Blues/Rock Musician

Hello, I was wondering if someone could help me with something I have been struggling with for awhile. I have been discerning my vocation for the past 6 months or so looking into the priesthood and religious life. My original plan was to play music for a living and I’m starting to feel as though that is my true calling. I am still discerning of course. I have a natural talent for music, but my true passion is definitely for writing, I have been told I am a great lyricist. Bob Dylan is one of my biggest heroes and my musical style is somewhere between him and The White Stripes. I am a guitar player but I can play any stringed instrument I pick up. My question is, can a devout traditional Roman Catholic play blues/rock music? I feel that God has given me a natural ability to compose and write songs but if it is not permissible for me to play that style of music I am obliged to change. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks - Blake

[quote="silentrosary, post:1, topic:177378"]
Hello, I was wondering if someone could help me with something I have been struggling with for awhile. I have been discerning my vocation for the past 6 months or so looking into the priesthood and religious life. My original plan was to play music for a living and I'm starting to feel as though that is my true calling. I am still discerning of course. I have a natural talent for music, but my true passion is definitely for writing, I have been told I am a great lyricist. Bob Dylan is one of my biggest heroes and my musical style is somewhere between him and The White Stripes. I am a guitar player but I can play any stringed instrument I pick up. My question is, can a devout traditional Roman Catholic play blues/rock music? I feel that God has given me a natural ability to compose and write songs but if it is not permissible for me to play that style of music I am obliged to change. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks - Blake

[/quote]

Dear Blake,

What I would say is that even the most vocal exponents of rock and pop would freely admit that there is much in the rock scene to disturb any Christian conscience. It is a fact that a large percentage of rock songs contain in their lyrics blatantly un-Christian morality, ranging from casual acceptance of pre-marital sex to the unspeakably pornographic. As a devout Catholic I would strongly advise that you give this evil genre a very wide berth indeed, for it comes from an Augean stable of unimaginable filth and depravity. On a subject of such gravity one must not mince ones words or give an uncertain sound on the trumpet. St. Paul said, "...let us cleanse ourselves from every defilement of body and spirit, and make holiness perfect in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 7: 1). As Christians we have a searching responsibility to apply those principles to every aspect of our lives - including our musical tastes. Doing so may well call for a radical transformation in ones musical choices; it may well also call for a bonfire! (cf. Acts 19: 11-20).

If you feel that God has endowed you with a natural musical talent as a composer, then seek to channel that talent into some noble musical genre that will edify you and your audience, as well as glorify the God who has given you this gift.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

[quote="silentrosary, post:1, topic:177378"]
Hello, I was wondering if someone could help me with something I have been struggling with for awhile. I have been discerning my vocation for the past 6 months or so looking into the priesthood and religious life. My original plan was to play music for a living and I'm starting to feel as though that is my true calling. I am still discerning of course. I have a natural talent for music, but my true passion is definitely for writing, I have been told I am a great lyricist. Bob Dylan is one of my biggest heroes and my musical style is somewhere between him and The White Stripes. I am a guitar player but I can play any stringed instrument I pick up. My question is, can a devout traditional Roman Catholic play blues/rock music? I feel that God has given me a natural ability to compose and write songs but if it is not permissible for me to play that style of music I am obliged to change. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks - Blake

[/quote]

You will find no condemnation of rock music in any ecclecial documents. It is perfectly acceptable for a good Catholic to listen to and/or play this type of music (provided it is done so with the usual level of discernment for any activity). So rock on, brother! ;)

It goes without saying (but I'll say it anyway) that we avoid any immoral trappings that some people foist upon the genre. But there is no need to write off the entire genre as "evil" because of the mistakes of some rock "stars". I see nothing inherent to the music itself that will inevitably lead any and all people away from Christ.

I know Portrait disagrees. We've had a similar discussion before in another thread. (Hi Portrait! :wave:) So I'm sure you'll get both perspectives in this thread.

You can absolutely play any type of music you wish. I will caution you as a fellow musician, that creating a career out of it can be quite an endeavor. (I have chosen not to pursue a career in music.) Make sure that you consider all of your options. Do you want to start your own group? Do you want to be a studio musician?
I’m assuming that you are a teenager based on your post–if that is the case, take advantage of the resources available to you–guidance counselors, music teachers, etc.
Good luck, and remember–there’s always someone practicing harder than you and ready to take your spot if you don’t jump for it! :thumbsup:

Blues has its roots in ‘negro spirituals’, which were intended to be expressions of faith. Many blues and even ‘modern’ blues/rock bands demonstrate their descendancy from this in their lyrics. For example, the still-touring Allman Brothers are known for their rendition of the late T-Bone Walker’s song Stormy Monday in which they sing: “Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy on me. Lord have mercy, my heart’s in misery.” So yes, I think blues and blues/rock can be a great expression of heartfelt emotion, a faith in particular.

