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Freak Out For Jesus!
March 20, 2005 9:15 AM   Subscribe

Jesus Freak Rock of the 60's & 70's. Rising out of the post-hippie "Jesus Freak" culture, many of the adherents were disenchanted counterculturists or just plain casualties of the time. Many of the musicians were already rockers before converting, so they were comfortable with the idiom, and it seemed to be more about sincerity than political propoganda. Compared to today's CCM corporate juggernaut it seems positively guileless.
posted by jonmc (20 comments total)

 
I should preface this by saying that I post this not to "laugh at the Christians" or to prostletytize, but mainly because I find it all to be an interesting cultural moment and I genuinely enjoy some of the music.
posted by jonmc at 9:16 AM on March 20, 2005


Is George Harrison in there anywhere?
posted by davy at 9:21 AM on March 20, 2005


Nice post, but Johnny Trunk's Resurrection comp definitely needs a mention here.
posted by walkathon at 9:47 AM on March 20, 2005


This is seriously great. Thanks.
posted by Quartermass at 10:11 AM on March 20, 2005


Nice post, jonmc. Brings back a lot of memories for me, both good and bad.

As a former JF who listened to a lot of these bands back in the day, I have to say that most of this stuff was terrible. An awful lot of these bands simply lifted secular music and lyrics, then "Jesus-fied" it.Larry Norman was one of the few who's music stood on its own merits.
posted by MrBaliHai at 10:22 AM on March 20, 2005


My favorite JF band of all time wasn't active 'till the '80's:Stryper.
posted by Quartermass at 10:33 AM on March 20, 2005


I, too, lived through thsat era and saw several of my friends get enthralled by the JFM. They would slap these "one way" stickers over everything and be just as obnoxiously overbearing as anyone else who's discovered "THE TRUTH." I was born with an extra helping of skepticism, and so preferred to keep my spiritual quests out of the conversation. I can't honestly say that I know anyone whose conversion lasted. It was a new drug.
posted by beelzbubba at 10:34 AM on March 20, 2005


Glenn Schwartz of the All saved Freak Band was in Pacific Gas & Electric (who did the classic 70's nugget "Are You Ready," among others) so he had some chops and heart as well. I also read that one member of 70's country rockers Mason Proffit is currently a Franciscan monk, who dosen't denounce his rockin' days in the slightest.

On a side note I didn't mention Christian R&B or country (like the affable Lawrence Reynolds' "Jesus is A Soul Man") since many, if not most, of the best artists in those idioms were church trained musicians so it wasn't quite as much of a stretch. But since those musics are the underpinning of rock and roll, the relationship between rock and religion is more complex than it would seem.

Good to see ya, balihai, btw.

My favorite JF band of all time wasn't active 'till the '80's:Stryper.

I always saw Stryper (even though some of my extremely secualr headbanger associates in high school, dug them musically) as part of the cynical CCM macine that came later.
posted by jonmc at 10:37 AM on March 20, 2005


Does Bob Dylan count?
posted by PenDevil at 10:39 AM on March 20, 2005


I always saw Stryper (even though some of my extremely secular headbanger associates in high school, dug them musically) as part of the cynical CCM macine that came later.

Which is what makes them so much fun. Stryper was a painfully clear attempt to reach the huddled masses through "heavy metal." They were Metal-by-numbers, but infinitely pleasurable to listen to.
posted by Quartermass at 11:29 AM on March 20, 2005


Wow, UVA's Religious Movements pages are great, jonmc, thanks. I'm not sure I believe Cornerstone mag's 1979 claim that one JF group had "between 60 and 80 percent" success in curing heroin addiction, but the history - and the controversies the UVA site mentions - sure are interesting. Thanks again for this one.
posted by mediareport at 12:35 PM on March 20, 2005


Good to see ya, balihai, btw.

You know where I hang out. Drop by anytime!

I can't honestly say that I know anyone whose conversion lasted.

beelzbubba: I know quite a few folks who kept their faith, although none would call themselves JFs these days.
posted by MrBaliHai at 12:41 PM on March 20, 2005


The Uli Roth-penned Scorps tune Your Light is an interesting isolated instance.
posted by Wolfdog at 12:43 PM on March 20, 2005


The deities sure weren't kind to the All Saved Freak Band - that band was seriously jinxed. Yikes.

I have always been partial to Gospel, but this hippie Jesus thing, not so much. But it's a masterful post, jonmc - a great topical overview. Thanks.

/ waves enthusiastically to MrBaliHai!
posted by madamjujujive at 1:02 PM on March 20, 2005


Glass Harp was a great one I used to see live back in the early 70's, and it looks like they're still around. Phil Keaggy, the lead guitarist, was a real rocker.
posted by tizzie at 1:55 PM on March 20, 2005


beelzbubba: I know quite a few folks who kept their faith, although none would call themselves JFs these days.

balihai: we don't disagree. i think most of those that got wrapped up tight in the JF movement started perhaps from a disillusioned faith, but faith nonetheless. After the ardor, I think they went back to more conventional Christianity. None I knew stayed at that "cultish" pitch.
posted by beelzbubba at 2:32 PM on March 20, 2005


I used to live down the block from the Jesus People. They gave me a tour of their building once. They're still pretty much a functioning commune, and they sided with the neighborhood's poor and black populations in local elections. Plus a lot of them certaintly looked like either hippies or punks. Pretty cool bunch, IMHO.
posted by eustacescrubb at 4:16 PM on March 20, 2005


Plus a lot of them certaintly looked like either hippies or punks. Pretty cool bunch, IMHO.

That's the sense I get from at least some of this music. That they were burnt out with the more decadent aspects of the Counterculture, but wanted to get in touch with a more honest form of Christianity, and that they genuinely dug rock and roll.

Of course some of 'em were seriously wacky in other ways, unfortunately.

The latter-day Christian rockers, for the most part, seem to be something else entirely.
posted by jonmc at 4:19 PM on March 20, 2005


An ebay search for "xian psych" always turns up some interesting stuff. Try a completed items search too (login/ebay account required, or just check out this listing).

walkathon's first link is NSFW, by the way.
posted by hydrophonic at 10:38 PM on March 20, 2005


Jesus is just alright with me.
posted by Smedleyman at 2:10 PM on March 21, 2005


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