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Do you need to *believe* what you sing?

Bill D 10 Mar 03 - 06:57 PM
breezy 10 Mar 03 - 07:00 PM
Murray MacLeod 10 Mar 03 - 07:16 PM
Mark Clark 10 Mar 03 - 07:35 PM
NicoleC 10 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM
Thomas the Rhymer 10 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM
*daylia* 10 Mar 03 - 07:38 PM
Murray MacLeod 10 Mar 03 - 07:44 PM
Mojo Willie 10 Mar 03 - 07:53 PM
McGrath of Harlow 10 Mar 03 - 07:54 PM
Bill D 10 Mar 03 - 07:56 PM
Frankham 10 Mar 03 - 08:16 PM
Snuffy 10 Mar 03 - 08:24 PM
Alba 10 Mar 03 - 08:25 PM
Blues=Life 10 Mar 03 - 08:28 PM
Don Firth 10 Mar 03 - 08:39 PM
harpgirl 10 Mar 03 - 08:49 PM
AllisonA(Animaterra) 10 Mar 03 - 09:03 PM
khandu 10 Mar 03 - 09:03 PM
harpgirl 10 Mar 03 - 09:10 PM
GUEST 10 Mar 03 - 09:25 PM
Sandy Mc Lean 10 Mar 03 - 09:31 PM
Bee-dubya-ell 10 Mar 03 - 11:08 PM
open mike 10 Mar 03 - 11:24 PM
Haruo 10 Mar 03 - 11:24 PM
katlaughing 10 Mar 03 - 11:27 PM
Troll 10 Mar 03 - 11:31 PM
PeteBoom 10 Mar 03 - 11:32 PM
GUEST,Kiwi Guest 10 Mar 03 - 11:32 PM
Amos 10 Mar 03 - 11:53 PM
Joe Offer 11 Mar 03 - 12:41 AM
mousethief 11 Mar 03 - 01:03 AM
John P 11 Mar 03 - 01:33 AM
GUEST,Billy 11 Mar 03 - 04:10 AM
GUEST 11 Mar 03 - 04:23 AM
IanC 11 Mar 03 - 04:42 AM
JennyO 11 Mar 03 - 06:02 AM
paulo 11 Mar 03 - 06:34 AM
Sandra in Sydney 11 Mar 03 - 06:59 AM
DonMeixner 11 Mar 03 - 07:20 AM
Murray MacLeod 11 Mar 03 - 07:58 AM
Amos 11 Mar 03 - 09:00 AM
greg stephens 11 Mar 03 - 09:14 AM
Willie-O 11 Mar 03 - 09:18 AM
paulo 11 Mar 03 - 09:29 AM
greg stephens 11 Mar 03 - 09:34 AM
Kim C 11 Mar 03 - 09:42 AM
Bee-dubya-ell 11 Mar 03 - 09:50 AM
Maryrrf 11 Mar 03 - 10:05 AM
Jerry Rasmussen 11 Mar 03 - 10:09 AM
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Subject: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 06:57 PM

...evidently so, for some, and you need to sing ONLY the things which will help others to believe!
I am not a religious person, but have enjoyed for years many songs with religious subject matter and history-especially Gospel; and Southern Gospel has always been a favotite. But I ran onto an article from a very fundamentalist Independant Baptist viewpoint that rather startled me. Some forms of the music are taken to task for being far too "worldly", "sensual"..even "boogie-woogie"! He names specific names and exhorts Christians to avoid such departures from the straight & narrow.

I know there are very wide differences in attitudes toward music AND religion, but this really defines a view I have seldom encountered, and I can't decide whether it is important, or just 'interesting'.

I really considered whether to put this in the 'BS' area, as it is perhaps more a religious concern than a musical one...but....

In any case, if you want to see what stirred me to actually start a thread, look here.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: breezy
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:00 PM

Yes of course you do or you're a hypocrite and a liar


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:16 PM

Of course you don't.

All that matters is that you believe in the song at the moment you sing it. Whether it represents your own real beliefs is totally irrelevant.

I could sing the Iraqui National Anthem and have people weeping ....

Murray


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Mark Clark
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:35 PM

Bill, I'm guessing that you're only asking about religious or gospel-based songs. After all, none of us believe that frogs marry mice or that people become sea lions.

