything besides Celine Dion. See where I'm going with this? You're famous for rejuvenationg the genre and becoming a taste-maker, with the added bonus of finally proving all the John Shore naysayers hopelessly uninformed. This idea is *so* money.

  • Sam

    JB,

    Okay, how do we refer to, classify and/or conveniently pigeonhole music produced by artists like Superchick?

    Also, Air1 is not typical of radio stations previously listened to. It comes close to my own playlist.

    Grateful for John sharing you and the station with us. I plan to listen in often.

    -Sam

    • JB

      It's easy… Don't.

      • Gina Powers

        JB, you sound like a good egg. I have a VERY unconventional friend who jocks for a Xian station here in Pa–he's a truly devout guy, but if you spend any amount of time with him, you quickly learn that he is into alternative/indy stations like WXPN and the former WHFS. Not that he completely disregards his stations' genre: but to be honest, MUCH of whatever you want to call CCM is…well, dreck (sp?). I used to review Xian rock, and I can tell you that much of it is just poor quality, oftentimes cloning of "secular" artists, with the emphasis on "ministry". No matter how bad this stuff is, I know from what I've learned from folk who've attempted careers in this industry, that as long as you've got Jesus' name emphasized on even crappy music.

        And from what I've been told, the "CCM" (for lack of a better term) market runs almost exactly like the "secular" music industry–it's just as cutthroat and money-driven, which of course makes it partcularly disturbing. I know most of the people involved with the business get into it with good intentions….but good intentions only get you so far (and yes, I also realize that these people are also human). The industry really has a LONG road to walk before it establishes the quality and credibility of it's work and artists. That's not to say that there aren't good artists out there: The Jars guys, yes, Rich Mullins, DC Talk, and others. The "secular" artists who profess faith should be noted, too: King's X, Flyleaf, U2, Ashley Cleveland, etc.–especially given that the quality of their music tends to be superior than than of what's in the Xian industry.

        Tanks for listening…and JB, how many years have you been doing radio? And have you always done this particular format? (Btw, I actually DO know MANY Nickelback fans, including myself….but yeah, granted, I work for a Rock station, so hey….;).)

        • JB

          I've been in radio since 92. Worked mostly in northern California, except for a couple of years spent in country radio in ABQ. I've worked in Country, Alternative, and Top 40. But I've been in Christian since '01

  • Alison

    I think it might have been Carmen that pushed me over the edge. There's some terrific stuff being written right now by Keith Getty and Stu Townend, but I wouldn't classify it as CCM.

  • Elle

    Nickelback is one of my favorite bands, actually. :-) "Burn it to the Ground" is one of my favorite songs – and yes, I should probably clarify, I *am* a Christian.

    • JB

      I used Nickleback as my example, because I really don't care for them. But, the beauty of it is….. that's just me. I certainly won't "dog" anyone for liking them. My best friend likes them, he even asked if I wanted tix to go see them. I passed. He went, had a great time.

      I coulda used Kesha, Katie Perry, or a bunch of other artists. Marshall Mathers and Jay-Z are excluded…they're geniuses.

  • http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/loren.porter Loren

    I love Contemporary Christian music. Great response JB.

  • robin

    i agree with about half of what has been written and commented. i think part of the reason why people criticize "christian music" is because they just dont like the music. and that would probably be true of "nonchristian" music played on radios. ever since i can remember there was always a group of people who had contempt for mainstream radio and marketing of mainstream bands, pretty much since the dawn of time. well, ok dawn of radio time anyway. how music even gets played on a station is not a huge mystery – mass appeal and marketability. that my friends is not to say that mass appeal and public marketability is always wrong, but people who like to think they are more hip than you will always reject these things.

    as a musician, i find most music – christian or otherwise – annoying and dumbed down and too poppy and too sappy and void of all musicality whatsoever. it doesnt annoy me more that christian radio plays what sounds like the same 10 songs over and over any more than when the local top 40 station. i also dont get annoyed that the trend with christian and nonian artists is that they all adapt to the same styles and write the same sounds and even have the same wardrobes and hairdos. it bugs me that someone comes along and says hey you should look like this and you'll be trendy. do we really need "stylists" on the credits of a CD? apparently so.

