Thursday, April 07, 2011
Community Ideas on Inspiring, Secular Music
Some time ago Don Wharton wrote a piece on John Lennon and how he got over god (http://secularhumanist.blogspot.com/2011/04/how-john-lennon-got-done-with-all-god.html).
As part of my response to that piece I discussed Lennon's very secular song Image which I thought captures some of his movement away from religion. John Lennon talked to others about how he softened the narrative in Imagine to get a deep message across. He said:
"Imagine was an anti-religious, anti-nationalistic, anti-conventional, anti-capitalistic song, but because it is sugar coated, it's accepted."
I mentioned that I'd be interested in hearing other people's favorite candidates for a family of broadly secular/humanist songs. These could atheist, but I take a song like Image to have a broader message than that and providing a richer mix of humanist values.
One response to my comment from arensb provided some of his favorite secular tunes:
"the most-played song my collection is X-Fusion's Anorexia Nervosa, followed by Colourbox's Hot Doggie, neither of which have anything to do with religion, and are therefore secular. "
In the atheist/anti-theistic track arensb added many more. These are reproduced below, since not everyone may have seen these, starting with:
"As far as atheist/antitheist music goes, Imagine is in my top ten, along with XTC's Dear God and Depeche Mode's Blasphemous Rumours (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gDlQKhdo2eQ) , and John Butler's Hand of the Almighty (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XLwtqwnI6ko).
X-Fusion's Dear God (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcLBz373dU8) begins with Al Pacino's lovely rant from The Devil's Advocate (X-Fusion has a lot of antitheistic titles). And Pink Floyd's Sheep includes a parody of the 23d Psalm, with lines like "He maketh me to hang on hooks in high places / He converteth me to lamb cutlets".
Let Me Be Your Armor by Assemblage 23 (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8Ampn-5hcZg) is about antidepressants, but I find that it works equally well as a commentary on religion."
Thanks to arensb this is a great start and I wonder if others out there have things to suggest. I'd be glad to hear of favorites.
It may be different for others, but tend to think of secular-humanist songs by season. So in the winter time we have songs about the dark and cold. So we celebrate warmth and light etc. Parenthetically the way humorist Garrison Keillor put it:
"Celebrate Yule instead or dance around in druid robes for the solstice. Go light a big log, go wassailing and falalaing until you fall down."
I don't dance in druid robes, but one song that takes on the season in a secular way (but also the psychological cold and darkness in religious hypocracy) is Jackson Browne's The Rebel Jesus (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PEC7d5jbAbo). After all, Xmas is somewhat of a secular holiday as we hear in Religious people's complaints in secular celebrations as well as it being philosophically a day dedicated to the idea of "peace on earth and good will towards men".
Xmas just happens to coincide with a historical religious holiday and in this it has an evolution something like what happened with Halloween. Celebrations evolve and parts of culture like music goes with them. It might be nice to have a WASH group of favorite songs for our Winter Light celebration in December.
Spring songs are full of the promise of hope in nature. Around this time of year one of Michael Jackson's last works come to mind. Earth Song (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XAi3VTSdTxU) is a bit of lament about what we have done to nature and while it include a religious reference it might be seen as a side-ways complaint about the lack of balanced respect for the natural world.
Other secular songs are protest songs like Imagine. They celebrate freedom and point out the problems of society from a humanist stance. Jackson Browne's "For America" is one cautionary story along this line. It has a reflective narrative for patriotic days like the 4th of July. Another type of song might be one used at secular weddings. I had a pretty neutral song, again from the Beatles, for mine -Here Comes the Sun which captures the idea of a new, sunny life to celebrate.
But I'm sure that the community has many other favorites that good generate a good repository of music to reflect on.