The last number of weeks I have had to do some extra driving and that makes time for more prayer, but also more sleepy time. As you all know my “go to” for sleepiness in the car is sappy country music, but sometimes even this isn’t enough. The solution was “Eye of the Tiger” radio on Pandora. As I’m sure many of you know Pandora is a computer program to find songs that are similar to a selected song, which then becomes the name of your station. In college when I really needed to work the heavy bag over, “Eye of the Tiger” was one of my favorites and the peppy tune keeps the blood pumping.
What I soon realized is that my selected song came from an era and genre full of angst and darkness. I never listened to music growing up so a lot of these songs, while having familiar names, I had never heard before. One in particular caught my attention as I am fairly certain that it is the theme song for the cultural shift of the last 30 years: AC DC’s “Highway to Hell.” I recognized the tune when it first started playing though I had never paid attention to the lyrics. With the way Pandora works, when you turn it off it resets the playlist each time you turn it back on. With all the driving it resulted in the chance to hear the song fairly often.
After hearing the song 3-4 times I started to listen to the lyrics, and while there was nothing vulgar present it speaks about a soul that really is directionless, but sounds fairly happy to be that way. It’s a sort of a thumbed-up nose to the establishment, common of the era. It wasn’t the dissident nature of the song that struck me but rather the glorified disintegration of cultural values. What’s interesting is I wouldn’t say that cultural values have shifted, you would be hard pressed to find anyone who agreed that casual sex, drugs and broken homes are what they always dreamed of for themselves. So while these things have become a cultural norm I don’t think anyone set out to make it that way.
What has changed is our outlook. In the past, according to societal understanding, someone had freedom to do as they wished as long as it wasn’t in conflict with the societal baseline with what is acceptable. Though these things were never written down everyone just sort of knew that you were supposed to respect your elders, be polite, etc. Today, higher value is placed on individualism, freedom to do whatever we want as long as it doesn’t affect someone else’s freedom. The problem with this is that since we all are our own judge of what we should be “free” to do, we run into conflicts about stepping on one another’s freedom. I may have to tell you the rest next week (classy drumroll please). Prayers Always, Fr. Joseph Altenhofen