Tuesday, December 09, 2014

THE JUKEBOX HERO HYMNAL: Hymn 004: Faith by The Violent Femmes

Nothing ambiguous here. When the Violent Femmes weren’t singing about teenage rebellion, the frustration of not being able to find someone to have sex with or, perhaps, masturbation (the band denies that last one), they were pretty much expounding on singer and lyricist Gordon Gano’s Christian beliefs in songs like “Faith.” As a minister’s son, Gano had obviously heard a few of the Psalms as a kid.
“Praise the Lord, my soul; I will praise the Lord all my life, sing praise to my God while I live. Put no trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save. Who breathing his last, returns to the earth; that day all his planning comes to nothing. Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord, his God.” (Psalms 146:2-5, NABRE)
Of course, the rest of the band wasn’t always too happy about Gano’s lyrics, particularly bassist Brian Ritchie, who is a committed atheist. In an interview with Atomic Duster, when asked about any friction this may have caused in the band, Gano had this to say: “I’ve never enjoyed hearing Brian Ritchie’s views on religion but he seems to enjoy expressing them. It’s never affected the music and that’s what the band is about. Only one comment of possible interest: when we first started playing together, he refused to play my gospel songs and I was fine with that because I thought that I had so many songs anyway and the ones not played now would be played some other time and place. But soon after that he said ‘Let’s do your gospel songs, they’re some of your best songs’, and that by playing them in a punk rock club context we would do more ‘punk’ than if we only played more or less ‘punk’ material.”
Ritchie, atheist though he is, may have been on to something there. In his book “Back to Virtue: Traditional Moral Wisdom for Modern Moral Confusion,” philosopher Peter Kreeft wrote, “Moral traditionalists, who believe in the wisdom of the past, seem to their opponents like drab, dour doomers and damners. But they are not. They are rebels, for in an age of relativism, orthodoxy is the only possible rebellion left.” Oh, and Kreeft added one more thing about those orthodox rebels. “They sing as they fight.”

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