Chances are I wouldn’t recognize Susan Slusser if she passed me by on the street. I’ve seen her photo online and her on local sports television a few times, but given how I’m the living embodiment of jokingly stating the reason retail workers wear nametags is so we can remember our own, it should come as no surprise I’d most likely miss her if she was tap dancing in front of me. In a duet with Stomper.

Ms. Slusser is a superb sports reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle. Her main assignment since 1999 has been my beloved (albeit sometimes bedraggled) Oakland A’s. She writes with crisp, clean accuracy, covering the team’s ups and downs while drawing little if any attention to herself. It’s said the best referees and umpires are the ones you never notice due to their calling the game correctly. Similarly, in today’s world where reporting and opinion are far too often mixed in an unwieldy, unsatisfactory in both areas whole, Ms. Slusser is admirable in keeping the two separate, never tipping her hand or interjecting herself into the story. She is informative, in depth, and invisible.

Like most every media person in any field these days, Ms. Slusser has a social media presence. Unlike most every media person in any field these days, using said social media as something other than sheer self-promotion she engages with her readers, or at least the ones with a few synapses firing in coordinated fashion. I’ve exchanged a few tweets with her in recent months, and she has been unfailingly polite and informative. In like fashion, I have always addressed her with completely deserved compliments, respect, and consideration, often looking for a way to insert something she hopefully finds chuckle-worthy into the conversation. I gotta be me, after all.

I’m quite certain that Ms. Slusser and I voted for different Presidential candidates last November. Which is fine. Politics aren’t everything; I’d much rather chat about what the A’s are doing to address their defensive deficiencies or my beloved classic Christian rock artists. I don’t need to debate every policy and platform with everyone. Sometimes – most all of the time, in fact – I’d rather find common ground and not mix politics with everything else. I’d rather enjoy a ballgame. I also figured out quite some time ago that no one in Washington DC was refreshing any given blog site where I write fifty times a day, trembling with anticipation of my next great pronouncement so they’d know which policies and platforms to pursue. Something others, given their predilection for incessant self-righteous babble, have apparently yet to learn. But I digress.

There are many on my side of the political aisle who live for open combat with one and all in mainstream media. It works for them. It generates heat; it creates a scenario in which the fearless flamethrower, backed by gallant retweeters and such, speaks truth to power hiding behind corporate walls. Makes for great spectacle. Hail the conquering snarknado master!

If someone isn’t doing their job properly because of implied or overt bias, fine. Call them out. They deserve it. But with this duly noted, is it impossible to praise, and treat the same way you and I wish to be treated, reporters who regardless of their political beliefs do work of the highest quality? Or for that matter, members of any given profession?

Certainly engaging people as, well, people is far less exciting and attention-drawing than treating others as raw meat designated for tossing to your wolfpack fan club. But does the latter genuinely accomplish anything? Sure, you look like the tough guy or mucha macha chica on Twitter et al. You’ve also alienated, probably permanently, a whole lot of people you’re supposed to be trying to reach for your cause who, astonishing as it may seem, aren’t that interested in your totem pole positioning within their echo chamber. Why not for once try being respectful to another human being possessing the same dignity and worth as you? If it doesn’t work, you did the right thing. But if it does …

… you too can exchange tweets with the Susan Slussers of this world.

Had a bit of a health scare yesterday. Prepped for my closing shift; set out the door for my daily dose of public transportation thrills … and had to turn back toward home a few minutes into my usual twenty minute walk, as shortness of breath and overwhelming fatigue took center stage. Most unusual, in that I’ve never had the slightest trace of asthma. Caught my breath and a bit of energy some time after very slowly walking home, but definitely not how I’d planned to start the day.

Thinking back on it, I’m still not sure what set off the incident. What it accomplished was reminding me of a few facts, one being that I’m now entering the season of life where one need be mindful of family history regarding heart attacks, namely the plentiful nature thereof. Obviously it wasn’t one, given how I’m presently present, but still. Faithfully take your blood pressure medicine (I do) and watch the stress (okay, so I’m batting .500).

