Thursday, August 06, 2009

Michael Jackson - The New Old Music

I had so much trouble logging in to Blogger using the Opera browser that by the time I logged in with Internet Explorer I just about darn near lost the flavor of my inspiration of what to write about. Kind of like writing a letter then having to re-write because it got thrown out. Do it from memory and it just loses its freshness.

So here goes. Everyone who is anyone has fairly stopped writing stories about the passing of Michael Jackson. The pastor that baptized me when I was 12 was named MJ Timbs so for the rest of this blog entry I'll refer to the musician as just MJ.

My youngest daugther is 15 years old and right after, I mean just about the day after the passing of MJ a CD appeared on the table of his music call "Number One". This was a huge departure from the music she usually listens to and I later found out the CD was borrowed from a friend. When I asked her about it she said "Dad he's really good. I like the music!" I just groaned and shook my head. Except for the years where MJ was still a musical phenomenon in his youngest years (my youngest years too for that matter because we are/were both 50) I have totally rejected his music. It was pretentious, it was disco, it was girly-man stuff and I just hated it. When he started looking as though he had reconstructive surgery from a tragic fighter jet accident and rumors started spreading I really...well just forget it. I'll take Thumper's advice and stop.

We were all driving out to the mall one day, my wife, and daughters and Emily began playing the MJ CD in the van. Emily said "No daddy he's really good I like it." as she pushed the skip button on the CD player to go from song to song. It landed on a song called "Earth Song" and she let it play. Something happened and I felt a little wall falling down in the back of my mind as I listened to it. I had to be honest it was good in my lexicon in musical tastes.

I said to Emily "Okay that's a good song.....okay he probably hired the finest backup singers money can buy.....okay the melody is probably one of the best rhythm and blues songs I've heard in a long time...and the song was put together by probably some of the best in the industry in the best studio money can buy. I admit he was good." Here I am the biggest non-fan of MJ there could ever be and I have a song of his on my MP3 player.

Which brings me to a rediscovery of music and musicians from "my day". The best place to find these are on YouTube. Fascinating footage of Jethro Tull concerts and Emerson, Lake and Palmer concerts, Pink Floyd, Jimi Hendrix, Stevie Ray Vaughn on and on. Late 60's, the 70's and some into the 80's are what I would consider my generation and I am glad young people are rediscovering music that has merit. There's a great acoustic version of "Lucky Man" on YouTube. A version I didn't now existed of a concert in California.

I have always been the kind of Christian that isn't afraid of music. I filter out the music that is just filth and select the music that is praiseworthy. If we are created in God's image and God is a creator then He made us creative also. What we do with that creativity we will be held accountable for but in any case music is a manifestation of the nature of our Creator. My children are the same way. "Train up a child in the way he should go..." They police themselves and filter out the dregs of our musical society.

This is why one of my all time favorite movies is "Amadeus". The two main characters are, Wolfgang, a disrespectful, disgraceful man who is disconnected from the concept of responsibility. He is portrayed as an ungodly man. The other main character is the narrator of the story and is dying of old age. Antonio Salieri is pious, visibly believes in God, asks God to bless him in his musical work; also is talented. Riven with jealousy and outraged that Wolfgang is better than he is he becomes bitter and angry at God. If this story is true and I have no reason to believe it is not possible then it is a great example of the verse in the bible that says "God blesses whom He chooses to bless..." Wolfgang, as a vessel, holds as much as humanly possible, the creativity that God poured out onto him. Whether he recognizes this or not is his problem.

If you are a Christian and reading this and you come from the old school just remember where music comes from but remember also the fact that music comes out of faulty vessels as much as yours is faulty. But don't ever let go of your hymnal it is a wealth of inspiration and joy. If you are not a Christian and you are reading this I'm sorry but music comes from the God of the Jews but inspiration can come from God or Satan. Start by reading a chapter in Psalms once in a while.

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