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2005 Year-in-Review: The Gospel of Rock
The Pop Gospel
by David Buckna
"The wall of separation that
once kept rock and religion away from one another is coming down, and the
secularists...who once held it in place are giving way to a new generation
of artists and executives who believe that faith has a place in popular
music. If the music is good enough."
1. In March 2005, this U2 member told the San Diego Union-Tribune:"...on this record in particular, ["How To Dismantle An Atomic Bomb"] we really complete the journey from fear to faith, and that's sort of the way the running order on the record goes, from 'Vertigo' through to 'Yahweh.'" Who said it?
2. On April 4, 2005 this Montreal band appeared on the cover of Time Magazine [Canada], with the captions: "Canada's most intriguing rock band" and "hottest musical export". Name them.
3. What song on Jann Arden's 2005 album echoes Psalm 17:6: "I call on you, O God, for you will answer me"?
4. What rocker's 2005 album includes "Jesus Was An Only Son"?
5. Coldplay's lead singer told Rolling Stone that two songs on "X&Y" came from his religious upbringing. Name him.
6. On Canada's Live 8 telecast (July 2) who performed "When God Made Me" with the Fisk University Jubilee Choir?
7. What song on Sufjan Stevens' album, "Illinois", tells the story of someone who watches a friend die of bone cancer, despite his prayers?
8. What song on Switchfoot's "Nothing Is Sound" includes a phrase from the Book of Ecclesiates?
9. On The Tonight Show with Jay Leno (Nov. 23) Creed's former lead singer sang "The Great Divide". Name him.
10. What song performed by The Goo Goo Dolls on the CBS special "A Home for the Holidays" (Dec. 21) ends: "So take these words and sing out loud/ Cause everyone is forgiven now/ Cause tonight's the night the world begins again"?
1. Adam Clayton, who continued:"So 'Vertigo' is an expression of vulnerability, I guess, and by the time you get through to 'Yahweh,' it's an expression of faith."
Q: "Was that progression designed to provide a sort of cathartic release?"
Clayton: "I think it's there if you're looking for it. If you go through the record to 'One Step Closer' and 'Yahweh,' I think you reach a place of peace, and I think it's a beautiful, tranquil place."
Bono said of the album's closer, "Yahweh": "The title's an ancient name that's not meant to be spoken. I got around it by singing it. I hope I don't offend anyone."
2. The Arcade Fire. Michael Barclay writes on www.exclaim.ca: "Despite the title, [the album] Funeral is more like a baptism: an arrival, an affirmation of faith, a statement of purpose. It was recorded during a time when family members were dying; in the liner notes, the Arcade Fire dedicates the album to no less than nine dearly departed....In the song 'Rebellion,' Win sings, 'Sleeping is giving in, no matter what the time is/ Sleeping is giving in, so lift those heavy eyelids.' In one fanzine article, he was asked to summarize his outlook on life in 11 words or less, to which he responded simply: 'Death is real.' This is the philosophy of the Arcade Fire, one of carpe diem, of living life to the fullest during our short time on this earth."
James 4:14: "Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes."
From Time Magazine:" 'I like songs that are joyful but about really dark subjects,' he [Win] says--'dark, but have a ray of hope in them.' That comes through on tracks like Neighborhood #3 (Power Out), a song ostensibly about a power outage. Butler sings, 'I woke up on the darkest night/ Neighbors all were shoutin' that they found the light.'"
Psalm 30:5b: "Weeping may endure for a night, but joy comes in the morning."
