My first song is from a phase of my life that has ended. For the first 50 years of my life I loved heavy metal. It really clicked with me that it was both empowering and tongue-in-cheek; a lot of people don’t get the tongue-in-check part. This is american/british heavy metal I’m talking about here–not that black metal stuff from the Scandinavian countries.
So, the first song is “All Around the World” by the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Not technically heavy metal but I love this band. Several years ago they were playing at a small venue in this area. My two sons and my daughter-in-law are big fans as well so we all decided to go to the concert. My daughter–in-law agreed to get there early and wait on line for the tickets. I instructed her to get tickets as close as possible to the stage regardless of the cost–at my age, I don’t sit on the lawn. Well, what is closest to the stage? The mosh pit.
When she came back with 4 pit tickets I was so freaked out I almost gave my ticket to someone else. The kids persuaded me to go and when we arrived at the concert and were in line to get into the pit, there is a huge warning sign that says “Moshing Entertainment is Dangerous. Enter at your own risk”. Again, I almost bolted. We had friends with seats in the stands and I was going to swap with one of them, but again my kids convinced me to give it a try.
In we went. The two warm up bands were terrible, and then the Chilies took the stage. They started out with a couple of slow-ish songs. We had gotten there early so we were near the front. For the third song they launched into “All Around the World” and the crowd went nuts. We were so close to the stage I could see the sweat fly off Anthony Kiedas. My youngest son swears to this day swears that he felt the music blow back his clothes. It was amazing. By far the best concert I ever attended….and I have attended concerts since the 1970’s. The fact that my kids were there with me, made it just that much more amazing.
Okay, fast forward to the second half of my life. I had a conversion experience and overnight I lost nearly all desire to listen to any music except praise and worship. Very occassionally, like a few times a year, I may feel like listening to something else, but it is very rare. So my absolute favorite now is Amazing Grace. Just a beautiful, hopeful song. The part about when we’ve been here 10,000 years, bright shinging as the the sun, we’ve no less days to sing God’s praise, then when we’d just begun–that’s my favorite. When I think about being in the physical presence of God, the longing is so sweet.
Within praise and worship music, I love southern gospel the most. I love the instrumentals that go with them, the upbeat message, and the “tight harmony” of the family groups. I had picked a favorite in this category, but now that I’m writing this, there are so many to choose from I can’t decide. Johnny Cash did an entire album called something like ‘A Visit to the Holy Land’ that has a lot of great songs and the family groups that are able to achieve the tight harmony because they are genetically related are just amazing–especially when they are sung acapella. So, I’m going to go with the song I picked before I started to digress, which is Keith Urban’s version of “I’ll Fly Away”. Again, the thought of someday gazing on the face of God is so powerful.
As a side note, I’d like to mention that there are numerous secular muscians out there that have had a moment where they seem to have been touch by God. Eric Clapton sings that “God will bend your knee” and Meat Loaf has the amazing “Where Angels Sing”. Then there’s Audio Slave. I contend that their first album is almost all praise and worship music, but few people recognize it as such. To me, it’s pretty obvious in “Show Me how to Live”, but others such as “Like a Stone” and “I am the Highway”, to my mind, are about Christian religion. And the best part–it’s heavy metal. Lead singer is from Sound Garden an the band is from Rage Against the Machine. When a talented musician is inspired by God, the result is going to be great.