  • alison

    I like Switchfoot and Jars of Clay, well, Jars of Clay anyway, but it really annoys me that they think they're U2. For what it's worth.

    • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

      I like Jars of Clay a lot.

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        I just added this so I wouldn't be such a contrarian all the time. (I really hate Jars of Clay).

        • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

          All I really want is for people to like me. Is that so much to ask? Maybe a Jars of Clay song explains my need for validation, and I've not yet been healed because I stopped listening to them after their first album.

    • JB

      They think they're U2?

    • Robin

      I *LIKED* switchfoot, but there is an excellent example of what goes wrong. when they first came out they were edgy and interesting musically and had that san diego sound (whatever that is) and then they got popular from one or two songs that got played ad nauseum, and now everything sounds the same. and they have that messy hair, skinny jeans thing. makes me crazy. dont get me wrong, i like their sound more or less, but i wouldnt use their current stuff as an example of good musicianship.

      jars of clay, otoh, is an excellent example of what stays right. they have changed a lot and when they came out they did something completely different from what everyone else did. they continue to try different things and branch out and collaborate with others (key to keeping the music interesting)

      ps. nobody is U2. not even U2.

  • ManimalX

    Excellent post and replies, DJJB.

    Though not in the "Christian music industry" per se, I have nearly three decades of experience that completely validates your insightful comments.

    "For some, Christian music is hard to listen to. It has an ability to shine light on parts of our lives that we might prefer to ignore. It directly addresses issues that we might rather not have addressed. But I’d venture to say that all music does that. Christian music just ties it to a Savior."

    Bingo. Great paragraph. There is a reason that Jesus is called the "stumbling stone and rock of offense." (Isaiah 8, Romans 9, 1 Peter 2) He makes folks uncomfortable, some more so than others, even when it is simply music that is ABOUT or TO Him. As C.S. Lewis wrote, "He's not a tame lion!" ("Safe?" said Mr. Beaver; "don't you hear what Mrs. Beaver tells you? Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the king I tell you.")

    Sure there is room for folks who just don't like a particular style of music. But it is ignorant to dismiss the fact that man's natural state is one of rebellion against his Creator. Why would one expect them to like music that honors or glorifies their enemy? The claim that some folks don't like "Christian" music for spiritual reasons is hardly a scandalous one.

    • http://thefakejohnshore.wordpress.com thefakejohnshore

      You're absolutely right, there is a spiritual battle alive and well around us, and music is nothing more than litmus test for many. As a matter of fact, we use Christian Contemporary music as a way of discernment at my church. If we see someone crying or you're squirming while the music is playing, we know what's going on. That's right. Disobedience. You should see what happens when we play "El Shadai"!

      Blessings,

      FJS

  • ManimalX

    @ thefakejohnshore

    Sarcasm noted and enjoyed. ;)

    What you are riffing on is, of course, entirely NOT what DJJB nor myself nor others sharing the same view are communicating (there really is spiritual warfare and people really are victims of it), but your post was funny nonetheless :)

    A bunch of my friends and I like to adopt a really bad fake southern drawl and say, "Dee-mones get ay-out!" accompanied by a forehead smack when someone is acting stupid ;p

    Televangelist shtick is always good for a punchline!

    • http://thefakejohnshore.wordpress.com thefakejohnshore

      I don't think any of this is funny and I'm glad we agree.

      You see ManimalX, Christian music is a very effective tool against the evil one and I think both you and JB did a fine job of pointing that out. We must remember as Christians how important it is to constantly be aware of our surroundings, particularly when dealing with atheists who are seeking to destroy us – one can never be entirely ourselves around them.

      And we also know that the Christian Music industry is a non profit. Those within it aren't in it to make money. No! Christian radio stations are like a heat-seeking missile to the shaky christian testimony, you start playing christian music and BAM – we flesh out the lukewarm before God gets the chance to spit them out of His mouth! And that's why I thank God for a Mr. Steve Jobs who placed radio stations in those ipods so we can start to use them more actively. Even though he's a Buddhist. God moves in mysterious ways.

