Wednesday, March 28, 2007

The Short List

A few years back, I saw a posting on one of the LDS lists I frequent asking if anyone knew where they could find a copy of the list of “songs approved for BYU dances”. The responses to the posting ranged from suggestions of where to search to flat-out denials of it’s existence, labeling it another Mormon myth.

Well, it’s real, now.

At the request of some area representatives (in Australia, apparently), a committee was formed to review song lyrics and compile a list of songs to be played at church dances. I’m not sure how wide the distribution of the list is, but it’s available at the Australian church website, at It’s available in pdf format, in a number of different configurations (sorted by song title, by artist, and by decade).

I gotta tell ya, I got some mixed feelings on this.

  1. In my day, I’ve been to church dances where some pretty lurid music has been played, and I’ve seen some people dancing in ways that shouldn’t happen in a church. Like it or not, that often means that sometimes lines have to be drawn, and standards spelled out.
  2. I have a big problem with the idea of “approved” and “disapproved” music, even for specific functions. People have a big tendency to cross those over into other areas. For example, some will think that means that you can’t listen to anything not on the approved list in your own home. Think that’s extreme? Think that’s crazy? I know people who think that if it’s not appropriate for sacrament meeting, it’s not appropriate for their home.
  3. I noticed that there were no LDS artists listed on that sheet. Does that mean that they’re shut out? Can we not play LDS music at LDS dances?
  4. It IS a new list, and while they say that it’ll be updated monthly, it is short. So, there’s hope for expansion.
  5. It also addresses only the song itself. It doesn’t take into account the life views or life choices of the artist. I think that’s a good thing. It does, however, make it interesting to note that while Madonna can be played at a church dance (presumably in Australia), Julie De Azevedo or Jericho Road can’t. I guess that, depending on how you feel about Julie, Madonna, or Jericho, that could be a good or a bad thing.

At any rate, love it or hate it, it is real, now, and it will be interesting to see how it plays out.

Mark Hansen

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Social Impact of the iPod

I've spent a lot of time in airplanes and airports lately. In all of those cases, I've had my headphones on, listening to my tunes. I love it. My smartphone has a 1 gig card that I've filled with a lot of my current favorites.

I look around and I see lots of others with their "ears on". A lot of them can carry upward of 40 gig on their pods.


It's pretty amazing.

I'm not sure that it's all good, though. I've noticed that when I'm tuned in to my pod, I'm tuned out to the people around me. I can't hear them, I don't look at them, and heaven forbid I should actually talk to someone or interact.

More than just letting me tune out, having phones in my ears actually sends an unspoken message to others: "I want to be alone. Don't come close!"

Now, on the one hand, one could argue that we already don't interact with each other, and so what's the big diff? None, really, I guess. I suppose the pods simply make it easier for us.

Funny,eh? Tech makes it easy for us to reach out to people (email, IM, blogs, etc...), at the same time that it also isolates us.

Mark Hansen

Monday, March 12, 2007

That's My Story, and I'm Stickin' to It!

Here's the whole story:

I have a really good friend of a number of years. He lived just around the corner from me while we were still in West Jordan. His kids lived at our house when our kids weren't living at his (those of you with children will understand that). He's another erstwhile musician, a keyboardist. Quite good, too, when he gets the chance to bust out and play.

But that's not what this story is about.

So, just to keep up with each other, we've started meeting up at a local all-night restaurant about every other wednesday. We have to do the late nights, because he usually doesn't get off work until 10:30, and it's 11:00 by the time he gets there.

We usually get dinner or sometimes just desert, and just blah, blah, blah, until about 1:00 or so in the morning.

But that's not what ths story's about, either.

Well, sorta, but not really.

So, this last wednesday, I was coming home from the restaurant, driving through the rain in my father-in-law's car, and a song came on the radio.

It was tuned to his favorite station (being his car), a classic country station. The song was twangin' along about a guy driving home late at night, also in the rain. But this guy had been out partying and carousing all night, and he goes on and on in the song about how his Lady's gonna be upset and sreaming and waving the frying pan in her hand.

He's desparately trying to come up with excuses and alibis to either cover his tracks or at least soften the blows. But even by the time the pedal steel solo kicks in, he's realizing that, ultimately, he knows they're all lies, and he's gonna be in trouble anyway.

So here I am, driving home from a night out with my friend, it's way, way late, and I'm listening to this song. And it hits me that I don't need aibi. I don't need an excuse.

It's kind of a funny revelation. Like I'd really known it all along, but I'd never noticed it before. My wife knows where I am, where I've been, and won't be the least bit upset by it. She won't yell at me or swing kitchenware at me. She won't doubt me or even question me about it (other than to ask if I had a good time).

We're going to have our 20th anniversary this summer. And, while like all marriages, we've had our issues, we're doing pretty well right now, thank very much. And I just realized that night how wonderful it is to live free of that fear that the guy in the song was so pitifully whining about.

I don't need an alibi.

And that's what this story is all about.

Mark Hansen

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Church and State?

The other night found me watching a couple of political speeches on late night TV. Barak Obama and Hilary Clinton were both in Alabama for the commemoration of a Civil Rights march in the ‘60s. Both were speaking in churches there. That sparked some thoughts.

First of all, it was interesting to see Democrats speaking in, and embracing church. Much of the last election was perceived as hanging on “moral issues”, like gay marriage and abortion. In that day, the Democrats were trying so hard to appear to separate church and state that they alienated a big chunk of their voter base. And now, here are the two front-runners, speaking in churches.

And quoting scriptures! Both of them referred to biblical verses in their speeches.

Of course, Obama was much more in his element. He came across like a skilled southern preacher. He spoke of the work of Moses and Joshua leading the children of Israel to the Promised Land like he knew the stories from childhood.

Clinton, on the other hand, spoke like a politician, and quoted a more general verse about “Fighting the good fight”. She seemed a little more out of place.

They both, however, were obviously “preaching to the choir”, as the congregations in the various churches were cheering them each on. They were before audiences that were sympathetic, to be sure. These weren’t right-wing fundie churches, but socially active denominations, which tend to be more Democratic.

It will be very interesting to follow and see. How will religion play into this upcoming election? Will the Democrats be able to allow themselves to show their faith? Will a Mormon have a chance? How will the “Christian Conservatives” impact the voting? On both sides, it will be an issue to be addressed. I have no idea how it will have the final impact, though…

But that’s why it’s such a fun sport to watch!

Mark Hansen

Monday, March 05, 2007

The Songs of Zion



When I first got this one, my first reaction was, “Hmmm… A rapper that scrapbooks…?”

I started spinning it in lots of different circumstances. When I was cleaning up the house, when I was driving to work, etc... I found it growing on me. Each of the tunes is well-produced, and well-rapped. The timings are tight, and the rhymes and lyrics are solid. I could feel it. Not too preachy, not too angry, just enough of each to reach me.

I like “The Revolution” and “To My Buddy” the best, I think. “Buddy” is a nice romantic slow jam that provides some good variety to the CD. I also liked where he put the Beethoven in the track behind “Blackout”.

Some good, solid tunes.

My only complaint is that there is a bit of “sameness” throughout. I, personally, could stand to hear a bit more variety, making each tune stand out a little more. Of course, as I listen to many mainstream and big-time CD’s these days, I might be out of touch with what’s selling, as there’s a real tendency to package music in “similar boxes”.

And another thing!

I’ve noticed of late that there seems to be more happening in the world of LDS rap than LDS rock, both in terms of recordings and live performances. I’m a little jealous! So, if I’m missing something, someone let me know!

Want to hear Maurice? You can listen to samples or buy the CD!

Mark Hansen


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