I know at least one avowed athiest who is a regular member of a church choir just because he loves to sing in choirs. From my own experience, I've often done gospel “numbers” in a bluegrass set simply because it's traditional, in the genre, to include gospel selections and it provides a change of pace and a chance to include four-part harmony. My own theology, Eastern Orthodox, is radically different from Protestant theology and even farther removed from Holiness and Southern Baptist theology but that doesn't keep me from finding beauty in their expressions of faith.

I have performed with musicians who draw a line if a gospel number strays too far from their own beliefs but that is rare. More often heard is the question of whether gospel numbers should be included in a set if the venue serves liquor.

      - Mark


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: NicoleC
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM

Nah. I don't consider myself a Christian really, but I thoroughly enjoy gospel and bluegrass with religious themes. The music speaks for itself.

Although I wouldn't suggest a Buddist (for example) take up a career as a Christian rocker... you may play and sing just fine, but it's bound to annoy your audience when they find out.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Thomas the Rhymer
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:36 PM

No. I do not. I am of the opinion that performance is somewhat akin to acting, and the genius dwells in being believable. However, it is much easier to be believable, when some part of your own experiences in life coincide with the gist of a song... and it could be any point of view contained in the song... This may be one of the *big* differences between Singer/songwriters and folksingers... Idontknow...whatdoyouthink? ttr


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: *daylia*
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:38 PM

Bill Your article is almost scary! "God's Word plainly forbids His people to love the world." And I hafta share 'His people's' unloved world?

Beam me up ...

I remember horrifying the membership of the Music Teacher's Association when I joined at age 20, by actually daring to perform and allowing my students to learn 'popular' music. One of them tried (vainly) to get me to change my ways by warning "Any music with a back-beat is sinful!"

But we were just so wonderfully addicted to that "sinful" boogie and blues and rock and pop ... did our penance by suffering all those scales and etudes anyway I figure!

daylia

PS I don't think you need to *believe* what you sing, but when I do it sure adds fervour (or something like that)!


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:44 PM

Everybody reading this thread has sung, at one time or another, "Will the Circle be Unbroken", with fervor, but I guarantee that only 1% of the people who have sung it actually believe it.

Murray


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Mojo Willie
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:53 PM

Hey Thomas the Rhymer,

Its Mojo Willie Rymer here and I host a blues and soul concert series in the Niagara Region. My ancestors immigrated from the city of York sometime in the 1840's to Upper Canada. Thomas the Rhymer was a Norman laird who lived up in the border country and it was claimed that he had oracular powers and couuld turn quite a poetic phrase, hense his name. A distant cousin of mine, who belongs to the Cambridge histrical society, claims Thomas to be the originator of our family name. Is your surname name now spelt Rymer, Thomas? Perhaps we are distant cousins too!

Cheers,
Mojo Willie


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: McGrath of Harlow
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:54 PM

You've got to sort of believe it or at least suspend your disbelief while you are actually singing it, I'd say.

It isn't just religious songs this applies to, it goes for political songs well, and probably a few more as well. (Songs about people taking vengeance, for example.)

I'd also say there has to be some sympathy between what you feel yourself and what you sing. I could sing a song coming from a religious tradition I don't accept, but not one that preached hate. I could sing a song advocating violence in the cause of justice, though I'm a pacifist, but not one that supported repression.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Bill D
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 07:56 PM

fascinating...the first two responses were "of course you do" and "of course you don't"

'Most' musicians I know are in the latter camp, but I see some are clearly not.

Isn't there a saying something about "The Devil having all the best tunes"?


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Frankham
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 08:16 PM

Looking over the website with just a cursory glance I think that there is a lot of information about who invented what that's a bit skewed. Quartet singing for example existed in the black community for many years and was given show biz treatments early on. It wasn't just Baptist either. These forms of music have been around for a long time as liturgical or secular and often gone between the two.

I think that what a person believes has more to do about the selection of the songs or music rather than the music itself. In our program about the Civil War we sing both the Bonny Blue Flag and The Battle Cry of Freedom to show the fervor of both sides. We are not really into war songs per se but they are significant as part of American history which we feel is important for children and adults to know about. I don't think that actors or writers believe in everything that their characters do or say. I think that a person can be appalled at bloodshed and violence and still enjoy a Shakespeare play or opera. Or a well-made movie such as Scorcese makes.

