Last year around this time for Eastertide, I started exploring Jesus in terms of popular culture through music. There were classical posts, and posts on polyphony, naturally. But there were also posts built around songs about the Lord through pop-rock songs, rhythm & blues, and country tunes as well.
Maybe it is an American phenomenon (though I hope not), but Jesus Christ haunts us. It’s like today he still asks of us, “who do the people say I am?” And then he still asks us individually, “and who do you say I am?”
Just like last year, my ignorance of the songs I am about to share is complete. I had never, ever, heard any of them before. That fact either proves that I a) live under a rock, or b) that these songs sneak in under the radar and surprise us out of the blue. Probably, it is a combination of those two things, and that c) seek and ye shall find. No seeky, no findy. Saavy?
I sought and found a few tunes to share this week, some of which you may enjoy, and others you may not. But all of them will leave you thinking about Christ in a way that perhaps you haven’t thought of before. More likely, you probably have thought these thoughts, but never in a way you ever put into words. Here are five popular artists that have.
U2, Jesus Christ. This is the lad’s cover of a folk classic penned by Woody Guthrie in 1940. Woody’s lyrics evoke what many wonder about today. What do you think?
Bad Religion, American Jesus (1992). I don’t think it a stretch to believe that often times we try to make Jesus in our own image, instead of vice versa. Coming on the heals of Good Shepherd Sunday, this song reminds us that He has flocks in other folds. You know, un-American ones? The Holy See keeps reminding us as well.
everclear, Jesus Was a Democrat (2008). I think Woody Guthrie would approve of this message. His influence can be heard here in a modern take on the question, ”who do you say that I was?” The truth is (of course) that Christ is waaay beyond party politics. No political party can retain all the truth, goodness, and beauty that is the Lord. And He is too big to contain, as well. Just be thankful that there is no Catholic Party. Still, as the Guthrie classic wondered, so does Art Alexakis. To wit, would we too crucify the Lord? Hmmm.
Brand New, Jesus Christ (2006). Ever heard of this band? Me neither. But something about this song makes me think that they “get it” about why Jesus haunts us. It has something to do with recognizing our brokeness, and knowing we cannot repair ourselves.
Queen, Jesus (1973). From their very first album, this is the song I never, ever, heard on the radio. Dig that Brian May guitar solo(!), while you sing along to Freddie Mercury’s thoughts. Why does Jesus haunt us? Because quite simply, He is Lord of All.
See you here next week.