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From the Piano Man to the Prodigal Son

Why I choose to listen to Christian Music: Part 1

Before the internet revolution and the proliferation of accessible Christian music, I was like most other Junior High students: I listened to the local rock radio station. There were stations that played preachers and Gospel music, there were country western stations, there were adult formats with news and market reports, but if you wanted to listen to rock music, there was only the local rock station. And, at about 7th grade, the yearning for music switched on in my head and I wanted to listen to something with a beat hot off the vinyl presses.

I have vivid audio memories of a clock radio next to my bed, set to play for an hour before turning itself off so I could sleep.  Songs by Billy Joel, Kansas, The Eagles, and Foreigner played piano melodies and guitar riffs through my half-conscious head. I would sing along to Just The Way You Are and Hotel California, always listening carefully to the poetry in the lyrics. My friends and I would learn the songs, maybe because it was the music of our generation, or maybe because of hormones making us increasingly aware of the opposite gender.

As a moral person, I was careful about the songs I listened to.  Songs with profanity and obvious sexual references were turned off.  Certain artists with particularly bad reputations were turned off.  Not every song was filtered as it should have been, it was just so good, or so popular at school. Anyway, I was pretty naïve, so most subtle innuendos escaped my notice.

When Foreigner was singing “it must be the woman in you bringing out the man in me… it feels like the first time”, that could have meant anything to me.  I suppose it’s kind of obvious now. And similarly, there was nothing explicit about The Eagles' song, Heartache Tonight, “Everyone wants to touch someone, if it takes all night… there’s gonna be a heartache tonight.”  It seems more explicit in black and white without the camouflage of soulful vocals.

Through Junior High and High School, I listened to what was on the radio, just like everyone else. I bought albums by my favorite bands, and filled my head and spirit with the poetry and melody of the culture surrounding me, just like everyone else. And just like everyone else, I didn’t know there was a musical alternative.

Read Part 2 of From the Piano Man to the Prodigal Son: Why I Choose to Listen to Christian Music

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Copyright 2015 Patrick Bain All Rights Reserved.

Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. Colossians 3:16 (ESV)

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