The problem with evangelizing music is that it tends to disembowl it's content. The content may be negative but instructive such as some of the bloody ballads that trad folkies are used to hearing and singing. They actually were according to Lomax and others a kind of morality play....a don't-do-these-terrible-things in song. Take for example Woody Guthries "1913 Massacre" song. It's a well-written documentary on living conditions in those times. To place a religious value on that is to completely miss the point of why the song was written...as an insight to a serious social problem of how to unionize workers.

I think that attitude about what you are doing has a lot to do with it's reception.
If you sing a song to stir an audience into violence or anger that's out of control then maybe it has a destructive value. But the same song in a different context may have the opposite effect, bringing people together as when the ancient Greeks witnessed their tragedies as a kind of religious experience (not Southern Baptist). There are certain bloody ballads that I don't like to do because for me they're over the top but in certain contexts they might be useful to make a constructive point.

Frank Hamilton


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Snuffy
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 08:24 PM

You have to believe it while you're singing it, but not necessarily the rest of the time:

Sometimes you can get too far into the song and it takes over - last year I was singing the Foggy Foggy Dew and just got overwhelmed by it. I couldn't finish the last verse because I was choking back the tears.

WassaiL! V


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Alba
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 08:25 PM

You got to sing like you don't need the money,
Love like you've never been hurt,
You got to dance like there's nobody watching,
Gotta come from the heart if you want it to work!

I have to feel empathy on some level for the song I am singing wether it is religious or not.
Singing is storytelling with music so I have to believe in the story in order to make the listener listen..I think....don't know if that makes sense!
Alba


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Blues=Life
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 08:28 PM

"I could sing the Iraqui National Anthem and have people weeping ....

Murray"

Me, too, but in my case, only the musicians would be weeping. *G*

Blues
"A face made for radio, a voice for mime!"


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Don Firth
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 08:39 PM

Urban-born and not being raised in what is usually regarded as "the folk tradition," I don't really regard myself as a "folk singer." A "singer of folk songs," yes. And to me, singing is very much like acting. Patrick Stewart never captained a star ship, Christopher Reeve never leapt tall buildings in a single bound, and Judi Dench was never queen of England, but they all did a good job acting the parts of those who did. When one sings, one plays a part. I don't have to a miner or a cowboy or a pirate or a whaler or pregnant and unmarried or have killed my girl friend or be dying from being "shot in the breast" to sing about such things. You don't have to be a former slave trader who saw the error of his ways and was born again to do a good job of singing Amazing Grace. All you need is some understanding of what was going on in that person's mind and emotions. Same for all songs.

The idea that "God's Word plainly forbids His people to love the world" is a complete crock!

Don Firth


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: harpgirl
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 08:49 PM

I'm glad you posed this question at this moment, Bill. I have been intending to sing "What Does the Deep Sea Say", "Roll The Woodpile Down", "Nellie Gray", and "Follow The Drinking Gourd" in some upcoming events.

I am strongly attracted to these work songs, steamboat shanties or whatever. It seems so incongruous with what I grew up with, but I feel them deeply in a way I can't explain well with words. One of the things I do well when I perform is convey emotions, so I am going to have a go at it. But I still question myself, my motive, and whether or not I can properly convey what I want to about these songs...any ideas? harpgirl    (I felt like changing my name so I did!)


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: AllisonA(Animaterra)
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 09:03 PM

This is a good topic. I direct a women's chorus, and we have sung gospel, Hindu, Native American, Islamic, Jewish, Yoruba, pagan, and secular songs. My own religious beliefs aside, I believe in the power of music to unite us, in the joy of singing in harmony, in the delight to the ears and the spirit when it just clicks and we feel the song pulsing through us. The women in my group represent a wide spectrum of beliefs and non-beliefs, and sometimes it's a stretch for some of them to sing about sin and salvation, for example. But we all believe in what we do in our group and in our community, and we let the music express it, sometimes in spite of and sometimes partly because of the words.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: khandu
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 09:03 PM

An Earlier Thread on this subject thread here!

I will not sing anything that goes against my conscience...and that includes many of the old hymns as well as most Contemporay Gospel.

