It is hard for us to understand the past. While there are some people who denigrate the past altogether and neglect its role and importance in helping to serve as the raw material for reflection and improvement and insight, there are other people whose knowledge of the past is colored by the fact that only the best tends to survive from the past, and so we tend to judge the present against the best of the past and predictably find that the present falls short in such comparisons.
Among the most comment laments from people who (like me) are interested in music is the hatred that is shown to Christian Contemporary Music. While I tend to think quite fondly of those Chrisitan songs that have crossed over into pop and rock, it is easy enough to understand why it is that some people feel this way. When people tend to like Christian Contemporary Music, it is usually because that music reminds them of other genres and artists. Amy Grant and Michael W. Smith had great success in the late 1980’s and early-to-mid 1990’s with some wonderful songs that borrowed a lot from soft rock and adult contemporary. The same can be said of You Say by Lauren Daigle. Bands like dc Talk and Switchfoot obviously owe a lot to rock music, as do other contemporary acts like For King And Country and Needtobreathe. Similarly, acts like Gabby Barrett, Randy Travis, and Carrie Underwood have done a great job with Christian country music. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is indicative of the fact that good Christian music has usually been good music that just happens to have Christian themes and concerns in it while also being part of other sounds and genres as well.
Into that sort of debate we have a new single being released by country singer Morgan Wallen. While Morgan Wallen had a 2021 to forget in terms of the controversy he suffered that year, which drastically hurt the chart success of the songs he had released that year, a few of which just ended up barely missing the Year End charts when they would have easily made it in a less troublesome year, his 2022 is shaping up to be much more a return to commercial form that indicates the sort of career arc he has been preparing for. His solo track “Don’t Think Jesus” fits along his self-reflective songs that show his faith in a way that demonstrates his awareness of how much he falls short, and if you like somewhat downbeat and reflective songs, this certainly fits the bill.
It is important to remember, when we think of something like Christian Contemporary music, that once upon a time Bach and Handel and many others were Chrisitan contemporary music, marrying their orchestral approach with Christian themes and concerns. In every age, even in this present evil age, people have sought to express their concerns and preoccupations and reflections on their faith in whatever musical or artistic medium happened to exist. It ought not to surprise us when this ends up being worthwhile for us to listen to and reflect upon it as well to the extent that it resonates with us.