      Blessings,

      FJS

  • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

    For some, Christian music is hard to listen to. It has an ability to shine light on parts of our lives that we might prefer to ignore. It directly addresses issues that we might rather not have addressed. But I’d venture to say that all music does that. Christian music just ties it to a Savior.>>>

    Wow. The comfort you display in suggesting that some don’t like Christian music because of some kind of emotional or spiritual avoidance going on is making it very difficult for me to read the rest of your comments in any kind of constructive light, I have to be honest about that.

    Why is it that evangelical Christians in particular feel so comfortable in this role of drive by spiritual assessment of others? It feels so impersonal and formulaic – if person A doesn’t appreciate the Barlow Girls, a reasonable conclusion to draw is B – they have an issue that the Barlow Girls are singing about that they don’t want to deal with.” The fact that you (speaking generally to whomever does this) have an opinion about what *might* be happening – including this scenario – doesn’t bother me. The fact that you’re so presumptuous to suggest that it *is* happening is so weird to me. It makes me so happy I left that experience of faith, I have to be honest.

    • JB

      "Wow. The comfort you display in suggesting that some don’t like Christian music because of some kind of emotional or spiritual avoidance going on is making it very difficult for me to read the rest of your comments in any kind of constructive light, I have to be honest about that."

      For some it is. Not everyone. I DO say that "comfortably", because I've talked to listeners about how they've been personally affected by a particular song. One example is a song by Sanctus Real. It's called "Lead Me". Matt Hammitt, lead singer, wrote the song about a conversation he had with his wife. While Matt was out on the road, sharing his testimony with others, through music; he was neglecting his wife and kids at home. I've received a ton of emails and calls from listeners about how that song has impacted them.

      So it's not "my spiritual assessment of others" that makes me comfortable in making a statement like the one I made. It's experience, it's testimony. It's first-hand, credible evidence. That's all.

      "Why is it that evangelical Christians in particular feel so comfortable in this role of drive by spiritual assessment of others? It feels so impersonal and formulaic – if person A doesn’t appreciate the Barlow Girls, a reasonable conclusion to draw is B – they have an issue that the Barlow Girls are singing about that they don’t want to deal with.”

      I'm sorry, but that's a HUGE leap.

      "The fact that you (speaking generally to whomever does this) have an opinion about what *might* be happening – including this scenario – doesn’t bother me. The fact that you’re so presumptuous to suggest that it *is* happening is so weird to me. It makes me so happy I left that experience of faith, I have to be honest."

      It DOES happen. I'm not being presumptuous. I'm simply sharing what I know.

      • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

        You're missing the point I'm making to you, but this kind of exchange has become so exhausting to have that I'm not going to have it.

        • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

          Wimp!

          • http://dianer.blogspot.com/ DR

            I am such a VICTIM. Quickly! Someone get me some smelling salts and a fainting chair!

          • Ace

            *throws a bucket of ice-cold water on your head*

            Does that help?

        • JB

          Nah, I don't think I'm missing the point. I think I picked it up pretty clearly. But, yeah, half way through my response, I was quickly becoming exhausted.

          No worries.

      • alison

        JB (and I grew up with someone named JB. It was short for "Jimmy Boy." Western Kansas and all that.) You did make it sound like at least "some" people who don't like CCM have "spiritual issues." That may have been what you meant, but it;s what you said.

        • JB

          I beg to differ. That's NOT what I said. I never said that anything about spiritual issues. If it means anything, it means "conviction". Just because the lyrics of a song lead you to examine areas of your own life, and it's "convicts" you, I think it means you have a heart. I believe ALL music has an ability to do that. Every time I hear the words, "Break my heart for what breaks yours" THAT hits me. That affects me. I don't have "spiritual issues"…. I have a heart. That's my cry.

  • ManimalX

    FJS

    My humble apologies. I guess I'm so used to sarcastic, snide comments on these forums that I automatically assumed you were just trying to be humorous with a bit of sarcasm.