Ken


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: harpgirl
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 09:10 PM

...that's very inspiring Allison. Thanks for that! harpycat


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 09:25 PM

Does a T.V. evangalist have to believe what he preaches?
Keep those greenbacks rolling in folks!
A singer sings a song and belief may be a bit irrelavent, but it's hard to express emotion if you're heart's not there. I wonder why a person would bother except maybe for the greenbacks?
                   slainte,
                      Sandy


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Sandy Mc Lean
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 09:31 PM

sorry, I keep losing that damn cookie!
         Sandy


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:08 PM

My one adult experience with organized religion was with a very metaphysical Christian denomination that probably has more in common with Buddhism than with conventional Christianity. One thing that I learned there is that it is quite possible to believe in the underlying truth of something like a hymn or a Bible verse without necessarily believing in its literal presentation.

I feel the same way about gospel songs. As long as I believe in the underlying message of a song, I'll sing it, even if it is presented in terms other than what I would have chosen if I had written it. I can do a song about meeting my mother in Heaven because I do believe in an afterlife, though I don't believe in the Christian concept of Heaven. I can do a song about giving one's soul to Jesus as a means of spiritual transcendence because I do believe in spiritual transcendence. I cannot do a song about giving one's soul to Jesus being the only way to be saved from damnation because I don't believe in damnation.

Bruce


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: open mike
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:24 PM

Once i was singing a song, and had an expression on my
face, to which a listener commented "You really feel the
song, don't you?" that was the best complimant ever!
I sometimes close my eyes when i sing, which makes it
difficult when in a group to see signals, give a nod to
a soloist to take a break, or generally communicate with
others when jamming. The best part of a song is when it
tells a story or conveys a feeling--then it has accomp-
lished the goal of exchanging information, teaching a
lesson, encouraging an emotional response.
I am still not sure how to explain this phenominon:
I recently heard a description of many musical people
who are Jewish who often sing heart-felt (Christian)
gospel numbers.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Haruo
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:24 PM

"World" is one of those words whose exegesis (scriptural or otherwise) is more complex than anyone realizes when actually using it in real life; it's almost like "love" that way.

Of course, the Independent Fundamental Baptists can be counted upon to glom onto the worst part of the semantic field and to assert dogmatically that it is the only valid one, because God says so.

Haruo

PS: I agree that for performer and audience alike, the willing (or inadvertent) suspension of disbelief is more important than belief per se. Whether God sees it that way I leave to those more skilled in effing the ineffable than I'll ever be this side of the Eschaton.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: katlaughing
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:27 PM

Frank, Animaterra, and Bruce, thank you. Well said!


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Troll
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:31 PM

I think it helps me to put a song over if I "believe" the message but it's not an absolute necessity. It's a job, just like acting. I only sing the ones I like when I'm alone, though.

troll


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: PeteBoom
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:32 PM

Depends on what it is, I expect - and whether you're delivering the song for an audience, or yourself. Different settings, different environments, I'm not opposed to singing a song whose politics I do not agree with, if there is merit in the song itself. Stuff that is just so much stuff, well, I tend to not do unless absolutely needed in the situation. Confused you yet?

Pete


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: GUEST,Kiwi Guest
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:32 PM

Depends what you are singing, where you are singing and to whom . Many songs are just fun and don't have a particular message, this I view as pure entertainment. Some songs tell a story or describe history etc. However I would never sing a song that had a definite message unless I felt an empathy for what the song was about.
Beware I feel that some singers sing songs that have very strong messages, hence a strong impact on their audience, purely for the sake of gaining attention from the audience. This is an ego game.
If you truely mean it then let the world know.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Amos
Date: 10 Mar 03 - 11:53 PM

You don't have to believe it so much as you have to understand it -- which means a sensibility to the context and the importances that are built into it. This was summed up neatly by somneone who advised me when I was singing my second or third ever song -- at about 12 -- to sing as though I was "being there". Good advice.

A


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Joe Offer
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 12:41 AM

I'd like to repeat what Murray says, because it makes a lot of sense
All that matters is that you believe in the song at the moment you sing it. Whether it represents your own real beliefs is totally irrelevant.
I love gospel music, and I think I sing it pretty well. It's good music, and it's a pleasure to sing - that's whay I like it. It doesn't jive with my liberal Catholic thinking, so I wouldn't use it in worship. I guess I've been guilty of singing gospel to make fun of it at times, but that was more in my younger years. I've developed a genuine respect for the music.