Without either becoming morbid or frantically running around like a moron trying to accomplish all my life goals before lunch tomorrow, it’s good to have a sense of urgency regarding what needs to be done. Have I chatted with that friend lately. Have I both told and shown those I love the love I hold for them. Am I actively fulfilling the Great Commission to tell others of Christ’s love in word and more importantly deed. These things I can do; indeed, these things I must do despite my rumbling bumbling stumbling fumbling humanity. If these together are not the central theme, life is an unbalanced gyroscope.

This ties into why I constantly beat the classic Christian rock drum. It’s not a job; I haven’t seen a dime for writing about it since my last paying gig freelancing for a music magazine in 1994, and I will never sell enough copies of my book to recoup expenses, let alone earn anything. Rather, it’s because I have to. It’s my obligation. Everything else, including (gasp!) politics, runs second.

Yes, it’s irksome when I see writers who, all false modesty aside, can’t hold a candle to me endlessly promote themselves while receiving lavish praise for their latest two bit entry in the great conservative new media circle jerk. They don’t change anything. They don’t influence public policy. They do precious little education save for the truly uninformed. That said, it is what it is, to resurrect that extraordinarily overused expression of some years ago. Far better to do what it is I am called to do, letting others deal with the consequences of their own actions.

There are times when we need a reminder – say, a health scare – taking us back where we need to be and back to what we need to be doing. I can’t change the world. I can’t, or at the least haven’t to date, convince nearly enough people to listen to and actively support music designed and dedicated as God’s language. But these things I can do: what I’m supposed to, and what I am able to do. So may it ever be.

As mentioned before in this space, many veteran Christian rockers have successfully turned to crowdsourcing as a means to both finance rereleasing cherished catalog albums and fund new projects. The 77s are currently working the former, with an unearthing (or rescuing from underwater, if you prefer) of their 1994 release Drowning With Land In Sight the pursued prize.

Drowning With Land In Sight was the 77s sixth album and their second major label release, albeit of a far different nature than the first which was put out in 1987 by Island Records only to be overwhelmingly ignored by same, it apparently too busy counting money from the latest U2 project to notice it had a terrific record by someone else on its hands. This time, the band was labelmates with Amy Grant and looked poised to claim their rightful place along Petra et al among Christian rock royalty. Which unlike regular rock royalty translated into actually being able to pay the rent on time each month as opposed to making sure the accountants properly cut a check for the new Lear next month. But I digress.

There was one minor problem with this approach. The 77s had always been Christian rock for people who hate Christian rock; never intentionally antagonizing their prospective core audience but also never comfortably nesting alongside the aforementioned Petra and variations thereof as readymade youth group fodder. The lyrics were too introspective, the accompanying music too challenging as it varied from shimmering, contemplative power pop minus the genre’s usual relentless cheerfulness to heavy blues. The band’s pop side had been prevalent on its previous release. Now it was time for the blues. And oh, did they deliver.

In the film Rattle and Hum, Bono commented, “Charlie Manson stole this song from The Beatles. We’re stealing it back” as U2 ripped into a cover of “Helter Skelter.” Without similar fanfare, The 77s did the same opening Drowning With Land In Sight by taking Led Zeppelin’s arrangement of “Nobody’s Fault But Mine” and reuniting it with song author Blind Willie Johnson’s original lyrics, or at least a far more closely aligned set of words than what Robert Plant intoned. Making this a full throttle triumph, band lead singer/lead guitarist/main songwriter Mike Roe showcased how he was and is one of the very, very, very few guitarists on the planet capable of tackling a tune touched by Jimmy Page and not sounding anemic by comparison.

Roe and company were just getting warmed up. The album bristles with snarling jagged force. At the time it was being recorded, Roe was watching his marriage crumble while bandmate David Leonhardt was finishing a battle with cancer. This left little room for niceties or pious platitudes. Instead, Roe took what would have been the title track from his previous album had the distributor not nixed it, namely “Pray Naked,” and used its philosophy as a beacon, stripping bare his raw emotions and displaying them for all to see. Lyrically the theme isn’t centered on former partner bashing; reflections on one’s own shortcomings are woven throughout decried loss. The band occasionally dipped into its pop side for this, but for the album’s majority kept the sledgehammer cranked to 11. Only the last three songs featured The 77s’ softer side, with the final song “For Crying Out Loud” offering the hope most everything before it found lacking.

