Thursday, April 05, 2007

Country Music and Atheism

I was talking to someone about country music, today, and they asked if I'd heard the song, "The Little Girl" (by John Michael Montgomery). I used to enjoy country music, but... aside from a few artists, it's not a genre that I keep "up to date" on. Most of it is just rhythmically boring and lyrically uninteresting. So... I had to answer that I hadn't, in fact, heard the song. This person said, "I really think you should listen to it!", I actually bought the track online. *pause... how can I say this diplomatically?* WHAT A FUCKING WASTE OF $.99!!

The song is repulsive. Here are the lyrics:
Her parents never took the young girl to church...
Never spoke of His name...
Never read her his word...
Two non-believers walking lost in this world...
Took their baby with them, what a sad little girl...
I should've stopped listening right then and there...but, it got worse.

Her daddy drank all day and mommy did drugs...
Never wanted to play or give kisses and hugs...
She'd watch the tv and sit there on the couch...
While her mom fell asleep and her daddy went out...
Ohhhhh...rrrrrrrrright. Because, as atheists, they must've been crack-whores or alcoholics. Atheists can't possibly love their children!

And the drinking and the fighting...
Just got worse every night...
Behind their couch she'd be hiding...
Oh what a sad little life...
Yeah. It *is* pretty sad...because her parents are abusive assholes. What does their church attendance have to do with anything?

And like it always does, the bad just got worse...
With every slap and every curse...
Until her daddy in a drunk rage one night...
Used a gun on her mom and then took his life...
And some people from the city took the girl far away...

To a new mom and a new dad, kisses and hugs everyday...
*boggle* Aren't Christians the people who are always saying that heavy metal and rap are the devil's music because the content is objectionable? Um... I wouldn't play this song in the car, with my kids listening. But, wait... there MUST be a redeeming message, right? This must be "faith promoting." There must be something that makes a Christian parent go, "yes... Billy and Suzy should listen to this song."

Her first day of Sunday School...
Her teacher walked in...
And a small little girl stared at a picture of Him...
She said I know that man up there on that cross...
I don’t know His name but I know he got off...
Cause he was there in my old house...
And held me close to his side...
As I hid there behind our couch...
The night that my parents died.
I have a question? Why didn't Jesus send CPS to her house BEFORE her daddy shot her mommy? Where were all of her "good Chirstian neighbors" and teachers? Is this song really suggesting that this child had to witness such atrocities because her mom and dad weren't church goers? What kind of messed-up deity would put a child through that?

And... does anyone else find it almost repulsive how the song paints atheists as such vile, horrible people? Whoever wrote this song needs to do their research! The incidence of spousal and child abuse is FAR LESS in atheist families than it is in "Christian" families. If this song were using any other alternative life/race/culture as the "bad mommy and daddy" example, I doubt it would've made it on the radio. Imagine if the "bad family" in this song were set-up as the African-American family, or the Muslim family, or the Jewish family?

I guess being abused and witnessing murder weren't bad enough in themselves... the lyricist had to make sure that the REAL message of the song was that even atheist children are saved by Jeebus (after their family is completely destroyed, of course). *rolls eyes*

51 comments:

Sean the Blogonaut said...

That left a bad taste in my mouth. Might have to go vomit to get rid of it.

Tone said...

The thing that scares me most about this too, is that a lot of the minimally educated red neck christian types who hear this music will be nodding in agreement instead of trying to learn if perhaps it is JUST A SONG!

Sean the Blogonaut said...

It's missing the verse about how she was indocrinated in Sunday school and retrospectively attributed her lucky survival to the presence of imaginary creature.

Paul said...

[Silentsanta, NZ]

Perhaps you might like to check out Jolie Holland (link is to her official website). As a rule, I can't stand country music; but that's because I haven't come across many people doing something interesting with the genre. Jolie is from Texas, but I caught a live performance of hers here in Auckland, NZ last year and I was blown away; a singer doing Country/Folk music with some goddamned self-awareness and a grasp of irony, brilliant.
You can look her up on iTunes if you like; I recommend 'Mexican Blue' especially.

alisonm said...

OK, now I like C/W even less. Hey, if 80% of the country is Christian, wouldn't that mean there are more Christian child abusers than atheist child abusers? Just a thought.

Anonymous said...

The incidence of spousal and child abuse is FAR LESS in atheist families than it is in "Christian" families
That wouldn't surprise me. Do you have a link to the research?

Sara (sassy) said...

