Surprising religious lyrics from George Harrison to Bono.
Though American attitudes toward religion changed dramatically during the 1960's, interest in spirituality itself never diminished. If we listen closely, Michael Gilmour contends, we can hear an extensive religious vocabulary in the popular music of the decades that followed---articulating each generation's spiritual quest, the yearning for social justice, and the emotional highs of love and sex.
Probing the lyrical canons of seminal artists including Cat Stevens, the Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Eric Clapton, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, U2, Ozzy Osbourne, Pearl Jam, Madonna, and Kanye West, Gilmour considers the ways---and reasons why---pop music's secular poets and prophets adopted religious turns of phrases, motifs, and sacred texts.
- An engaging topic addressed in lively, accessible prose for a wide audience. The author is an unabashed rock-and-roll fan and a serious New Testament scholar.
- The book does not use only a Christian lens, but rather examines the religious influences of modern music from a myriad of perspectives, including the Eastern-influenced George Harrison, the Islam of Cat Stevens, the gothic religion of Black Sabbath, and the "religion of the flesh" articulated by Meatloaf.
- Examines the intriguing phenomenon of resistance to and distrust of institutionalized religion in pop music that is, at the same time, coupled with an ongoing fascination with religion and religious imagery.
- Tangled Up in the Bible: Bob Dylan and Scripture, Michael J. Gilmour, 978-0-82641-602-5, Continuum, (Paperback)
- A Matrix of Meanings: Finding God in Popular Culture, Craig Detweiler and Barry Taylor, 978-0-80102-417-7, Baker Academic, (Paperback)
- Sacred Terror: Religion and Horror on the Silver Screen, Douglas E. Cowan, 978-1-60258-018-3, Baylor University Press, (Hardcopy)
Level: General/Upper Level undergraduate
- Religion and Popular Culture
- Religion and Culture
- Music and Religion
Reading songs as texts, Gilmour takes the reader on a fascinating tour of remarkable scope and breadth. He offers fresh insights on well-known artists, like Bob Dylan and Cat Stevens, and less familiar ones (at least to me), like Billy Talent and Gary Numan. And he surveys a variety of themes and topics---from sex to apocalyptic. A very enjoyable read.
---- Mark Roncace, Associate Professor of Religion, Wingate University
Rarely does a book solidify an emerging field of study while showing every sign of being eminently useful in the classroom. Gilmour demonstrates why rock 'n roll is the sacred text of postmodern spirituality, and his analysis throbs with rhythm and passion. He doesn't hit a wrong note in challenging his readers to learn to listen to popular music in a new way.
---- Stephen H. Webb, Professor of Religion and Philosophy, Wabash College
In this new work, Michael Gilmour examines the religious resources musical artists draw upon for their work, focusing specifically on popular music from 1970-2006. From George Harrison to Bob Dylan to Yusuf Islam, from Meatloaf to Alice Cooper, from Joni Mitchell to U2, Gilmour weaves erudite examination with entertaining anecdotes to paint a picture of the way(s) in which spiritual engagement with ultimate issues can rightfully take place in the realm of music. His command of music is impressive, as are his analyses, which are often brilliant. This is an ideal text for instructors and interested lay readers, and should add a few welcome bars to the chorus of works in the field of religion and music.
---- Dan W. Clanton, Jr., Assistant Professor of Religious Studies, Doane College
Michael Gilmour takes the 15,000 songs on my iPod...no I mean it, not only Dylan, Springsteen and U2 but also Ron Sexsmith, Meat Loaf and Led Zeppelin and filters them through a huge library of theological and art wisdom...he makes the line between sacred and secular almost invisible in a fascination caress and collision of rock music and the Scriptures...in this new dynamic discussion of theo-musicology it's another healthy contribution.
---- Steve Stockman, Presbyterian Chaplain, Queens University, Belfast, and Author of Walk On: The Spiritual Journey of U2 and The Rock Cries Out: Discovering Eternal Truth in Unlikely Music
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Preface: Opening Notes
Introduction Spirituality in Post-1960's Lyrics
Track One: Turn(ing the) Table (on) Religion: Popular Music in a Bloomain Light
Track Two: Church in a Guitar Case: Comfort and Compassion in Popular Music
Track Three: Outrageous Religion: Sex, Defiance, and Obsession with the Sacred
Track Four: Looking Beyond the Steeple and Menorah
Track Five: Fade Out: Stealing from the Sacred and Rewriting Religion