A curiosity has come to my attention. Someone pointed out (The New Republic, April 17, 198

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A curiosity has come to my attention. Someone pointed out (The New Republic, April 17, 1989) that the question of the proper place of Jesus Christ in rock music has reared its head again. The reviewer pointed out that the question ought to have been settled in the early 1970's by such rock musicals as _Godspell_ and _Joseph and his Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat_. People in tie-dyed long johns told us that Jesus was a righteous and relevant dude, like H.R. Puf'n'stuf. Now, this time around, in the reviewer's own words, it's Jesus "Shaft" Christ. In other words, it's hump-oriented theology (HOT). _The Last Temptation of Christ_ comes to mind; but it's not true HOT; leading a normal family life and doing you-know-what is a temptation that he rejects. Perhaps the leading advocates of HOT at this time are Prince and Madonna; their support of HOT actually goes back for some time. Prince Rogers Nelson (his full name) first. He is a singer and songwriter, and he can play several musical instruments. He started out in some local Minneapolis bands and as a session player. His boss, a fellow named Moon, had the idea of putting a lot of sex into songs -- that way they can sell. This made Prince rather uninhibited about that subject, and several of his songs have been rather raunchy. He got a solo deal in 1981(?), and he has produced about an album a year since then. Often, he would do most or all of the instrumental parts (one at a time, of course!) The title of his early album _Dirty Mind_ is an excellent description of what kind of mind he has. One song, "Sister," is about incest fantasies; another song, "Head," is about giving just that. Needless to say, not many radio stations were enthusiastic about playing songs from _that_ album. But he had more success with later albums, and his album and movie _Purple Rain_ was a true 1984 blockbuster. _Under the Cherry Moon_ was, however, an embarrassing flop. His style of performing was equally raunchy. In his early years, he would appear on stage in black bikini briefs and black leg warmers, and seemingly hump a bed. He was not always well received; when he opened for the Rolling Stones, he was loudly booed ("Get that faggot off stage"). More recently, he has taken to wearing ruffled outfits that make him look like some aristocrat from a couple of centuries back. And one time, he arranged to have water squirt from the neck of his guitar (as if it was ejaculating). Needless to say, he has not endeared himself to conservative moralists. And religion? He has not talked about that very much, though he is apparently sort of a born-again Christian. Yet he believes that sex can make one close to God. According to him, the title of his 1988 album, _Lovesexy_, is "the feeling U get not when U fall in love with a girl or boy but with the heavens above." The cover pictures him naked, though coyly posed, something he interprets as a symbol of rebirth. His offering of HOT has gotten mixed results. In a recent concert, Prince devoted the first set to his raunchier songs, performing in his usual raunchy manner, simulating sex with his bass player, etc. He didn't appear right away for his second set; one could only see fog and shafts of light. Prince: "I did the first half like that 'cuz I knew you wanted that. But don't you want something moooore in your life?" The crowd: "Just SING it, Prince" and NOOO!" Madonna Louise Ciccone (her full name) next. She is a singer, songwriter, dancer, and actress; she can play some instruments: drums, guitar, and keyboards. She emerged about when Prince did, and she has made a name for herself as a rather raunchy disco queen, claiming the title abandoned by Donna Summer in 1980 (_she_ said she had become a born-again Christian, and also that God had sent AIDS as a punishment for the sins of gay people). Her songwriting is not quite as raunchy as Prince's, however, more double-entendreish (check out "Like a Virgin," for instance). Like Elvis Presley and Prince, however, she shakes her booty a lot in concert. Hints of HOT? Yes. Early in her career, she wore lots of crucifixes above exposed bra straps and lingerie; she even claimed that "crucifixes are sexy because they have a naked man on them." In her "Like a Prayer" music video, she plays a girl who witnesses a crime and prays to a saint for advice. The girl falls asleep and dreams of the saint coming to life and making love to her. "As the choir sings, she reaches an orgasmic crescendo of sexual fulfillment intertwined with her love of God." Madonna had been raised a Catholic; some pious Catholics charged her with doing to Catholicism what some pious Muslims had charged Salman Rushdie with doing (even if not in those words). The likes of the Rev. Donald Wildmon managed to get Pepsi to back away from the endorsement deal it had signed with Madonna. For her part, Madonna is not very religious (at least I get that impression). Though she (according to her) prays a lot, "I can't describe the way that I pray. It has nothing to do with religion." According to her, needless guilt feelings left over from her Catholic upbringing still make her a Catholic in a sense. Her most recent album, _Like a Prayer_, does touch on religion a bit, but many of its songs are about various members of her family. There is a song about her strict father ("Oh Father I have sinned"), a song about accepting the death of her mother ("Feels like a lie|Can't kiss her goodbye/But I promise to try"), a celebration of her brothers and sisters, and a song about a tempestuous marriage. Its title, the traditional vow "Till Death Do Us Part," reflects a path she has chosen not to take with Sean Penn; she is all too aware of traditional Catholic dogma on divorce. The most explicitly religious song, "Act of Contrition," sounds almost blasphemous; this weird-sounding "song" is evidently about needless guilt. In it, she recites a prayer, then sings it, then totally screws it up. All to the accompaniment of the choir on the title song ("Like a Prayer"), Prince's squealing electric guitar, and a driving, rap-type drum-machine beat. One of the weirdest tunes I have ever heard in some time. Any Prince-Madonna connections? The two have been friends and mutual admirers for several years; the two even cooperate on a song on _Like a Prayer_: "Love Song." The two had gotten together to write a musical, and this song is all that remains of their plans. Despite shared tendencies towards HOT, Madonna claims that she and Prince never discuss religion or politics. Well, it's hard to imagine a born-again Christian and a lapsed Catholic seeing eye to eye on religion. ^ Loren Petrich, the Master Blaster \ ^ / loren@moonzappa.llnl.gov \ ^ / One may need to route through any of: \^/ sunlight.llnl.gov <<<<<<<<+>>>>>>>> lll-lcc.llnl.gov /v\ lll-crg.llnl.gov / v \ star.stanford.edu / v \ v "I'm just a spud boy looking for that real tomato" -- Devo


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