It’s little wonder Drowning With Land In Sight fared poorly in the Christian marketplace. Said collection of Christian bookstores and churches purchasing music from them was, if ofttimes grudgingly, acceptant of endless variations on “Praise Ye The Lord” by Petra. It had no idea whatsoever what to do with a primal scream. But for those who know pain, the album was and remains a hiding place for shared sorrow. Drowning With Land In Sight is a superb musical dark star, steeped in the blues and made for those walking in the valley of the shadow.

Creative people, regardless of their chosen vessel, almost unanimously share two common traits. They are to some degree unbalanced (more on that in a future post), and they are inept at judging their own work. A prime example is Robert Plant’s unshakable belief that Physical Graffiti was Led Zeppelin’s best album. Um, sure.

Another trap into which artists often fall is dismissing, without a second thought, their audience’s discernment regarding their work. While popularity (or lack thereof) can never be taken as sole or primary indicator of creative quality, it possesses at the least some credence when calculating art’s worth. The Beatles haven’t sold, depending on who you ask, somewhere in-between six hundred million to over two billion records – that’s billion with a B – strictly because teenage girls in 1964 thought the four moptops were cute.

Artists undervalue their work as often as they overestimate its worth. The better the artist, the more likely he or she is to lowball his or her accomplishments. The late Irish blues guitar master Rory Gallagher twice threw away completed records that, upon rescue by third parties, showed themselves easily up there quality-wise with approved releases. For example, consider this track which, were it not for Rory’s brother Donal’s efforts at keeping Rory’s legacy alive, would have remained forever unheard.

Taking this into the land of the living, not one but two Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees care not a whit about their recorded heritage. Steve Miller’s catalog is available on download sites, but anyone preferring something with actual sound quality, i.e. compact disc, will quickly discover most everything has been out of print for close to a decade. Yet this pales in comparison to Bob Seger. Want anything prior to his breakout 1976 live album Live Bullet? Other than one thin compilation, it doesn’t exist. No CDs, no downloads, nothing. There are a few scattered CDs released in the 1990s and a handful of somewhat dubious legality ones from a decade ago, all long out of print and correspondingly now exchanging hands for a king’s ransom. But readily available? Ain’t happening.

This scarcity of product, as a recent NPR article notes, is serving two purposes, neither of them good. It is alienating Seger’s large fan base, and it is blunting his legacy on classic rock radio. Seger flat out owned mainstream (now classic) rock radio from 1976 forward until well into the 1990s, cranking out hit after hit superglued onto playlists across the land: “Night Moves,” “Old Time Rock and Roll,” “Still The Same,” “We’ve Got Tonight,” etc etc etc and several more etc after that.

Fast forward to today. When by all rights and logic he should be similarly prominent on classic rock radio, Seger seldom gets airplay. Why?

There’s no reason to play his music. There’s nothing to support it. Remember, the music industry and terrestrial radio have a very cozy relationship. Record labels provide the programming, a/k/a music, to the radio stations for free. Radio stations play the music. Licensing fees and artist royalties? What’s that then? Songwriters get royalties from whenever one of their songs are played on a terrestrial radio station. Performers do not. They are placated by the notion of hear song/like song/buy song via CD or download or vinyl. Hence the eagerness for all involved parties to play what people want to, and can, purchase. Remember, catalog sales (music released more than eighteen months prior to the current date) are running higher than new music sales, and by an ever-increasing rate. There’s gold in them thar repackaged, remastered rereleases of albums fans more than likely already own, but are even more likely to purchase again if there is sufficient added value in the new package.

Seger isn’t part of this scenario. He has none of the rereleases constantly refreshing the catalog other artists enjoy. In many cases, a release period. There are no “oh man, I haven’t heard this song in ages – I love this song – I have got to buy a copy while it’s fresh in my mind” moments for an audience that still buys music in lieu of streaming pop puff pastry without filling today and forgetting it this afternoon. If it’s not on Seger’s most recent (now six years old) greatest hits compilation, which while okay is hardly comprehensive, and you’re not willing to go on a very well-financed musical archeological expedition, not only will you not be following up on your impulse … you can’t.