I think you're over-reacting. The song never says they are atheists, just that they don't go to church. Doesn't mean they are atheists.

aiabx said...

I am never going to stop throwing up.

look_an_atheist said...

I kind of like country, although the christian lyrics sometimes gross me out and have me hitting next on the radio. Carrie Underwood, one of the American Idol ilk, was singing one of her big songs. I don't know the name, and I couldn't stand to stick around long enough to hear it or to see what phrase they sang over and over and over.

The lyric that got me laughing AND hitting the change station button was "Jesus take the wheel". I just had this image of her car careening wildly down the road with the big "nobody" driving.

Explain THAT one to the family you just destroyed. "Well I just asked the lord to take the wheel and I had faith that he would". Oooops, apparently the sky pappy doesn't chauffeur country singers.

Eamon Knight said...

I think you're over-reacting. The song never says they are atheists, just that they don't go to church. Doesn't mean they are atheists.

Errr...ummm...yeah, sort of. It's still about the virtues of good church-going Christianity as The Solution To All The World's Problems, and the Best Way To Live (and a pretty damned sappy morality tale it is, too -- but C&W has always had more sap in it than a maple tree in February). As a slam on atheism it's got what IIRC the father of your current prez called "plausible deniability".

As a long-time folkie, I've heard some music that crosses over the C&W line, that wasn't hard on the ears, or the mind. The late lamented Stan Rogers was all over the musical map, so is Bruce Cockburn, Arlo Guthrie....

Eamon Knight said...

After re-reading the first verse, I withdraw my earlier waffling on Sara's point. It's 24kt Christianist bigotry, about as clear as you will find anywhere:

Her parents never took the young girl to church...
Never spoke of His name...
Never read her his word...
Two non-believers walking lost in this world...


Gosh, I was raised by non-believers (agnostic) who drank hardly at all, paid their taxes, gave their only child lots of attention (but didn't take him to church), and to the best of my knowledge were faithful and devoted to each other for 60 years.

Sara (sassy) said...

Eamon knight, just b/c you don't go to chuch does't mean you are an atheist. I rarely go to church and I'm not an atheist.

Again, I think PM is over-reacting and reading way more than is intended into the song. Not everyone in the world is out to get atheists.

Summer Squirrel said...

I think the term "non-believers" is a huge clue that this song is referring to atheists. We still have a lot of work to do to make people realize we're nice people too.

Tom Foss said...

Ugh, that looks almost as bad as "The Christmas Shoes." That particular song isn't quite as bad toward atheists, but it is a war crime in your ears.

It sounds like you ought to go cleanse your palate with some Rush or Bad Religion. Or John Lennon.

Incidentally, if you're worried that all modern music is trending that way, I'm pretty sure that Five For Fighting's "The Riddle" is an atheist anthem. I don't usually care for their style, but I can't have too much problem with a song that says things like "we're all we've got on this bouncing ball" and "there's a reason for the world: you and I."

Anonymous said...

First a little background:
I was raised backwoods Baptist and now consider myself an atheist. I grew up listening to country music - both the old stuff and the new stuff. Given that, I think I might be able to offer a different perspective on this.

Alright, now consider the Louvin Brothers. They are probably most well known by folks who don't listen to country for the notoriously cheesy album cover they designed for the LP, "Satan is Real". However, among serious country fans, they are considered required listening because of their pioneering sound. Off the top of my head, I would say this is mostly because of the vocal harmonies and their use of the electric guitar (I think they were the first to employ the instrument in a country song). Either way, their influence on the genre is almost incalculable. If you feel inclined do some research on the matter, I think you will see what I mean. For instance, check out the number of people who have covered their songs. Ok. So now I am getting to my point. Take a look at the lyrics to "The Angels Rejoiced Last Night". From that song, you can see this theme is at least 50 years old.

That said, one could make the argument that those lyrics sprang from sort of traditionalism. Also, growing up I can remember having friends with parents that didn't go to church but didn't consider themselves atheists. This is fairly common and I think alcoholism/drug abuse and child abuse is as old and as persistent of a problem as it ever was.

BUT given the current political climate in America, is this really what the corporate record industry needs to be feeding the rural conservatives? The perverted, synergy between our fascist leaders and the backwards values of rural America is one of things that is running our country into the ground. I think we all know that the record industry decides what goes for popular music these days. Notice how they are fueling the fire.

Berlzebub said...

Actually, "non-believers" refers to a non-belief in Jeebus, or even in the way the bable is interpretted. So, it refers to anyone who isn't Xian.

