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Giggers: Would you play a song that doesn't mesh with your personal beliefs?


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I also like gospel music. I am not religious any more. I want to work up some uptempo gospel songs for gigs because, by golly, they are just fun songs. I have a couple by Lee Ann Womack that are cool. And I just heard a version of Amazing Grace off The Maverick Soundtrack that is REALLY kickin'! There is nothing that is more of a knee-slapper than a good gospel song. But there is something that bugs me about it. However, there are probably lots of songs that I sing that I don't condone what the song is about. It's just that religion is more like taking a platform or something. Any comments?

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I don't believe in a god (God), but I don't have a problem doing gospel songs. All a person really has is faith in their beliefs. Atheistic or god fearing, there is still some aspect of faith or faith in one's personal judgement. Most of the messages of gospel songs have positive human values, so I don't have a problem singing or playing them. I also don't proselytize. I don't believe singing a gospel song is necessarily proselytizing.
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I don't play material that advocates or portrays stuff that I don't stand for. At times I will even rework a lyric to say what I want. If you are covering a song, the audience knows if you believe it. That was the magic behind Sinatra (and others). I never liked Sinatra much just hearing the occasional song on muzak. But I watched some of a PBS specials with live preformances by Sinatra. And after I saw that, I got it! He could sing a song, and make you believe every word. Like he really meant what he was singing. In the same way, when you play a song you have to own it. You have to be able to sing it from your heart and soul. And if you don't, you audience will know it, and they will consider you a lightweight. So you have to be able to believe the material you perform. If you do you will communicate to your audience, and they will love you for it. At least thats my 2 cents...
- Calfee Jones
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A song that doesn't mesh with my personal beliefs... shit, I thought you were asking if I would play a Phil Collins song or something. :D Now THAT I would never do. :) But sure, I'd play a gospel song if I dug it (and there's lots of gospel that I do dig), and I was raised Jewish and do not subscribe to any organized religion! Really though, I guess all music is gospel music in my own view, cuz I think music is God's gift to us. There ARE probably a lot of songs I wouldn't play because the lyrics are a turn off and say something that I can't get behind. But in a lot of those cases I probably don't like the song anyway so why would I play it in the first place? :D Generally though, if I like a song and it works well with my band I'd do it, even if I don't totally gibe with its philosophy. I'd certainly put good gospel in that category. --Lee
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That's a tough one! When I was gigging we would do songs that I had problems with; and doing gospel songs on a bar stage may get the "fart in church" reaction from your audience. I guess you won't know until you try it out on stage. Nothing wrong with experimenting! There certainly have been worse things done through the years. IMHO nitecrawler
"Time to head down that old Colorado highway pardner."
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[quote]Originally posted by nitecrawler47: [b]That's a tough one! When I was gigging we would do songs that I had problems with; and doing gospel songs on a bar stage may get the "fart in church" reaction from your audience. I guess you won't know until you try it out on stage. Nothing wrong with experimenting! There certainly have been worse things done through the years. IMHO nitecrawler[/b][/quote]There are certain bar situations where a gospel song might not fit AT ALL but others, where it does. I can't think of anything quite like gospel that would give me this problem. BUT, I think it was Calfee that said that singing songs without having the song in you would be recognized by the audience. I dunno... I think I could easily "transport" my mind to back when I _did_ believe the message. But, really, my desire to play these particular songs has nothing to do with the lyric but everything to do with the beat and the music. I just really dig it. It's like goodtime music. Happy music.

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This topic cracks me up. I can't tell you the number of times we've made female singers sing male songs over the years. One singer actually sang; "I got a black magic woman and she's try'n to make a lezzy out of me." Anyway, I'd just go for it if the song sounds good. I mean it all comes down to whether or not the crowd digs it, right? If they don't, you don't do that song there anymore. Lee, jewish? You'd probably get along with the Lipschutz side of my family.
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I guess I'm an entertainer, so YES: I have played a lot of times songs I don't really like. I'm paid to get the audiences in a certain mood and many times that music is not exactly my choice. However, talking about gospel songs... I am a NON BELIEVER. That means I don't like them and'd never play or sing a gospel song. Principles...

