Rock Stars and Life Guidance

Pop stars and rock stars are not usually known as great and enduring moral philosophers. And we should not expect them to be. But nonetheless, often what they say and sing about becomes a creed to live by, at least for all their adoring fans.

If a fave rocker said it, a legion of fans will believe it – and run with it. But this is not how we should determine eternal truths to live by. Seldom do our music legends provide us with anything worth hanging on to and turning into a textbook for life.

Instead, what they usually dish up is a whole lot of bad advice and lousy ideas. From John Lennon urging us to imagine life without religion (1971) to Kate Perry boasting about how she kissed a girl (2008), we get some pretty poor guidance and directions from most pop stars.

One could come up with hundreds more such artists and songs. While some may offer a bit of sensible and morally sound advice, far too many do not. It would require an article far longer than this to examine even a dozen of these questionable tunes.

But if you spend even a small amount of time on television you will find a lot of these songs as part of the advertising. Often they will resurrect some older song and give it new life by inserting it into some ad. I think that the advertisers are often targeting us baby-boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) who have grown up on many of these songs. They are trying to get us all nostalgic for the good old days, in the hopes that we will go out and buy their product or use their service.

So let me briefly look at three current television ads which have all featured some well known pop song or rock song from the past. Some of the tunes are very familiar indeed, but one or two I had to look up to discover who the original artist was, and when the song was first released.

And all three contain some really lousy advice on how we should be living our lives. Take it from me: you really don’t want to go down those paths!

Free to feel good

The first one happens to be a milk ad, of all things. The song was only vaguely familiar to me, but a quick search turned up this information: the song, “Everybody’s Free (To Feel Good)” came out in 1991 by Rozalla, Zambian-born Zimbabwean singer. A video of the song is found here:

Obviously it is the lyrics that I am interested in here. The refrain goes like this:

Everybody’s free to feel good
Everybody’s free to feel good, to feel good
Everybody’s free to feel good
Everybody’s free to feel good, to feel good

Yes I know, it is just some pop song. But pop songs can have incredible influence and power – especially over many adoring young fans. They will have the words memorised and going through their minds all day. And many will accept them as some sort of profound moral truth.

But we have a problem here, certainly from a Christian point of view. We are not actually free, but born into sin. That enslaves us, and we cannot get out of it by ourselves. Only Christ and the work he did at the cross on our behalf can truly free us. Otherwise we may think we are free but we are not.

And when we are set free, it is NOT to just feel good – whatever that means. We are then free to serve God and others. Becoming really free means we can become who we were meant to be, and be a force for good in the world. Simply wanting to feel good is a dead-end philosophy.

And it can do an enormous amount of harm of course. Some people feel good when they are putting down others or bullying them. Some people feel good when they damage things or wreck their accommodation. Some people feel good when stoned out of their minds. Some people feel good as they sexually assault others.

So simply feeling good is no way to map out your life and determine what your moral compass in life should be. It is usually a recipe for disaster, and the last thing we should run our lives by is our ever-changing feelings and moods. Mature adults need much more than that to live a good life.

Do what you wanna do

One old rock classic – at least in Australia – has had a new lease on life in a current television ad. The original song from 1971, “It’s Because I Love You,” by the Master’s Apprentices, can be found here:

A new rendition of this song is now featured in a Westpac Bank ad. The song contains the refrain “do what you wanna do, be what you wanna be, yeah”. Once again, this is not exactly sage advice. It is similar to the shortcomings of the other song: it is all about self and selfishness.

It is all totally subjective as well. Not everything we might want to do is a good thing. We might want to cheat on our taxes – but should we? We might want to cheat on our spouse. We might want to run a red light if no one is looking. We might want to steal an old lady’s handbag. We might want to stay constantly intoxicated.

And not everything we might want to be is morally advisable. Some folks might want to be a bank robber, or a hooker, or a drug dealer, or an ISIS fighter, etc. There are plenty of things we really should not be or become. No man is an island, and in a world with other people, we always have to say no to certain whims and desires.

Indeed, the mark of a civilised society and a mature individual is putting restraints on your appetites, saying no to every fleeting desire that pops up, and learning how to live a life of self-discipline and self-restraint. No healthy individual can live as a perpetual child, always demanding his or her own way. They must learn to curb their appetites, be willing to defer desires, and say no to instant gratification.

