CHAPTER FIVE
"Rock Music"
(Early April 1982 to Mid-May 1982)

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In my 5th hour class on the first Monday following spring vacation, Dan started talking to me about "backwards masking" He told me that Connie, who lived in the house next door to mine, told my older sister that she actually heard it. I was skeptical. The next day, Edward, who was absent on Monday, told me more about it during 4th hour.

"Have I got something to tell you!" Edward said. "Sunday when I was in church, these guys came in with a tape. They played songs backwards and there were words coming out! Satanic messages!"

"You mean it's true?!?" I said surprisingly.

"People like Olivia-Newton John, AC / DC, and even the Muppets and Alvin and the Chipmunks!"

I was so shocked by what Edward had told me that I very quickly got carried away with this issue. I actually began to believe that Satan was somehow supernaturally implanting messages into these songs without the artists knowing it. However, much of the "backwards masking" thing was nothing but pure hype. Yet somehow, in my early stages of child-like faith, I got really caught up in it.

After talking to Edward about it, I decided to talk to Dan. He suggested that I quit listening to rock music. After class, I ran into Edward and another friend named Tom. Dan, Tom, Edward, and I walked down the hall together, and Tom, Edward, and I agreed to quit listening to rock music. (Tom was into pop music and soft rock)

When we got down the hall, someone turned on a tape player and Loverboy's "Everybody's Working for the Weekend" cranked on.

"That's my favorite song," I said to Dan.

"Don't listen to it," he replied.

I played some records backwards that night to see if I could hear anything. I didn't hear anything. But what I was doing scared me, so I quit.

I had indeed made the decision to quit listening to rock music. I, therefore, had no music in my life because the only form of music that I liked was rock. I couldn't stand traditional or "mellow" Christian music, and didn't know of any Christian rock songs. I should note that I did try listening to the more traditional Christian radio stations, but that was such a "culture shock" to me, that I quickly stopped listening to those stations. I knew that there was a Christian radio station right in the middle of all of the rock stations, because I had ran into it a few times. So I tuned into that station and I listened. I couldn't stand most of the songs because of the music, but I still tried to listen to the words. One song called "El Shaddai" by Amy Grant caught my ear. I liked it! The next Wednesday, Dan picked me up to go to church (He also picked Don up, but he got me first). "Have you ever heard of Amy Grant?" I asked him.

"Isn't she disco?" Dan said.

I interpreted this as an insult, but I'm not sure if Dan meant it to be one. "Man!" I said. "You don't like anything I like! You think anything with a drum is sin!"

Dan laughed lightly. But I thought that he was being a little hypocritical because he would listen to country gospel, and country music also had a beat. A couple of weeks later, I asked Dan, "Why do you hate contemporary music?"

"Because it's made my man," he said. "It's of the world."

"But so is country music," I said.

Dan hesitated for a moment and then said, "No, it's the beat. The rock music beat is of the world." (Eight months later, Dan would reverse this and say that even country music was sinful.) In spite of Dan's criticisms, however, the fact still remained that the more traditional Christian music was a "culture shock" to me, and had no real positive effect on me. It only seemed to make me depressed. It seemed so dead, so devoid of any life. But getting back to the main point, I had quit listening to rock music and didn't replace it with any other kind of music because I didn't like anything else. I liked and wanted my music, so one week later, I went back to listening to rock music. So did Edward and Tom.

Soon, however, Edward started talking about a Christian singer named David Meece who sang to modern-styled music. He said that Tom bought an album by him, and it was great! Edward wrote some of the lyrics down and brought it to school to show me.

Tom started sitting with us at lunch and sometimes would talk about David Meece, or about a group called the Imperials. Don would call it sin saying that contemporary Christian music was like taking a valuable diamond to someone in a garbage truck.

In early May, I asked Tom if he could record his David Meece album for me because I wanted to hear it. I gave him a cassette tape that had recordings of Cheap Trick on one side and the Tubes on the other, and I asked him to erase it by putting David Meece over it.

The next day, he brought it back with David Meece on one side, and the Imperials on the other. I had heard of the Imperials before, but never knew they were contemporary (I heard of them through advertisements in Campus Life magazine). When 5th hour came around, I took the tape to Dan to show him that I was listening to Christian music.

He looked at it and sarcastically and disgustingly said, "Wonderful! The Imperials!"

"What's wrong with the Imperials?" I asked surprisingly.

"Nothing, nothing," he said trying to shrug it off while he handed the tape back to me. But I could tell that he hated it.

That night at home, I listened to the tape. I started playing David Meece, which was the album Are You Ready? The first song was called "Follow You," and I loved it! There was life and energy to this song, and I was filled with feelings of excitement and exhilaration as I listened. I was caught up! There was no doubt that there was something different about this music. The whole spirit behind it was different, as well as the whole mood and atmosphere that surrounded it. I could actually feel the presence of God as I listened! It was music I liked along with a special joy that my old music didn't have.

"Wow! This stuff is better," I said to myself before the tape finished. "I repent of that old rock music! I'm changing to this!" The Imperials' Priority album was good, too.

I listened to both David Meece and the Imperials every day for about a week. I then decided to start looking for a Christian radio station that would play contemporary or rock styles.

Don would speak against our music. He did it almost every day, and Tom, Edward, and I would speak to him contrary to what he'd say. He'd make statements about how it was wrong, and we'd make statements about how it was right.

Once I said to Tom, "My favorite song by David Meece is 'We Are the Reason.'"

Then Tom said, "You should hear how he did it in concert. He'd say, 'When I sing "We are the reason that he suffered and died," I want all of you to sing with me, but I want you to sing, "I am the reason."'"

"That is good!" I said.

But Don still didn't like it. I asked Don to listen to the tape of David Meece and the Imperials. He said that he would. But when he brought it home, the tape wouldn't work when he had it on the David Meece side, but the Imperials side did play.

Don brought it back and said, "It didn't work on one side. I think that if God didn't want me to hear it, he doesn't want you to either."

I tried to show David Meece to Dan, too. But every time I tried, something went wrong. I came to the conclusion that since neither Dan nor Don could hear David Meece, but Don could hear the Imperials, that there must have been something wrong spiritually with David Meece. This belief didn't last long, however. I was not very mature in my faith yet, and I often came to ridiculous conclusions when I tried to make sense of events.

Don had taken my tape on a Friday night. That night, because I had no music to listen to, I listened to WJBL-FM, a local Christian radio station. I tuned in to it during a show called "Music by Request" with Terry VanAelst, and noticed that most of the songs played were contemporary styled. I then tuned into "Music by Request" every weekday from 6 to 8 PM. The following week, I discovered WYGR on the AM dial. I found WYGR when a Christian hard rock show called "Roar of Love" was on. The rest of the time, WYGR played lighter Christian rock. But I did most of my listening to WJBL's "Music by Request" because it was on the FM dial.

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