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I wouldn't have a problem presenting a song with an overall positive message that I didn't believe in. In other words, I'll skip "My Sweet Lord" because of the annoying vocal harmonies, not because of the lyrics. Another band member brought in a couple of original songs. The plan from the start was that I'd be lead singer, but I'm uncomfortable enough with these two songs that I'm having the author sing them, even though his voice is raspy and I think I'd sing them a lot better. Both have lyrics where half the time, I have no clue what they are about, and the other half, I think I do know what they're about and I strongly disagree with the point of view being expressed. Also both have forgettable melodies, one of them with a nearly unsingable yodeling yelp at the turnaround. Except for the melodies, both songs are incredibly catchy musically. One has a unique, awesome hook that I think will make a stunning set opener. They're a lot of fun to play on bass and provide great opportunities the guitarists are taking for some killer hot riffs. So I don't want to ditch these tunes entirely. I asked for a chance to collaborate on revising the words and melodies, but the author of these songs made it clear that they're about expressing his point of view about things. So I'll put up with his singing in order to not have to put up with singing them myself.
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I think that it helps to look at this issue from the audiences' point of view. If they're there simply to entertain, and you are entertaining them, then there's nothing wrong with singing a gospel song that you don't believe in yourself - you're an entertainer. However if you were in church, and the audience is there to be inspired by you or something, then I think it is at least a little dishonest to try to convey a musical idea that you yourself don't believe in, because in this situation your primary purpose isn't to entertain.
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Who here among us would refuse to sing "Sympathy for the Devil" or "Midnight Rambler"? In one song you're the Devil, and in the other you're merely a serial killer. I bet that's never stopped anyone. I could sing them; conversely, I could sing "My Sweet Lord" or "Jesus is Just All Right With Me" even though I don't believe a word of it. Because I'm singing in character. ("And here's to you, Mrs. Robinson / Jesus loves you more than will you know....") From the protagonist's point of view, Jesus loves Mrs. Robinson, and Heaven does indeed hold a place for those who pray. My personal theology doesn't matter. But I think there's a big difference between singing a song, and simply playing a song where you're backing up a singer. There are some characters I might not want to sing as. But if YOU want to sing it, I'll back you up. And haven't we all, at one time or another, backed up a singer who was an asshole? Isn't that a moral/philosophical dilemna? Should you turn down a gig with a singer who, although easy to work with, is a creep unworthy of being made to look good? And worse, enable the jerk to foist their presence upon the public? In the big picture, isn't it more important to keep those potentially rampant ego's in check, than to worry about whatever trite political or religious message they think they've got to impart to us all?
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[quote]Originally posted by DC: [b]This topic cracks me up. I can't tell you the number of times we've made female singers sing male songs over the years. One singer actually sang; "I got a black magic woman and she's try'n to make a lezzy out of me." [/b][/quote]LMAO!!! Yeah, I write some of the songs for my band and the singers are male, which means I have to switch the gender around... which is all right, cuz I generally write with male vocals in mind anyway, but it sounds funny when I first lay a new song on them and have to sing it for them. :D Not that there's anything wrong with that! --Lee
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Gospel songs.....its just a song...if you like it do it! Much like if you like other songs you don't necessarily agree with, songs about drugs, murder, adultery, getting drunk, social uprising, etc. Mention God without Damn.....and people get freaky.....don't want anyone thinking you're a holy roller! hahahaha!!!!!
Down like a dollar comin up against a yen, doin pretty good for the shape I'm in
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I probably wouldn't do any "Death Metal" tunes, y'know, stuff that has a seemingly really "evil" message..but then I don't do that stuff anyway, so there's no problem. It may be about art...but, I don't think there's any real point to sermonizing why or why not anyone will or won't sing a given song. There are enough less controversial songs to go around.
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[quote]Originally posted by Lee Flier: [b]A song that doesn't mesh with my personal beliefs... shit, I thought you were asking if I would play a Phil Collins song or something. :D Now THAT I would never do. :) --Lee[/b][/quote]I'd play some of Phil's Brand X tunes :thu: , but he still sucks. :)
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I think that the best performance will be had by believing what you're singing. That said, how much you "believe" it is up to you as a performer. Think like an actor - of course there are some roles you won't feel comfortable doing, yet you might still play an evil character; in order to be convincing, you have to BE that person, to "believe" what you're doing, so that others will find it believable. But when the show is over, you're still you, aren't you? (Hopefully...)
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I wrote a song called "Bombs Away" around the time of Ted Kazinsky (sp?) and Tim McViegh. One verse goes: Did I hear you call yourself Christian? Did I hear you say you were a Jew? Did you give the glory to Allah? Are you the chosen few? Bombs Away (put your) Bombs Away (and keep your) Bombs Away. I sometimes cringe when I sing it, 'cause I envision someone taking it the wrong way. It generally gets a good reaction, though.

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Is busy dyin'.

 

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[quote]Originally posted by henrysb3: [b] Did I hear you call yourself Christian? Did I hear you say you were a Jew? Did you give the glory to Allah? Are you the chosen few? Bombs Away (put your) Bombs Away (and keep your) Bombs Away. [/b][/quote]Now that's some cool lyrics there! RobT

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I'm a guitar player, not a singer, so it's all just music to me.... ON THE OTHER HAND... I remember when Alice and Chain's _Man in the Box_ was the big song for local metal bands to cover, and there being a ruckus about the lyric: "Jesus Christ.... deny your maker" Being that I'm living smack in the middle of the Bible Belt, it was quite curious seeing otherwise fairly rambunctious and not exactly parsimonius rockers get a bit reticent about playing that song. The funny thing is that I pointed out to a friend's band "hey, uhmm... maybe you guys should notice that the next line says: ... he who tries - will be wasted". "OH!!" they go... so then it was ok to play the song, they weren't going to burn in hell for accidently damning a roomful of drunk head bangers. Hilarious; while none of these bands saw any problem with playing Sabbath songs, or other "spiritually questionable" songs, that line gave a lot of guys pause. I remember there being a lot of offhand conversations about it; no one seemed to notice the next line, though. A curious phenomomenon in that most everyone here are raised in a Baptist variant of religion, and that's honed in pretty tightly relative to certain religious edits. It's sort of like a Baptist attourney school in that following the letter of the "law" is more important than the intent (as in singing songs about illicit sex, drugs, etc.). Interesting...

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I don't do live gigs anymore but a guitarist friend of mine who is into Rush,Pearl Jam,Led Zep,stuff like that,made me fall about the place laughing when he told me he had to play Abba covers at a casino bar recently,I guarantee there was a lot of teeth gritting going on at that gig.
I once had a quasi-religious experience..then I realised I'd turned up the volume.
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