What music are we allowed to listen to?


#1

I feel like I can’t listen to anything besides Christian/Catholic music (not that it’s a bad thing) ,because there’s a lot of music out there that contains so many bad messages/words etc. is it okay to listen to music that has been made “clean”??? Some songs just get stuck in my head and I love the song but there’s some parts that aren’t very Christian so…


#2

Be discerning and approach with caution, but, yes, you can listen to something other than or in addition to music with the label “Christian” or “Catholic.” I owned a record store for many years, so you can imagine that I had accumulated a pretty good collection, but when I came back to the Church, and especially when I became a dad, I realized that a whole lot of those records had to go. No more ZZ Top (sorry, boys, your music is great but the lyrics tend to be degrading), Rolling Stones (Exile on Main Street was really hard to let go of, but the lyrics turn degrading right from the start), Velvet Underground…a lot of stuff. There is still stuff that is tolerable and, I think, acceptable. I’ve been listening to Los Lobos for a long time, and they have managed to be (I think) one of the greatest bands of all time while still making music you can listen to with your child in the car or the room (their “Tin Can Trust” album even has a song about Our Lady of Guadalupe). A good bit of Dylans stuff still holds up, a lot of Tom Waits is safe (and interesting), Dire Straits and Mark Knopfler solo stuff, maybe the Decemberists, my kid likes Of Monsters and Men, there’s old Fairport Convention, and, of course, U2 if you like them. I’ve been into bluegrass music for a long time, and most of that is 100% a-ok, and there’s all sorts of interesting “world” music, lots of different types of jazz (gypsy jazz a la Django Reinhardt is a favorite), classical (love me some classical guitar, Segovia, David Russell, Julian Bream)…it’s out there, but, as I said, approach with caution, be discerning, though beware of scrupulosity.
That’s my five cents.


#3

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=13588

Music falls under the same guidelines as film in this AAA thread. Be at peace.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=16612

I’ve gotten that from this, by the way.


#4

You’re allowed to listen to the rock album Pope Francis released. Yes, it’s a legit rock album. No, it’s not a hoax. In fact, you can listen to the album stream online for free:

theguardian.com/music/2015/nov/26/pope-francis-wake-up-exclusive-album-stream

You’re also allowed to listen to the Soundcloud of the album here:
zumic.com/music-videos/203006/wake-up-go-go-forward-pope-francis-soundcloud-official-audio-stream/


#5

Why no more Velvet Underground? There’s a long-standing joke about how only a dozen or so people bought the album “Velvet Underground & Nico,” but those dozen people all started bands. There’s a pretty short list of ‘unacceptable’ VU tracks…I could see no “Heroin,” but no “I’ll Be Your Mirror”? How are those lyrics unacceptable?


#6

I thought acceptable “pop” music pretty much ended with the Beach Boys, but maybe that’s just me.


#7

What? I thought Catholics were allowed to listen to Western European music from 1640-1820, originating from Venice, Salzburg and Vienna ONLY? :D:D:D


#8

I’ve heard it said before–at a Catholic youth conference years ago–that no music is sinful to listen to, but that we should still be careful what we listen to because it can influence us.

A priest I asked about this one time though, said that some music is sinful to listen to. He didn’t specify on the music, but I would say, that music with excessively vulgar language should be avoided (like this terrible song I was shocked to overhear someone listening to one day in high school. It was a graphic rap song about a woman being raped.)

Personally, as a general rule, I do not listen to music with sexual lyrics and there are VERY few exceptions. Anyone who struggles with chastity should try and avoid songs with sexual lyrics when they can, or at the very least, limit those songs to a bare minimum and certainly not listen to a song that is only about sex.

Also, it should be a no-brainer, but lyrics that are obviously of Satanic worship should be avoided. If such a song is in a horror movie though, I’d say it’s fine to still watch it, though you could turn the volume off during the music, if you are watching it at home (I mean, if you recognize it as such, or it’s giving you chills or the creeps. Chances are it’s in muffled Latin.) I’d say it’s the same with music of worship of any false god.

If you feel like any music is drawing you away from God, than I would say that should be avoided.


#9

Why would anyone want to listen to any music except Mozart – some of Mozart’s music is so beautiful it brings tears to my eyes!!!


#10

Hahaha ok a lot of these replies were funny, but thank you all


#11

It’s not a matter of taste but content. Is it beautiful or funny or minus the cussing, the swear words, disrespect for women, glorification of violence? I would say most music from 1963 to before, minus sexually suggestive material and anything that contained “code words” or slang for immoral material. Music filled with love, romance, respect and so on. I listened to a lot of Motown. I rarely listened to the Classics but used to hear it when walking into the record store.

Ed


#12

I listen to all kinds of music; classical, country, pop, rock, electronic, rap, hip hop etc.


