Steve Taylor

Religious Rock 'n' Roll: A Wolf In Sheep's Clothing
June 1987
© 1987 Jimmy Swaggart Ministries
Pages 111-113 (excerpted)

The son of a Baptist pastor in Denver and a former youth minister himself, the Los Angeles Times says "rock 'n' roller Steve Tayor breaks tradition with a sledgehammer."

Billboard magazine stated, "Steve Taylor has an edge and vitality rare for any act."

The book, The Heart of Rock and Roll, attempts to describe Steve Taylor's music in the following way:

... Music that is riddled with satire, quirky, tinged with more than a hint of new wave rock, and anything but comforting?

Watch out when Taylor sets his sights on some of our most revered Christian leaders. He calls them "brylcreem prophets" or "charlatans in leisure suits," and pokes holes in their teachings.

And Taylor doesn't write about familiar places found in Christian vacation guides. He takes us to Madame Tussaud's famed wax museum in London (which serves as an illustration of hell and judgement) and to the Reptile Gardens Curio Shop, a place located nowhere but in the songwriters own fertile imagination.

He sings about spiritual battles, some of which even angels have not dared to view (like the duel with the devil in the backseat of a Chevy).

And his characters aren't all nobel and virtuous. No, they try to get by with everything: marital infidelity, hypocrisy, abortion, suicide, and insanity. But they rarely succeed.

Even the religious folk that populate Taylor's songs have their faults. In fact, Taylor's three recordings present a virtual catalog of the ills and idiosyncrasies of the modern American church--everything from country-club Christianity, through church-supported racism, to spiritual pride.

How does Taylor view gospel music? Here's a quote from and interview published in February 1986's edition of Contemporary Christian Magazine:

I appeared on the Dove Awards last year and I still feel uncomfortable about it. I really don't belong there because I'm not really part of that Gospel mainstream. Sure, I'm a Christian and that influences the way I write songs but that's just being honest, everybody pushes a point of view. Is Madonna's music just for whores? Is Prince's music just for sexual deviates? Christian musicians should be less concerned about being accepted with their peers and work on saying something different.

What these people are actually saying is this: The Bible is outdated and old-fashioned. It doesnt apply to modern life. We have a better way of doing things--our way.

Once again, this isn't new. It's an old story begun in the Garden of Eden and repeated ever since. Religious rockers have simply restated it--another type of Christianity, yet it has no basis in the Bible.

But let me tell you, the Bible is for every age group and for every age. It doesn't matter how old you get, just say it the way it is. There won't be another instruction book given. The same word Moses gave to Pharaoh is the same word you can give to the modern-day monarchs of Egypt.

Taylor is further quoted as saying:

I've got to say that when my songs started drawing fire because they were so controversial, I knew I was on the right track. Everything I do I sort of stuble into, and that gives me the freedom to stumble into anything.

Assessing Taylor's musical contributions, annother article noted:

Extensive touring last year [1985] with Sheila Walsh in Europe and the U.S. confirmed his reputation as a powerful new arrival on the scene. His edgy, punk-influenced sound matched perfectly the cutting insights and brittle sense of irony that set his music apart from the often rote retreads of much of the rank and file.

Taylor made a video entitled "Lifeboat" in which he dressed as a woman teaching an elementary school class on values clarification. Then all of the kids throw him out the window while singing, "seeing if the teacher can bounce."

There is no substance to such videos--no Jesus, no God, no nothing.

Perhaps it could be correctly termed a religious nihilsm--characterized by no future, no substance, no hope. Rock music authority Lester Bangs has said the sound is a "fast train to nowhere" and that quality is evident in secular rock's offspring, religious rock and roll.

Religious rock does not offer hope. Since it is Spiritless, it can give none. It does not offer heaven, for the music within itself produces a vacuum--full of sound and fury but no substance. It provides no foundation to the believer because its birth came from secular rock and roll which has no basis in God.