[quote="Havard, post:5, topic:177378"]
Blues has its roots in 'negro spirituals', which were intended to be expressions of faith. Many blues and even 'modern' blues/rock bands demonstrate their descendancy from this in their lyrics. For example, the still-touring Allman Brothers are known for their rendition of the late T-Bone Walker's song Stormy Monday in which they sing: "Lord have mercy, Lord have mercy on me. Lord have mercy, my heart's in misery." So yes, I think blues and blues/rock can be a great expression of heartfelt emotion, a faith in particular.

[/quote]

Dear Havard,

The original blues singers also rejected the Christian faith as part of a hostile white culture, and placed a heavy emphasis on the pleasure of this world, particularly the enjoyment of illicit sex; heaven if it existed, was to be peopled with dancing girls! Moreover the blues poets insisted that no other love can compare with the love that comes either before or outside of marriage. Some "expressions of faith"!; more like expressions of licentiousness and irreligion.

These examples alone surely serve to remind us of one simple fact - that in all cultures one must expect to find an underlying trend of values that are not just sub-Christian but downright anti-Christian. Man is fallen, and his falleness comes to the surface in every age, in every country and in every part of his culture. Indeed it is all part of what Sacred Scripture means when it says, 'All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God' (Romans 3: 23) and my italics underscore the fact that man's falleness is very much a continuing reality.

Warmest good wishes

Portrait

Greetings to you Joe 5859 - think I have just about recovered from that last debate!

The blues that I have enjoyed for years has never espoused such ideas. Sex isn’t even hinted at in most songs, and the very few that I can think of that could be perceived as hinting at sex don’t say anything about it being extramarital. On the other hand, God is commonly invoked in the songs, typically from the standpoint of reaching out to the Lord for strength and mercy. In a nutshell, what you describe sounds nothing like the music I enjoy.

[quote="silentrosary, post:1, topic:177378"]
Hello, I was wondering if someone could help me with something I have been struggling with for awhile. I have been discerning my vocation for the past 6 months or so looking into the priesthood and religious life. My original plan was to play music for a living and I'm starting to feel as though that is my true calling. I am still discerning of course. I have a natural talent for music, but my true passion is definitely for writing, I have been told I am a great lyricist. Bob Dylan is one of my biggest heroes and my musical style is somewhere between him and The White Stripes. I am a guitar player but I can play any stringed instrument I pick up. My question is, can a devout traditional Roman Catholic play blues/rock music? I feel that God has given me a natural ability to compose and write songs but if it is not permissible for me to play that style of music I am obliged to change. Any help would be much appreciated. Thanks - Blake

[/quote]

Yes there are many Catholic rock artists.

Tom Araya from Slayer is the guy we Christian metalheads look up to, hes Catholic. Um the dude from Type O Negative is Catholic. Other than that I know Dave Mustaine from Megadeth and Brian Head Welch of Korn are born again Christians (Head is Pentacostal I believe). I'm sure you can find many Catholic and Protestant artists from the rock scenes, I just happen to know them all from metal because thats where I'm most comfortable.

But yea man rock music is totally acceptable if you lift it up for the glory of God. Some of the most amazing worship songs I've ever heard sounded like the Who or the Stones. And even if your not into worship music (because it does get stale after awhile), secular songs with a good message are basically the same thing imo.

Yea so dont listen to the naysayers, do what God and your heart tells you to do, if thats to be a priest or be the next Judas Priest, I throw my horns to you and God bless!

That reminds me of a quote from Muddy Waters, someone asked him “what do you have to do to play the blues” he replied " you have to go to church". Also most of the blues songs I’ve heard that reference sex are about women cheating on them. There are definitely some raunchy blues songs though. Robert Johnsons “Traveling Riverside Blues” has that famous line. From what I have seen the blues is about suffering and dealing with temptation.

I’m 19 and if I was going to do anything I would try to be a solo artist. Thanks for the advice.

Is folk music permissible? I think you would be hard pressed to find something immoral in Bob Dylan’s lyrics even when he’s playing rock. Fr. Robert Barron called him a “spiritual poet” and did a spiritual analyisis of his most “rockish” song “Like a Rolling Stone”.

Dear Blake,

One would not be barely able to find something disquieting in the lyrics of Bob Dylan songs. For example, in ‘Rainy Day Woman’ he advocated ‘getting stoned’, while his world famous ‘Mr Tambourine Man’ has been refered to as “the best of the drugs songs” (* A *Generation in Motion, D. Pichaske). Not immorality, but something just as bad as.

