him or loathe him, you probably cannot have avoided hearing him this
last week – particularly last Monday when, at the press of a button
at the Sun Studio in Memphis, Tennessee, over 1,200 radio stations
around the world started playing the Elvis hit, “That’s
Alright”. It was his
first professional record, recorded 50 years ago and, according to
musicologists, it changed the face of popular music.
Kane, director of the
tourism bureau told the Washington
Post that, Elvis would be the first to say he didn't create rock
'n' roll. . . . but there
was a defining moment that took place on July 5th, and we just figured
this is as good a time as any to celebrate it."
Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, died last year, but shortly before
his death he told Undercover
Magazine about that early recording session. It seems that after
an unsuccessful rehearsal, the others were packing up their equipment
when Elvis just kept his guitar on, and almost messing around started
playing “That’s alright.”
Phillips was surprised. He
didn’t know Elvis knew the song because it had been a hit by Arthur
'Big Boy' Cruddup, a black artist in the south, six or seven years
earlier. But it was what he was looking for and he was mesmerized.
states that if it hadn’t been for that impromptu playing then Elvis
might have become a Gospel singer instead of a rock star – and the
history of popular music would have been quite different.
a child I was somewhat bemused that someone who could produce songs
such as “Jailhouse Rock” and “All shook up” could also sing
“Amazing Grace”, “He’s only a Prayer away”, or “It is no
secret what God can do”.
father, for one, could easily produce arguments that the two musical
genre were totally incompatible – and made sure that my tender ears
were protected from the continued advances of rock and roll through
the ‘60’s and early 70’s.
guess in a sense I did the same with my children.
They grew up in a home where they were exposed to lots of
music, but most of it was Christian.
It was only as they became teenagers that I then found myself
exposed to what they and their friends wanted to listen to – and
I’ve spent my life having my ears deafened ever since.
have a good family relationship which means we do discuss what we like
and don’t like, and such discussions have helped modify my musical
tastes and somewhat guides theirs.
I’ve always felt it’s better to listen to and discuss their
music then to condemn it out of hand.
They do get fed up of me pointing out the meaning and lyrics of
certain popular songs – and I do point out that the dress code and
body language of most pop-videos more to do with sex then with
relationship. I’m glad
my children know the difference.
part of the challenge for Christians who take the prayer of Jesus
seriously to be active in the world yet to be protected from evil
influences (John 17). That
is the tension the Christian will always face.
It is the tension Jesus himself faced as he shared his life and
ministry with the outcasts and the underdogs of his society, while
still reaching out an embracing arm towards those higher up who still
had need of grace.
is not alone in having Christian credentials as a pop star.
Britany Spears, Six-pence none the richer, Neil Morse – and
many others have done the same. Some
have been a creditable witness to the God they love, others have
demonstrated the difficulty of walking the tight-rope of public
adulation and Christian faith.
those same kinds of tensions go on in church.
Those who believe if it is not in the hymnbook it should not be
sung. And those whose love
is for the band and the video projector.
How do we reconcile such differences?
In these few short moments I don’t think we can – except to
say that an expression of worship from the heart will always be
acceptable to God – and to quote two short passages of scripture.
5’s commission to variety and praise in worship: Ephes.
“Speak to one another with psalms,
hymns and spiritual songs. Sing and make music in your heart to the
other, a thought of tolerance. Words
of Jesus to his disciples: Mark 9:39-41 (Message)
one can use my name to do something good and powerful, and in the next
breath cut me down. 40If
he's not an enemy, he's an ally. 41Why,
anyone by just giving you a cup of water in my name is on our side.
Count on it that God will notice."
“cup of water” for “sound of music”, and we may be onto some