Born and raised in Indiana as the son of a doctor who was gifted in writing, Roger devoted most of his talents in the field of music as composser, arranger, and producer of both live and recorded music since the 70’s. He currently lives in Florida and continues to create music (and various music-and-sound-related productions) for OCN and others; and, having converted to the Orthodox Faith in 2010, he enjoys writing the blog series “Musings of a Grateful Convert” for The Sounding.
Whoa, Podner! What’s this guy doing?
I realize this may seem wildly off the track, but bear with me. There is a message in here somewhere. In this offering, I don’t address the music make-up, the presentation, or the production values. I invite you to peer with me a little deeper into the lyrical content.
Recently, I polled a few students at my church after Divine Liturgy at the coffee hour concerning their music-listening choices. Two were from Russian extract and the third, Ethiopian. Unanimously, they replied “Country Music”.
I know there is still CCM (Contemporary Christian Music), but I was impressed by this answer. And I tuned in the local Country FM station. I was amazed to find there is a strong thread of tradition in this genre which encourages the following:
- Strong family relationships;
- Fidelity in marriage;
- Respect for older people;
- An abiding faith in God; and
- (I’ll get to this one later.)
Frankly, I find this to be significantly “friendly” to the Holy Orthodox Faith—I mean, don’t you?
OK, OK, yes, I know there’s also a pretty good number of songs about drinking, trucks, infidelity, and materialistic values, but let’s be fair here: When was the last time you heard a top 40 Pop song singing “I have a lot to learn from my old man” (the Zac Brown Band); “You better respect your Mama” (Tim McGraw and Faith Hill); “Praying with you every mile down any dead-end road” (Florida Georgia Line) and from “Don’t Blink” by Kenny Chesney:
I was glued to my TV when it looked like he looked at me and said:
“Best start putting first things first
Cause when your hourglass runs out of sand
You can’t flip it over and start again
Take every breath God gives you for what it’s worth.”
Here’s my point. If we look statistically at the subject matter of Contemporary Country versus Contemporary, I would say you would only have to go out maybe 1 or 1.5 standard deviations (and I think I’m being generous to my detractors) to find the song population with Christian friendly values. For Pop, go out 10, maybe 12 standard deviations.
Now for #5 above, which I saved for last. Country music squarely address the question of gender identification (yes, even in its racier offerings) and posits that there is an intrinsic and fundamental difference between the sexes. I think in this area, Country scores higher than CCM. Men are urged to be men, and women, women.
In her 2014 hit song, “God Made Girls”, Country singer RaeLynn beautifully proclaims this gender differential with remarkably poignant lyrics, and the music video is worth a look.
If the You-Bet-Your-Life duck would have descended with $100 for the secret word if you missed it, it’s tradition. The Orthodox Christian faith reveres its Tradition and by implication, honors all other traditions that bow to the original pattern. I can think of a dozen or so examples in Holy Scripture that harmonize with all this, and I welcome inquiries offline or through the comment section.
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