Thursday, May 22, 2008

Christians Where You Wouldn't Expect Them

When I was in college my roommate had an acoustic guitar. Out of sheer boredom I decided to try and learn it. I learned basic chords and sometimes would learn to play a part of a song if I could get someone to show me. I've played off and on since then. Recently I managed to learn "More Than Words" by Extreme. This is the quintessential "get laid" song. Learn to play this and you improve your odds of scoring. Of course I'm not looking for that as a happily married father of two, but heck, my wife is impressed and there's nothing wrong with that.

Learning this song prompted me to look into the band Extreme just to learn a little about them. I'm really not much of a music connoisseur. The reality is I was always too cheap to spend money on CD's and concert tickets. My parents disapproved of this music anyway. The expected us to not listen to secular music in the car as teenagers driving around by ourselves. They kind of knew we did anyway, but we would never have a rock CD laying around the house. Me and my siblings were a little isolated from the music industry because of this. Which doesn't bother me. It was a waste of money.

But I learned that the lead singer is a guy named Gary Cherone. I went to his website and immediately a song started playing called "Need I Say More." This is exactly the kind of song that I like best. I love sad songs and I love acoustic guitar instrumentals. This song has an acoustic instrumental and is just as sad as can be. The first thing I did when I had the opportunity was to grab my own guitar and try to learn it. I'm working on it.

So I was very impressed with Cherone. I think his voice is great. This is the same guy that was the lead singer for Van Halen briefly.

So here's what surprised me. I was poking around online trying to find the tabulature for this song "Need I Say More" and it turns out Cherone is a Christian. And not just a Christian. A pretty hard core anti-evolution Christian. He's even come out heavily against abortion. Of course I think that's just great. But I'm surprised by this. Apparently Extreme has a song called "There is No God." And when I was a Christian while I thought "More Than Words" sounded great, it kind of left me feeling a little bit sinful for enjoying it, because I figured it had helped encourage some girls to sin. I'm not quite sure how this squares with his Christianity, which apparently is somewhat conservative.

It's all good I guess. His music still sounds great.


Anonymous said...

A couple of books that might be interesting in light of your discovery of Cherone's faith: Hungry for Heaven by Steve Turner and The Rock & Roll Rebellion by Mark Joseph.
Turner is a Christian and I don't recall if Joseph is or not, but they both discuss rock music and religious faith from interesting perspectives while sharing many artists' stories. Turner argues that much (if not all) of rock music can be seen as a yearning for some connection to a spiritual something or other, while Joseph holds that Christians turned their backs on the rock market - to the detriment of their own careers as well as to rock music as a whole - and essentially formed the CCM ghetto because of a silly sacred/secular polarizing mentality. (That sentence was tedious - sorry)

You'd likely be surprised by other artists who are Christian... or were... depending on your perspective.

My house wasn't too keen on the "secular" music either, but my parents were oftentimes lax, allowing me to amass decent CD collections. But alas, I would inevitably be convicted during a youth group sermon and decide to destroy all of my ungodly music.

Being a pretty big music fan in general though, I couldn't go too long without good tunes.
I'll bet there are close to 75 CDs that I've purchased a minimum of three times due of the youthful oscillations of piety and worldliness.

There's that waste of money you mentioned...

Jon said...

That's hilarious. As a cheapo I'd find friends with the good tapes and I would copy the song to a blank tape. I think I destroyed one out of piety. I then re-made most of it as I suppressed or rationalized the guilt feelings.

Unknown said...

Being a devout Christian, I was happy to learn that Gary is a Christian. Being an Episcopalian, I was never told that Rock music was a sin. I grew up on Rock, all kinds of music from Bach to AC/DC. Music is a gift from God. Being a musician, I always thank God for that gift. I was bullied in school and I discovered that when I was singing, people stopped and listened, and gave me a reprieve from the tormentors. It opened a whole wonderful world, and it brought me happiness.

I first heard Gary sing in Extreme. "More Than Words" sent me to the music store, and twenty-five years later, I have acquired every Extreme album, and proudly wear my Francis t-shirts. Being an Extreme fan, I was lead to a Gary Cherone quest to find more of his work. On Wednesday, I heard, "Need I Say More" for the first time. By the next evening I had the chords and was singing it. I fell in love with the song.

I love Hurtsmile. They are great. I even ordered the CD and the band had signed it. One dream came true. I got Gray's autograph. It means a lot to me. Gary is one of my Top Five vocalists, and Nuno Bettencourt is, in my opinion, is up there with Slash, Ace Frehley, Clapton, and Kenny Wayne Shepherd. I think that here in the USA, Extreme is very underrated. My dream is to see them in concert. I have a lot of respect for Gary. Even though some of his opinions aren't popular with many, he stands by his convictions. I admire a person who stands by his beliefs. May God's peace and blessings be with you, Gary.

Unknown said...

Let me add this, "More Than Words" brings back fond memories of my closest friend and I jamming and enjoys the beautiful harmonies. We would sit in restaurants, and walk around in grocery stores sing those harmonies.

Unknown said...

I'm attempting to find out if Nuno Bettencourt is a Christian as well. I've done some online searching, that's how I accidentally stumbled upon site, but I've not been successful. If anyone here can provide me with some credible information either way I'd be it would be very helpful. Thank You. P.S. You can email me at

Abi said...

Listen to the lyrics of More Than Words again, and imagine that it's God speaking to a Christian whose works do not evidence his professed faith. Suddenly, the song becomes very convicting. From there, it's easy to view Hole Hearted as a corollary written from the point of view of that same Christian.

floorlizard said...

Hopefully you'll see this response so I can shed some light on your quandary about "More Than Words". This song was written from the perspective of Gary's girlfriend saying these things to him. It is not about him trying to get into her pants. Its about her explaining that she needs more from him than just saying words. Look up on YouTube the VH1 episode of "Bands Reunited" featuring Extreme. Gary is very excited that the interviewer asks him about the meaning behind the song and clears the air. Don't get me wrong, there are several of their early works that are a but troublesome. Not least of which is "Little Girls". I think a few of those early songs came from a very young, perhaps immature, young man trying to make his band "win" in the music industry by playing into the typical formulas of lyrical content. I recently met Gary and quietly had a conversation where I expressed how much his lyrics have meant to me through the years specifically because of the spiritual aspects without beating one over the head with scripture. The music is fun, but there is a message just below the surface. I explained that I am slowly working my way back to God, but that it's a struggle. He took my hand and pulled me in for a hug and simply stated "it is for all of us'. Gary Cherone is a beautiful soul, through and through.