#13

No doubt, they had some great songs, but I couldn’t see myself playing “I’m Waiting for My Man” or “Black Angel’s Death Song” or “Sister Ray”…while my daughter is playing in the room. VU meant a lot to me in my younger days, but I was a lot more involved with music and a lot less involved with the Church (read: not at all involved with the Church, except as a barstool critic) back then. With a band like VU, it goes beyond lyrics, too. Some of their music, as you note, has a sort of beauty to it, but, even back then, I found a lot of it unpleasant, unsettling, and even unlistenable. As a sidebar, I’ve read that Mo Tucker still faithfully attended Mass even while she was playing with VU; perhaps Andy Warhol accompanied her at times.
A lot of things were hard to give up, but I found uneasiness in having them around and peace in getting rid of them. I was given a pretty long leash in my youth, mostly to my ultimate detriment, and there are just things to which I don’t want my child exposed without the critical faculties to separate the musical wheat from the chaff. It’s tough riding herd, but it’s crucial. We heard “My Silver Lining” by First Aid Kit on the radio and bought the CD; fortunately my wife and I read ahead on the lyrics sheet to see the F-bomb coming up just a couple of tracks later. There is a very popular local rapper here in town who I very much admire because early on, he made a point of saying he won’t use profanity simply because there are so many other words he can use to get his point across.
All that said, I still have plenty of great music to listen to, some new, mostly old. It’s hard to go wrong with Bill Frisell.


#14

It isn’t just the lyrics but the music itself. I had a coworker once who noticed how his kids reacted to hard rock music. They basically got a bit agitated and started bouncing around.

For more popular music I mostly listen to bluegrass, older folk music, and older country music these days. The lyrics can be about some serious matters. Generally the moral message if there is one is on the side of good morals.

Since you brought up Velvet Underground and Heroin what do we do with the classic Soldiers Joy? This is typically just played as an instrumental. But the song and name as I understand it are about using morphine. Is the song OK only as an instrumental? Is the nature of the genre such that we can simply appreciate the lyrics for its historicity?


#15

That’s a good question. As many times as I’ve heard and played that tune, I’ve never felt a craving for morphine. There are some people who get into playing old-time music and seem to romanticize the moonshiner/whiskey drinking aspect of it and adopt that as a lifestyle, just as there are people who get into the Rolling Stones and adopt Keith Richards as some sort of a role model (I’ve been guilty of doing both in the past, and have often wondered how many people have died trying to be Keith Richards).
As far as the Velvet Underground, et. al., I don’t believe that listening to their music will necessarily hamper your spiritual life, but I was thinking about this discussion while driving home from the store last night, and I thought about what St. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 6:12 “For me everything is permissible’; maybe, but not everything does good. True, for me everything is permissible, but I am determined not to be dominated by anything.”


#16

Lou Reed was one of the performers at the Vatican. He could have played “Perfect Day,” for all we know:

“The line-up of Reed, Alanis Morissette and the Eurythmics was agreed by the 79-year-old pontiff, but he will leave before they come on stage. The show was going ahead on the understanding that it would convey a religious message, said a Vatican spokesman.”
Source: theguardian.com/world/2000/apr/29/catholicism.religion

And speaking of that song (“Perfect Day”), it’s well-documented that not only was someone at the Vatican a fan of that song, he also had his admirers at the Vatican who mourned his loss:
Source: vanityfair.com/culture/2013/10/pope-francis-lou-reed-obituary


#17

Has anyone listend to music by SIA. I have just discovered 2 of her songs, and although I do avoid pop music, anything really that I think is questionable, I have taken an extreme love of 2 songs by her: Chandelier and Elastic Heart. The video’s also have just moved my so much, and I like SIA. I admire her for not wanting to be “just another pop star.”
My hang-up is this: these 2 songs are all I can think about, they have just really touched my heart, so I feel like this must be bad if I am just so in love with a song…?? Thats just kind of dumb right? I have always loved music, and am sort of a musician/artist.
But I have 7 children, and am worried that I am going to introduce them to something bad…What are your thoughts? Do you know these songs and if so, what do you think?
Thanks!
:shrug:


#18

Some call that phenomenon “dancing.” It’s been known to affect people without regard for age, race, ethnicity, or sex. Although its prevalence tends to decline as people age, older people often complain that younger people affected by “dancing” aren’t doing it right and don’t know what they’re missing by listening to today’s music.


#19

I don’t want to come across as an old fogey, but the sense of “morality” in music really took a nosedive over the past 10-12 years. It’s really surprising once you start to pay attention.

That being said, there’s a “band”/production called something like Kids Pop that remakes pop songs minus the objectionable lyrics. The youngsters kind of roll their eyes at it because it’s sanitized, but the music is really almost indistinguishable from the originals


#20

Music is OK, but does not come close to the silence and solitude that elevates the soul.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.