I heard about it when it was first published five years ago, but I resisted buying it. "You finished with that scene when you grew up," I told myself. I found a copy in the expected venue: one of those bookstores singularly devoted to its chosen subject matter, where the covers of their magazines and books (and CDs and DVDs) show airbrushed pictures of impossible-looking people with impossible coifs and smiles making a big public show of enjoying activities that any right-minded person keeps to herself, or eschews altogether. I furtively looked around to make sure I wouldn't get spotted by someone I knew, and quickly leafed through it. Somehow I mustered the strength I needed to put it back on the shelf and walk away. But this summer when I found a copy on sale, I succumbed. Now I sneak peaks at its contents when my wife is fast asleep. It's a pleasure with an embarrassment factor that borders close to shame, but I will now confess: I own, and get a big kick out of reading, The Encyclopedia Of Contemporary Christian Music (Amazon).
And make no mistake: I have to be careful when reading it, because it doesn't take long for the giggles to set in, thus waking up my wife and earning her rightful scorn. From 1965-1995 the Christian Contemporary Music scene was possibly the craziest scene going. Sincere-minded kids possessed of varying degrees of talent and vision walked into a burgeoning boom industry run by idiots on a short moral tether and amoral sharks who grew fat off the sheep flung their way. This environment released a torrent of the crappiest music imaginable, making the few gems that actually surfaced seem very much like an honest-to-God miracle. Author Mark Allan Powell clearly has the freakiest record collection on the planet. He loves the artists and their material, and occasionally works hard at attempting a cautious respect where I might be prone to unabashed contempt. He also has a gentle sense of humor which serves to leaven the absurdities of this industry (and they are Legion).
This kind of cultural fetish is not to everyone's taste. But I seem to have developed an appetite for it, and it cries out to be fed -- at discrete moments. And, yes, the bookstore mentioned above was a "Christian" bookstore. But now we're treading into "shame country" ....
|"Nobody looking? Time for some Mark Allen Powell..."|