a rock and roll prayerbook...

I have been thinking for a long time about 100 great songs to start my rock and roll prayerbook. The categories would have to include celebration and lament, prophetic critique and personal faith as well as love, hate, birth, death and resurrection.

Right now - as I am in a waiting and encouraging place with both my wife (whose mother is rock and rolling after a stroke) and my congregation (as we keep at the work of renewal) - my soul FEELS like the Allman Brothers singing "Midnight Rider" with its slow country blues groove, sweet moaning harmonies, longing sense of uncertainty mixed with those incredible blues/rock guitar licks while Greg's Hammond B-3 keeps swirling and rolling under everything.

In a book I wrote for my doctoral dissertation (which I hope one day to publish) I identified 10 songs from five different eras of rock that spoke to the prophetic and grace-filled critique of our still speaking God. They included:

+ "Hound Dog" by Elvis Presley for its celebration of both sexual ecstasy and racial cooperation
+ "Roll Over Beethoven" by Chuck Berry for his joyful mixture of being taking on the role of Jester (jokester/holy fool) while blending country music with rhythm and blues years before the Civil Rights movement and integrating dance halls, too

+ "Subterranean Homesick Blues" by Bob Dylan for the way he added politics and beat poetry to Chuck Berry along with the jubilation of the Beatles
+ "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" by the Beatles for its fusion of spirituality, social lament and compassion
+ "What's Going On" by Marvin Gaye for bringing social protest and hope to Motown
+ "Bridge Over Troubled Waters" by Simon and Garfunkel for mixing lament with world/gospel music in a totally genre bending way
+ "Like a Prayer" by Madonna for her sensual spirituality and lament over racism
+ "Born in the USA" by Springsteen for bringing the anger of protest music into the stadium with a killer back beat
+ "Smells Like Teen Spirit" by Nirvana for its anguished cry from the underbelly of the American dream

+ "Angel" by Sarah McLaughlin for its mix of feminism, spirituality and longing
+ "Vertigo" by U2 for bringing the words of Satan in the garden into prime time culture

Each of these songs certainly do not fully define their decade and limiting my choices to 2 from each era was an artificial discipline: where's Hendrix? Zepplin? Zappa? the Clash? the Who? Smashing Pumpkins? Eels? Portishead? Jeff Buckley? Ani? I know, I know... and that's why I am starting to explore the 100 songs that might fill in a rock and roll prayer book. If you have any thoughts, drop me a note or leave a comment ok? I would really love to hear from you.


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