As for the article that Bill linked to (click), I found it very interesting. It gave a great history of Southern Gospel, although from a negative perspective (the author sure doesn't like us Catholics, either). I think the author has a point, though - Southern gospel has become increasingly commercial over the years, written for commercial value rather than as religious expression. That's a problem. Then there's "contemporary Christian music," which has been hugely profitable - and an even bigger problem. People complain about the commercialization of religion and about how they're just out to make money. Well, the change in religious music is a direct reflection of that. Some people have come to realize that there is big money in religious music, and they're out to make it. And I think I'd agree with the author that Stamps-Baxter was one of the original perpetrators.

Still, there's a lot of that Stamps-Baxter music that's great fun to sing. I just wouldn't sing it in church.

-Joe Offer-


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: mousethief
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 01:03 AM

A fascinating topic. I don't have a lot to add to the discussion; just about everything that could be said has been. I do question if one can really convincingly sing "Jesus loves me" if one doesn't believe he does (or doesn't believe he even exists!). It reminds me of that quote, "Sincerity is the thing. Once you can fake that, you've got it made."

As for loving "the world" -- doesn't God love the World? John 3:16 and all that?

Mark Clark, where do you live? Blessed Lent.

Alex
(also E. Orthodox)


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: John P
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 01:33 AM

As someone who sings almost exclusively old traditional songs, it would be hard for me to find anything in my repertoire that I actually believe. The world has changed a lot since those songs were first sung. It is important to sing the song convincingly and with fervor, of course. But that is true of anything one does in any endeavor.

Breezy, I don't feel like a liar and a cheat. It's nice that you're willing to share your opinions, but it would be easier for others to pay attention to them if you voiced them as such instead of as certainties.

John Peekstok


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: GUEST,Billy
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 04:10 AM

What a bunch of fakers and hypoctites I see on this site!
I don't believe you can genuinely call yourself a "folk singer" if you do not passionately believe (and not just at that moment) in all the words you are singing. These words may be your own or old or new but they have a message from someone who experienced the time and events in each song that can only be passed on by genuine emotion. In a public concert, if you are an atheist, don't sing religious songs. If you are religious, don't sing songs out of your faith.
Folk music had more than its share of fakers in the 60s "Folk Scare" when we had right-wing singers recording negro spirituals and Jewish performers singing Christian music. Just to make money. I don't believe real "folk" music will ever again be commercial because of the record companies inability to be able to regain control of this type of music. God (or your own deity or lack thereof) bless us!


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: GUEST
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 04:23 AM

Billy you're too harsh!
My take on this is that you need to feel a song rather than believe it. And by the same token I believe that as a singer, by getting inside the song, you can get a taste of what it would be like to believe whatever variant of truth is embedded in the song.
Like an actor, you can suspend your disbelief and for a brief space of time empathise with what you find in the song.
So then it would be a good exercise in understanding for an atheist to sing a faith song & for a believer to sing an atheist song.

PS. I've never sung Will the Circle be Unbroken - but I'm very sincere whenever I sing Les Barker's Will the Turtle be Unbroken.......


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: IanC
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 04:42 AM

Course you don't ...

"King Arthur Had Three Sons"
"Auntie Mary Had a Canary ..."

You just have to enjoy it!

;-)


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: JennyO
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 06:02 AM

A lot of songs are just for fun, anyway.

But for songs which convey a serious message, I would prefer if it was one I believe in. I would seek out songs that resonate with what I believe. That's why I enjoy being in the Solidarity Choir so much. There are some which I definitely disagree with, which I would not sing under any circumstances.

As for that website (shudder), that's one I won't be subscribing to - ".....Elvis's indecent movies." - pu-lll-lease!

Jenny


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: paulo
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 06:34 AM

Yes you need to feel a song when you sing it, but its a lot easier to feel the song if you also believe in the sentiments.   I sing a variety of songs, but when I sing anti-war songs or trade union songs I sing them with a lot more passion than I do others.   

Indeed when I've sang the Blackleg Miner I've been told that I sing the last verse with a lot of feeling - Thats because I believe in it.