Interestingly, during the Vietnam War in the 1960’s, the U.S. Government wanted to send a top rock group to entertain the troops, but had possible groups screened first to ensure that they were clear of drugs. The plan had to be abandoned becuase a ‘clean’ group could simply not be found. Sadly the rock scene, as every impartial observer knows fully well, is drenched in drugs. Moreover, if proof were required there is the tragic list of those who have met with an early death as a result of drugs; with Jimi Hendrix, Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison, Al Wilson, Gram Parsons, Gary Thain, Vinnie Taylor, Keith Moon, Tommy Bolin, Robbie McIntosh, Sid Vicious and Lowell George among them.

Now does all of this sit comfortably with our most holy faith? As Christians who are pursuing holiness and separation from godless and corrupting influences, we will surely wish to avoid the dark world of rock music like the plague, for it is a deadly contagion that will, in time, defile us and be the occasion of much anguish of soul - “Can a man carry fire in his bosom and his clothes not be burned” (Preverbs 6: 27). Let us withdraw our foot from the forbidden path whilst we still can; to heedlessly rush into that which is sinful is to provoke the corruption which is, owing to our fallen natures, all too ready to stir itself.

Warmest good wishes and prayers,

Portrait

Yea Bob Dylan is really good. Like Metallica has alot of Christian overtones to there songs, as does Iron Maiden and In Flames. Hell they can even be found in some Marilyn Manson songs.

What I’m trying to say its not the music itself that makes it bad, or even the people playing it, but usually the lyrics can get you in trouble. But even there its open to interpertation, except in extreme cases like Deicide (they got a song called Death to Jesus if you get my drift).

And Portrait, so what if they did drugs? The Beatles did plenty of drugs, and they wrote Let It Be. Lars from Metallica did coke but he wrote Nothing Else Matters. Its not the person who writes the music, but the music itself.

Dear RedIvan3,

You cannot drive a wedge between the composer and the music - “for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of evil treasure brings forth evil” (St. Matt. 12: 34-35). Clearly what a composer writes reveals the state of his heart and accounts for the words he speaks or writes. The utter filth and drug induced bilge-water that rock musicians have churned out reveal only too well the state of their morally depraved hearts.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

[quote="Portrait, post:14, topic:177378"]
Dear RedIvan3,

You cannot drive a wedge between the composer and the music - "for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. The good man out of his treasure brings forth good, and the evil man out of evil treasure brings forth evil" (St. Matt. 12: 34-35). Clearly what a composer writes reveals the state of his heart and accounts for the words he speaks or writes. The utter filth and drug induced bilge-water that rock musicians have churned out reveal only too well the state of their morally depraved hearts.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

[/quote]

Then I guess the guys in Metallica are some of the greatest Christian musicians ever then, as are the other I mentioned.

And dude, sit down and listen to "Orion" by Metallica or listen to the drumwork on "Slaying the Prophets of Isa" by Behemoth or even hear Bruces vocals on "The Longest Day" by Iron Maiden. This isnt garbage, its amazing music that can convey so much emotion and energy. Dismissing it as garbage is the equvilent to decrying Dickens as garbage because you dont like the way he writes.

Dear RedIvan3,

There is really no equation between a literary genius like Charles Dickens and any number of rock artists that you might care to mention, why the very suggestion that there might be is risible.

Notwithstanding vehement denials to the contrary, rock music is communication without words, irrespective of what idealogy/lyrics are inserted into the music. The words merely inform one what the music already says, in other words the music is its own message and it can completely change the message of the words themselves. Rock music is simply rock music and not just some pliable medium that can be bent in any direction. It is an art form that has been created to express certain anti-Christian philosphies and is so wedded to those philosophies that they convey that world-view by default as it were; one simply cannot plug in some Christian lyrics and thereby make everything healthy, wholesome and sound.

Moreover, it is impossible to change the basic effect of certain kinds of rhythm and beat simply by appending to them a few religious words or semi-religious words. The beat will still filter through to the blood of the performers and their hapless audience. Words are timid things; decibles are bold things which can all too easily bury the words under an avalanche of sound.

However unpopular or unwelcome this may sound, the plain truth is that we cannot play or listen to rock music without the danger of getting ourselves befouled by its immoral associations - the music is its own message. This reason alone is enough to indict it. Whilst rock music conveys many deplorable and deleterious messages, if there is one message that does condemn it then it is the message of sexual permissiveness and depravity. Indeed one could say that this is rock music’s distinguishing feature.

As Christians engaged in daily spiritual conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil we need to guard the gate of our hearts and minds from evil influences. As someone has wisely said if you are not on guard against evil you will be influenced by evil.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

With all due respect, do you ever do any sort of research at all? There were just as many early Gospel musicians as secular blues musicians playing the same style of music, but with Christian lyrics. And if you read interviews from 60s blues-rock musicians like Eric Clapton or Jimi Hendrix, they cite Gospel musicians as major influences just as frequently as they cite secular blues musicians.