    That being said, I must respectfully disagree with your rather unorthodox approach to using Christian music as some sort of "devil detector". While a person's reaction to all things Jesus CAN be indicative of their spiritual state, it is in no way some sort of fail-safe standard. It is one of those things (or "fruits) in someone's life that needs to be taken into consideration along with a lot of other things, namely Scripture!

    Trust me, I like CCM (or whatever you want to label "Christian" music), but if you start playing Point of Grace or Avalon, you will probably think I'm demon possessed because my eyes will roll up into my head and I will promptly find the nearest exit. Not a huge fan of those groups, and it has nothing to do with my relationship with Jesus! However, I will never dismiss their music as worthless or garbage because they edify a lot of brothers and sisters and they truly seek to honor God. I recognize that my personal, relative taste in music is not the universal standard that defines "good music."

    Also, your claim that the Christian music industry is a "non profit" is quite ignorant/naive. There is certainly a huge amount of money being made in the Christian music biz. And more power to them! What in the world is wrong with a Christian wanting to make a profit from their labor?!?! The answer: nothing!!!! The Apostle Paul expected to be paid for his labors (the jobs he did while on his mission trips so that those hosting him were not put out financially), and also wrote that others should be paid fairly for their own labors. There is absolutely nothing in Scripture that says it is wrong or sinful for making a profit. In fact, there is a decent amount of Scripture that praises people who work hard and use their profits wisely.

    I hope every Christian musician make a million bajillion dollars this year (and that they use it wisely ;) )

    • http://thefakejohnshore.wordpres.com thefakejohnshore

      There is certainly a huge amount of money being made in the Christian music biz. And more power to them! What in the world is wrong with a Christian wanting to make a profit from their labor?!?! The answer: nothing!!!! >>>

      Hey brother!

      Well color me educated, I'm glad for the correction. I'm thrilled to hear that Christians are profiting off of this worship music, the Bible is clear on wealth and prosperity being sign of God's true blessing on someone.

      I wrote about Christians and money here – I hope it helps. http://thefakejohnshore.wordpress.com/2010/08/02/

      Blessings,

      FJS

  • http://Sisterfriends-together.org Anita

    oh just because I can't resist saying so I'm going to do it. There is SOME Christian music I LOVE. There are songs that I've totally connected with at certain times in my life and others that peovided encouragement and comfit when few other things could. steve Capman, Kari Jobe, Hiilsong and others are on my iPod and played often. I don't know. Maybe it's just a Christian lesbian kind of thing….

    And don't even mess with hymns like "It Is Well With My Soul" or I'm going to have to go all off on your nasty little heathen souls.

    • JB

      "Christian lesbian kind of thing" priceless ;)

      The day I wrote this piece for John, was also the day that I got to spend time with some of the members of Hillsong. They led worship for about 20 minutes at our building. Nothing fake, wasn't mimicry. It was worship…. and it was pretty cool.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com Ric Booth

    Speaking of contemporary Christian music, this one really got to me last Christmas:

    http://bowenbeerbottleband.wordpress.com/2009/12/

    I don't know if the Bowen Beer Bottle Band is in the rotation yet but they're pretty cool.

    • Diana

      Cool! Maybe the Contemporary Singers at my church can do this for Christmas Eve Service @ my church (exactly as depicted in the video, of course!) I'm going to forward this to my Choir Director. I'm certain it will go over like the proverbial lead balloon–especially since Methodists don't drink–at least, not on church campus.

  • http://danielminteer.weebly.com/ daniel

    Nothing could have prepared me for what lie ahead as I continued to toss and turn in my bed. The eerie sounding words I’d heard in a dream just moments earlier now replayed over and over in my head. And singing too. It sounded like a female voice singing them. What was this supposed to mean?

    For some unexplainable reason it seemed I was supposed to do something with this. Though it would have been far easier to just get up and jot down some notes, I instead was determined to remember the words and tune before going back to sleep. Funny, remembering music from a dream never worked in the past so I don’t know what I was thinking. That may explain the continued tossing and turning.

    On the bright side, I did finally fall back asleep. On the downside, when I woke up…nothing. For a few groggy moments that is! Then…yes I could hear the words and melody again. But now what? What did these words mean? What was supposed to be done with this “everybody knows my name…everybody knows my fame”?


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