Christian Views on Country Music

Welcome! This is the blog of DaveLoneRanger which entails only his commentary on country music, from a Christian conservative perspective. Thus, he takes a dim view of some songs many consider "staples" of country, such as drinking songs. Ye be warned.

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Thursday, June 21, 2007

Giving Alan Jackson His Dues

I couldn't continue blogging on country music from a Christian perspective without addressing Alan Jackson. Indeed, no discussion on current country music trends would be complete without some mention of Mr. Jackson.

Although there are few songs among Jackson's numerous singles that I enjoy, he is the one responsible for first introducing me to country music. It was shortly after September 11, and I was scanning the stations looking for something new. I suddenly tuned in "Where Were You (When the World Stopped Turning)" and had to stop, as this song struck a chord in me, as it did with all of us. Shortly thereafter, I began tuning in regularly to catch other country songs, and I've been a growing country music fan since.

After a few years, I'd caught up with a lot of what I'd missed, including some of Jackson's older singles. There were some that didn't appeal to me, but weren't necessarily bad either, such as "Chasing That Neon Rainbow" and "Don't Rock the Jukebox".

I loved the sound of "Midnight in Montgomery," although I've always wondered why the country music world is so enamored of a man like Hank Williams, renowned for his drinking and drug problems. All kinds of country music artists have recorded reverent tributes to him.

"Chattahoochee" is considered among one of Jackson's earliest popular songs, but again, another one that never appealed to me. In addition, lyrics in the song speak of fogging up car windows but "she wasn't ready" which is a shameful wink of the eye towards the careless fornication so prevalant in culture today.

Likewise, I wasn't impressed with "Summertime Blues," "Living on Love" and "Gone Country," although these songs continue to be aired today, showing that they are still popular.

"I Don't Even Know Your Name" may have been slightly amusing, but again, I've never enjoyed songs that take their humor from the drunken escapades spurred by alcohol.

By the time you get to "Little Bitty" and "Who's Cheating Who" and even "It Must Be Love" they all begin to have the same, and continue to lack appeal.

"Where I Come From" makes me want to tear my hair out, because every time Jackson sings "Where I come from tryin' to make a living, workin' hard to get to heaven, where I come from." For someone who would later release an album of "inspirational" hits, the lyric represents the grossest of spiritual misunderstandings. Romans makes it exceptionally clear that it's not by any works of man that we are able to enter heaven.

"Drive" is probably one of the first songs in Jackson's long line of singles that appealed to me, as it certainly will to anyone who was once young and unable to drive.

"It's Five O'Clock Somewhere" had some appeal, particularly with Jimmy Buffet joining the cast. Though one is forced to wonder how it can be "only half-past 12" and yet still be "five o'clock somewhere."

"Remember When" is absolute musical magic, with the accompanying bittersweet spirit of old age, blending both the morose and the golden into a tragic happiness of memory. It will certainly be some time before this song applies to me personally, but that doesn't mean I can't enjoy it.

"Too Much of a Good Thing" still lacked a catchy tune and variety on the scale, as did "Monday Morning Church," although the latter had more powerful lyrics (or at least mood) to help it along.

"The Talking Song Repair Blues" was the first catchy song that I could really enjoy. The lyrics were creative and clever, and the music video gave it an additional zing.

Jackson's latest two singles, however, fail to score high, both for me, and for the charts. "Like Red On A Rose" premiered on After Midnite, but the song was rather monotonous, and at times sort of confused. ("I love you like all little children love pennies"? I wasn't aware that all little children loved pennies!) The song pooped out on the charts at #18 -- a dismal performance for a brand-new single from Alan Jackson, the cowboy-hatted gentleman.

"A Woman's Life" maintains the same lack of imagination, and melodious variety that make a song worth listening to.

So while I owe Jackson his dues for first snaring me with his heart-jerking "Where Were You," there are times when I fail to see why this man remains a staple in country music.

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Josh Turner ('n God)

The first time I heard Josh Turner, it was a radio ad for the song/album "Long Black Train." Already considering myself somewhat of a country music aficionado, I heard words like "redemption" and "cling to the Father and His holy name" and thought the song would go nowhere. (I had similar impressions of "Jesus Take the Wheel." Clearly, I have a lot to learn.)

I was surprised (pleasantly!) to hear the song make it to mainstream, and rise as high as #13 on the charts. The song, while not varying as much as I like, had true spiritual meat imbedded in the lyrics. It puzzled me to liken sin to a train, but Josh explained in an interview with AfterMidnite's Blair Garner that it came to him in what he would describe as a vision.

Josh's deep, low voice resembled Johnny Cash, and definitely provided another trait to recommend himself for future fame.

His next single, "What it Ain't" did not fare so well; it failed even to make my local stations. Happily, the next song, "Your Man" was more successful. I have a tiny quarrel to pick with Josh about the music video on this song, since Josh was fiddling around with certain areas of the clothing on whomever was playing his significant other for the music video, and it struck me as a little inappropriate.

"Would You Go With Me" solidified Turner's place in the country music arena. The guitar-picking is incredible, and the song is quite catchy. Since joining the eschalon of iPod owners (it's actually not the Apple iPod itself, but it's a portable music player, and I'm happy with it), I've downloaded few songs, but "Would You Go With Me" was one of them.

Just recently, I went to YouTube to search for a music video for "Would You Go With Me" and found one had been posted...by Josh Turner! It turns out that there have been several profiles set up on YouTube for musical figures such as Josh Turner, Johnny Cash, Sugarland, George Strait, Willie Nelson and Shania Twain. Doubtless, not a profile maintained by the artists themselves, but still a nice touch for maintaining a presence among "regular folk."

Turner returns to his gospel roots once again with his latest single, "Me and God." When I first heard the song, I thought it might possibly be taking God a little too lightly, but hearing the song a few more times has lessened this impression somewhat. The song itself doesn't make it onto my favorites simply because the tune doesn't appeal to me.

Josh Turner is off to a great start on his country music career, and here's wishing him well for a bright and productive future.

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Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Gretchen Wilson: The Homeschooling Mom?

Gretchen Wilson Finishing Her GED For Personal Reasons - Star wants to homeschool daughter

One of the things Gretchen Wilson spoke about at the CMA Fest pre-Stadium concert this weekend was her effort to finally get her high school diploma through GED.

When we asked why that was important for her to do she said it was because she'd told somebody she would do it, she wants to be able to homeschool her daughter.

"It's always something I wanted to do and something I told someone I would do. I said it out loud to somebody and I'm one of those people that I do what I say I'm going to do. But, I think the reason it crept up on my right now is because we just started home schooling my daughter and I'm not eligible to be listed as an educator for her because I don't have a high school education or a GED. It's all her dad right now. I want to be a part of that and maybe, next year when I have my degree I'll be able to," Gretchen explained.


Very admirable of Ms. Wilson to take the initiative in completing her high school education, considering her very rough upbringing. One can certainly see the benefits of homeschooling during an aggressive touring schedule.

But sadly, as a Christian, it is hard to approve of the fact that this child was born out of wedlock. We hope that as Ms. Wilson straightens out her priorities, giving the child a stable living environment with two committed parents is one of them.

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