Do religion, politics, personal opinions and other such concepts have a place in rock music? Well, considering the number of songs with these undertones and references, obviously it has a place, but should it? While some people enjoy rock music spreading Christian ideals instead of supporting our buddy the devil, others find it simply preachy and irritating. A political viewpoint expressed by John Lennon might enlighten some, and apall others who just don't agree with him. Rock and roll, should it be escapist, or should it have a message?
Let's start with one end of the spectrum. Def Leppard and Whitesnake considered themselves to be the ultimate escapist bands. Joe Elliott himself has said that a lot of bad stuff happens in the world, you know, you turn on the news and you hear about some disaster, and so people turn to music to escape from these things. When Joe listens to music, he doesn't like to hear people whining about politics or the state of the world. He just likes good, fun music that he can enjoy without an ulterior motive.
There is only a very slight note of hypocrisy here. Def Leppard themselves had their political stuff. It was in smaller quantities then the sex, drugs and rock and roll oriented music they were best known for, like Pour Some Sugar On Me, but it was there, and mostly it dealt with anti-violence; Gods Of War, a shot at war-mongering governments, Die Hard The Hunter, the story of a violent soldier who cannot refind a tranquil life after coming home from battle, Billy's Got A Gun, a violent street kid lashing out against his environment, Paper Sun, about a mid-90s bombing in Ireland. But while Def Leppard had a specific set of opinions, they never became pushy or annoyingly political. (If you're not a diehard Lep fan like me, you might think otherwise, but hey, to each his own opinion.) Funny though, all this coming from the band that describes their music as AOR: Arson Oriented Rock.
Robert Sweet, of Stryper, feels that rock music should have an opinion and a message, and a positive one at that. Rock music is what inspires and motivates legions of young people, and when it conveys dark messages, it had a negative impact on society. Sweet, of Guns N' Roses, said that they made very good music, but everything was linked to death, which ultimately is "wrong." And well, I can see the truth in his point, but I think this old theory of rock and roll being devil's music is jaded and senseless. And Sweet and his band maybe went a little too fast in that direction. Stryper was a shameless Christian band, whose songs were quite obvious and all about Jesus. I like their music, but I find the references tiring after a while. I prefer Triumph, who were also definitely a Christian band but who were more subtle. Their references were there, if you wanted to hear them, but you weren't constantly being reminded that you were listening to religious music. It was just good.
But on the subject of Stryper, I really respect their Christian roots, and I admire that they had the guts to be the band they were in the age they were in, but to me, tossing copies of the Bible into the audience is going a little too far. (By the way, were there every any Jewish rock bands? Haven't heard one yet!)
When one thinks of political singers, I guess John Lennon is the number one guy that pops into everybody's minds. John had some pretty strong beliefs, and he want afraid to share them. Fans of his music usually tend tobe people who agree with him on most matters, and the people who disagree tend to despise him. And while I believe that you have the right to your own opinion, like you can hate somebody if you want to, I think it's unfair to hate somebody personally just because you disagree with what they have to say. Ultimately, politics are shallow, and can't be used to judge one's true character. Some of Lennon's music pisses me off... In fact, probably everybody disagrees with a few of his songs. But if you look a little closer, you might find that some of his views are perfectly compatible with your own. So like or dislike Lennon, but respect him for having hits say. Don't hate him because guys thoughts weren't yours.
My final opinion will conclude my main statements about John Lennon, Def Leppard and Stryper, and is that I believe in freedom to speech, freedom to say whatever you want, and if you have an opinion you want to share and you want to share out through music, go ahead. And I always admire people who speak their minds and make their statement without worrying aboutwhat others will think of them. As a listener, you can just choose to listen to more light hearted music, for there is plentyof it out there. (Long live Cinderella!) As long a the morals don't get too pushy (sorry, Seals and Crofts) and the religious references aren't too blatantly obvious and irritating (sorry, Stryper) then go ahead and say whatever you want to. It is your God intended right to.