Protrait, I’d really like to think you have good intentions. But honestly, you are acting like a troll, in the forum-speak sense of the word. You keep posting the same controversial assertions in multiple threads while automatically dismissing what others post instead of logically refuting their points.

If everyone else would like the short version of what we’ve gone through, read through this thread: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=395089

[quote="CTA1967, post:18, topic:177378"]
Protrait, I'd really like to think you have good intentions. But honestly, you are acting like a troll, in the forum-speak sense of the word. You keep posting the same controversial assertions in multiple threads while automatically dismissing what others post instead of logically refuting their points.

If everyone else would like the short version of what we've gone through, read through this thread: forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=395089

[/quote]

Dear CTA1967,

Greetings to you once again and thankyou for your responses.

By way of reply let me say at the outset that you are quite correct in stating that I am motivated by a benevolent desire to steer people away from the evil influences of rock music - what the Holy Father has termed the "cult of the banal" - and I make no apology for that.

My position is, of course, only controversial and unsettling to those who profoundly disagree with my standpoint on this issue, it clearly would not be to a fellow exponent with the same sentiments as my own. However, this would be applicable to almost any hotly debated topic where men entertain widely differing viewpoints and where feelings inevitably run high, for example, homosexualty, Pro-Life issues and the death penalty, but this is surely to be expected in a fallen world such as ours. Indeed we know this is so simply by scrolling through the threads on CAF where these issues are regularly debated.

As I have said on previous occaions, whilst I may not necessarily give a blow by blow rebuttal of every single point that a disputant makes, I do believe that I adduce sufficient evidence for my own case which is both cogent and persuasive. Now I quite understand that people may reject that evidence, dissect it and contend that it does not stand up to scrutiny and that is, needless to say, their perogative. However, it is my belief that I have marshalled sufficient evidence to demonstrate that rock music comes from an Augean stable of unimaginable filth and depravity and that the music itself conveys its own message. True this may be unpopular, unwelcome or controversial, call it what you will, neverthless I am free to argue my position as you are yours and to refute it in "multiple threads" if I feel that I have right on my side.

As regards Jimi Hendrix, apparently the 'major' gospel influences were not major enough as they did not prevent him from meeting an early death as a result of drug abuse. I rest my case.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

[quote="Portrait, post:16, topic:177378"]
Dear RedIvan3,

There is really no equation between a literary genius like Charles Dickens and any number of rock artists that you might care to mention, why the very suggestion that there might be is risible.

Notwithstanding vehement denials to the contrary, rock music is communication without words, irrespective of what idealogy/lyrics are inserted into the music. The words merely inform one what the music already says, in other words the music is its own message and it can completely change the message of the words themselves. Rock music is simply rock music and not just some pliable medium that can be bent in any direction. It is an art form that has been created to express certain anti-Christian philosphies and is so wedded to those philosophies that they convey that world-view by default as it were; one simply cannot plug in some Christian lyrics and thereby make everything healthy, wholesome and sound.

Moreover, it is impossible to change the basic effect of certain kinds of rhythm and beat simply by appending to them a few religious words or semi-religious words. The beat will still filter through to the blood of the performers and their hapless audience. Words are timid things; decibles are bold things which can all too easily bury the words under an avalanche of sound.

However unpopular or unwelcome this may sound, the plain truth is that we cannot play or listen to rock music without the danger of getting ourselves befouled by its immoral associations - the music is its own message. This reason alone is enough to indict it. Whilst rock music conveys many deplorable and deleterious messages, if there is one message that does condemn it then it is the message of sexual permissiveness and depravity. Indeed one could say that this is rock music's distinguishing feature.

As Christians engaged in daily spiritual conflict with the world, the flesh and the devil we need to guard the gate of our hearts and minds from evil influences. As someone has wisely said if you are not on guard against evil you will be influenced by evil.

Warmest good wishes,

Portrait

[/quote]

Ah yes, the infamous 'evil beat' arguement. The beat in most rock songs can be found in other types of music, like opera. Also, in Nothing Else Matters by Metallica, the same beat is used that can be found in other, more sexually charged songs like Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard. Nothing Else Matters is a wonderful, slow song that reminds me of the Lord. I literally pray with it. Not very evil imo.

Also I compared Dickens because Dickens was a master of his medium, as rock musicians are masters of theres. To reject true art when it comes is like throwing out a great literary masterpiece.

And also Portrait, I warn you againest making blanket statements about all genres of music, for instance I dont like hip hop, but I admit alot of the underground hip hop artists are extremely talented. Saying all rock is evil is like saying all Germans in WWII were Nazis. Simply not true.

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