Saturday, June 5, 2010

ABBA, Alice Cooper, and Authenticity

For a while, I've been thinking that there is something missing from the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. I hadn't been able to put my finger on it until recently. Every time I went I was dazzled by the artifacts in the museum: Neil Peart's drum kit, Alice Cooper's fake severed head, the statues from Pink Floyd's Division Bell Album, etc. I am reasonably certain that my own rock n roll ability raised significantly just by being in their presence.

But something (someone) is missing. It wasn't until recently that I had a closer look at the list of inductees and realized who isn't there. There is no Alice Cooper in the Hall, no Thin Lizzy, no Don MacLean, no Allman Brothers, the list goes on. Many of the greats are missing.

Guess who is there: ABBA. Let me say that again for my fellow rock and roll purists who's minds fundamentally cannot accept this cosmic foul. The Swedish pop vocal group (Not a band) ABBA is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Alice Cooper isn't! That's like inducting Robin into the Superhero Hall of Fame without ever inducting Superman. Seriously, this is a problem!
I feel so lied to, so betrayed. It was as if all the rock artifacts were just there to fool me. The Rock Hall became a bit like a Celine Dion fan wearing a Rolling Stones t-shirt he bought from Target. (The print on the T-shirt may seem rock n roll, but its just not the real thing.) The drum sets and guitars were only on display to trick me, to make me think I was in a Hall of Fame for rock and roll when I was really in the Popular Music Hall of Fame (not a bad place, just not what's on the sign).

Here's the thing. I actually like ABBA. Its not rock, but I can enjoy a little "Mama Mia" now and then. I wouldn't mind going to a hall of fame appropriate for groups like ABBA. I just don't want to go to a Hall of Fame for rock n roll only to find that's not what it really is.

On a recent episode of VH1 Classic's "That Metal Show," Alice Cooper made an appearance and addressed the Hall of Fame issue. Alice (or "Vince" as he is known off stage) showed up sans makeup. No snakes, no special effects, just regular Vince. The guy known for the character he portrays sat down just to hang out with a few fans. During the course of the show, the hosts shared their frustration with the Rock Hall that Alice had not been inducted. Given the opportunity to vent frustration, Alice graciously shared that it was up to the Rock Hall authorities and he was ok with their decision.

Many of you may not know that Alice Cooper is a faithful Christ-follower. It was interesting how simple and gentle he came across. He didn't get indignant, didn't curse. He didn't even speak ill. He just graciously deflected the comments, and tried to focus attention on other things.

His manner was so unassuming that the hosts of the show eventually started asking for advice from the seasoned rocker. Amazed that Cooper had stayed faithful to his wife for 30 years, the hosts asked for wisdom on marital faithfulness. Alice gave credit to his Christ-like upbringing and talked about the importance of taking his wife on dates. No rock and roll tricks, no gimmick, just a regular guy talking about life and how following Christ fits in. That's authenticity, and I've noticed that it always gets an ear.

I think we sometimes try to hard to get attention as Christians. We try to look or act a certain way. Then, when we get passed over or maligned, we cry "foul" and share our frustration with the direction of the culture. We have nearly made a science of getting media attention for what we are against.

I'll be honest. At times (especially in college) I've tried to be a rock star. I can remember dressing and acting differently than normal in order to seem important or artistic. In my mind, I thought that if I could seem like something larger than life, people would want to hear what I had to say about Christ. I think my intentions were good, but it all seems very foolish now.

Jesus never tried to be a rock star. There was nothing about His appearance that would have attracted people (Isaiah 53:1-3). He never argued about what he deserved. He spent most of His time ministering to average people with real problems and real pain. Jesus didn't have slick hair and shiny clothes or a publicist. He was a "regular guy"...and yet he was God.

Strange that even the people who have the ability to wow the crowds have the most impact with simplicity.

Do you think Jesus drew more followers with His miracles or with his love?


  1. well said my metalhead friend, let's get real, and really connect with real people. was that redundant? oh well. love your stuff my freind.

  2. Dan I enjoyed reading your thoughts ~ especially "No rock and roll tricks, no gimmick, just a regular guy talking about life and how following Christ fits in. That's authenticity...."