Faith as a One-Hit Wonder

Faith as a One-Hit Wonder December 6, 2012

I’d just filled up the gas tank on my way out of Spokane when I clicked on the radio and heard a song that never fails to transport me back to the summer of 1972.

Perhaps you know it?


It was a sultry Georgia evening and I was babysitting my aunt’s two young children at her apartment in the low-income housing complex known as the Peabody Projects, or as the locals often called it, just Peabody. Red bricked and two-storied, with shared walls on both sides, the apartment wasn’t air-conditioned. I had the kitchen window open, the radio on, and the kiddos tucked into their beds upstairs. I was on the phone — the glossy black kind of phone that you see in all the old timey movies — talking with the boy who I was sure was going to leave me as messed up as that sailor did Brandy.

I couldn’t tell you what either of us said in that phone call but I recall with clarity the song penned and performed by a group of friends from Rutgers University.  Brandy was a one-hit wonder.  The band Looking Glass would go on to have other minor successes but nothing that came as close to topping the charts and selling in the million the way Brandy, You’re a Fine Girl did. The popularity of the song remains today, with its You Tube version drawing in over 4 million hits.

I imagine it was thrilling and yet frustrating to band members – Elliot Lurie (lead guitar), Lawrence Gonsky (piano), Pieter Sweval (bass), and Jeff Grob (drums) – to be part of a one-hit wonder.

On one hand, all their work and sacrifice paid off. The foursome pooled their resources after graduating from Rutgers, and rented an isolated century house in New Jersey. Then they spent the next year writing and rehearsing, creating and recreating songs that they hoped would find an audience. Brandy did. But that was about it. The band fell apart in 1974.

The biggest problem the band faced wasn’t a lack of creativity, it was a matter of failing to live up to what others expected of them. The Looking Glass were not who Brandy made them out to be. Lurie  summed it up this way: “Brandy was not really typical of our live repertoire. We were a lot more of a hard-rock band than that record signified. When we went on tour, people who liked Brandy were often disappointed with the overall show because we didn’t really sound like the record. It was heavily overdubbed with strings and horns, and we were basically a guitar, piano, bass and drum rock ‘n’ roll band.”

That has happened to me, too. Friendships have fallen by the wayside after I failed to live up to someone’s expectation.

It happens to God a lot, too.

The minute life doesn’t go the way some anticipated, many people point fingers at God and call him out on it, like disgruntled concert-goers. We cling to two primary visions of God. The first in which God is portrayed as the Happy Santa Buddha whose sole existence is to shower us with untold bounty and blessings. Or the other in which God is portrayed like the grandfather of all drones, ready to attack and destroy us at any given moment, just because.

Neither version is very accurate. And both restrict God and His creativity in our lives.

Some people get so distraught they just up and quit God altogether. They aren’t willing to allow that God does not fit into all those misconceptions we often make of him.

Does your faith journey sometimes seem like a one-hit wonder?

Have you ever been disappointed in the way God treated you?















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  • AFRoger

    Yes to your two final questions. Many times.
    Not alone here. The Psalms give us an ancient history to fall back on. In addition to psalms of individual lament, there are downright earth-to-YHWH yelling matches of national lament in Pss. 44, 60, 74, 79 and 80. Would we ever allow ourselves to talk to God that way in church? Israel did. Isn’t it amazing that such stuff found its way into the canon? Life is real, and faith is more than happy church feel-goodism. The psalms’ honesty is refreshing.
    Never actually heard the “Brandy” lyrics before. Hard to place a response since I wasn’t in the USA at the time.

  • Rain

    “The minute life doesn’t go the way some anticipated, many people point fingers at God and call him out on it, like disgruntled concert-goers.”

    Bad analogy since it would be more like an empty stage with an invisible (presumably three-piece) band. I find very insulting your insinuation that the reason people “quit God altogether” is because they’re incapable of dealing with God–as opposed to the real reason, which is that it is all simply nonsense. I find it insulting because it serves the twofold purpose of, firstly, not giving people credit for having a brain, and secondly, making yourself feel superior for believing ridiculous things.

    • If you believe that God doesn’t exist in the first place then the analogy doesn’t apply to you because you can’t quit something that doesn’t exist.