27 July 2005
We've been listening to a lot of "top 40" radio since we got here. I tend to listen to AFN (Armed Forces Network) because it's in English. Jon listens to German stations, the main one being "Big FM" (sound familiar? I didn't know the hokey radio names were worldwide). You hear the same songs...over and over...on both stations. The German stations play all the bad words, though. The Gwen Stefani song, Hollaback Girl? Has more words and fewer grunts on German radio. The disturbing thing is that Katrina loves that song and is singing along. It is catchy, and it's on practically every time we turn on the radio. But a 3-year-old singing "where's my sh**" is enough to switch the channel to the more sanitized AFN.
It's been a long time since I listened to top-40 music with any frequency. I listened mostly to talk radio and Christian music radio in the States. I've found no Christian radio channels in this area.
You know what? Today's top 40 music makes me sad...even the songs I actually like. It's all about love lost ("Incomplete"--a beautiful song, by the way). Or sex ("The Candy Shop"--rap is all over top 40 in Germany...and there are German rappers, too. I have a bit of cognitive dissonance hearing rap in German.). Or grrrrl power ("Hollaback Girl"). Much of it is without hope.
So I went looking for my CDs this morning. They were in a box marked "Books" so it took a while. Now I'm listening to Rich Mullins' last album, "The Jesus Record." Some songs on there make me sad, too, because I listened to this over and over after I had my first miscarriage. Rich Mullins wrote songs that did not deny that life is hard, but offered hope as well. One of the best songs I've ever heard about what happens to faith in hard times is "Hard to Get." Here are the lyrics. Yet the same CD also contains "Nothing is Beyond You" which uses many of the words from Psalm 139 about the love and mystery of God.
Maybe that's what I miss when I listen to popular music...the idea that there is something--Someone--beyond ourselves and our own concerns. Now, I do hear plenty of Christian contemporary music that consists of pious platitudes. And there is wonderful, thought-provoking popular music. (I just haven't heard much of it on the radio recently.) But really good Christian music reminds me of what I tend to forget in the busyness of life and in my natural self-centeredness: that this life is not all there is. That there is Someone who sacrificed his life out of love for me (and for the person who's tailgating me, too). That there is hope, and joy, and peace, no matter where I am or how hard life gets.
I ain't no hollaback girl. I'm a child of God. You are, too.