Atheists aren't the only one's it insulting. Hell, depending on what denomination John Michael Montgomery (the one who sings the song) is, it could even refer to other Xians. Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, etc.

After I married a Roman Catholic, I had a Pentecostal preacher tell me that I "need to attend a real church". I guess that since I was raised Pentecostal, he assumed that I missed it. Boy was he surprised when I called my wife over, introduced her, and then told her exactly what he said.

-Berlzebub

Berlzebub said...

Oh, and I prefer Queensryche's Operation Mindcrime. Awesome CD. Then, they tamed down and released Empire.

"Spreading the Disease" has some particularly interesting segments to the lyrics. Although, I wouldn't recommend any of the CD for sheltered Xian children. Normal kids should be okay, as long as they have a parent present.

-Berlzebub

Calladus said...

It's just "Godspam" in music form, nothing more.

It is no different from those glurgy, godspam chain-mails that show up in my email box from time to time, usually from my religious grandmother or one of my religious friends. The headers in those emails show that the godspam bounced from believer to believer because they were afraid of being supernaturally condemned for breaking the chain.

This is so similar - it's a "feel righteous" Christian musical meme, and like any meme it protects itself. Obviously anyone who says that they don't like or appreciate this song isn't a "true Christian."

Mari said...

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. Although I could care less about John Michael Montgomery, I search the song a bit more on the internet and found that Allison Krause and Union Station were backup vocals for this song. I used to like Allison, but I can't support anybody or group that can promote this shit. Thanks

Natasha Yar-Routh said...

Yep, 'non-believers' pretty much refers to any one who doesn't believe their narrow brand of Christianity. So besides slagging atheists they are slagging Jews, Muslims, Hindus, Pagans etc. Nice bunch aren't they?

I too love 'Operation MindCrime', was a Queensryche fan from their first EP. I'm a Metal/Hard Rock/Punk kind of tranny.

'Rock and Roll is my religion and my law' - Ozzy Osbourne

Stacey said...

Oh HELL yeah. That song sucks.

Amazingly, I cuss and drink less as an atheist than I did as a christian, not that anyone would notice...and so far, I haven't shot anyone.

vern said...

As an almost exclusive country and/or western music fan (yes, there ARE only 2 types of music) I can tell you that these types of songs are extremely prevalent. But, fortunately, there are plenty of palatable songs for us evil "non-believers" as well.
Even the artists who have some of these songs typically have a far greater number of songs with no xian theme.

And by the way, I didn't necessarily like the entire album, but I thought "Empire" was an awesome song...

vern said...

As an aside; Stacey, why haven't you shot anyone yet? You know that's required when you renounce jeebus, right?

That's what xians'll think about you, anyway...

May as well get some mileage out of it and shoot someone. Make it a twofer and shoot a xian!

Stew said...

Calladus - thank-you for my word de jour "godspam" That's excellent. My in-laws send me this treacly stuff. It also has a bunch of people in the headers, and often has some supersticious "good luck" crap at the end

Aerik said...

Have you ever heard that really annoying yet popular Garth Brooks song? "I've got friends in low places where the whiskey burns and the booze chases my blues away."

Yeah, atheists are acoholics and bad people, now let's go celebrate alcoholism and hanging out with the coke addicts at the bar! That's the country way.

look_an_atheist said...

vern said...
As an aside; Stacey, why haven't you shot anyone yet? You know that's required when you renounce jeebus, right?

