My Changing Musical Tastes

I’ve said this before in various musical tirades (tirades about music, not set to music), but I think I grew up in the back closet of the music world. My family had little or no musical talent. The closest my brother and I came to playing instruments was the recorder in third grade. Between you and me, I sucked at it. A piano sat in the corner of our house for 20 years, and for most of those years it was out of tune. My mom was the only one who could ever play it and I don’t ever remember that happening.

When it came to recorded music I was still in the closet. My musical education began with what was popular. A stint of <a href=””>MTV</a> watching in second and third grade made me a fan of Bon Jovi’s <i>Slippery When Wet</i> and the Beastie Boys’ <i>License to Ill</i>. But then the New Kids on the Block (see the Backstreet Boys of the late 1980s) hit it big I was disgusted. I turned to Weird Al Yankovic for relief, and my musical education consisted lesson by parody—I rarely knew the original. There was the occasional popular song that I heard and liked (for some odd reason): the Beach Boys’ “Kokomo,” Billy Joel’s “We Didn’t Start the Fire.” But for the most part I wasn’t a big music fan.

Then I discovered Christian music. I listened to <i>Petra Praise: The Rock Cries Out</i> and I was shocked. Church music with guitars and drums? At first I thought it was a bit much. But then the rebel in me screamed for more and I was hooked. A dozen Petra albums later I was a true Christian music junkie. I have a collection of over 150 CDs I don’t listen to anymore to prove it. I even had a Christian Rock radio show in high school. I basically missed out on the entire music scene in the 1990s.

So when I came to college and lived for four years with roommates who were proud <a href=””>U2</a> addicts, it was only a matter of time. I had heard of U2, but I knew nothing about them. If I heard one of their songs on the radio I couldn’t have identified it as U2. It took two years of U2 roommates and it began to sink in. During my senior year I finally caved in completely.

And I discovered a world of some of the best music I’ve ever heard. It’s easy to get over-dramatic about U2 being the best band in the world, but there’s a lot of truth in that statement; especially when you’ve spent the last eight years listening to Christian rock.

Tomorrow I’m going to my first U2 concert—the Elevation Tour. The tickets just about wiped out my entertainment budget for the year. My wife and I will have to cram ourselves into the closet with a stereo to simulate another concert experience this year. I’m looking forward to the show, which isn’t exactly an understatement. I know it will be good, but I’m trying not to get my expectations too high. It’s easy to expect too much and be let down. I’d rather be genuinely impressed.

What I most respect about U2 is their ability to confront God. They don’t have an evangelistic message. All four members aren’t even Christians. Yet God still comes out in their lyrics, as if he were an undeniable part of life. U2 simply accepts this and lets the Spirit come out in some amazing music. They don’t try to package a message in four easy steps. They don’t shoot for a specific JPM (Jesus’s per minute). They just sing about life—all the ways that life can suck, and all the ways that life is beautiful. It’s refreshingly honest.

I guess you could say I’m a fan. We’ll see how the concert goes.

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