3. "Calling God". The song begins: "Every leaf on every tree/ And every drop of water in the sea/ Every grain of weathered sand/ That smashes itself onto dry land/ Every stone and every petal, everything that's elemental/ You are never gone/ Calling God, calling out"
4. Bruce Springsteen, from the album "Devils & Dust". The first verse: "Jesus was an only son/ As he walked up Calvary Hill/ His mother Mary walking beside him/ In the path where his blood spilled/ Jesus was an only son/ In the hills of Nazareth/ As he lay reading the Psalms of David/ At his mother's feet"
According to John 3:16, Jesus was God's "only son". But whether Jesus was Mary's "only son" is still a matter of debate among Christians. While Protestants and Catholics agree Mary conceived Jesus by the Holy Spirit, Protestants say Mary and Joseph later had children of their own: "But he [Joseph] had no union with her [Mary] until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus." (Matthew 1:25). In Luke 2:7, Luke writes "she gave birth to her firstborn, a son." The word, "firstborn", implies Mary had additional children.
"Isn't this the carpenter's son? Isn't his mother's name Mary, and aren't his brothers James, Joseph, Simon and Judas? Aren't all his sisters with us?" (Matthew 13:55-56)
The dominant Catholic tradition is that the "brothers" and "sisters" of Jesus are cousins, or step-siblings--Joseph's children by a previous marriage. Catholics also affirm the perpetual virginity of Mary.
5. Chris Martin:" 'A Message' and 'Til Kingdom Come' both come from having quite a religious upbringing. 'A Message' is taken from a hymn we used to sing called 'My Song Is Love Unknown,' and we'd say 'kingdom come' every week in the Lord's Prayer. One of the great things about being forced to go to church services is that we'd sing all these big songs. That's partly why I'm obsessed with getting everyone to sing along at our shows. It makes me feel like I'm a part of something."
"A Message" begins: "My song is love/ Love to the loveless shown/ And it goes on/ You don't have to be alone"
"My Song Is Love Unknown" by Samuel Crossman, published in 1664, begins: "My song is love unknown/ My Savior's love to me/ Love to the loveless shown/ That they might lovely be/ O who am I, that for my sake/ My Lord should take frail flesh and die?"
"'Til Kingdom Come" concludes:"For you I'd wait 'til kingdom come/ Until my days, my days are done/ Say you'll come and set me free/ Just say you'll wait, you'll wait for me"
"'Til Kingdom Come" was originally written for Johnny Cash, who died before he was able to record it.
6. Neil Young. The song begins: "Was he thinkin' about my country/ Or the color of my skin?/ Was he thinkin' bout my religion/ And the way I worshipped him?/ Did he create just me in his image/ Or every living thing?/ When God made me. When God made me."
The song is heard on Young's 2005 album, "Prairie Wind".
7. "Casimir Pulaski Day". "Tuesday night at Bible study/ We lift our hands and pray over your body/ But nothing ever happens"
Adam R. Holz writes on pluggedinonline.com: "...his sometimes oblique faith references make him a square peg in a round hole when it comes to the Christian music industry. In other words, don't look for him on the cover of CCM magazine anytime soon."
8. "Happy Is A Yuppie Word": "Looking for an orphanage/ I'm looking for a bridge I can't burn down/ I don't believe the emptiness/ I'm looking for the kingdom coming down/ Everything is meaningless/ I want more than simple cash can buy"
Ecclesiates 1 begins: "The words of the Teacher, son of David, king of Jerusalem: 'Meaningless! Meaningless!' says the Teacher. 'Utterly meaningless! Everything is meaningless.'" (verses 1-2)
9. Scott Stapp. The chorus: "You set me free!/ To live my life/ You became my reason to survive the great divide/ You set me free!"
The apostle Paul writes to the Romans: "Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit of life set me free from the law of sin and death." (Romans 8:1-2)
10. "Better Days". The second verse: "I need someplace simple where we can live/ And something only you can give/ And that's faith and trust and peace while we're alive/ And the one poor Child who saved this world/ And there's ten million more who probably could/ If we all just stopped and said a prayer for them"
10 As wise as Solomon.
For further reference:
Copyright 2006 by David Buckna. All rights reserved. Used by permission.
Buckna is the author of "The
Pop Gospel", a quiz feature that has appeared in publications including
The Calgary Herald, ChristianWeek and Baptist Press. He reads email at