“Songs For The Ritually Abused” by Rose is brutal brilliance

Last week, most of the world gasped in horror at the sight of children in Manchester, most of them girls, being blown apart for the crime of attending a pop concert. I say most; the satanic jihadists celebrated even as some among the oh so pure Konservative Kool Kidz Klub sneered how Ariana Grande had it coming because she’s said and done stupid stuff, and by default her audience as well for not knowing they’re not supposed to support someone not bearing the official seal of approval. Because, after all, every eight year old girl should be full up on politics.

The latter losers notwithstanding – and they have no place standing with anyone who has a heart – the terrorist attack was only one side of the war on children, specifically girls; sudden, brutal. There is another face of the war against children usually hidden from sight: the slow death of those ritually abused by adults. Be it sexual, this occasionally bubbling to the surface when another child pornography aficionado and/or sex trafficker is arrested, physical, emotional/mental/spiritual; it lives among us and almost always out of sight. As are its victims, who either put on a forced happy face to hide the truth, disappear from public view, or wind up in a morgue unless their lifeless body is thrown out with the trash. The abuse often doesn’t end at childhood’s end, as the obscenely high number of abused wives and girlfriends can attest once the swelling from their latest bouquet of physical or emotional/mental/spiritual bruises subsides. This noted, it is of the children this post speaks.

This is the world musician Randy Rose exposes in his latest offering Songs For The Ritually Abused. Rose, along with his brother Roger, is fondly remembered by hardcore Christian rock fans from his days in synth to hard rock Mad At The World. Currently working with his own band bearing his last name, Rose successfully went to the Kickstarter well last year to finance a new recording he promised would be anything but, well, roses and rose-colored stained glass windows. A few hiccups hindered the release schedule, but the album is now out. It is raw and real.

Musically, for those unaware of Rose’s sound the best comparison would be to think of Muse with the melodrama turned down and the snarl turned up to 11. Melody is often delivered with the business end of a fuzztone sledgehammer. There are quiet moments, but for the most part Songs For The Ritually Abused is pounding mid-tempo fury. It’s not metal nor goth, but fans of each genre as well as those attracted by anthems will find plenty to sink their teeth into even as the music bares its own teeth.

Lyrically, the only words that accurately capture the album’s horror and hope are its own:

You were ritually abused…battered, bloodied and bruised
But Jesus is calling your name and Girl, you’ll never be the same
Tears stain my cheek for the one who couldn’t speak
Sweet little Girl…

I know everything’s gonna be fine
Girl, I know He’ll wipe the tears from your eyes
So close your eyes and dream of things
Close your eyes and dream of things
So close your eyes and dream of things that
You thought that you’d never see

Beautiful Girl…

Havilah, your time has come
And now you get to speak…

You can speak.

For example. Other songs cut even deeper, exposing and calling out the monsters who abuse children while proclaiming Christ’s love in action for victims. It is a fearsome, brutally effective tour de force.

Songs For The Ritually Abused will not make anyone want to hit the dance floor, and it’s extremely doubtful the average Ariana Grande fan will find much, if anything, here to her liking. That said, it is precisely for her fans seeking solace in her music as an escape from their private hell that this album was made. If it moves people to action confronting this evil, or serves as a lifeline for those unwillingly described in its words, with this album Randy Rose has accomplished God’s work.

The album is available at Amazon, CD Baby, direct from the record label, iTunes, and Rose’s website.

Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing (But Richie Furay Sure Can)

NOTE: This post was first published on DaTechGuy Blog.

Following up on last week’s kvetch regarding conservative new media talking a great game when it comes to impacting culture, yet near-unanimously failing to do so, an introduction to someone who walks the talk. And has been doing so for quite some time.

