Music as the Soul Invader (From the Archives)

Cornel West said, “Music is the only thing that can enter the soul uninvited.” When I heard that, I was immediately in sync with that thought. Music does something to our souls, whether we invite it to or not.

I connected with what Cornel was saying because of my deep love for music. There are people who like music, they dance to it, tolerate it in certain environments or enjoy it in moderation, but I love music more then any other form of communication we as humans have. I marvel at it when it’s wonderful and I even marvel at it when it’s horrid (Kesha, Cinderella, Poison, Britney Spears, a few of the stinkers). I love music. Really love it.

I believe it’s because I love stories, I love to tell them and I love to read or hear great ones. Music is the greatest vehicle by which a story can be delivered, stories both bad and good, stories that get into our souls like second hand smoke gets into our lungs, the stories that are delivered through music get into our airways, we breath them in and exhale them, and I love that! I really do love that God made us like that, he made us to breathe in the music and let it affect us.

But unlike many Christians that I have encountered in my 24 years as a follower of Christ, I don’t believe this applies exclusively to “sacred” music or music we label as “Christian.” I believe that both secular and/or sacred songs can be great soul invaders or a bad soul invaders.

Let me give you an example, the song “Bawitdaba” by Kid Rock? Yes, it’s one of my all time favorite songs, I’ve talked about it and quoted it many times. But If you are a Christian and you read the words to that song, you might want to cast the devil out of me for loving it, and you might want to ban Kid Rock’s music from your home forever, like most Christians do. But, from my perspective, which is a different perspective perhaps, that song takes on a completely different meaning, the spirit touches my soul in a good way. See, I find inspiration, courage, hope from this song that speaks of strippers, pimps, drug dealers, gang bangers and Methadone clinics. I see in this song the people most forgotten and abandoned by us, the church, I see a song about the outcast sinners of the hard places in our society, a song that says: “you are not forgotten.”

The best line in the song, the one that struck my soul like a bolt of lightening is, “ can look for answers but that ain’t fun, now get in the pit and try to love someone!“  Sure, I know that Kid Rock was singing about a mosh pit at a concert, but to me, to my soul, he was also singing about the people who live in a deep pit of poverty, drug use, gangs, porn, the hood. He is telling me to “get in the pit and try to love someone,” and the answers to the “why” I’m looking for are not to be found, the fun is in getting in the pit and loving someone, loving these outcasts.

I think the saddest, most soul-stirring thing about songs like this is that they are written as anthems to the debauchery, the sin, the rebellion of these lives; they sing of separation, how the world outside doesn’t understand; and they’re set like a shield against the “good” people of the world.

Now, when our family listens to this song as we often do, we hear a mad driving beat, a killer lyrical flow, and a call to get in the pit and try to love someone, to love the people that populate the song, to say “you are not forgotten” by us, the church. We see you. I’m not trying to make this song “good” or spiritual to anyone else, as someone once accused me with a bewildered look of confusion on their face. I don’t have to make it spiritual to anyone else, I just know it’s spiritual to me, and I know it’s good. It’s good even though it is sung by a guy who is still in the pit celebrating the pit. But as a family that works in the inner city, reaches out to prostitutes, drug dealers, strippers, we say it’s our anthem.

“You can look for answers but that ain’t fun, now get in the pit and try to love someone”.