Dead Musicians, Dead Culture

As I write this, I have just learned that Keith Emerson blew his brains out last week. Emerson was a rock superstar, one of the biggest, highest-demand rock acts of the 1970’s. He joined the list of famous rock stars that have killed themselves: Ronnie Montrose, Graham Bond, Kurt Cobain, Wendy O. Williams, Sid Vicious, and a list of others. Add to that the number who have died prematurely, such as Elvis Presley, Michael Jackson, Buddy Holly, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix, Shane Gibson, Paul Gray, Duane Allman, and too many more to list.

To those lists, add the list of rap singers who have died. That list includes an especially large number that never made it out of their 20’s: 2Pac and Notorious B.I.G. are but a couple out of dozens.

Deaths are never easy to take for those who we love, and early ones are especially difficult.

Rap music seems to parallel it’s lyrics, with one sub-genre labeled “horrorcore.” It would seem that the lyrics self-fulfill, with songs telling of violent deaths, beatings, knifings, and shootings by the score. Many of the rap lyrics are too violent and vulgar to repeat here. The rock bands are no stranger to similar ideas, with bands being named things that would make a sailor blush. Jared Anderson was only 30 when he died in his sleep, having been a member of Hate Angel and Hate Eternal, two of the more mild band names.

Keith Emerson was part of the group Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, which was what could be labeled a super group, drawing sellout crowds in the largest stadiums around the world. By modern standards their lyrics were rather tame, but nevertheless telling. One of their songs, Karn Evil 9, speaks of “rows of bishop’s heads in jars” and “a sight to make you drool, seven virgins and a mule.” The group’s beliefs came out plainly in Greg Lake’s song “I Believe in Father Christmas.” The song speaks plainly of Jesus and the Christmas account being a fairy story. Of course, Father Christmas is England’s version of Santa Claus. The message was clear, making a parallel between Santa and Jesus. (for some historical evidence of the Bible’s truth, see here)

Popular musicians, especially Rock and Rap, have made a lot of money pushing the cultural envelope. They make a fortune from impressionable teenagers by making ideas more shocking, more edgy, more extreme. Once the edge of the envelope is broken, there is no more room to push except into tearing down social structures. The rap stars deaths are sickly understood — if you teach violence, you die by violence.

The rock stars have pushed the envelope for sixty years. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer, for years expressing atheist philosophy in their song lyrics, must in the end live with what they taught. The final line of I Believe in Father Christmas says “Be it heaven or hell, the Christmas you get you deserve.” Karn Evil 9 includes the lyrics “he laughs until he cries, then he dies, then he dies.” I find it awful to think that they would look themselves in the mirror and believe that Emerson really got what he deserved. I also wonder whether Emerson is actually ready to face hell so easily. More probably they lie to themselves, convincing themselves that their atheism is true and they will not someday face their maker.

In the end, the atheist philosophy in Emerson’s songs rings hollow, in fact it is so hollow it does not ring at all. It is one thing for these rich musicians, at the prime of their youth, to tell us that life is one big party so rebel against your parents. It is quite another thing to realize that they as miserable as the guy next to you on the bus. Looking into a casket, the mantra of rap and rock is useless and empty.

We are now two generations deep into these pop stars destroying the old culture for their own gain. They will soon be all dead and forgotten, as Emerson was mostly forgotten already, and the old Judeo-Christian culture will be forgotten also.

The question for you is this: You will face your maker someday. Are you ready to face heaven? If not, click on the link above that says “Bad News/Good News.”


About humblesmith

Christian Apologist & Philosopher
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