That's what xians'll think about you, anyway...

~~~~~~
From the few fundy responses I've been reading I thought they assumed we were all rapists. Oh- maybe we rape first shoot second. The stereotype just keeps growing.


BTW- I have no idea on the correct way to quote someone so I apologize if this comes across as confusing. *shrugs*

Jim said...

Possummomma, have you had an opportunity to point out just how hateful that song is to the person who recommended it?

Berlzebub said...

Vern:

And by the way, I didn't necessarily like the entire album, but I thought "Empire" was an awesome song...

I agree, Vern. The rest of the album was a little to tame for my taste.

look_an_atheist:

BTW- I have no idea on the correct way to quote someone so I apologize if this comes across as confusing. *shrugs*

No problem, look. To make it itallic put an "i" inside of a "<" and ">". At the end of the quote precede "i" by a "/". You can also bold the text by using a "b" instead of an "i".

You can look here for more examples of HTML tags. Some are more advanced, and don't work on all the blogs. But it'll give you a good starting point.

-Berlzebub

Virginia aka Ginny said...

I recommend you now go listen to some Tenacious D. :)

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Sassy: I think you're over-reacting. The song never says they are atheists, just that they don't go to church. Doesn't mean they are atheists.

A) The words "non-believers" would refer to atheists.
B) It's totally your right to think I'm "over-reacting". But, note that I didn't say "we should go out and kick their asses" or "we shoud all protest". I merely said, "What the hell?" How is that over-reacting?

Sassy: Again, I think PM is over-reacting and reading way more than is intended into the song. Not everyone in the world is out to get atheists.
Where did anyone say that the world was out to get atheists? I simply posted the lyrics to this song and said, "Nice dig." As for reading things into the lyrics...uh, no. The lyrics speak for themselves. I still fail to see how my post is an over-reaction.

Kazim said...

Just hearing that for the first time, eh? I remember hearing it in several places when it first came out, and it made me want to retch. Not the lyrics, but mainly that horrible country twang. But I guess you weren't quite an atheist back then...

Atheist in a mini van. said...

Just hearing that for the first time, eh? I remember hearing it in several places when it first came out, and it made me want to retch. Not the lyrics, but mainly that horrible country twang. But I guess you weren't quite an atheist back then...


Yeah...this is my first time hearing it!! I was pretty shocked. Like I said, I'm not a huge country fan.
Even when I wasn't an atheist, I still found a lot of country songs to be kind of screwy. *thinks* What was that song about "Please...don't take the girl." ??? Something about a son and dad going fishing and then the son's wife is dying, so the boy hits his knees...
Or...more recently, the song "Concrete Angels." I stumbled across that video and went, "Since when is child abuse supposed to be entertaining?"

markbt73 said...

Look_an_atheist:

I think the whole "rapist" thing was just a misunderstanding. We said we thought they were nuts and should visit "a therapist," and they misread and thought we wanted them to visit "the rapist."

Marcy said...

Well, I guess the parents in that song could've taken their little girl to church where the preacher might have molested her. How's that for good Christian morality?

Cayora said...

This is my first time commenting here, but I just couldn't resist. Love the blog.

It's the glurge story turned country song! I saw that email back when I was a teenager and it bugged me then. I had no idea someone made a song of it.

http://www.snopes.com/glurge/girl.asp

That's just bizarre.

Joe said...

To keep peace in the car, I usually let my wife listen to country. I've heard this song but didn't quite pick up on the lyrics. You're all missing the message. Jesus is the truth and the answer. The child in the story had to suffer like Jesus on the cross. (ooops, my sarcasm detector just exploded)
None of us should be surprised. To many Xians, we are the enemy and are not worthy. Just anoter cross to bear, so to speak.
And, I agree with Mari. I used to like Allison Krauss but now her involvement in this song disappoints me. We are not the enemy.

Ang said...

I can't stand country music. It reminds me of my ex-husband toooo much. My closest friend still likes country music (she is a fellow atheist), so I have to listen to it occasionally. And I have heard this song and the Carrie Underwood tune before and they both made me want to vomit.
I have often said that rock n roll is our religion :) My husband and children are all rock musicians. They can cover all the required insturments - bass, guitar, drums, and I run the sound board.
We spent Easter weekend at the Rock n Roll Hall of Fame about 5 years ago. Rock concert tickets are often birthday presents around here.
And btw, my husband, children and I have not shot anyone. And we live in rural southern Ohio.

alisonM said...

Hey, it's not just country music. Creed and Switchfoot make me throw up a little in my mouth, too.

And you know, I was a little disappointed when I became an atheist. I was kind of looking forward to becoming a drunken rapist, but it just never seemed to happen. Go figure.

look_an_atheist said...

markbt73 said...
I think the whole "rapist" thing was just a misunderstanding. We said we thought they were nuts and should visit "a therapist," and they misread and thought we wanted them to visit "the rapist."



~~~~
BWAHAHAHA

Thanks for the laugh!!!! :-D


PS- Thanks Berlzebub for the tip, I will continue to try and improve my posting etiquette. ;-)

erin said...

I don't know which song I hate more...this one or the one about the little boy buying shoes for his dying mom. We'll just say that I hate them both equally.

Sean the Blogonaut said...

I will admit to liking Nickel Creek. Not sure which category that fits in.

Meghann (DaisyDude) said...

Remedy: XTC's 'Dear God'.

It was hearing this song that made me realize I wasn't the only person out there having doubts. (ok, I was about 13 or 14 at the time so it was a big deal)

The line I like best is something like: Did you make mankind after we made you? And the devil too?