And no society can last long without such curbs as well. It must learn to live within constraints. It must live within its means. It cannot keep spending more than it takes in. It must be based on a moral foundation to ensure it stays on track. So I am afraid that this song is another failed candidate for any sort of life guidance.

I want it all

My final television ad – for Foxtel – features a classic old 1989 Queen song, “I Want It All.” The original can be found here:

In an effort to assure consumers that they can have all the entertainment they want, Foxtel is now featuring this song. It contains this refrain, “I want it all, I want it all, I want it all, and I want it now.” Not unlike the message found in the previous two songs, this one also focuses on self and selfishness, and getting everything you want – right now.

As mentioned, this is always very bad advice. Toddlers of course operate this way, but we do not expect adults to function like this. A child will see a toy, desire it, and simply grab it – even if another child was happily playing with it.

It takes some careful socialisation and good parental input over some years to teach a child not just to run with every single impulse and desire that comes along. They have to live in a world of other individuals, and that means learning to compromise, to give and take, to defer gratification of desires, and develop the ability to self-sacrifice.

A normal adult functions this way, as does a properly functioning society. An adult or society that stresses absolutely nothing but wanting it all and wanting it now will not last long at all. Our prisons are full of people who wanted it all, who could not wait to get something properly, and who demanded their own way – at the expense of everyone else.

Yet we have had hundreds of millions of people growing up on such songs, soaking up not just the music but the message as well. They have been given some very terrible advice. They have been fed lies. They have been deceived. Sure, not all of our problems are due to pop songs with stupid and harmful messages alone. But they have certainly played a role in all this.

Popular culture as a whole has a lot to answer for. Whether it is MTV or movies or television or pop songs or advertising, it is all contributing to a culture of spoiled brats, immature adolescents, and people consumed with self and self alone. That is not going to end well.

As mentioned, some songs can offer a positive and beneficial message. And other songs – at least indirectly – can serve as warnings about how we should NOT be living our lives. The Christian satire site Babylon Bee recently featured one such song as a case in point. The piece began:

A recent survey performed by CCLI confirmed that AC/DC’s hard rock classic “Highway to Hell” is more theologically accurate than 96% of the songs that most worship bands play on any given Sunday. The study examined over 800 songs and compared their theology to the Scriptures, and found that the Australian rock group’s 1979 classic was “significantly more accurate” than over 96% of them.

“While modern worship songs tend to contain little theology, an anaemic view of sin, and a poor understanding of the work of the Holy Spirit, ‘Highway to Hell’ has a very biblical view of the doctrine of hell,” a CCLI rep said. “Lead singer Bon Scott had a clear understanding of man’s natural inclination toward sin and the inevitable judgment of God that follows.”

Yes quite so. Often satire can get us very close to the truth indeed. And sometimes a pagan rock band can give us more theological truth than many contemporary worship songs do. But don’t get me started on modern Christian music! I have written on this elsewhere however:

And here:

The moral of the story is this: don’t get your life counsel and moral road map from rock songs and pop stars. Most of them will lead you straight to the pit. They will take you on a highway to hell. They will not help you as you navigate your way through life, and most will result in a truncated and damaged life.

And it may be time for at least some Christians to wean themselves off of heavy doses of pagan and ungodly music!

[1817 words]

10 Replies to “Rock Stars and Life Guidance”

  1. Dear Bill excellent synopsis on modern pop music and movies. Anyone interested in further study of just how evil music & movies are should have a look at K J Ozborne’s site the scariest movie ever channel on YouTube. That is if he is still on there?
    Mark Bryant

