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As a popular music historian (of a sort), I am constantly banging head first into hit songs about people's imaginary friends. And, as such, I mourn for the nation and the world.

So ...

Question 1). Which are your most hated god-centric popular songs? (Mine are, in order, "God Bless The U.S.A." (Lee Greenwood), "Jesus Take The Wheel" (Carrie Underwood) and "Jesus Walks" (Kanye West).

Question 2). Do you have any god-centric popular songs that you rather like, despite their theme? (I'll only admit to "Spirit In The Sky" by Norman Greenbaum, though there are one or two others.)

Question 3). This one is going to be a stumper, I fear. Aside from "Imagine" by John Lennon, is there/are there another/other popular song(s) which are expressly atheistic/humanistic and specifically don't call upon an invisible friend? (I say "popular," in that there are probably many by a variety of indie artists, but those don't necessarily swim in the mainstream where everyone would have heard it on the radio.)

There are a million reasons why there wouldn't be -- not the least of which it's hard to sing about a negative of something (belief), but maybe I'm overlooking something.

Tags: Atheism, Culture, Music, Pop

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First off, Cliff: Great post--and comments. I believe what the world needs now (besides a major environmental and economic overhaul) is more atheistic/humanistic music that inspires. (BTW, I don't recall ever before hearing or reading the term "invisible" or "imaginary friend"; rather clever:-) )

Since this is my first comment, I believe I at least owe you the honor of attempting to answer your questions, so here goes:

1) This is a tough one, not b/c there are so few to choose from but so many. Not only that; I've become accustomed to ignoring the "imaginary friend" aspect of the lyrics and focusing merely on the music itself. If I like a tune, I'll listen to it. Sometimes when I can't find anything I want to listen to while driving I'll tune the radio to a Christian station (after all, I don't exactly hate Christians; I merely disagree with their beliefs), and I've grown rather fond of many songs I've heard now and again on those stations. So I walk a fine line between love and hate when it comes to what the music industry likes to package as "inspirational" music. I agree with you about "God Bless the USA". In fact, after doing a six-year stint in the Army National Guard, I've come to despise revisiting just about any of those modern popular songs marketed in the name of patriotism. In a more purely religious sense, the first (and only) song that comes to mind at the moment is "My God Is an Awesome God". I'm afraid I'm not sure who sings it, but I'm willing to bet you and many others here have heard it and hated it, too;-)

2) This is also a tough one for the opposite reason I gave for question #1. As I indicated above, there are rather a lot of songs I could choose from that fall into this category. I'll just list the first few that come to mind: "I Can Only Imagine", by MercyMe; "I Believe", by Blessid Union of Souls; and "My Place in This World", by Michael W. Smith. I can even find enjoyment in the lyrics of the latter two since they carry messages that aren't specifically about God.

3) I wish I could come up with something--anything--more than what I've discovered so far on the Internet since beginning my search yesterday evening. But the very reason I ended up here was because I hoped I could start my own such list; I've really no idea of some uplifting, (perhaps) popular songs that are based in atheism/humanism rather than in religion.

Thanks for bearing with me as I get acquainted with all this. And, please, keep up the good posts!

1) Also Jesus Take the Wheel.
2) Not entirely God-centric, but I love Keeper of the Stars
3) Don't know of any that specifically address lack of beliefs, but there are some artists I like that have never had a song about god.
Cliff, since I was pondering the third question in your post today while driving and listening to the radio--which not only revealed a couple of musical ideas directly but also jogged my memory of popular songs from years ago--I was able to come up with a few answers of my own, after all. For instance, I thought of the song from an old Coke commercial I bet few high school and even most college students have even heard of today: "I'd Like to Teach the World to Sing". A little naive (and commercial), perhaps, but it was nevertheless uplifting to me as a musical memory. I also thought of a more modern song that impressed me with its boldness, "Love Song", by Sarah Bareilles; okay, it's not exactly what one might immediately label an atheist or humanist song, but neither could it be appropriately categorized as a religious nor a love song! I also heard "I Dare You to Move", by Switchfoot and thought it might provide a good addition in answer to your question.... and I heard it on KFIS, "The Fish", of all places! I also heard another good secular song and a couple more good Christian songs to add to my previous response for your second question, but I'd forgotten them by the time I arrived at home and I could not access a full playlist on the station website.

