Lazy Luddite Log

20.12.07

A Different Tune

I have been involved in a number of carolling gigs recently. In other words I have been singing the songs of a religion to which I do not belong. And I have been wondering how I can reconcile delivering a message that I do not personally endorse.

I refer you to another kind of event ā€“ weddings. I have been to many weddings conducted according to the traditions of a number of different religions both theist and pagan. I witness these services even if I cannot agree with or even understand everything they say. I do this because of my connection to those involved. I also do it because I am respecting the culture and the life decisions of others. And that should be the start and end of the matter ā€“ my accepting of the creed of another is the same as my accepting any other aspect of the life and identity they possess. And sometimes those life decisions will become a part of my life too.

But there is a difference ā€“ as choristers we are actively promoting our services as carollers rather than simply participating in a ceremony to which we have been invited. Many of these events only happen because we do them. Here I focus on the role of music as a conveyor of message. I have to admit that I actively revel in music even if I have issues with its message. This is the case even with secular music. Consider the following immortal words of John Lee Hooker:

Boom boom boom boom
Iā€™m gonna shoot you right down
Right off of your feet
Take you home with me
Put you in my house
Boom boom boom boom


I have qualms about the rather backward sentiment in this song toward gender relations and yet I love it. There is something immensely fun in singing along to those words and feeling some of the feeling of possessiveness conveyed by them. There are all manner of popular songs I enjoy and yet baulk at the content. It is just one of the many aspects of life in which one accommodates contradictions. Inconsistent. Flawed. Human. And a part of a society in which context is as important as content. We convey the messages and anecdotes of others as well as of ourselves.

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