I'm aware that my original plan for this blog -- to review what I call "Strange Music" you might have overlooked, or at least off-the-wall books about music -- has drifted a bit in recent months. For this lapse I hope to atone.
In an effort to get this return to the drawing board started, I visited my favorite local used bookstore, Book 'Em here in Port Orchard (free plug), and imagine the delight I felt when I discovered a copy of FROM ROCK TO ROCK -- THE MUSIC OF DARKNESS EXPOSED! (1990), a book that promises to show once and for all how many '60s, '70s and '80s rock stars SOLD THEIR SOULS TO THE DEVIL!
The book was compiled by a former working musician named Eric Barger, who spent 20 years in the biz, in a couple of bands that went nowhere. Eric says in his intro that he took advantage of every illicit attraction the rock and roll lifestyle had to offer, and clearly this book was his effort to atone.
Because clearly Barger felt guilty. And scared, make no mistake. And Lord knows there are so MANY things for a God-loving Christian to fear....
You can probably guess most of the culprits. There was little doubt about some of them -- AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Alice Cooper, Guns 'N' Roses, Motley Crue, Twisted Sister, Van Halen, Def Leppard, The Beastie Boys, Led Zeppelin, Madonna, Michael Jackson ... and of course The Beatles, who started us all down this Highway To Hell way back in 1964.
I was surprised by how many of these satanic rock stars are also conveniently dead -- Jim Morrison, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa, Brian Jones (Rolling Stones), even Elvis Presley.
But what REALLY shocked me is how many previously-thought-harmless "artists" have sold their souls to the Dark Lord -- Cyndi Lauper, Lionel Richie, Journey, The Cars, The Who, Rod Stewart, Belinda Carlisle, Roxette, Wham!, Bananarama, Huey Lewis and the News, John Cougar Mellencamp, Hall and Oates, The Police ... even Bruce Springsteen!
I'M NOT MAKING THIS UP!
Of course, it was no surprise to find The Beach Boys listed in this book. And even my heroes The Moody Blues have apparently had their ungodly moments -- anybody who heard their KEYS OF THE KINGDOM album knows that. ... Even Yes!
Shocked! SHOCKED I was! And grateful for the info, so that I may now purge my music collection and begin my long-postponed climb up to godliness. I've got a long way to go....
Which doesn't mean there aren't some minor problems with Barger's book. The writing actually isn't terrible. But he gets names wrong, he mis-attributes songs to the wrong artists, he doesn't know what to do with an apostrophe -- golly, I haven't had so much fun marking the errors in a book since Jerry Lucky's PROGRESSIVE ROCK FILES.
Then there's Barger's lapses in logic, his inability to see that something might be intended as a joke (how can anyone take Motorhead's "Killed by Death" seriously?) or for a dramatic or metaphoric purpose, his inability to grant that there might be any other way to godliness other than The One Way he pushes. Oh, and his book's organized terribly.
Possibly most hilarious of all is a LONG middle section in which 1,500 artists are listed under the guidelines of a 12-step "offensiveness" scale which lets you see with a glance just what's so offensive about all of them. Tons of these acts I've never HEARD of -- I have to assume they are LOUD bands...? And a good portion of these artists get a "12" rating, which means Barger isn't done investigating them yet. I'm sure Camel and Joan Armatrading and The Hollies aren't being kept awake at night by this.
King Crimson isn't even MENTIONED. Too scary?
And this book was written in 1990! Can you imagine what kind of book Barger could write TODAY? I'll bet he'd at least have a LOT of inspiration....
My favorite mistake is where Barger puts the words of The Sex Pistols' "Anarchy in the U.K." into the mouth of ... Rod Stewart. Which has got to be a copyright violation. Or some kind of violation, anyway. I'm sure the LAST thing Rod The Mod wanted to be was the Antichrist.
This book is hilarious. LOTS of great cheap laughs.
And yet. And yet....
Looking around at the grim reality of today's world, and at the fates of so many rock stars ... I don't think popular music is ENTIRELY to blame for ALL of our MANY troubles, nor do I think teenage rebellion inevitably leads to drinking, drugs, early pregnancy, voting Republican, and eventual takeover by the Dark One.
But I agree that it's a Good Thing to get Good With God.
So, from now on it's strictly Pat Boone, The Lettermen and The Kingston Trio for me. Starting immediately.
See 'ya in church!
(PS on March 2nd -- I see I forgot to mention Ozzie Osbourne. He's all over Barger's book, I just forgot about him. It's nothing personal, I swear to ... well, you know.)