My world in six songs: Part five, religion.

Part five of a six-part series inspired by Daniel Levitin’s book “The World In Six Songs”, which describes his theory that music is core to being human, and how six types of songs enabled the social bonding necessary for human culture and society to evolve. These song-types are: friendship, joy, comfort, religion, knowledge, and love. See part one here.

I grew up in an atheist household, which doesn't mean I was taught to not believe in God, but it does mean I was taught to question everything about him. In the end, I opted to go atheist myself, so as I sit here and contemplate religious music, I do it from the point of view of a non-believer. Here goes:

Amazing Grace, lyrics by John Newton, music by Who Knows, because more than any other song I can think of this is the one that truly feels spiritual, save for the lyrics, which start out great, but go quickly downhill after the first line. One of the things about the Christian religion that really bothers me is that we're all a bunch of losers until we believe in god. I just can't get behind that.

Jesus Gonna Be Here, by Tom Waits, because this is one of the few songs about Jesus I can not only tolerate, but I actually really like. Still, the message is troubling: sit around and do nothing and wait for God to show up and save you. Somehow, I think Tom is aware of the fact that Jesus, might not come, and if he does, he will be a fake, and gives it away with the line "hollywood be thy name".

O Come All Ye Faithful, lyrics by John F. Wade and others, music by Wade and others, because to me this song is Christmas.
Gregorian Chants, by history's monks, I think, because to me these ARE church. Put one of these on, close your eyes, and you are in a cathedral. Moreover, in every cathedral I've ever been in, just the sound of people murmering is like a chant, rerverating off the walls and filling the air with voice.
The Opening Riff to Jumpin' Jack Flash on Get Your Ya Yas Out, by Keith Richards (some say Bill Wyman), because whatever a deeply religious person feels when listening to a hymnal, I feel when I listen to this riff. It sends chills up and down my spine. Moreover, the riff itself was a Holy Grail of sorts for me, and I searched far and wide for instructions of on how to play it. Just a few years ago, I finally found out!

Next up, love.