Since joining the blog in June of 2012 (yes, it’s been over a year now and yes, the romance is dead), I’ve often made reference to a mysterious musical figure by the name of “Steve Taylor”.
With the end of Year 2 fast approaching, I figure it’s about time I actually explain who this guy was.
Steve Taylor was a Christian Rock musician, which given my past statements on the subject probably only makes it weirder that I’d be bringing him. But you see, Steve Taylor was doing his thing in the 80s, back in a time when the genre was still in its infancy and trying to combine religion and rock meant being edgy. We’re talking about the heyday of Jerry Falwell and his ilk reigned unchallenged and anything with a decent beat was listed as being of voodoo and/or satanic in origin.
Fortunately, that didn’t stop Taylor from blazing ahead anyways.
In spite of the challenges facing him, Taylor managed to build a career for himself largely through his witty lyrics and vicious satire, with televangelists and legalists usually at the receiving end.
“I think most pople get their image of Christianity from media, especially TV preachers… who preach doctrines like God is an American or Canadian and He wants us all to be rich and conservative…”
Taylor was characterized as being something of an anti-hero, brutally attacking the subculture that had arguable produced him. Taylor frequently called out Contemporary Christian Rock as being bland, boring, or commercialistic, and straight-up declared mid-show altar calls as “Fascist” and “Manipulative”.
Steve feels there is a difference between ministry and entertainment, not so much now that you can’t have both, but essentially that you should choose one or the other. The tool that he has chosen is music, so he wants to make his performances as good musically as possible and as entertaining as possible.
Taylor wound up being so good at his acerbic send-ups that he managed to get televangelist Jimmy Swaggart to devote a segment of his book Rock ‘N’ Roll, a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing to decrying Taylor.
Taylor even managed to get a couple of his music videos onto MTV (back when MTV did music, of course), and in 1985 received a Grammy nomination. All in all, not too shabby for a band struggling against resistance from both the religious and secular camps alike. With criticism more or less just bouncing off of him, it looked like Taylor would become a mainstay of the genre.
So what happened?
Well, this did:
Steve Taylor released a song and music video titled “I Blew Up the Clinic Real Good“. The story was sung from the perspective of a crazed ice cream man who decides to bomb an abortion clinic after becoming worried that he’ll run out of kids to buy his products. The song satirized the “ends justify the means” thinking of very real abortion clinic bombers, but nevertheless wound up bringing down a torrent of outrage on Taylor from those who did and didn’t understand the parody alike. Allegations that the cover of his “I Predict 1990” album was based off of a Tarot card and contained “New Age” hand gestures also resulted in many stores pulling him from their shelves.
Taylor’s music career ended not with a bang but with a whisper, as the struggle to overcome the controversies intensified and as the band dealt with the same “too church for radio, too radio for church” problem that had haunted others in their position. While Taylor continued making music, by the early 90s the band had broken up and Steve himself had gone into self-imposed exile in the world of production, helping create such bands as the Newsboys, Sixpence None The Richer, and Chevelle.
Taylor also dabbled briefly in cinema, his most recent producing being the film adaptation of Blue Like Jazz.
So why am I bringing this all up now, seeing as I’m not going to have to do a dreaded Fame Day post until January?
Well here’s why:
Steve Taylor’s coming back.
Yep, the Kickstarter for the new album is already funded, and now the band is trying to gather up enough support to head out on tour. As of the writing of this post, they’re at $73,517.oo (and growing). With seven days still to go, the band has promised to go on a full tour of the continental US if they can hit 130K.
So maybe some of you already know where I’m going with this…
Yeah, I’m calling on you to first check out the guy’s music and interviews as they are both (1) hilarious and (2) really, really good. Second I want you to go listen to as much contemporary Christian music as you can without the urge to leap off of a cliff becoming overwhelming. Once you’ve done both of those things, I’m pretty sure you too will come to the conclusion that the ratio of Steve Taylor to Lousy Music is waaay to imbalanced, and you’ll want to get that corrected as soon as possible.
So what do ya say? ‘Tis the season for assuaging guilt by pitiful acts of charity- how ’bout you make this project one of ’em?