Paulo
p.s. I've never sang "Will the circle be unbroken" either, but I sing "Miner's Lifeguard" which I do with passion.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Sandra in Sydney
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 06:59 AM

Last year at The National (Folk Festival) I wasn't planning to go to the Hymns singing session as it wasn't my religion (tho I was sent to Sunday school until my teens). I went because the friend I was wandering around with was planning to go

It was a great singing session - & it turns out my friend was Jewish, knew far more hymns than I did & just loves singing them. We 2 non-believers had a great time, & that was where I met Hrothgar tho I didn't know it at the time. He runs the session & will be doing it again this year

sandra


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: DonMeixner
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 07:20 AM

Amazing grapes how sweet and round,


That soon will raisins be,


Between my lips, across my tongue


In wrinkled ecstacy.

And I believe every word of it most passionately.

Don


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Murray MacLeod
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 07:58 AM

Paulo, you have never sung "Will the Circle be Unbroken", but you sing "The Blackleg Miner" with conviction, do you indeed?

I find "The Blackleg Miner" the most offensive song in the whole of folk music.

Let's hope for both our sakes that our paths remain uncrossed....

Murray


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Amos
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 09:00 AM

Bill:

The original article to which you linked is prfoundly misguided, historically inaccurate, and metaphysically cross-eyed and lame. It is the sort of obsessive control talk which makes facists out of people looking for God -- a bizarre conversion, indeed!

Guest Billy: I think you are mistaken about hypocrisy, perhaps due to a semantic confusion about th emeaning of the word "believe". I have never believed that there would be a day when the Saints would come marching in. But, I gotta tell ya, I can sing it with intention and complete involvement. Of course it may be that singing with intent and involvement and genuine compassion for the viewpoint of the song is what you mean by belief. I do agree withyou that taking the music of passion and sweat and rough living and polishing it up the way PP&M did to a degree of nicety never conceived in the original is some kind of sin, perhaps minor but nevertheless annoying.

Haruo -- you one very smaht guy, man.!!

A


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: greg stephens
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 09:14 AM

Well I was joining in last night with some friends singing in Shona and Ndebele, and I havent a clue what I was singing about (though some of it was about Jesus). Well,I was thoroughly enjoying the experience, and not feeling remotely hypocritical or dishonest. I dint know what it meant, but I would hazard a guess if I had known i would not have "believed" it. But I certainly believe in the validity of singing along with my friends.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Willie-O
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 09:18 AM

I don't have to believe what I'm singing. I only have to believe that the person who wrote it believed it!

You can win for your cause in the long run, even if the cause is totally wrongheaded and hopelessly lost, by writing the best songs.

OK, the Jacobites had a Pyrrhic victory...

W-O


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: paulo
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 09:29 AM

Murray

So you don't like the Blackleg Miner.

I have to wonder if you've ever lived or worked in a community that was dependant on one industry?   The thing is that in such communities everyone has to rely on each other and when an individual breaks the unity of that community they will not recieve approbation.
Communities by their nature will attempt to protect themselves.

The song itself is a threat, whether the events recounted ever happend or not I don't know.   It just lets scabs know that they're not welcome in the community.   An oppinion I concur with.

Paulo


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: greg stephens
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 09:34 AM

This question prompts me to wonder why I posted to a "favourite hymns" thread recently. Why do I have so much love for songs whose specific function is to promote belief in something I don't believe in? There seems to be at last a contradiction here, though I dont feel hypocritical in any way. I think this is a good place to drag Vaughan Williams into the argument : he edited the English Hymnal, arranging and selecting magnificent music, and presumably making the Church of England a more efficient organisation for promoting beliefs which he personally had no belief in whatever(or so I have read). I think the fact is that most musicians believe a great deal more deeply in music than they do in the various Gods on offer.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Kim C
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 09:42 AM

Well, that's a good question, isn't it?

I don't think I ever really thought about it. For me, the spirit of the music, the spirit of sharing it with people, that's what's most important. There are some songs that mean something to me personally, and others that are simply a matter of storytelling. I certainly don't condone that Willie Taylor's jilted lover murdered him and his new girl, or that Lord Randall's paramour fed him poisoned eels, but I love to tell those stories.