It’s tempting to attempt a dramatic overlay here, using Seger’s story as a grand allegory for some deep political or societal tale. But no. Art needs no justification, and not everything has to have a moral of the story attached. Sometimes, and put plainly far more often than not, the story stands on its own merits. So c’mon, Bob. How about you and your manager – mostly your manager, since apparently he’s the (quote) brains (end quote) behind all this – get it together, respect your fans, reclaim your rightful heritage in rock’n’roll royalty, and make available some new copies of those old records we can each take off the shelf and listen to by ourselves should we choose to do so? Today’s (again quote) music (again end quote) ain’t got the same soul. We like that old time Bob Seger rock and roll, and we want to be able to get our hands on it. Please.

PS: A fun example of older Seger:

A phrase oft heard during any given sporting event where the heavily favored team finds itself on the score’s short end is “the other team practices too.” Meaning: nothing is a given and no matter how talented, or better on paper, someone or a collection of someones is than the competition, if you dismiss the other team out of hand and don’t compete up to your ability level you will not win. Ever.

The same principle applies to life. We all have our burdens and battles; our private little hell that can and all too frequently does consume us. These must be tended to, otherwise they can severely damage us. Sometimes irrecoverably.

This duly noted, it is easy but dangerously shortsighted to exclusively focus on our own situation, neglecting to note that the other person has problems too. John Donne was right; no one is an island. We all have oppressive elements besetting our every day and every step.

To behave as though we alone are suffering while everyone else is on their own under the veneer of “they know their problems and I don’t” is pathetically short-sighted. Empathy is not contingent on complete understanding of someone else’s pain. We are all human, and we all share humanity’s common threads.

It is equally short-sighted, with a hefty dose of narcissism on the side, to focus so heavily on our own problems while neglecting to value others sufficiently to, at the least, inquire as to how they are doing that our life becomes a one-note samba of “woe is me.” The other person hurts too. Their hurt is equally important as ours. Ignoring them while bemoaning our state helps no one. It makes the other person quite apt to wonder why they should help, or care for, us when our actions and words make it apparent our concern for them extends only as far as their willingness to feel sorry for us. And, simply put, in such a scenario we are doing more than enough feeling sorry for ourselves to where the other person has zero inclination to join our pity party regardless of how deeply they care for us. We are pushing them away at a time when we most need them.

The other person matters too. Ask them how they are doing. You will be surprised how much it helps you both face the wounds and scars we all – all – bear.

A few days ago, I ran across this story involving a recent speech by conservative radio host and author Hugh Hewitt:

ORLANDO, Fla. (NRB) –  Christian radio show hosts have an obligation not only “to deliver great news talk” but to make certain the “fragrance of the Gospel is there,” Hugh Hewitt said Tuesday evening (Feb. 28) at Proclaim 17, the National Religious Broadcasters’ International Christian Media Convention.

Speaking at NRB’s Media Leadership Dinner, Hewitt told the audience of other talk show hosts and broadcasters that he has hosted his many guests during 17 years with Salem Media Group “with one purpose in mind – to smuggle in the Christian Gospel into a secular setting.”

 

Really.

Really?

Indulge me while I address Hugh Hewitt directly.

I prayerfully urge you, Hugh.

Listen to yourself.

Put your words into practice.

You did not do so in my case.

See, a few years back when I wrote my book about the forgotten and neglected pioneers of Christian modern rock, I had the crazy notion you’d be interested. After all, you’ve written a parcel of books for Christian publishers. You’ve long talked about the need to impact the culture. Well, here were people who took that notion to heart and actually did so. Seemed to me like it’d be a natural for your show. Just a few minutes; enough to get the word out. No big.

I was wrong.

