Rock of ages

Discover how enjoyable it can be to engage deeply with the Bible by listening to Bible Society Australia CEO Greg Clarke’s insights into rock lyrics and how they reflect biblical truths.

Starting today, Greg’s The Bible in the Charts series gives profound insights into the manifold ways the Bible has influenced rock music down through the decades – by focusing on two songs from each decade from the 1950s to the 2010s.

Greg believes this two-week series of Daily Bible readings could have been a lot longer. In fact, he has an idea: “I reckon a whole night of ABC’s Rage could be devoted to the Bible in Rock,” he says.

For each of the 14 artists from Elvis Presley to Kasey Chambers, Greg pairs a song with a Bible passage it draws from. To go deeper, he suggests that after listening to the songs, reading their lyrics and pondering them a bit, it’s worth opening up the Bible and reading the relevant passage carefully.

“You might sometimes want to read the verses before and after it, too, to give you more context,” he advises.

The audio journey begins with Elvis, the tragic king of Rock, whose Hard-headed Woman is linked to the disobedience of Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:26-28.

“Well, a hard-headed woman and a soft-hearted man been the cause of trouble ever since the world began,” the lyrics go, referring to the “battle of the sexes” that began in the Garden of Eden.

“And that tension between male and female, between mankind and the world, has provided the backdrop for pretty much every rock song there is,” Greg notes.

The studies range from classics – such as the Byrds’ Turn, Turn, Turn (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) and the Rolling Stones’ Sympathy for the Devil (Ephesians 6:10-17) – to more offbeat choices.

Nick Cave wrestles with the Bible in City of Refuge (Numbers 35:9-15), while All You Zombies by The Hooters (1 Thessalonians 5:1-11), is about the Day of Judgment. For the grandpas, Greg includes the heavy metal Creeping Death by Metallica, which is about the gruesome story of the Passover in Exodus 5:1-5.

Showing the diversity of artists who have been influenced by the Bible, the series also embraces the intriguing Regina Spektor’s Samson (Judges 16) and Australian folk singer Kasey Chambers, who takes us back where we began with Adam and Eve (Romans 5:18-19). Of course, the most famous Christian mainstream band, U2, gets a look-in too with Yahweh (Matthew 5:14-15 ).

So tap on the audio files in this story and get listening to some classic rock with a Bible in your hand.