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I love rock music. More than half of the 658 songs on my phone are rock songs. I remember me going ‘D*mn! I need to have that song’ the first time I heard the Rolling Stones’ “Sympathy For The Devil”. So my love for rock music isn’t sentimental towards time, theme, and artist; and this has had a big influence on my mind and on my writing too.
Growing up, I heard all these fallacies about how rock music was the devil’s response to gospel music, and stories of how rock musicians often commit suicide because they sold their souls to the devil. So imagine the look I get when I tell people that one of my favourite rock songs of all time is a 1970s hit titled Sympathy For The Devil.
But while the song was written from the ‘devil’s’ point of view, it’s neither a glorification for nor is it a promotion for devil worship as the title might suggest. That’s the irony of the song, but I often don’t get the chance to explain further before some people wrongly conclude that I’m a closet Satanist.
I like to compare Sympathy For The Devil with C. S. Lewis’s epistolary novel, Screwtape Letters; because while the novel might have been written as a series of letters between two demons, the core objective was to give Christians ideas on how to guide their faith from being undermined through demonic temptation and trials.
Screwtape Letters is regarded as one of the best satirical work of fiction by many literary scholars past and present, primarily because of its unconventional approach to Christian theology. Sometimes I wonder why many Nigerians aren’t writing novels like it, and why some of the more popular rock musicians and bands here are often into gospel music. I’ve come to realise it’s probably because a lot of Nigerian artists are afraid of going against the conventional.
But conventional is boring. Conventional is limiting. Conventional would set you back regardless of who you are or what you do. Conventional is lazy and easy as it stifles your creative intelligence and makes you and whatever you do indifferent from the norm. Conventional is you refusing to think outside of the box either out of fear or lack of ideas. Conventional basically tells you there’s no need to dare.
Listening to the diverse themes and issues rock music tries to denigrate and demystify through its fusion of sound and emotion, as given me the courage to never stop wanting to write about ideas that matter to me regardless of how supposedly controversial some of these ideas might be. Perhaps more than other forms of art, rock music stirs this feeling of rebellion and revolution against societal prejudices and stereotypes.
From listening to rock music, I get a lot of amazing ideas, and I don’t take the privilege I have to be able to write influenced and inspired by the diversity of these ideas for granted. A lot of those songs even keep me sane when reality has me feeling depressed, and sometimes I wonder how I would cope with my demons if I didn’t have songs that speak to the voices in my head.
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