God Gave Rock & Roll to you

Two things converged lately, compelling me to go to the nearest Tower Records and purchase Van Halen’s 5150

The first thing was that I heard the song “Why can’t this be love?” on the radio. Chris had been pestering me about 70’s music, which I profess to hate. He says I can’t possibly hate all of it, because I haven’t heard all of it. I tell him that I just picture shaggy haired teenage boys in powder blue tuxedoes dancing with teenage girls in Gunne Sax prom dresses, batting their eyes through feathered bangs.

Not a pleasant kind of nostalgia. Makes me feel sort of sick to my stomach. Maybe because I remember those particular kids being very mean to my older brother, and just mean in general.

So, while I figured that “Why can’t this be love?” song was not actually a 70’s song, it was on a radio station that played such songs, so I thought I’d fake Chris out and tell him I’d found one I liked. I liked the guitar on that song.

Either from his encyclopedic knowledge of music, or from being right by the internet when I called and told him I liked the song, he knew right away that it was Van Halen.

Van Halen. Oh my. Brings back memories. Memories not of hearing the band, but of hearing it talked about. Sermons about Rock & Roll, the music of the devil and carnality, would bring up their names.

I remember the church headquarters had video taped a series of sermons about rock & roll. One of the pastors there had delved into the dark regions, and came back to report on what he found.

They taped it so that others did not have to take this risky journey personally.

But he came up with many many examples of how Rock & Roll was evil. Citing Madonna, Twisted Sister, Frankie Goes to Hollywood, and Ozzie Osbourne to name a few

Rap was still off the radar, so none of them were mentioned.

But there were points to be aware of. Music is mentioned all over the Bible as a powerful instrument for the worship of God. We used music as such in every gathering. What if (gasp) Satan were to use it for the worship of himself? And we children, tender children, could be accidentally drawn into the worship of Satan by purchasing cassettes?

As a tender child myself, I thought that worshiping Satan was a little more involved than just purchasing a cassette. I thought that you would have KNOW you were doing it. What I did know was that I liked that music.

I really liked that music. ‘Cept maybe Ozzie. He was a little weird.

But those other guys, all of them, with their hair long and flowing, and their tight leather or spandex pants. And the guitars. Wow. Those posters at the mall made me want to stop and look for a long time.

But that was the devil tempting me. I had Christian music. Guys with Long hair and guitars, almost as good as the other guys. Almost.

I loved going to those concerts! Streaming forward and screaming for the music. I could not stay still when they started playing. Heck I could barely stay still before they started playing.

Bands like Petra and Degarmo&Key and Whiteheart and Stryper. Oh, but Stryper was just too hard core. I couldn’t really listen to them, they had crossed the line. It wasn’t just that they wore spandex, although that was a lot of it. They were just too “rocky”.

Petra was by far my favorite. Their “This Means War” Album had enough testosterone-laden guitar riffs to satisfy my restless teenage heart. It was almost frightening how much I liked it.

Petra was put forth as the balm by the aging and now church-going rockers in our congregation. But those same rockers had their own collections. They were musicians, see, Guitar players. And Eddie Van Halen was one of the best, they’d say. They HAD to hear it to learn to improve their own playing.

But we’d better not listen to it. It would sear our ears with Satan.

Listening to Van Halen now, I am stunned with the innocuous lyrics. They are very nice. This furthers my opinion that those church leaders were idiots. And so were the parents who followed them.

But I don’t want to forget the other reason I was compelled to buy the Van Halen CD yesterday.

VH1 was showing a movie, called “Rock Star.” All the sexiness of those heavy metal boys and the drive of the drums and the siren song of the guitar burst in on me now, as an adult. NOW I know what to do with the feelings those bring on.

Mmm…I still love a man in long hair and leather pants.


It’s a really good movie, even thought I didn’t see the end of it.