Maui Music Column
Talkin' 'Bout Jesus

Maui Music Column

In the past year or so, multitudes of people have jumped on the Jesus music wagon. It seems basically irrelevant to discuss whether or not the various rock artists who are currently singing praises to the Lord are false prophets.

I'm not even sure it matters whether these rock minstrels and their bands of singing disciples are motivated by the movement of The Spirit or by the enticement of The Dollar. The point is that people are buying Jesus. Let's face it: He sounds good in stereo.

You can find Jesus on Broadway, in music shops, in the Maui music column, in night club jams, and in the singing voices of the faithful millions who place their hands daily on their Top 40 radios just to hear the miracle of rock. The record music industry is banking so much on Jusus that a full page ad and then a full section appeared in Billboard magazine to announce the second coming-a pretty strong indication of the impact of Jesus music and spiritual themes on the traditionally popular rock themes of lost lovers and nationalism.

Cat Steven's latest album, Teaser and the Firecat, is a good example of Jesus' trumpeting of the rock walls of music. By far, the bulk of his beautifully rhythmic lyrics are about his problems with his lady, but then he flashes into a spiritual mood in a couple of romping revivalist songs and in the song, Morning Has Broken, one that makes you wonder again on the beauty of sunrise just like the Beatles did on Abbey Road.

Jose Feliciano, who sings without eyes but sees more than those with less soul, as in the Maui music column, goes a step farther and sings an entire side of songs to God on his new release, That the Spirit Needs; the other side, of course, he sings to woman. Jethro Tull's Aqualung established that winning flip format several months ago.

Delaney and Bonnie's far-out soul shakin' music made its natural progression from man-woman love songs to Motel Shot. An unlikely name for a simply stirring recording of the gospel music that was evidently so strong in their early musical experiences and that they play while sitting around in the motel waiting for their next gig.

The Maui-inspired Peaceful World by the Rascals sings about the spiritual revelations that one can feel by tripping to Hana or anywhere through natureland.

For many of his followers over here, Jimmie Hendrix represented the ultimate in high spiritual music, and a live recording of the heights he attained at Rainbow Bridge is finally available. Is rock becoming gospel? Is the Rock of Ages for sure the double cure? Will Jesus pitch his last revival tents on Broadway and in stereo studios? Will the Maui music column take over the world? Did Johnny Cash really produce a film on the life of Jesus Christ that features his wife, June Carter, as Mary Magdalene? It would not be said were it not so: Jesus has come.

But the coming is not the end; it is the beginning. Now we can go one step farther, one step beyond the scope of Jesus, a step into a new boogie. One of the first music markers of this movement is a new album by two right-on music makers, Jim Seals and Dash Crofts, called Year of Sundays, a refreshing happy album that sings praises, not to the Lord, but to Baha'u'llah. It begins with a foot-stomping tune, When I Meet Them, that will encourage lots of listeners to sing along; the final song, Sudan Village, thumps joyfully through its African beat singing the message of brotherhood. The other songs-even a Mose Allison style blues number, High on a Mountain, and the sad Paper Airplanes-are sung in a manner that helps us all feel that we can rise above problems of love and loneliness, that we too can sing songs of joy. It's full of mandolin pickin' and country fiddlin'. Year of Sundays: a step beyond Jesus.


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Buck Quayle

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Buck Quayle, 2011


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