Lastly, I read in this thread your comments about Michael Stipe of R.E.M. It seems you couldn't remember whether or not he wrote a song about his coming out about his atheist beliefs. Had you forgotten his song, "Losing My Religion" or is that not exactly what you had in mind?

Best God in Show - NOFX
R Way - Rebelution

I mean no offense by pointing this out, but I can't tell (since there were three questions and you've only listed two selections with no additional information)... do you love or hate these songs? I guess I want to know, b/c I might like to check one or both of them out if you don't hate them;-D
I am a music subjectivist, each type of music has it's time and place/context in my life. Other than country, which I reckon is the devil's music.

I love to dance to RB HH, but I study and read to film soundtracks. I have driving tunes, and bathing tunes and love making tunes.

ONE thing I hate above country music is people who force their music tastes onto us in the website. I like to sometimes visit people homepage here and to have some screechy selection of music suddenly pop out of my speakers in the middle of the night is the god awfullest internet experience. Then in a flustered state, I run around like a chicken with it's head cut off looking for the bloody stop button!!! which inevitably, users hide in some godforsaken location on their page instead at right at the top where people could actually make a selection IF DESIRED. I watch a lot of videos, so no, I don't want to turn my volume off, I just don't want people imposing their music choices on my internet reading time.

It is as vile to me as someone shoving religion down my throat.
I'm not sure how to respond, but I love your humor and insight. I guess, to be fair, I should add that I feel the same as you--every music genre, or type, has its proper place & time in my life, too, depending upon what activity I happen to be involved in and what mood I'm in when I select it--but I kind of like the exposure to other people's choices of music I might not experience were it not "forced" upon me. Having said that, I should also add that I'm a new member here, and I rarely visit websites like MySpace, so I haven't been exposed to a lot of screechy or otherwise aurally-annoying homepages. However, I wholeheartedly agree with you about having another's philosophy/religion shoved down my own throat. It's as vile as... being made to swallow bile.
meh, you don't have to go to myspace pages to experience the music bile impression, right here on this site a great many users put it on their home page.

I also love exploring new music, I wish people offered their music instead of imposing it. It makes me NOT want to visit people's pages, and then what's the point of spending time making a page if it puts people off? LOL

ah, speak of the devil, a country ad right below my post... is that the taste of bile in my mouth??
You make some good points. I guess when one possesses a curious and open nature, there is a fine line between pleasure and annoyance. A personal conclusion I drew after years of living a sheltered existence that I believe may have literally killed me (or a continuing gradual decline in health) had I allowed my ignorance (of things like nutrition-related health conditions) to persist is: Curiosity may very well have killed the cat, but it can also serve to save life as well--the latter of the two being a phenomenon to which I can personally attest.
Bukowski is probably my favorite song that isn't confirmational.. Brock, the singer, is atheist.
"if God controls the land and disease,
keeps a watchful eye on me,
If he's really so damn mighty,
my problem is I can't see,
well who would wanna be?
Who would wanna be such a control freak?
Well who would wanna be?
Who would wanna be such a control freak? "

btw performed by Modest Mouse
My favorite (in category 3) is Vienna Teng's "An atheist Christmas Carol"

It's about humanitistic values in cold Winter Time , it has grace and speaks to the companionship and love that people provide in dark, wounded times. Varous religious concepts are humanized.
I think it is best to enjoy music for just being music despite it's theme. I enjoy all of J.S. Bach who dedicated his life's work to God, Larry Norman, Woody Guthrie's Jesus Christ, Pixies have written several songs on the bible I wouldn't call those God Centric songs though. There's too many folk songs to list that I adore and have influenced me in song writing.

Religion and music have a long relationship together to say a song is terrible just because it is talking about God or religious values is rather ignorant.


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