Kanye West vs. Bob Dylan

I wrote an article (never posted) about all of the hubbub around Kanye’s conversion. It was about how we ‘evangelicals’ love to idolize every Christian celebrity that makes a profession of Christ, no matter how doctrinally and theological inept they might be (the natural state for baby Christians). After downloading the lyrics to what Kanye said is a song that God gave him, I couldn’t help but think of another celebrity that published a couple of Christian themed albums not long after professing Christ.

That would be Bob Dylan, who in 1979 published “Slow Train Coming” a year after receiving Christ in the home of a Messianic Jew he knew quite well.

So rather than posting the first article I wrote, for which I might get hammered for being critical (albeit in a good way) about Kanye, here are the lyrics to Kanye’s divinely inspired song and my favorite track from the “Slow Train Coming” album.

Yo, we at war – KanyeWest 2019

 

We at war with terrorism, racism, but most of all we at war with ourselves

God show me the way because the Devil’s tryin’ to break me down

(Jesus Walks with me, with me, with me, with me, with me)

You know what the Midwest is?

Young and Restless

Where restless niggas might snatch ya necklace

And next these niggas might jack ya Lexus

Somebody tell these niggas who Kanye West is

I walk through the valley of Chi where death is

Top floor of the view alone will leave you breathless

Try to catch it, it’s kinda hard

Getting choked by detectives yeah, yeah, now check the method

They be asking us questions, harass, and arrest us

Saying “We eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast!”

Huh! Y’all eat pieces of shit? What’s the basis?

We ain’t goin’ nowhere, but got suits and cases

A trunk full of coke rental car from Avis

My Mama used to say only Jesus can save us

Well Mama, I know I act a fool

But I’ll be gone ’til November, I got packs to move, I hope

God show me the way because the Devil’s tryin’ to break me down

(Jesus Walks with me)

The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now (I want Jesus)

(Jesus Walks)

And I don’t think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs

(Jesus Walks with me)

I want to talk to God, but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long

(I want Jesus)

God show me the way because the Devil’s tryin’ to break me down

The only thing that I pray is that my feet don’t fail me now

And I don’t think there is nothing I can do now to right my wrongs

I want to talk to God, but I’m afraid because we ain’t spoke in so long, so long

So long

(Jesus Walks with me)

To the hustlers, killers, murderers, drug dealers even the strippers

(Jesus walks for them)

To the victims of welfare for we living in hell here hell yeah

(Jesus walks for them)

Now hear ye hear ye want to see Thee more clearly

I know He hear me when my feet get weary

Cause we’re the almost nearly extinct

We rappers are role models we rap we don’t think

I ain’t here to argue about his facial features

Or here to convert atheists into believers

I’m just trying to say the way school need teachers

The way Kathie Lee needed Regis that’s the way I need Jesus

So here go my single dog radio needs this

They said you can rap about anything except for Jesus

That means guns, sex, lies, video tape

But if I talk about God my record won’t get played

Huh?

Well let this take away from my spins

Which will probably take away from my ends

Then I hope this take away from my sins

 

Gotta Serve Somebody – Bob Dylan 1979

 

You may be an ambassador to England or France

You may like to gamble, you might like to dance

You may be the heavyweight champion of the world

You may be a socialite with a long string of pearls

 

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 

You might be a rock ‘n’ roll addict prancing on the stage

You might have drugs at your command, women in a cage

You may be a business man or some high-degree thief

They may call you doctor or they may call you chief

 

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 

You may be a state trooper, you might be a young Turk

You may be the head of some big TV network

You may be rich or poor, you may be blind or lame

You may be living in another country under another name

 

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes you are

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 

You may be a construction worker working on a home

You may be living in a mansion or you might live in a dome

You might own guns and you might even own tanks

You might be somebody’s landlord, you might even own banks

 

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 

You may be a preacher with your spiritual pride

You may be a city councilman taking bribes on the side

You may be workin’ in a barbershop, you may know how to cut hair

You may be somebody’s mistress, may be somebody’s heir

 

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 

Might like to wear cotton, might like to wear silk

Might like to drink whiskey, might like to drink milk

You might like to eat caviar, you might like to eat bread

You may be sleeping on the floor, sleeping in a king-sized bed

 

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

Indeed you’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 

You may call me Terry, you may call me Timmy

You may call me Bobby, you may call me Zimmy

You may call me R.J., you may call me Ray

You may call me anything but no matter what you say

 

Still, you’re gonna have to serve somebody, yes

You’re gonna have to serve somebody

Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord

But you’re gonna have to serve somebody

 

 

We report, you decide .

Comments?

Alistair Begg on The Beatles

Below is an article from Christianity Today from 2003 that I found really interesting. It’s actually part of a longer interview with radio host Dick Staub. You can listen to the entire interview at Sermon Audio. Here’s the CT article:

Alistair Begg on The Beatles

from Christianity today

The author and pastor talks about the Fab Four’s cry for Help and why no one answered it.