Brendan said...

I must be the only non-Christian on the planet who likes Creed. Matter of fact, I may be one of the select few (Christian or otherwise) who doesn't hate them. I also, unlike the majority of my friends, like country music. I'm pretty sure it was Grand Theft Auto that actually changed my mind about it, remarkably.
This song, though, you're right. Threw up a little in my mouth sort of thing. Switchfoot, too. I always want to send these people a copy of the Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 6. That's the one that's all about being humble in your faith. I'm thinking I should get a whole bunch of leaflets printed, and hand them out to evangelists.

Berlzebub said...

I don't like Creed, but not because of their lyrics. My reason for disliking them is their unoriginal sound. I once told a Creed fan, one of my wife's friends who was trying to be cool for her kids, that "I was listening to Creed fifteen years ago. Back then, they were called Pearl Jam." She (my wife's friend) got upset because she thought I was mocking her. Honestly, I wasn't... at least not consciously. However, I proved my point the next time my wife and I went to visit. I brought my old Pearl Jam CD, and played 'Jeremy'.

She grudgingly admitted that they did sound similar, but then I had to bust out laughing when her daughter came in. "Is that a new Creed CD?!"

-Berlzebub

Berlzebub said...

Also of note, Eddie Vedder (Pearl Jam's lead singer) is an atheist.

Which makes Creed's mimicry of their sound especially ironic.

-Berlzebub

Anonymous said...

wow, i didn't realize atheists were so uptight and intolerent. why do you feel so threatened by other peoples beliefs? as far as the song goes, i think it says a lot more about the realities of child abuse, and neglect due to parents being drug addicts and alcoholics.also, the good christians in the song are from the city, not back
woods red necks. country music is pretty mainsteam nonadays-as illustrated by the dixie chicks massive grammy success, so it's not all "red states" oriented at all.but really, if living a life of faith comforts someone else, what do you people care?

Berlzebub said...

wow, i didn't realize atheists were so uptight and intolerent. why do you feel so threatened by other peoples beliefs?

I don't know about other atheists, but I do not feel threatened by others beliefs. I'm wary of the people acting on those beliefs.

as far as the song goes, i think it says a lot more about the realities of child abuse, and neglect due to parents being drug addicts and alcoholics.

No, it is not about reality. They took the time to speak of non-believers specifically. Addicts of any kind can be religious, agnostic, or atheist.

also, the good christians in the song are from the city, not back
woods red necks.


Please try, again. The song goes...
"And some people from the city took the girl far away...
To a new mom and a new dad, kisses and hugs everyday...
"

The people who took the girl "far away" were from the city. It makes no mention of where her new parents are.

country music is pretty mainsteam nonadays-as illustrated by the dixie chicks massive grammy success, so it's not all "red states" oriented at all.

Watered down country, or as I call it Pop-Counry) is mainstream. The country music I grew up on (eg. Merle Haggard, George Jones, Alabama, etc.) doesn't get nearly as much air time.

As far as the Dixie Chicks, do some research. After Natalie Mains (not sure how to spell her last name) spoke out against President Bush, they were pretty much blackballed in country music. Country music stations banned them, some by popular vote from listeners. Check how many CMA awards have been awarded to the Dixie Chicks since then?

but really, if living a life of faith comforts someone else, what do you people care?

If all it does is comfort, I have no problems with it. It's when it starts affecting me that I start getting upset. Read some of the comments, from this and other atheist blogs, made by xians.
Atheist = rapist
Atheist = murderer
Atheist = no love
It goes on and on.

Before you go berating atheists, you should take a closer look at the book that Xians base their beliefs on.

One part says it's apparently okay to give your wife over to be raped, if it'll save your own ass. And that's just one of them.

Crap like that is the reason we're "uptight and intolerant".

-Berlzebub

PS. Your grammar isn't bad, but you need to learn to use the 'shift' key.

Berlzebub said...

Sorry, PM. I realize I was probably just feeding a troll (or baiting a Baptitst ;-) ), but I haven't had a good rant, this week.

By the way, congrats on your nomination.

Ronni said...

I thought the same as you did on hearing that song.

Atheists: the last remaining group that it's safe to attack!

patrickimo said...

I have a post on my blog in which I suggest that these "nonbelievers" are very real, but they're not atheists. I tentatively call them "Neutrals," which probably isn't a very good term but tries to get across their worldview of "absolutely nothing." I think we need to seriously consider what we're going to be replacing religion with when it's finally gone...

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.