Thoughts inspired by a video I didn’t watch, about famous performers who have “sold their soul” for money and fame:
I don’t know if I have an hour for it, but 7 minutes in I think he’s probably on the right path. The end of Eminem’s “Rap God” is right out of Genesis: Why be a king, when you can be a god? The oldest temptation in history.
The acts he mentions are in general “sold out” it’s true, I may stick around to see what he has to say about Pearl Jam, who I’ve never been crazy about but seem like a far cry from Lady Gaga & Lil Wayne. But the reason I’m commenting is to say that as a songwriter, you can’t force the song into a prefabricated mold. If a line occurs to you, and it’s right, it has to go in. If you’re a true artist, you have to put the inspired words to the inspired tune; anything less is pure hackery and totally disingenuous. If a sentiment or song is bad, spiritually, what happens is you outgrow the idiotic, immature sentiment. Songs are not evil any more than photographs are evil. Words are not evil any more than guns or hammers. The heart is evil, which is where it all proceeds from. Most songs are just songs, unless the performer or “artist” is trying to summon demons, or is worshiping them, overtly or otherwise.
I’ve been hearing the judgmental trip from Pharisees my whole life, people who couldn’t write their way out of a wet paper bag, but know all about it, and how I should do it. It is a gift, and so are the songs. Cleanse the heart and the outer life will show it, but don’t be whitewashed tombs that judge something without knowing anything about 1) the craft of writing, 2) the writer. I don’t have talent for something, I don’t tell other people what they’re doing while they’re doing it. I have never “sold my soul” to the devil to write a song. Many of the people on this list aren’t particularly talented. Singers, maybe, nothing else. No writers. Eminem is an exception, Kurt Cobain. And Kurt Cobain clearly didn’t sell his soul; if anything, he was used and murdered. Marilyn Manson isn’t a bad painter actually, but his music isn’t what you would call timeless. I can think of one song from 20 years ago that was partially memorable and it’s the transparent, juvenile reaction toward the “Beautiful People” of Hollywood. Not exactly John Lennon. People like Katy Perry and Lady Gaga are just egomaniacs; it is worth discussing them because of their reach but they are not artists, not truly. They are puppets, hacks, animatronic dolls doing a dance for money and power. Walking egos. Nothing artful, no art, no creativity, no point, so they have to sell their souls (they are willing to do it, because they don’t see a soul as valuable, since theirs are so malnourished) to fulfill their ego-needs. Psychopaths, probably, or sociopaths, whichever. Artists, certainly not.
Anyway, whatever. The Pharisees will always hear anything other than a disingenuous, artless, talentless, overcompressed hack with an over-emotive, sappy voice (in lieu of a singing one) proclaiming a marketable love for Jesus as EVIL, so there’s no point in rambling on any longer. I have always been the outcast and the leper to those types, and they can have their reward of righteousness now if they like. I know that God has worked in me for many years, and many of the bones in the tomb have been disposed of, and His grace and mercy are beyond that of any man, and no one will ever be able to tell me that music is evil just because the guy isn’t singing about Jesus. I hear it all the time. My song “My Church Is In The Trees” is a direct result of that. A self-righteous, shallow halfwit will misread such a tune in a way that can only be described as “totally predictable.” They always think they’re outsmarting you, because they ignorantly, transparently assume that because they have no idea what you’re doing or saying, that neither do you. “That line doesn’t make sense to me, let’s assume THIS, and interrogate the writer like a presumptuous ass, because he clearly has no idea what he’s doing and can’t see through me completely.” It’s amusing at best, abhorrent at least, completely full of it, undoubtedly.
Lana Del Rey, I have real sympathy for. An actually-talented person, both writing and singing, who still had to “fuck her way to the top,” if I remember the line correctly. Unfortunate. It’s strange that I would pity her, because she has been so deliberate in her decision to “sell her soul.” I pity her though, because in her case it isn’t necessary. Maybe to be a star, but even then, all you have to do is look up at night to see, there are lots and lots of stars.