Thursday, April 12, 2007

Oh! Gravity

Recently, I wrote about the importance of listening to music that has a positive and uplifting message. Doing so is important for both young and older people alike. I mentioned that there are many bands that perform contemporary music but with a Christian message. Now I would like to discuss this subject in a little more detail.

A couple of weeks ago, I took my daughter Audrey to an oustanding concert by a Christian rock group named Switchfoot. Switchfoot released their first album in 1997, and for the first five years of their existence, they remained a little-known band, followed mainly in evangelical Christian circles. This changed after four of their songs were featured in the 2002 film A Walk to Remember. Soon the band was catapulted into national stardom, and their 2003 album The Beautiful Letdown sold 2.6 million copies. Since 2003, Switchfoot has achieved a good deal of crossover success, including five Billboard Top 40 singles and three Top 20 albums.

Switchfoot’s lyrics are seldom explicitly Christian, and they rarely mention God by name. Nonetheless, Christian themes and ideas permeate their songs. Common topics addressed in Switchfoot songs include the futility of materialism, our sinfulness (they use the terms “fallen” and “broken” rather than “sinful”), and the need to live our lives for something (or someOne!) more than ourselves. Switchfoot is often called a “thinking person’s band,” as their lyrics are often inspired by classic literary works as well as by Scripture. Rather than just preach the Gospel directly, their lyrics often employ a form of Socratic dialogue, posing questions about key life issues before ultimately arriving at an answer.

Here is an excerpt from “American Dream,” my favorite song on their new album Oh! Gravity:

When success is equated with excess,
The ambition for excess wrecks us.
As top of the mind becomes the bottom line,
When success is equated with excess.

If your time ain’t been nothing with money,
I start to feel really bad for you, honey.
Maybe honey, put your money where your mouth’s been running,
If your time ain’t been nothing but money.

I want out of this machine; it doesn’t feel like freedom.

This ain’t my American dream.
I want to live and die for bigger things.
I’m tired of fighting for just me.
This ain’t my American dream.

(Written by Jonathan Foreman, Copyright 2006, Publishing Schmublishing (ASCAP))

This song is a modern expression of biblical passages such as Matt. 6:19-34, Luke 12:15-34, and 1 Tim 6:6-10. Not only that, but it flat out rocks!

More on Switchfoot and other Christian bands tomorrow. May the Lord bless and keep you.


DebD said...

My husband and kids love Switchfoot too.

Larry M said...

Interesting! At the rehab center where I work, the new kids get mad because we have strong restrictions on music. I strongly believe that a lot of the lyrics with much of today's pop music inadvertently contribute to a negative mind set. Our family will have to check Switchfoot out. Thanks