I think this is something that's entirely up to the individual.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Bee-dubya-ell
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 09:50 AM

"most musicians believe a great deal more deeply in music than they do in the various Gods on offer"

"A" (while strumming a C chord) "MEN" (while strumming a G chord)


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Maryrrf
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 10:05 AM

I have to concur that singing is like acting and sometimes you have to fake it, but it's easier to do if you believe in what you're singing about. However, as many pointed out lots of songs aren't about "believing" or "not believing" - they tell a story which may or may not have happened and they're just enjoyable to sing! Let's not forget that various religious denominations have practically banned music at one time or another - a great folly if there ever was one, I think. Music can truly exalt the spirit, but unfortunately there were some religious leaders who felt that spirit was not to be exalted, but squashed into a very narrow mold and restricted by all kinds of laws and prohibitions.


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Subject: RE: Do you need to *believe* what you sing?
From: Jerry Rasmussen
Date: 11 Mar 03 - 10:09 AM

I'm glad that you asked this question, Brother Bill. You can sing with the Gospel Messengers anytime. We've often been at Festivals when our tenor wasn't able to make it, and we've had someone else sing the tenor harmony on a few songs. The most memorable occasion was at a NOMAD Festival, when Sandy Paton came up and sang a whole concert with us, with Frankie teaching Sandy the tenor parts on the spot. Joe, Frankie and I all knew that Sandy is an Atheist when we asked him to join us, and we had a great time. For us, we were singing a message. Sandy was singing a song. And that was fine.
On another occasion, we had someone we'd never met before sing a couple of songs with us, because he heard us singing in a stairwell, and was enjoying the music so much. For all I know, he could have been Jewish. We don't check credentials. This fall, when the Shellbacks Chorus comes over here, if we can get together with them, I've asked Colin, Sussex Carole and Noreen to sing with us, doubling up on harmonies with Joe, Frankie and Derrick. We're all excited about the possibility.

You and I come at this question from opposite directions Bill. And just as you are honest and straightforward about your beliefs, I will be, too. I believe that Jesus Christ is the son of God, and I am trying to live my life in as Christ-like a way as I can. You believe in honesty, generosity, the brotherhood of man, and in trying to live the most decent, loving, unselfish life that you can. You are a fine man, and someone I greatly respect and consider a friend. We may indeed come at life in a very different way, but I see the commoness in us, as I do in Sandy, Art Thieme and countless others who I have been blessed to know in my life. I see our common commitment to live the most honorable, selfless lives that we can, and at the heart of all of our lives is the desire to love and be loved. For me, God IS love. For you, and Sandy and Art and many others, love is love.

Does it make any difference whether or not you belive what you are singing, when you sing gospel? I believe it does. I've seen Frankie reduce people to tears, when he sings, "He looked beyond my faults and saw my needs." People are moved because they see the sincerity and depth of faith in Frankie's singing. He is often reduced to tears, himself and there are times when we can hardly keep singing because we are so deeply moved. And yet, we'd sing that song with you, Bill, and be happy to do it. We would sing what we believe, and you would sing what you believe.

So, for me the question isn't can you sing what you don't believe. The question is can you sing with someone if your beliefs are different? My answer to that, and the way that I live is, absolutely.

My wife and I watched one of our favorite movies the other night..Oklahoma. One of many favorite songs in the musical is The Farmer And The Cowman Should Be Friends. I think we should get Amos or Micca to write The Atheist and the Christian should be friends.

I've been in this forum over a year now, and even though I am here as a folksinger, I often feel that I am identified more as a Gospel Messenger. I read the endless threads on the desire for peace in the middle east. And yet, there are times when I don't see much peace in Mudcat. Sometimes, there's so much backbiting and bitching that I have to step back for a couple of days, because it can get so poisonous. Peace is everybody's business. It's easy to blast Bush and Blair (and I agree with just about everything that's said on here... except for some rather fuzzy conspiracy theories.) I am as upset and angry as the next person. But, where is the peace on Mudcat? What are each of us doing to bring peace here?

Can atheists sing gospel? Should Atheists sing gospel? Sure... sing what you enjoy singing. My only problem would be if someone is ridiculing what they're singing. But then, I'm not a great fan of ridicule. Someone could get hurt, doing that.

So, sing gospel and enjoy it. Christ was vilified for associating with the "wrong" people... even eating at their homes. I see us all as one, Bill, and I am proud to know you.

Jerry


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