Skip to comments.The Hidden Supernova of Music (Did Christian references keep a rock band from making it big?)
Posted on 07/31/2012 12:30:09 PM PDT by HMS Surprise
I have an alter ego in the blogosphere. Here, its politics, but on Facebook I blog about popular music, usually leaning heavily towards rock and roll. And until a few days ago I never imagined that there would be any ideological cross-pollination to worry about. But then I had an epiphany
Ill start my little tale here- I blog about music to promote a fiction book that I wrote 3 years ago. The book is about a garage band from the early 70′s that was on the cusp of making it big, but then fell just short. I plot an improbable future success for the fictional band decades after they break up and go their seperate ways, and then have some fun as our heros revitalize and reenergize the sad state of contemporary music. Why is this relevant to the dicussion of culture and politics today? Wait for it
(Excerpt) Read more at teapartytribune.com ...
How many times were you planning to post this?
Alex Chilton was the driving force/ front man /songwriter of the “BOX TOPS”. He’s the guy you hear singing on “The Letter” and their other hits. “BIG STAR” wasn’t his first rodeo. And “Sweet Cream Ladies” doesn’t quite fit with the author’s narrative.
Furthermore, the list of excellent acts that got nowhere has to be as endless as a list gets, esp. since it's always growing. It's true in every field.
I think your draw to Big Star was that they were clever and confident promoters, like yourself.
Indeed - so much so, that Christian rock pioneer Larry Norman made a "mockumentory" LP on the subject:
Why would jimfunkyguy write this in his ‘about me’ bio;
Howdy, my name is Jim Funkhouser and I write almost as well as Sarah Palin (verified at 7th grade level).
& why is THAT on the Tribune site?
I smell a rat - oh! and there’s the nice mittens pop-ups there as well.
I have the CD of this LP. Spirit in the Sky is very nicely done. Although they are mocking the semantic mysticism of those trying to cash in on the religious theme, they treat the music decently. The recording and mixing is great.
How about Glass Harp?
More likely it was creative differences between Alex Chilton and Chris Bell.
My favorite is Larry's cover of Jackson Browne's "Song for Adam". I think it's better than the original.
I’ve heard of Big Star but couldn’t name a song.
looks like a cool project. I never got into larry norman, though I acknowledge he seems to have been an innovator in his particular niche, and played the role of iconoclast (as it were) with gusto. And back when I had friends that played his music for me, I thought “Let it Be” was blasphemy, too. But not anymore.
Larry Norman had a great song called Six O’Clock News:
Phil Keaggy. Saw him in 1980.
As for Larry Norman; I bought two tickets to see him and Randy Stonehill but the concert was cancelled due to lack of interest.
Sad but true.
It didn't keep them from, "making it big."
And if you dug a little deeper you would find that I penned at least ten apologetic articles praising Ms. Palin. Your sarcasm meter is set for stunned.
His “Spirit in the Sky” was hilarious and strangely compelling at the same time.
Yes, the “Song for Adam” was fabulous.
Three more times... at least. I need at least as many fans as the Facebook Page for Herpes Simplex.
Yeah, you caught me... Oh wait, did you check the ten articles I wrote praising Ms. Palin? Ooopsie.
I don’t disagree about U2 and many others besides. The difference is that U2’s references are subtle, Big Star’s more religious songs were not covert at all. And you’re assuming that I claim that ALL record companies did this. It could have been one person at Columbia, or I could be completely wrong. It’s simply my belief based on eliminating all other relevant factors.
The first album tanking was probably what caused the rift about band direction. Obviously both of them thought they had produced a pretty decent intial release. To see it sell a mere 10k copies must have been hard to accept. Much easier to accept if the product is crappy.
Titling a song, "Yahweh" is subtle? Or turning Psalm 40 into a song titled, "40" is subtle?
I'd hate to see what you call "overt"!
Your post makes my explanation more likely, not less likely. If there was indeed a sense that Jesus was to prevalent, or had become passe’, then a executive decision to stop distribution would seem even more likely. I arrived at my decision by eliminating possibilties. The music is solid, Rolling Stone doesn’t place a song that never sold on their top 500 list unless the circumstances are extraordinary.
