Friday, March 27, 2009

The Eagles - Frail Grasp on the Big Picture

I am self-admittedly slow on the uptake in the music world.

When I got back from a sheltered childhood living on the outskirts of the stone-age, I intentionally tried to catch up with movies, but partly thanks to Linda's collection of 80's Christian music (thaaaaanks roomie! ;)), I'm slow on getting into music. I take recommendations - it was my pastor in Chicago introduced me to U2, my dear friend Simon that hooked me on Counting Crows, a theology prof that introduced Isaac and I to Bob Dylan (still don't like his voice though). This semester Isaac's professors have been all over the Eagles new cd.

The Eagles Long Road Out Of Eden 2008

This week we sat down and listened seriously to a couple of their songs - "Long Road out of Eden" and "Frail Grasp on the Big Picture". They are going down on my list of mainstream songs that speak more powerful truth then we see in most "Christian" music.

Seriously, "Frail Grasp" is blow-me-away profound. The Eagles didn't write it, and it's actually not even new... but it's amazing.

The song as a while is a prophetic critique of American society, but this verse in particular took my breath away (it is emphasized musically as well). It drives home at our empty and nationalistic religiosity.

And we pray to our Lord
Who we know is American
He reigns from on high
He speaks to us through middlemen
And he shepherds his flock
We sing out and we praise His name
He supports us in war
He presides over football games
And the right will prevail
All our troubles shall be resolved
We have faith in the Lord
Unless there's money or sex involved

Frail grasp on the big picture
Nobody's calling them for roughing up the pitcher
It's a frail grasp on the big picture
Heaven help us

You see what I mean? When I hear songs like this I always want to sit down and talk to the writer. There is such insight here - enough to condemn the misuse of God for our own purposes. What do they think of God outside of how He has been misrepresented here in our culture? Honestly this song was timely, considering two nights ago we sat and had a long chat with Asher and Steph about colonialism, ethnic identity, culture, and faith. When the line "who we know is American" came up, I sat down and took notice. It reminded me of Derek Webb's song "King and a Kingdom", which is directly from a Christian perspective but just as cutting of a cultural critique of evangelicalism in the US.

The lyrics to "Long Road Out of Eden", which is also on the Eagles' new album, is filled with literary and historical references - it's like U2 songs in that I can sit down and analyze them line by line. The end of this song is also a cultural condemnation:

weaving down the american highway
through the litter and the wreckage and the cultural junk
bloated with entitlement, loaded on propaganda
and now we're driving dazed and drunk

been down the road to damascus,
the road to mandalay
met the ghost of caesar on the appian way
he said, "it's hard to stop this bingeing, once you get a taste."
"but the road to empire is a bloody stupid waste."

behold the bitten apple - the power of the tools
but all the knowledge in the world is of no use to fools
and it's a long road out of eden....

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