Even after I sent you a copy of the book through your personal assistant, not a word. Now before you or anyone else (more on said else anyones later) reply with I’m/he’s busy and can’t possibly get back to everyone who contacts me/him, a brief reminder. We’re all busy. All of our time is valuable. By my reckoning, the single mom trying to juggle child rearing, working more often than not one job, and everything else life has thrown her way is far busier than both of us combined. So no, no whining about being busy is admissible.

Oh, but I did hear back from your radio show’s producer Duane Patterson. Boy, did I hear back. According to him, no interest whatsoever. The show is politics from start to finish. No time for anything else. When pressed, he responded time and again with heaps of insults and name calling. Rather disrespectful, don’t you think Hugh?

As noted, there was your loyal core of fanbois and gurrls who were aware of my efforts. They followed both your lead in ignoring me and Mr. Patterson’s lead in belittling me. How DARE I speak less than glowingly of the great and good Hugh Hewitt! How DARE I waste a nanosecond of his time, or that of anyone connected with him! Infidel! Unclean! RINO!!! Which leads to the musing about how in a conservative media world, both old and new, where endless self-promotion is not only mandatory but routinely lauded and reciprocated, I was burned at the stake for attempting … self-promotion.

So, Hugh, you can imagine my reaction to your comments at the NRB convention. My personal, direct experience with you, your employees, and your fans stands in direct contradiction to your words. There are several expressions concerning, and descriptive adjectives for, those who say something yet do the exact opposite. No need to list them here; we all know them very, very well.

Instead, let’s try this again.

No, I’m not asking to appear on your show, although I wouldn’t mind the opportunity to spread the word about my podcast playing the music by the artists I wrote about in the book. Instead, I bring to your attention two of these artists with new projects currently going on. Daniel Amos (which is a band led by one Terry Scott Taylor) is prepping a deluxe rerelease of its Horrendous Disc album, one of the true watershed moments in Christian rock. Have Terry on your show. He’s wise and witty. It will be a treat for you and your audience.

Veteran Christian alternative rockers The Choir are currently running a campaign to fund both rereleasing its 1989 Wide Eyed Wonder album and record a new album. They’re also going on tour in a few days. Have the band’s drummer and lyricist Steve Hindalong on your show. He’s wise. Ask him about the band, and about how he cowrote “God of Wonders” which doubtless you’ve sung during Sunday worship. Like Terry Scott Taylor, it will be a treat for you and your audience. And there are many, many more artists who would be positive additions to your show.

Now before you say that’s too much gospel, Hugh, I remind you that Dana Loesch had Christian rapper Lecrae on her show. Is not her show 99.44% politics? Yet she is unafraid to have bold Christians on her show, and equally unafraid to proclaim her own beliefs. Last time I checked, it hadn’t cratered her career. I remember turning on Fox and Friends one morning not too long ago and there was Casting Crowns. Seen FOX News’ ratings lately?

I have no doubt you’ll ignore this, Hugh, just as I have no doubt your sycophant fans will rant and rail against me for once again besmirching your hallowed name. I’ve quite given up caring about such things. It is of primary, if not sole, importance to promote the artists devoting, far more often than not at tremendous personal cost, themselves to serving Christ through music. The world has enough political talk, Hugh. The world has very few political talkers willing to openly embrace and promote the God so many of them say they serve by openly embracing and promoting Christian rockers new and veteran. You have the opportunity. Take hold of it.

Dismiss me as you will. Dismiss God’s servants at your own peril.

The words come filtered through digital inkwells; cyberspace cries begging to be heard over the daily din. A tireless worker at keeping the music alive placing her husband in hospice care, his battle with cancer reduced to weary surrender. A friend waiting for his mother to come out of surgery, her diabetes demanding yet another amputation. A contemporary Christian music pioneer huddled with her dementia-laden mother in a friend’s apartment, praying that the panicked repair work on a crumbling spillway holds so they will have a home to return to should the evacuation order be lifted. At such time the Psalmist’s words burn with renewed meaning:

Deep calls to deep
in the roar of your waterfalls;
all your waves and breakers
have swept over me.