Throwing out songs without context isn’t helpful. Once a band sells, it can do whatever it wants and sing whatever it wants. Bono is worth about 2 billion dollars (look it up). Of all of the U2 songs that get airplay I don’t detect anything but subtle references. It’s good stuff, and very artistic, and I love U2. But “Jesus round her neck” can be interpreted many different ways. Let’s suppose that U2 STARTED with the songs you mention... Think it would have been easier to convince the business side of the industry, or harder?
While they may not have "started" with it, by the release of October in 1981 (their second album), they were pretty solid in Christian, or at least spiritual imagery. It's pretty hard to claim anything subtle about the lyrics of "Gloria," which was one of the most popular songs on that album...
I try to sing this song
I...I try to stand up
But I can't find my feet
I try, I try to speak up
But only in you I'm complete
Gloria...in te domine
Oh Lord, loosen my lips
I try to sing this song
I...I try to get in
But I can't find the door
The door is open
You're standing there
You let me in
Gloria...in te domine
Oh Lord, if I had anything
Anything at all
I'd give it to you
I'd give it to you
Even Black Sabbath was there with After Forever. One of the best bands ever.
Did not inhibit the Doobie Brothers and they had a pretty big hit with “Jesus is just all right with me”.
The Byrds (who also recorded Jesus is just all right) also had a huge hit with a song with lyrics pulled from the Bible (by way of Pete Seeger).
Methinks there were other reasons for Big Star not making it big.
Jesus is just alright... Not exactly a ringing endorsement. I’ve examined all of the critques, and none have as of yet actually listened to the songs that Big Star sang which I would call pertinent to the instant case.
Actually I have listened to them, time and time again. A guy in my band is a huge Big Star/Alex Chilton fan.
Your thesis - at least so I thought - was that Christian references kept them from making it big. In fact it is the title of this thread. If we find other bands that also make Christian references AND they have made it big, it does speak to your thesis, don’t you think?
Here’s my final statement on the subject. I too have listened to Big Star and slowly uncovered their entire discography, including reading the lyrics, over the last two years. Their first album is all that is important here, because it was their best overall, and it was for better or worse the most likely launch pad for a career. I didn’t expect to find solidly conservative christian orthodoxy. “Jesus is just alright” yes, but what from my perspective was channeled from a Southern Bapist hymnal? Not. Regardless, I was surprised, pleasantly, but did not think it was a reason for their stunted success at that point. As I continued to uncover what I considered to be solid lyrical and melodic material I became more and more amazed, and confused. Could I be wrong, of course, because it’s obvious that I don’t quote any sources. It is simply my conclusion. Sorry it upsets you so much.
It might be a safer bet for you to consider that there’s someone on FReep that doesn’t know who you are - that you were the author.
My s-meter is stuned.
The snark is great in you, as is the touchiness of your ego.
I’m not sure all that time listening to “Jesus music’ has had much effect on you.
Heres my final statement on the subject. [snip] It is simply my conclusion. Sorry it upsets you so much.
What makes you think the musical opinions of an anonymous poster on an internet forum could even reach a place where upsets occur? A tad self important, doncha think?
I disagree with your thesis, find it rather shallow and completely unsupported. Hence my disagreement.
Great detective work. You were the last to know.
And weren’t you the one that concluded that I was anti-Palin. Many here would find that laughable. If you care to look, you’ll find all of my pro-Palin articles at teapartytribune. Check my tagline mate. Chris Christie earned it by rolling his eyes at the mention of S. Palin. Color me tragically befuddled.
Yes, it’s my main character flaw. (self-importance)
I was the last to know?
If your phone doesn’t ring, it’s me.
(sound of grey_whiskers purring!)
Note also the rumor that Ted Nugent supposedly said, "I don't know whatever happened to that Phil Keaggy. He could have saved the world with his guitar."
I *did* manage to track the Jimi Hendrix / Keaggy rumor as far back as (IIRC, it was many years ago) the Feb. '75 or Feb. '76 Saturday Evening Post...
Christian band The Seventy-Sevens were confidently predicted to be about to take both the secular and Christian rock world by storm, according to the guy who signed them...except that the label they signed on? Island Records -- which released U2's debut album just a little bit later.
As Rick Perry would say, "Oops."
(I saw him doing that clip live in 1981 outside of DC...; IIRC the E-bow came out in 1977 and he was using it on albums in 1978.)
(sound of grey_whiskers purring)
Nice! I first heard of Phil Keaggy in 1974 when someone at school gave me What a Day to listen to.