Thursday, January 12, 2012

Soundtracking the Bible Pt. 1

Last year I wrote a blog called The Top 50 Non-Worship-Worship Songs, listing Pop songs that could be Worship songs.  It started with 25 and turned in 50; honestly it was hard to stop there.  

It turned out to be my most popular post.

People love music.

This year I was inspired to write a similar blog when driving in the car with my wife.  I heard a Dave Matthews Band song and thought to myself, "that sounds like a book of the bible." 

After that moment my mind was racing thinking of songs and books of the Bible that could match in theme and style.  I mentioned this crazy blog idea to my wife and she loved it (always a good idea to listen to your wife) and on the car ride home from Philly to the Poconos all we talked about was books of the Bible and Rock songs.

Research for this musical series has brought a lot of excitement to my devotional life which at times can be pretty predicable and lacking inspiration.

We serve a creative God and creativity brings the Bible to life.

This look through the bible is an artistic approach and the ideas expressed are open to interpretation.  I understand that through the years Rock music has been seen as unbiblical, but hopefully you can see truth in the art and read in between the lines.

"Both read the Bible day and night, but thou read black when I read white." -William Blake
Rock of Ages: A Rock & Roll Look Thru the Bible: 

1. GENESIS  - Sympathy for the Devil : Rolling Stones
  • Taking a page from C. S. Lewis's Screwtape Letters, Mick Jagger's role of the narrator is from the Devil's perspective.  Interesting thing is that the word Devil is not mentioned in the song and Devil is not mentioned in the book of Genesis but you know that his influence is felt. The line "What's puzzling you is the nature of my game," is a brilliant observation that is throughout the first book of the bible from Eve and the fruit to Abraham and his missteps with Hagar.  Sympathy... is probably one of the most accurate descriptions of the Devil and also the most controversial. 

    2. EXODUS - People Get Ready : Curtis Mayfield
    • Written at the height of the Civil Rights Movement in 1965.  Mayfield pens an anthem that parallels the plight of the African-American in 1960s America with Jews in Exodus from Egypt to the Promise Land, with lyrics like "People get ready for the train to Jordan/ It's picking up passengers from coast to coast/ Faith is the key, open the doors and board 'em." As Moses transcends culture and time as a symbol of hope for people under oppression so does this timeless soulful song. 

      3.  LEVITICUS - I Fought the Law : The Clash
      • Leviticus is a book that focus on the Law and at first glance, may be be a book that is tedious in detail but underneath reveals a dynamic relationship between God and man.  I Fought the Law was originally written by Sonny Curtis in 1958.  The Clash version is the most popular and plays nicely against the backdrop of Moses as a character that has a punk rock spirit; and he of all people knows that the Law wins. 

        4. NUMBERS - We Didn't Start the Fire : Billy Joel
        • It is no mistake that Billy Joel's refrain of "We didn't start the fire, it was always burning since the world's been turning" has biblical illusions to the Old Testament.  The book of Numbers and the lyrics of We Didn't Start the Fire read like a phone book and at first glance can be overlooked but behind the names are powerful stories.  We may connect with the names that Billy Joel mentions but both are significant to God.  Interestingly enough Numbers and We Didn't Start the Fire cover a span of 40 years in history mixed with both despair and also hope. 

          5. DEUTERONOMY - Old Man : Neil Young   
          • Old Man was inspired by a conversation a youthful Neil Young had with an old ranch owner in regards to purchasing land.  Deuteronomy also focus on a transaction of "land" from an old Moses to a younger Joshua.  The lyrics of this song are haunting as the dialogue conveys imagery of hardship and testing but also promise and trust much like Moses' life.  The book ends with the death of Moses but there is also a sense of hope much like the tone that is throughout this poignant song. 

          Part 2 will focus on the next five books and songs covering Joshua to 2 Samuel. 


          1. this was totally cool! You ARE really creative :)

          2. Thanks for reading Dori... I love music and the bible so this has been fun to do.

          3. Hi there, I discovered your web site by the use of Google whilst searching for a comparable matter, your website came up, it appears great. I have bookmarked it in my google bookmarks.
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            1. Thanks Betty. I love music and i get inspired when I hear spiritual truthes in pop culture. (sorry it took so long to comment back my blogger was having issues)

          4. Hello

            I really enjoyed your selection. I converted and attended an Italian-American christian congregation in USA where most songs were traditional.

            When I moved to Sweden, I found amazing the Lutherans having services with songs like Coldplay, Leonard Cohen, U2.

            I think we must communicate the Message with all the means, and good secular music is one of the best.



            1. I agree Leo, great thoughts. We always open with a pop song in our church that fits message. That Lutheran church sounds pretty cool.