Out of pain, joy; out of loss, magic. My father passed away one morning while tending to the shrubbery in front of his house. Before my mother joined him several years later, she unfailingly told of how that morning, as her and my father’s parish priest gave him Last Rites, the largest and most beautiful butterfly she saw in her life gently alighted on my father, rested for a moment, then flew away. Coincidence? Perhaps. Perhaps also a sign of the promised new life through transformation in Christ.

The world is replete with social media popoff pissants, fleck and spittle-stained keyboard weariers (SWIDT) on both side of the political divide slavishly serving this week’s website while selfishly sloughing off this lifetime’s marriage. As said before, their mantra is cry outrage! and let slip the tweets of butthurt. The watchword of this generation is peace, but there is naught but self-promotion.

How long will we neglect what matters in favor of trivial pursuits? How long will vapid political prattle supersede fundamental caring and sharing? It is true that knowledge is power; information is vital. We need to be informed and alert. We need even more to offer the outstretched hand. Without this, without love, we are nothing. And all we do is nothing.

Society has a curious love/hate relationship with pop culture. It hurls bile and snark at some, while tongue-bathing others, all in an effort to seem disaffected and elite while simultaneously craving acceptance by the Kool Kidz. It seeks a mythical connection with the latest bands and the hottest hands, an association minus genuine attachment. Those considered unworthy are summarily dismissed, ignored save when someone uncool dies so the insults can once more be recited before being laid to rest alongside the recently departed.

Example? Sure. John Wetton and Beyoncé.

Wetton died the other day at age 69 from cancer. Nearly simultaneously, Beyoncé announced she is pregnant with twins. The media went front page ape for the latter. Wetton? Hey, let’s dust off an insulting concert review of his band Asia when it was riding high in the early ’80s!

This comes as no surprise to those possessing any awareness of pop culture. Wetton, throughout his career, pursued creativity, be it in full-blown progressive rock such as his ’70s output with King Crimson and U.K., or Asia’s more concise, melodically focused work. Beyoncé? Although not naming her directly, Joe Walsh precisely nails her “artistry:”

Beyoncé’s career will fade with her looks as she is replaced with the next generation’s pop princess. John Wetton’s genuine artistry will live on in the hearts and minds of his fans, the true believers who will hand down his work to that portion of the next generation blessed with predecessors who caught the vision.

Don’t follow sheep. Seek the vision.

As recent posts have detailed, conservative new media has not lost the culture war. It has utterly failed to do so little as bother showing up for the battle. We have seen how CNM refuses to publicly acknowledge Christ, and how it is utterly unaware of legendary artists in its own midst. This week, we showcase a contemporary artist you should know. But don’t.

Mark Scudder resides in upper New York. He writes and records his music himself, unfettered by commercial considerations. Not that Scudder is undeserving of public attention, as one listen to an in-progress track from his upcoming reSolution project amply attests:

So how come you’ve never heard of him before?

Simple. He sucks at playing the game.

To be a recognized artist within conservative new media requires much the same approach as being a recognized artist within today’s Christian music scene. Unless you stick with R&B (repetitious and boring), you’ll never get anywhere. Don’t challenge. Don’t confront. Don’t show the slightest variation from either yet another rewrite of “God Bless the U.S.A.” or calling liberals poopyheads. And for heaven’s sake suck up to the high rollers long and hard. Maybe then you’ll get some digital ink spilled on your behalf. Maybe.

In recent correspondence Scudder commented, “The culture hasn’t changed for the better one bit, by the way. Yes we prevented Hillary from becoming President, but I’m starting to wonder if we haven’t just made ourselves more marginalized, because the channels that give voice to the celebrities we won’t boycott are just going to amp it up now that Trump is in the White House.” He added, “There is no more comprehension of the need for mainstreamable content among our peers than the day I started complaining about it.” Dour, but deadly accurate.

Do yourself and the world a favor. Actively support independent conservative artists such as Mark Scudder, whose music is available on Bandcamp, iTunes, and elsewhere. Rather than kvetch about the Madonnas and Bruce Springsteens of this world, be a proactive responder by spending your entertainment dollars differently. Buy quality music from artists such as Scudder and Richie Furay. Treat yourself. Cut off pop culture’s allowance. It doesn’t need you. Real art does. And you need it too.

