All credit to Al Green for writing a song that could butcher in the name of humor. Two nights ago I strapped on my guitar, wearing it low and to the side like and old-time gun slinger. After setting up my gear, a few minutes passed before the director came in and counted it off.

From there we kicked up a Texas dust storm. Three hours later it was done and all the musicians were ready to call it a night. Until one of the audience members recognized and obviously thought it was a good time to bring up my atheism.

I forgot to mention that the concert was a religious affair featuring songs I knew well, including some that were favorites long ago and remain so today.Anyway, asked how was it that I could play religious music and claim to be an atheist. I found the question amusing and not well thought out, but I answered it anyway.

I've been performing more than 40 years and there is only one thing I cared about--the music. Country, rock, blues, gospel or polka, I played it all and enjoyed it. Nevertheless, my musically challenged friend couldn't understand it. So, I left him flabbergasted in my tail wind and marked him down as a music idiot.

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Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 2, 2014 at 5:42pm

One of the groups I had the pleasure of backing were "The Mighty Clouds of Joy." To me most of the songs were blues-based, 1-3-5 music. However, they had one song that especially touched me and that was "I've Been in the Storm too Long." It is orchestrated and arranged superbly. It is sung well and with the exception of several references to God and heaven, the lyrics could easily tie to everyday life. I have it in my collection, but it does nothing for me in any theist way. However, I'd like to be leading the orchestra on the version I have. My tux and tails, the back spots and the smell of rosin would be intoxicating. Now, that's heaven.

Comment by Donald R Barbera on November 2, 2014 at 5:26pm

I've been playing since I was 15-years-old. During that time, I've played just about any kind of music you can think of.  I played in baptist churches three hours afters playing at a blues joint. What someone took away from the music was never a concern unless I played it badly. The lyrics were never my concern except for songs that I wrote. People who loved the song, "Louie, Louie," swore that it was filled with dirty words. For me, most of the song was unintelligible. However, every song released under ASCAP or BMI had to have formal lyrics filed. I don't know about today, but the official lyric sheet for "Louie, Louie," has no cursing. My point is that people take away whatever they want to hear. If I find the lyrics not to my liking, does not stop me from playing a piece of music that I find aesthetically pleasing. I find that most committed Christians need no help in feeding their addiction. Just like I won't waste my time arguing with a truly committed Christian, I won't worry about what they take away from my performance. I am a musician and not a politician when sitting in the orchestra pit. However, when I am behind the podium a different persona is readily apparent.

Comment by Idaho Spud on October 26, 2014 at 10:58am

There ya go.  Good idea. : )

Comment by Luara on October 26, 2014 at 10:42am

I can't help but feel that if I'm playing gospel music, I'm helping brainwash people into religious straightjackets

One could perhaps wear a large fish with feet shirt at the same time, and it would help counteract any brainwashing effect. 

Comment by Idaho Spud on October 26, 2014 at 10:20am

You're probably a happier person than I am Donald.

Personally, I can't help but feel that if I'm playing gospel music, I'm helping brainwash people into religious straightjackets, or at least tightening the belts.

I still enjoy the music I knew in religion, but the message is just too onerous for me, so I've given-up listening to it or singing it.

Comment by Luara on October 25, 2014 at 10:10am

You could refer that person to Atheist Nexus member A. T. Heist - director of music at a Methodist church!

Comment by Randall Smith on October 25, 2014 at 7:30am

I hear you. I'm that way playing my piano. I love "Amazing Grace" and an Ellington ("Sunday Morning"?).

Comment by Michael Penn on October 25, 2014 at 12:51am

I could understand it in either of 2 ways. A musician who played music and had never been a theist. Maybe a musician who played music and was a theist at one time. This isn't hard for me to grasp. (BTW, I didn't know you played, Don. All I can play is a harmonica.)

I saw a similar thing from a Fox news clip where the anchor could not understand why atheists would ever want to honor the war dead. Her reasoning was atheists do not believe in a soul, spirit, or afterlife so who would they be honoring? That's one of the dumbest theist remarks I have ever heard.



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