Just Listen

A certain rocker puts his two pence in

BY: Matt Slocum

 

I'd like to say a few words about David Drury's review of the "Roaring Lambs," the CD issued by Squint Entertainment to support Bob Briner's books. I should say at the start that I agree with much of the feedback Beliefnet has received and believe this argument has been sufficiently resolved. To quote Beliefnet member "Tweezel": "The purpose of this record was to try to get some thought flowing among the Christian music community and to celebrate a man."



There are, however, some inconsistencies in Drury's argument I'd like to point out. "The Ground You Shook," Sixpence's song on the "Roaring Lambs" compilation, represented musicians from all different levels of popular culture. We in Sixpence are new artists who come from the evangelical subculture but who perform with the intent to transcend it. Emmylou Harris, who sang with us, is a pop and country recording legend who performs in the secular realm. Our collaboration proves that we're involved in popular culture in a manner that is artistically relevant and that puts Briner's philosophy into action. Besides, it only takes listening to the "Roaring Lambs" CD to realize that the voices of our lead singer, Leigh Nash, and Emmylou Harris harmonized on a level all their own. Apart from what is Christian art and what is secular, this was beautiful art, period.

I'd also like to share the experience of Sixpence None the Richer in terms of "Roaring Lambs." Drury states that "with the exception of Over the Rhine, Ladysmith Black Mambazo, and Vigilantes of Love"--all artists on this compilation--"sell and play primarily to Christians." In the case of Sixpence, of course, this statement is false. Only 200,000 of the 1.2 million copies of our album "Sixpence None the Richer" sold in Christian stores. Over the past two years, the band has played in countless clubs, theatres, festivals, and visited hundreds of radio stations, most of them having nothing to do with the evangelical subculture. We have made these appearances in more than 15 countries. In addition, we have appeared on the Conan O'Brien show, the "Late Show With David Letterman," "The Tonight Show," the "Today" show, CNN's "World Beat," among others. Doesn't this qualify as "journeying beyond the invisible walls of the evangelical subculture"? Perhaps Mr. Drury might find that pill a bit easier to swallow.

Finally, though I don't know enough of their lives to comment on Lenny Kravitz, Gordon Gano, Maria McKee, and Alice Cooper, I will say that Johnny Cash and Bono are indeed "Roaring Lambs." They are sinners discovering the grace of Christ on a continual basis within the context of culture-shaping art. I am sure there is a Christian community that supports them. (The Body of Christ is not restricted to the GMA.)

If Cash and Bono haven't appeared on Christian television and radio, it's because they have better things to do. Bono has been a tireless supporter of Jubilee 2000, a group working to abolish Third World debt and has met with the pope and President Clinton on these matters. He also wrote a preface to an edition of the Book of Psalms, explaining how the nature of his faith was shaped by this profound poetry in the Bible. His lyrics reflect his constant search for the truth, and we as listeners are drawn into that search. As a participant in the "Roaring Lambs" compilation, I realize I have a long way to go to roar as loud as Bono does.

I honor my friend and colleague Dan Haseltine in engaging Drury in this discussion. We must search for common ground together.

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