  2. Bill – three things if I may…
    1 I’m not sure what years cover my generation (I was born in 1942) nor what moniker that generation is given, if any, but somehow the major musical form for me was classical music as well as Gilbert and Sullivan (not Gilbert O’Sullivan) and Rodgers and Hammerstein – and it seems I should be thankful.
    2 I’m a great fan of Babylon Bee. Looking at one of the headlines (p.1) and some of the lines in the article on p.17 in The Weekend Australian of 22/23 June, makes me think someone at the Babylon Bee also works for The Australian.
    The headline on the front page (in the top right-hand corner) reads: Parent Trap – High Court redefines ‘dad’. When you go to p.17 we read (and I quote) ‘The High Court said the word ‘parent’ in the Family Law Act should be given its “natural and ordinary meaning”‘. Somehow that is said to be redefining ‘dad’!
    The article had the heading ‘The Donor Parent Trap’ and the subheading ‘Law lags behind the reality of artificial insemination’.
    Throughout the whole article the existence of fathers ‘in the natural and ordinary meaning’ of the word is virtually excluded. Apart from their usefulness as sperm donors, fathers hardly figure in the scheme of things.
    Although there would be no baby without the male sperm donation, if the conception is the result of artificial insemination the donor is not regarded as the father unless he is in a ‘relationship’ with the mother at the time of conception. The Family Court has ruled (seriously!) that it would be a ‘constitutional heresy’ to regard the sperm donor as the legal father.
    Here’s another one: ‘it is not clear how involved a man needs to be before he will be considered a legal parent’.
    And then there’s this: ‘From the beginning I have told my child that I am the parent and Uncle Dazzle is the friend who helped to make that happen’.
    But we’re not as progressive as Canada yet, are we? In Ontario, the law allows for up to four parents to be registered on a birth certificate (I kid you not).
    Though not far. In 2017 the full Family Court decided, amongst other things, that though a man was the biological father of a child he was not a legal parent and (surprise, surprise), the child’s parentage was ‘in doubt’.
    3 I would really appreciate your vetting of what I have written – and even not publishing it. I wasn’t sure how to contact you apart from through this site.
    Neil Harvey

  3. Could AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” be used as some kind of “circuit-breaker” in discussions of Hell that are bound to come up with neighbours, relatives and others in the wake of that Folau social media post? Many Aussies from the rough side of life’s tracks are more familiar with AC/DC and other hard rock music than they are with either the Christian Gospel or secular philosophy.

    Jon Bon Jovi’s “It’s my Life” is another rock anthem which disagrees front-on with 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 and other passages of Paul’s epistles which tell us life is not meant to be lived for ourselves but for the Christ who loved us and gave Himself for us. To hark back to the dangerous sentiments of crooner, Frank Sinatra’s hit, to say before the Lamb of God’s great white judgement throne, “I did it my way” just won’t do on Judgement Day.

  4. A talented person not seeking fame finds that Christian beliefs cause outrage.


    A talented[1] person seeking fame[2] finds that Islamic beliefs[3] are ignored.


    A comparison of Australia’s Christian and Islamic heritage

  5. Aleister Crowley (1875-1947) started out life as an evangelical Christian in respect of his preacher father. Later he turned and became an occultist, branded by tabloids in UK as “the wickedest man in the world” for his sexual depravity and dark arts. He influenced bands such as Led Zeppelin despite his frightening persona. He is quoted as saying “Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the law” which equates to the doctrine of Lucifer. To experience pleasure in excess by unfettered depravity as in Crowley’s case, previously acquainted with bible knowledge, is apostacy “the sin unto death” and ultimately leads to a form of self destruction.

  6. Absolutely correct. The problem is we are constantly bombarded with these hedonistic and deceitful concepts, and often with sexual images as well, and the fact is if your eye is in darkness so is your whole body.

    People have been weaned onto the concept of being constantly entertained instead of taking charge of their own life and this is now having an effect on the whole of society. There is a reason why the scriptures speak of how easily we can become enslaved to sin. The comparison to a two-year-old is definitely a valid one. Society has become markedly less mature as well as understanding and respectful of truth.

    God did not give us the tenth commandment (not to covet) for any reason other than for our own good. God’s morality laws are all based on His absolute love and His vastly greater knowledge and wisdom than ours and it certainly does not profit anyone if they should even gain the entire world but lose their soul. We need to understand this. Our soul is worth more than the entire world’s wealth.

  7. John, I think you are onto something valuable for the future here. Through the years I have collected many other books, fact sheets, internet sites, etc. which could make up an arsenal for a Compromised > Alternatives library for fact checking, debate, etc. I am sure many other readers and supporters of Bill’s blog will have something similar?

  8. I remember Queen’s ‘I Want It All.’ The lyrics were very selfish, and empty.

    I also recall Nicky Gumbel using a quote from the late Freddie Mercury in one of his talks for the Alpha Course. Mercury said that he felt an emptiness inside that he couldn’t explain. It seems that his lifestyle, nor the fame and wealth from being in a popular rock band did not fulfill him.

  9. If what these songs recommend, (and are used in commercials to promote those ideas), are so great, so helpful, so wise, why are so many committing suicide, taking opioids for a buzz, smoking dope and crack, shooting heroin, getting drunk and watching porn? Me thinks “Wanting it all,” is a gigantic deception that definitely leads adherents to the “Highway to Hell.”

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