Ritchie Furay pastors a church in Broomfield, Colorado, some thirteen miles southeast of Boulder. He is an unassuming man who looks far younger than his seventy-two tours of duty on this planet might suggest. He and his wife have been together going on forty-eight years, with kids and grandkids a-plenty. And lest one wonder “gee, that’s nice and all, but what does this have to do with changing the culture …”

… he’s also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Back in the 1960s, when popular music was beginning to rediscover its long neglected role as social commentary’s voice, there was for a brief time a band that proved seminal both in its impact on a generation of music, culminating with the Eagles, and on modern culture as a whole with its lyrical bent. Even as important as the band was, its members work after disbanding proved to be crucial in musical and societal change. The band was Buffalo Springfield. One of its three-headed monster leadership? Richie Furay.

Although as far as public recognition Furay remains well behind Buffalo Springfield’s other main members, namely Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Furay was a vital element of the band’s sound on all fronts: guitar, vocals, and songwriter. His “Kind Woman” became a staple of the band’s catalog, a track that perfectly captured what at the time was a revolutionary and hitherto unimaginable fusion of country and rock. Turn on any modern country radio station and you will hear the full impact of Furay’s work. He did not singlehandedly invent country rock, but Furay was one of the first artists, if not the very first artist, to make it work.

Following Buffalo Springfield’s demise, Furay rounded up a bunch of like-minded artists for a new band named Poco. Poco never made major headway commercially, but was revered by its fans and peers for refining the country-rock genre. Furay eventually left the band to get together with fellow veteran artists J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman; it was during this period in 1974 when Furay came to Christ. Over the subsequent years Furay has focused more on pastoral duties than music, although he still records and performs. And, as the following clip from his most recent album recorded a couple of years ago showcases, he still has his songwriting chops, presented via his clear with just a touch of twang tenor, hitting the high notes without breaking a sweat:

At this point, one might think “gee, that’s nice and all, but I’m still not getting what this has to do with changing the culture.” Bear with; we’re getting there.

Richie Furay breaks the mold of rock artists by being a full-bore unapologetic conservative. He routinely speaks up about political views on his Facebook page, where he equally routinely politely and directly engages with his fans. Which in and of itself breaks the mold of most rock stars and celebrities who prefer maintaining as much of a distance from their fans as possible.

Wait, you didn’t know that? Not surprising.

Here’s the deal. Want to read more about Furay; his music, faith, and political views? Hmm, let’s see. RedState? Nope. HotAir? Nada. Breitbart? Nyet. Not a word.

Try Rolling Stone.

It unfailingly amuses and saddens how conservative blogs and the people who write them can endlessly tonguebathe themselves about the great and mighty service they are providing in molding and shaping public opinion. Problem is, they’re not. Outside the echo chamber, no one knows they exist. Even within the echo chamber they change nothing. Remember the #NeverTrump torrent that poured forth daily from the high rollers? Boy, that sure changed things in favor of President-elect Rubio and … oh, wait …

Maybe it’s time to change course. These folk know the definition of insanity, correct? Then why continue to do the same thing that has repeatedly proven to not be worth, and not work, a lick?

Try talking about someone with a good guitar lick. Try something other than another rewrite rehash of today’s talking points and MSM regurgitation. Instead of blabbing all politics, all the time, all the same, write something people actually want to read. Talk about a musician. Discuss an author. Review a movie. Tell a story about what is happening, or has happened, in your or a friend’s life. In short, give someone other than hardcore political junkies a reason to read anything you write.

No one is asking anyone to disavow their political beliefs. What is being suggested is political bloggers embracing reality. You are not changing anyone. No one knows you exist. You are a one note, one trick pony in a dog and pony show playing to an empty circus tent. Stop.

Reach out. Branch out. Write like a human being for human beings. You engage culture when you engage people. Start.

And along the way, talk up great music by a good man.

Pop Goes The Culture

Something touched on in the previous post is the notion of cultural relevancy, or if you prefer engaging the culture. A common cry amongst the conservative new media echo chamber… er, realm is the need to actively pursue entry into popular culture via the assorted reigning entertainment mediums — music, television, film. The irony of how this is most often discussed within closed circles is apparently lost on those thus engaged with talking about engagement but never doing anything that can in any fashion be construed as genuine outreach. But I digress.