Following up on last week’s kvetch regarding conservative new media talking a great game when it comes to impacting culture, yet near-unanimously failing to do so, an introduction to someone who walks the talk. And has been doing so for quite some time.

Ritchie Furay pastors a church in Broomfield, Colorado, some thirteen miles southeast of Boulder. He is an unassuming man who looks far younger than his seventy-two tours of duty on this planet might suggest. He and his wife have been together going on forty-eight years, with kids and grandkids a-plenty. And lest one wonder “gee, that’s nice and all, but what does this have to do with changing the culture …”

… he’s also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

Back in the 1960s, when popular music was beginning to rediscover its long neglected role as social commentary’s voice, there was for a brief time a band that proved seminal both in its impact on a generation of music, culminating with the Eagles, and on modern culture as a whole with its lyrical bent. Even as important as the band was, its members work after disbanding proved to be crucial in musical and societal change. The band was Buffalo Springfield. One of its three-headed monster leadership? Richie Furay.

Although as far as public recognition Furay remains well behind Buffalo Springfield’s other main members, namely Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Furay was a vital element of the band’s sound on all fronts: guitar, vocals, and songwriter. His “Kind Woman” became a staple of the band’s catalog, a track that perfectly captured what at the time was a revolutionary and hitherto unimaginable fusion of country and rock. Turn on any modern country radio station and you will hear the full impact of Furay’s work. He did not singlehandedly invent country rock, but Furay was one of the first artists, if not the very first artist, to make it work.

Following Buffalo Springfield’s demise, Furay rounded up a bunch of like-minded artists for a new band named Poco. Poco never made major headway commercially, but was revered by its fans and peers for refining the country-rock genre. Furay eventually left the band to get together with fellow veteran artists J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman; it was during this period in 1974 when Furay came to Christ. Over the subsequent years Furay has focused more on pastoral duties than music, although he still records and performs. And, as the following clip from his most recent album recorded a couple of years ago showcases, he still has his songwriting chops, presented via his clear with just a touch of twang tenor, hitting the high notes without breaking a sweat:

At this point, one might think “gee, that’s nice and all, but I’m still not getting what this has to do with changing the culture.” Bear with; we’re getting there.

Richie Furay breaks the mold of rock artists by being a full-bore unapologetic conservative. He routinely speaks up about political views on his Facebook page, where he equally routinely politely and directly engages with his fans. Which in and of itself breaks the mold of most rock stars and celebrities who prefer maintaining as much of a distance from their fans as possible.

Wait, you didn’t know that? Not surprising.

Here’s the deal. Want to read more about Furay; his music, faith, and political views? Hmm, let’s see. RedState? Nope. HotAir? Nada. Breitbart? Nyet. Not a word.

Try Rolling Stone.

It unfailingly amuses and saddens how conservative blogs and the people who write them can endlessly tonguebathe themselves about the great and mighty service they are providing in molding and shaping public opinion. Problem is, they’re not. Outside the echo chamber, no one knows they exist. Even within the echo chamber they change nothing. Remember the #NeverTrump torrent that poured forth daily from the high rollers? Boy, that sure changed things in favor of President-elect Rubio and … oh, wait …

Maybe it’s time to change course. These folk know the definition of insanity, correct? Then why continue to do the same thing that has repeatedly proven to not be worth, and not work, a lick?

Try talking about someone with a good guitar lick. Try something other than another rewrite rehash of today’s talking points and MSM regurgitation. Instead of blabbing all politics, all the time, all the same, write something people actually want to read. Talk about a musician. Discuss an author. Review a movie. Tell a story about what is happening, or has happened, in your or a friend’s life. In short, give someone other than hardcore political junkies a reason to read anything you write.

No one is asking anyone to disavow their political beliefs. What is being suggested is political bloggers embracing reality. You are not changing anyone. No one knows you exist. You are a one note, one trick pony in a dog and pony show playing to an empty circus tent. Stop.

Reach out. Branch out. Write like a human being for human beings. You engage culture when you engage people. Start.

And along the way, talk up great music by a good man.