April 1, 2003

Alistair Begg on The Beatles

The author and pastor talks about the Fab Four’s cry for Help and why no one answered it.

April 1, 2003

In the last several years, writers and academics have begun to seriously analyze what pop culture icons say through their worldviews. Books have explored the philosophy of The Matrix, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and Seinfeld and the gospel according to Tony Soprano and The Simpsons.

Alistair Begg, pastor of Ohio’s Parkside Church and the author of Made For His Pleasure (Moody), has been a longtime fan of The Beatles. He doesn’t suggest the band had a solid theology or an admirable worldview. Instead, he feels the band is important to look at now because it asked a lot of pertinent question in its music—and too many of those questions went unanswered.

Why is it important to understand what The Beatles were saying during their era?

They were on the forefront of a generation’s thinking. At the same time, they were able to articulate things and were given a voice. Without fully understanding it themselves, originally, they found themselves the mouthpiece of a generation. They were actually interpreting some of the angst, the hopes, and the fears of teenagers with mothers and fathers who didn’t understand.

Did The Beatles simply reflect culture or did they shape it?

For good or for ill, they were shaping culture. That’s true if you take the development of the music alone. Everything that they did pushed the frontiers out. This wasn’t only true in terms of the way in which they were recording material or the way in which they were writing melody lines, but it was actually in the lyrical content as well. Think about what Elvis Presley was singing about, or about what Chuck Berry was doing. It was all about love and different things like that. The Beatles got into a whole new business the further they went.

The Beatles first said money was everything (in the song “Money“), then they said that love could give you anything you want on “From Me to You“, and then they record “Can’t Buy Me Love“. What do you see in this progression?

An American journalist asked Paul in 1966 if “Can’t Buy Me Love” was actually about prostitution. There is this morbid fascination with the idea that these guys were coming from the bottom level of everything. It is a shame. It carried over into fundamentalist/evangelical response to their music at that time.

I’m not suggesting that The Beatles had a wonderful theology, or that their worldview was perfect. It clearly wasn’t. It left them high and dry on just about every front, eventually. But they weren’t simply writing cute little tunes. They were beginning to take seriously the platform that they’d been given. That’s why so many people found them offensive; it was because of the things that they were prepared to tackle.

What do you see when looking closely at what The Beatles were saying or looking for in their songs?

If you take Lennon’s “In My Life,” you have the tender side of John Lennon coming out, a side that many people missed completely.

When they went in and got Lennon’s belongings after his untimely death, one of the closest family friends found a huge notebook, which contained virtually all of Lennon’s handwritten lyrics for everything he’d done, including this song. It was clear that what had happened to Lennon is that as the fame thing had come, a sense of nostalgia crept into his life. He started to remember the places in the past.

It was always sad to me that people couldn’t see that he was crying out for something. I just always felt that in Lennon you had this guy who every so often would open the door to himself ever so slightly. Every time he opened up, it never seemed to be a Christian response to say, “Hey, we’ve got an angle on that. We’d love to talk to you about that.” It was always, “Hey, get out of here, you long-haired nuisance. You’re destroying the youth of Great Britain and corrupting the life of America.” We did this in the ’60s and, frankly, we’re doing it again now.

Speaking of the religious community’s reaction to Lennon, there was a huge fervor after his comment that The Beatles were bigger than Jesus. But in an interview after that event, he said, “I wasn’t saying The Beatles are better than Jesus or God or Christianity, I was using the name Beatles … as an example. But I could have said TV or cinema or anything else that’s popular. Or motor cars are bigger than Jesus.”

It’s a shame that it served the agenda of certain people to misunderstand the quote. What Lennon was saying is what people might justifiably say today about all kinds of idols and icons in relationship to young people in particular. He was in some ways bemoaning the fact. He was honest enough to say what has happened here is a phenomenon that is way beyond anything that we could ever have conceived. The response, of course, was not particularly attractive—such as when the band hit Dallas and all those youth pastors came out to welcome them with bonfires.

While there were things that needed to be addressed in pop culture—and there always will be—I think we missed an opportunity. Later on, we see them involved with a maharishi yogi. You see Harrison’s interest in mysticism. While we can’t lay the charge at the feet of the Christians, nevertheless it is a sad thing that there was nobody there who had gained a platform to them at a time when they were willing to listen. The interviewer asked about the song “Help.” He said, “I wrote “Help” in ’65, and people hailed it as another advance in rock & roll. It was the cry of my heart and nobody came to answer.”

This is just a picture of what we’re dealing with every day in all of our lives. Lennon, the drummer in Smashing Pumpkins, and Kurt Cobain are only big, dramatic examples of the interaction that all of us have with kids. I want to encourage Christians to get serious about being real about Jesus Christ. Listen to music so that you can talk to people about it rather than sloganeering and banging the drum for the same old stuff.

Again, the entire interview can be listened to at Sermon Audio.