Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Bible verses make bad songs good... uhhh sure

"Where Were You When the World Stopped Turning" by Alan Jackson was sung on American Idol tonight. I'd never heard it before, and I'd never heard of him before, and I'm very very glad of that. What a stupid stupid song.

Stupid stupid stupid

The lyrics of the verses are tear-jerking remembrances of what "you" might have been doing (assuming you were a man) when you heard about the Twin Towers. So far so good. Everyday life grinds to a halt when something unthinkable happens. So far so good. Get out the hanky and prepare for a sappy chorus.

But wait.. what is this? The chorus is an uplifting Biblical non-sequitur. WTF?

I'm just a singer of simple songs
I'm not a real political man
I watch CNN but I'm not sure I can tell you
The difference in Iraq and Iran
But I know Jesus and I talk to God
And I remember this from when I was young
Faith hope and love are some good things he gave us
And the greatest is love

So this song is really a celebration of religion-induced ignorance?  As long as you remember a few words from the Bible it doesn't matter if you're ignorant of foreign affairs?  And what did that have to do with September 11?
The song was premiered in November of 2001, so I guess it can be forgiven for being stupid in the heat of the mass stupidity gripping the nation at the time.  I found a lot of the "patriotism" post -9/11 really shallow and cheap and bordering on jingoism. Just wave a flag and put a pin on your collar and you're a good Amurkin. The same people who hated Washington & New York suddenly said "we" had been attacked. I was living in Texas at the time and it was sickening. This song reminds me of that, but there's something really sinister about throwing a bible verse into a song about a national tragedy without connecting the dots.

I was living in Fundyville, TX in 2001.  Until then, I got the impression that Texas was a whole 'nother country and they had no use at all for New Yorkers and anything in DC.  Then on 9/11 everyone's a New Yorker. I was devastated because I'd lived in both cities, and I was homesick for my friends.  Not to mention, I used to see the WTC from my bedroom window, so it was the first and last thing I saw every day as I opened and shut the blinds.  And I knew people who worked in the Pentagon. 

So I can definitely relate to the other parts of the song -- I remember where I was when I heard about the attacks.  But I don't get how you can say it follows from being shocked and sad that being ignorant and knowing a minimal amount of Biblical theology.

It's one thing for someone to be ignorant about foreign affairs and to have only a slim acquaintanceship with their own religion, but actually bragging about it in song is beyond me.  Bragging about it in the context of a national tragedy is downright insulting to the victims and to the rest of us who were equally touched despite not being ignorant Christian hicks.

p.s. it was a clever move on the part of the singer on American Idol, though.  Nobody's going to criticize his "song choice"


Infidel753 said...

He's part of a very long tradition. Religion has inspired trite and asinine responses to evil ever since the words "turn the other cheek" were first uttered.

Anonymous said...

I was a child in Baghdad the day the world stopped turning. I did not know the word New York. But I'm gone now.

FDR quote: Human kindness has never weakened the stamina or softened the fiber of a free people. A nation does not have to be cruel to be tough.

Where have all our leaders gone?

My issue with the song is that the U.S. response had absolutely NOTHING to do with love, only mindless death-dealing, misdirected retaliation. Maybe if W had listened to the song it would have helped, since he alleges to be a follower of Paul. It is good to talk about love in this context, but it seems simply put on the wind, like Dylan sang long ago. I'll take Dylan's song, anyday, and I rue the death of that old idealism by which we lived long ago.

Give peace a chance.

Anonymous said...

I'll admit that the lyrics are pretty juvenile. I'm not sure he was "bragging" about his lack of knowledge. I think the song is simply saying that despite the confusion, violence and corruption in the world, he trusts in God. Now I know that must mean nothing to you, but it means a lot to lots of people and not just stupid christian hicks as you so eloquently described them. I thank God for religious freedom in the West. I value your right to say anything you like even if I don't like it or agree with it. Perhaps you should do the same Lady Atheist.