22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
on October 19, 2005
I've read several books about pop music and spirituality, and all of them have one or both of two basic flaws: (1) an unsophisticated understanding of pop music/culture, and (2) an unsophisticated understanding of spirituality.
This is the first book I've read which has neither flaw. Friskics-Warren, a Nashville music reviewer, is clearly steeped in pop music and culture and can discuss it and analyze it with subtlety and intelligence. He also holds a masters degree in theology and can bring his knowledge about religion and spirituality to his discussion of pop music.
Thus, Friskics-Warren is able to see spirituality where others might not. Trent Reznor's angst and anger express a craving for something beyond this world. The Sex Pistols' calls for anarchy are actually calls against false forms of transcendence. Marvin Gaye's "Let's Get it On" is not a call for thoughtless sex, but for true connections with other people and maybe even with the divine.
The best part about Friskics-Warren's analysis is that he is so skilled at arguing his points and so familiar with the artists he discusses that none of his claims seems far-fetched. Also excellent is that he does something most analysts of pop music forget to do: talk about the MUSIC instead of just the lyrics. Thus Van Morrison doesn't just sing about spiritual things; his music actually SOUNDS spiritual.
Once again, this is the best book available on the subject. It should be read by lovers of pop culture and religion, lovers of pop music who are suspicious of religion (so they can see the implicit religion in pop music), and lovers of religion who are suspicious of pop music (so they can see that age-old religious traditions and contemporary pop music are in many ways after the same things).