Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Rock and Roll and the Hole in my Soul

We’ve been having this interesting discussion on the LDSMusicians group, and it prompted a response from me that I’d like to share here. It all started when one of the group members, a concerned mom, asked if there were an “LDS equivalent to Weezer”. It seems her son has gotten into the band and has gotten some of their CD’s.

That opened the discussion to lots of suggestions of LDS artists, but it was determined very quickly that there isn’t an LDS equivalent to many mainstream artists, especially in the rock world.

Many suggested some artists from the CCM (Contemporary Christian Music) world. One person responded to that by saying, “The thing that throws me about some Christian musicians is that doctrine is sometimes off in certain lyrics. Of course with regular musicians you often get worse than that, but I wonder about the subtlety of catching stuff that's close to right, but not quite. So I think even with CCM, it pays to be selective, and I gave up, because I didn't have the patience to sort through songs.”

I took a moment and thought to myself and wrote out my thoughts and posted them to the list. And, I share them here:

I'm going to get myself in trouble for saying this, but...

The kind of music I would love to listen to simply does not exist currently.

By that, I mean:

• hard rock,
• produced to a major label quality,
• by active members of the church,
• writing songs that explore the experience of living the gospel in a difficult world.

There are artists that have attained a few of these criteria, but I've not encountered more than a song or two that meets them all. I don't think my own work even matches all these parameters.

So, as a result, I make compromises. I listen to a lot of Christian Rock, which is good, hard rock, produced on a major label quality level. But it's not speaking directly to my life's experiences as a Mormon. Still, I really like most of what I hear, like Petra, Superchick, DC Talk, Toby Mac, Michael Sweet (Stryper has reunited, BTW, and put out a new CD!)

There are Mormons making "rock" music that is of major label quality. But it's not, for the most part, good hard rock. A bit edgy, perhaps, but not as heavy as I like it. It's good stuff, and I like it (like Greg Simpson, or Cherie Magill), but it's not heavy, as much as they might like to pretend it is.

There are Mormons making good heavy, hard rock music. But most of those aren't doing it on the quality level of the big boys (my own stuff falls in this category, and the likes of Fast Sundae, etc...). I really like this stuff, and I listen to it a lot (especially FS!). But it's still lacking in quality.

There are also some Mormons making heavy music that doesn't really address life as a church member. I don't mean they have to be quoting scripture, but the songs are innocuous. I like this stuff a lot, too, but to me, it's not as fulfilling. "Beyond Braille" falls into this category.

I like a lot of stuff. I like Cherie Call, who's not heavy at all, but is an incredible writer. I like Border Crossing and Dave Edwards for the same reasons.

There is a lot of music out there that is wonderful music, and I enjoy listening to it. But when it comes to the kind of music that would really hit me where I like it, I can't find it. It simply doesn't exist yet. And I find that very frustrating.

So, thanks for letting me vent a little.

Mark Hansen


  1. I would like many of the same things you seem to. I like hard rock as well, but I find the genre lacking in wholesomness. I have basically turned my back on the whole thing - except RUSH. Their lyrics are meaningful and clean, but not very religious. Their image has been quite good as well. Thank you for your suggestions of groups out there. Don't give up on your own stuff - good luck.

  2. Interesting thoughts. I'm in the 50+ age group and my preference is hard rock - Deep Purple, Led Zeppelin, Hendrix, etc.
    I think the thing to concentrate on is the message of the songs ; and I don't really want dongs that preach to me. I find that most of the music I listen to does not promote an anti-Mormon lifestyle. There is just as much (maybe more) uplifting music in non-Mormon products as with LDS sanctioned groups.
    I'll never give up my hard rock just as I won't give up my classical or my Tabernacle Choir collections.
    If the music uplifts the listener then it is worthwhile regardless of the genre.



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