Friday, April 3, 2015

A Catholic Themed Rock Playlist for Easter

Part of my absolute disdain for some of the music that I have heard played at Mass in the past few years stems not necessarily from a dislike of irreverent pop and rock songs, but from the simple fact that I hear enough of said music in my spare time to know that they have no place at the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. 

That's not to say that rock or pop music are altogether full of badness otherwise. Even the most decadent of sinners can still reach out for God from the depths of their despair and nihilism. 

Here's a list of 12 (like the Apostles, any good playlist or album should be capped at a dozen) songs that are related to Catholics themes to listen to this Easter weekend. Some of are obviously more loosely connected than others least it is better to have them in your earphones whilst walking around than the icing on an already most likely offensive Novus Ordo cake. 

For any Catholics who are fans of rock music, this just shows you don't need to be headbanging to blasphemy to enjoy the genre. 

1. Velvet Underground - Jesus 

Just like his buddy Andy Warhol, who was fairly serious about being a practicing Eastern Catholic believe it or not, Lou Reed has his moments of desperation of seeking to escape decadence of the 1960s to connect with God. This haunting song pleads Jesus help me find my proper place. 

2. Nirvana - They Hung Him On A Cross

Kurt Cobain's sad end in life masks the fact that this was a young man in his 20s who might yet have figured out how to be happy in himself had he lived to a proper age and abstained from drugs. In his late teens, he went through a brief phase of practising a loose form of born again Christianity. This cover of a Leadbelly song is standard Cobain punk folk territory.
3. Johnny Cash - God's Gonna Cut You Down 

Johnny Cash is still known as a God fearing real life John Wayne character. One of his last recordings hangs the threat of hell over a whole range of sinners.

4. Johnny Cash - The Man Comes Around 

Having lived a life of debauchery before converting to Christianity, one of Cash's favoured themes (as you can guess) is hell. The book of Revelation is evoked in this haunting folk song from the last album released while he was alive. Hear the trumpets, hear the pipers, one hundred million angels singing, multitudes are marching. He nearly sounds happy to see the end of evil.

5. U2 - 40 

It's U2, singing the words of Psalm 40. Enjoy. 

6. Sonic Youth - Theresa's Sound World 

Pioneers of alternative rock singing about St. Teresa of Avila? Strange as it may seem here it is...

7. Kanye West - Jesus Walks

Yes, THAT Kanye once had a likeable streak. His career has been a slow decline from that of a Christian rapper emphasising his difference to misogynistic, gun toting gangsta rap to that of a narcissistic fodder agent for tabloids. Still, this early single declares that We at war with ourselves as we walk through the valley of the shadow of death. If only he could go back and listen to his old lyrics as he claims God show me the way cos the Devil's tryna break be down.

8. Pearl Jam - Sometimes 

Seek my part devote small a book amongst the many on a shelf. A token of humility before the Almighty from the normally agnostic Seattle grungers. Sometimes I reach to myself...dear God.

9. The Beatles - Let it Be 

Some people will point out Paul McCartney saying that this song is about his mother and not the Virgin Mary. But a cradle Catholic who sings about Mother Mary is only singing about one thing.

10. Cranberries - Salvation 

This anti-drug anthem by the Irish rock band deals with wider issues of faith. Salvation is real we are told, with conviction.  

11. Bruce Springsteen - Jesus Was an Only Son 

Bruce is one of those special kind of American Catholics who loves his faith, but has no issue campaigning for pro-abortion President Barack Obama. Still, this moving song from his 2005 album Devils and Dust is a reflection on Christ's childhood and Mary's view on His crucifixion. 

12. Gaslight Anthem - Biloxi Parish

Is this a strictly religious song? Lead singer Brian Fallon has always stated that despite being a Christian (though he didn't specify what denomination) he doesn't write religious songs because the rest of the band are not that way inclined. Still, after contemplating how nothing truly matters that you cannot find for free this haunting chorus asks I'll be with you through the dark so that you do not go through the dark alone, who else can say that about you baby who else can say that about you now? Who else can take all your blood and your curses?

If you're a fan of rock music I'm sure you'll enjoy this playlist, if probably won't...either way, Happy Easter. 

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