Background Noise

Featured song: Room Noise, by the 2nd Chapter Of Acts, from their 1983 album, Singer Sower.

TV snowIf you have been reading this blog for very long, it has probably become apparent to you that I am a person who is nostalgic, who enjoys looking back at his past. I treasure my memories, and believe that being aware of where I have been gives me an grounding to help steer me to where I am going. One of the things that I enjoy looking back on is the music that I grew up hearing — not only pop music of the 1960s and 1970s, but also the music on the records in my parent’s collection, music that was the background of my earlier years. In my goal of adding things to my digital library, I am also digitizing some old record albums that I fondly remember hearing so long ago. The music was the background of that part of my life, and hearing the music can take me back to those days. 

As a part of this immersion in music that I grew up with, I also have this mental connection with music that causes me to have lyrics of songs pop up when I hear things said in conversation around me. Someone says, “I’m leaving,” and my mental music machine may switch on to Peter, Paul & Mary, and I hear, “I’m leavin’ on a jet plane / I don’t know when I’ll be back again” will start playing in my head. 

The other thing that my inner iPod would do to me when I was in high school was to have a stuck replay button for the last song off the radio that I heard before I left home that morning. I had to try to make sure that the last thing I heard as I walked out the door was a song that I liked; if not, I might have infinite plays of a song that was definitely not on my top ten list.

So, background music for me can be enjoyable or agonizing, depending on what I have playing currently. Even now, nearly 40 years later, I find that a song that starts in my head will likely be here for quite a while, until I purposely “change tracks”, and get another song going. And, as in high school, this may be good or bad.

When Jesus music first started, the people who played and sang these songs took the music of their lives, and put words to that music that spoke of their new love for the Lord, or about His Word, the Bible, or about many other topics of the Christian life. They did it out of an earnest desire to make Him known, and to do so to as many people as possible. But as time passed, and some of their listeners changed their musical focus from secular music to this Jesus music, the intensity of the original impact sometimes faded. Instead of listening to and being influenced by the words of those songs, letting themselves be brought closer to their Lord, the music became just another style of background music for their lives. 

I know that this was (and is) a danger that I face today in the music to which I listen. There is really nothing bad about having God-focused music flowing into my ears, even when I’m not actively listening to what is being said; it still can have an effect on me. But when I just live my life the way I want to, and I do not try to daily change into His image, the music itself may become a kind of an idol that I worship, rather than being something that functions to bring me closer to Jesus. 

The song on which I am focusing today, Room Noise by the 2nd Chapter Of Acts, points out this danger. It’s not that I have to put all of my mind and soul into each song I listen to. But I have to make sure that the music is more than just another form of entertainment, just another song I like, running through my head during my day. I am sure that in many cases, these songs were written out of a desire by the performer to get a message across, to help bring me closer to Jesus, encourage me to grow, and pray, and reach out to others. The music of my life should not just be there to “make me happy”, but to serve as a springboard to the person God is urging me to become. No more “room noise”! Listen to what it says!

No more conversation
No more idle words
Pitter, pitter, patter
Words fall from your ladder
Pseudo gospel music
Music everywhere
But not a single drop
to drink anywhere

I don’t want to be room noise,
generically speaking,
I don’t want to be room noise,
no one will stop and hear me,
Hear me… hear me, hear me!

Down on bended knees,
doing what you please,
as you say…

Gospel, gospel music’s
an alternative,
Then you never have to
change the way you live…
Idle idol lyrics
floating through the air
Invisible netting
Emotional snare…

I don’t want to be room noise
generically speaking
I don’t want to be room noise
no one will stop and hear me
Hear me… hear me, hear me!

Down on bended knees,
doing what you please:

I don’t want to be room noise,
I don’t want to be room noise, Elevator music
I don’t want to be room noise, Elevator music
I don’t want to be room noise, Elevator music

Singer Sower, 1983, 2nd Chapter Of Acts

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