Wednesday, June 17, 2009


I’ve always had an eclectic appreciation for music and enjoy a wide variety of genres. On my Facebook info page, I say my favorite music group is the Green Acres Celebration Choir and orchestra – I DO love hearing them week after week and listening to their latest CD in my truck.
But still, I've listened to different kinds of music since the time I was a teenager. I grew up listening to the Beatles. I made my first foray into music performance when two of my 6th grade friends and I declared ourselves “The Potato Bugs.” (We thought the Beatles were beetles – bugs, you see). We dressed up in potato sacks (honestly) and even sang at several places, including a talent competition at Florala High School (it was a shock when we didn’t win).
In High School, I was the lead singer and rhythm guitarist in a rock band called “The Inverted Illusion.” This was during the early 70’s when rock bands were named by choosing a random adjective and linking it with a random noun. Bands of the day included Iron Butterfly, Led Zepplin, and the band we modeled ourselves after: Grand Funk Railroad.
Today students have to have a DJ who spins the tunes, but back in the 70’s a live band was required for a good dance. So, the Inverted Illusion actually got PAID to play at quite a few Friday night dances. We weren’t that good, but we were very loud (and as they used to say about songs on American Bandstand, “It has a good beat and you can dance to it.”) The amplifier for my Fender Telecaster was as big as a doorway, and I think I still suffer a little hearing loss from those days. One of our songs was “In-A-Gadda-da-Vida” (by Iron Butterfly). It had a ten-minute drum solo that allowed the other three of us to put our guitars down and go get a coke while our drummer sweated away.
In college, I was in a touring group called “The Hear and Now Singers.” Sadly, some of those pictures have appeared on my Facebook page. We wore California-designed jumpsuits, and our concerts were professionally choreographed. We sang Christian songs as well as songs by Chicago and other popular groups.
I still enjoy most kinds of music (except heavy metal rock music and gangsta rap). Since I’m a huge Beatles fan I’ve downloaded almost all of their songs, as well as hundreds other songs. I was one of the early Napster downloaders (before file sharing was declared illegal). At the time, I had a dial-up modem, so the download times were agonizingly slow. I would start downloading a single song and then go off and watch TV for the next 15 minutes as one song downloaded! Since Napster was declared illegal, I’ve since been downloading songs using iTunes.
Despite the grey in my hair, I’m not just an “oldies” music guy. I have XM radio. I can read Lady Ga Ga's pa-pa-pa-poker face. And I know the Ting Ting's real name. But one of my favorite current groups is Nickelback. They’re a Canadian rock band who chose their name because band member Mike Kroeger used to work at Starbucks (when coffee was $1.95), so he found himself often saying, “here’s your nickel back.”
A couple of their recent songs sound like something you’d hear me say on Sunday mornings. Here are some of the lyrics to “If Today Was Your Last Day.”

My best friend gave me the best advice
He said each day's a gift and not a given right
Leave no stone unturned, leave your fears behind
And try to take the path less traveled by
That first step you take is the longest stride

Against the grain should be a way of life
What's worth the prize is always worth the fight
Every second counts 'cause there's no second try
So live like you'll never live it twice
Don't take the free ride in your own life

If today was your last day
And tomorrow was too late
Could you say goodbye to yesterday?
Would you live each moment like your last?
Leave old pictures in the past
Donate every dime you have?
Would you call old friends you never see?
Reminisce old memories
Would you forgive your enemies?
Would you find that one you're dreamin' of?
Swear up and down to God above
That you finally fall in love
If today was your last day

If today was your last day
Would you make your mark by mending a broken heart?
You know it's never too late to shoot for the stars
Regardless of who you are
So do whatever it takes
'Cause you can't rewind a moment in this life
Let nothin' stand in your way
Cause the hands of time are never on your side.

Another song I like is entitled, “If Everyone Cared.” The chorus says: “If everyone cared and nobody cried; If everyone loved and nobody lied; If everyone shared and swallowed their pride: then we’d see the day when nobody died.” Of course, even if people behaved better, people would still die, but fewer people would die at the hands of evil people.

Nickelback isn’t the first group to moralize with their music – almost all groups get around to trying to make the world a better place. In 1965 Jackie DeShannon sang, “What the world needs now is love, sweet love.” John Lennon preached his morality in “Imagine.” Pink warns young girls to strive for success in “Stupid Girls.” And, of course, Bono uses U2's music to preach for social justice.
To me, these and hundreds of other pop and rock songs just prove that there is a universal desire to make the world a better place. In other words, these musicians are all looking for THE ANSWER.
As Christians, we’ve found it – actually we’ve found HIM. Andre’ Crouch put it this way:

So, go ahead and enjoy your Nickelback, but don't settle for anything less than the priceless GIFT of eternal life in Jesus Christ our Lord!

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