One of the greatest challenges facing anyone who seeks to influence pop culture is that despite its apparent pervasiveness, even for the biggest names it is surprisingly limited in its at least initial outreach. Take as an example U2, its record label, and Apple’s agreement to make what is easily the biggest band in the world’s new album available for free to everyone with an iTunes account, number of same being some 500 million. How many thus far (the deal was announced this past Tuesday) have taken advantage of the offer, said offer being mentioned and promoted by virtually every media and medium in existence? Around two million. This for a band that has sold over 150 million albums in its career. The days when The Beatles could change the world with the change of a hairstyle are long gone.

Another example of pop culture’s limited appeal is at the movies. The general rule of thumb is that a movie with $100M in box office business is a success, bloated special effects-laden outings that cost more than $200M to make not withstanding. But how many people, as in individual ticket sales, see a blockbuster movie? The biggest movie this year to date is Guardians of the Galaxy, with an as of yesterday estimated domestic box office take of $297.8M. Translated into ticket sales, the best guess is that comes out to 35.7M tickets sold. Figuring there is quite probably a good percentage of repeat viewers… you get the idea. A large number, but not universal. Also, factor in the film’s built-in mass audience appeal from the Marvel Comics/Disney connection, the tens if not hundreds of millions spent promoting the film, and so on. This isn’t a film designed for viewerships at your local art cinema; something to give you cause for reflection and discussion. It is mass market product, designed to sell tickets and merchandise.

Paraphrasing Shakespeare, pop culture is sound and fury; tales told by an idiot, signifying nothing. This is the entirety of pop culture: a soap bubble, momentarily pretty but fatally fragile, inevitably popping to be seen no more and quickly forgotten in favor of the next bubble blown.

Yet despite this, enter into the pop culture fray we must. We have examples of what happens when we withdraw behind our walls; witness the utter failure of the evangelical American church, despite its size, to have any impact on society. Certainly the odds are stacked against us. We do not have multi-multi-million dollar promotional budgets at our disposal, nor will we have industry support no matter how potentially profitable our efforts may be. However, the need to reach people remains paramount. We cannot sit idly by, barking at the caravan as it moves on, then believe we are accomplishing something by barking. At least not if we are being honest. If we reach but a few, we have done far better than if we reach none at all.

We also have to be honest with ourselves. Echo chamber jingoism is great at rallies of like-minded people but utterly useless when presented to the general public. Be they ever so superficial and slick, pop culture successes convey whatever message they offer with sufficient skill to penetrate multiple societal layers. Clumsy cliches need not apply. Lee Greenwood already did “God Bless The USA.” There is neither need nor room for a sequel.

Now, promoting conservative artists in whatever field immediately presents a problem, that being dealing with artists. Most — not all, but most — creative people are fundamentally insane and correspondingly hard to handle. Why this is so is seldom understood by those not similarly gifted, or for that matter many of those who are gifted. To be an artist of any genuine skill means, regardless of whether it is acknowledged, that one has opened him or herself to the creative spirit that is a direct gift from God. When human (that’s us) is touched by divine (that’s the Man Upstairs), simultaneously beautiful and terrible things happen. The beautiful is what is created; the terrible is how such overwhelming intimacy with the Creator can all too easily drive a person mad as in our limited human state we can only handle so much beyond ourselves. There is also the pain factor; Bono was completely accurate when he sang every artist is a cannibal, every poet is a thief; all kill their inspiration and sing about the grief. Little Miss Sunshine would have been a lousy artist.

So, these are the challenges facing anyone who wishes to engage the culture. It is expensive, it is an insular world that does not take kindly to outsiders with views outside its hedonistic hyper-liberal own, and the people best equipped artistically to enter the fray are often borderline, if not full-fledged, self-destructive lunatics. Yet engage we must, for there is far too much at stake to let things go as they are.