I guess the answer to this question is pretty obvious- there’s no mystery that the music of Steady On is faith based. But the better question might be, WHY is Steady On a Christian band? Or maybe even what is it that makes it such?
In some respects, it is only because there are lyrics and lyrics have the potential to speak truth that this question even somewhat pertinent. Music is an art form, but certain kinds of art can be more didactic than others- some Christians insist that music be very specific and obvious or it isn’t worth much at all. These folks want clarity and to know that the songs are about Jesus. Can the same person enjoy other forms of art that are less clear- like say an abstract painting, or do they insist that every painting obviously be about Christ? And for some, the goal of listening to Christian music is because they want to enjoy art that is “safe”, a line of reasoning that I will write about later in a separate post.
In my opinion, art exists for its owns sake. It does not need to be about Jesus to have worth. Music is one form of communicating emotions, and when combined with lyrics it can be a powerful way of expressing concrete ideas fused with feeling. Such a wonderful gift it is that we can do this- and by “we”, I mean human beings, not just Christians. The ability to make music is truly a treasure whatever we may choose to write about.
A lot of Christians see the content of a faith based song as the primary reason for singing it, and the “artistic” value as secondary. But I’m a firm believer if an artist isn’t driven to make the art, then it will not be a compelling experience for the intended audience. Art is about touching people in a way that mere words cannot do– and while there may be concrete ideas in a song, there is always some part that is abstract, subjective, and emotional. If those less concrete aspects are manufactured to serve the transmission of the didactic, then the song really just becomes a vehicle for ideas, not something birthed from genuine passion.
Honestly, if people want to understand what I think is true, then they can come to my blog or just ask me questions. The naked written or spoken word is more than sufficient for that goal. I need not construct a clever argument with an emotional component to try and convince someone of what I think or believe. But when you listen to a Steady On song, you are getting more than just ideas- you are getting that abstract creative side of me too. That creative side is connected with the ideas in the lyrics, even if the point of contact isn’t completely defined– and that’s what makes it art.
I said up front that Steady On is a Christian band– so obviously we have an agenda here, right? Not really– it’s not a goal, it’s a description. Because I am moved to write music about faith and as performers we are compelled to sing about such things, it’s an outflow of who we are, not a goal we are trying to reach. In fact, I LOVE writing about my faith and I’m glad that what I do has more significance than just a tune I sing. When some truth about God is communicated to someone through song and they see it in a new light, then there is nothing more satisfying than being a part of the communication of that truth. But in the same breath I can say I’ve never committed to not writing about a beautiful meadow, a love song, or even a political statement: those types of songs are not off limits. Thus far, they are just not the passions I’ve had inside that needed to be expressed in song.
I write Christian songs because I am a Christian and my faith is important to me. I write Christian songs because I believe music can be encouraging to believers, and encouragement is a passion of mine. And I write Christian songs because I really don’t have a desire to write anything else. I have no problem wearing that label, but I hope as long as I do it will be a description of the art I’ve chosen to make, not a constraint I must obey– or even worse a marketing strategy.
When you listen to a Steady On song, it might not be the best art or about the most earth shattering truths. It might not have the best guitar solo, most impressive melody, or compelling phrases. But however it measures up, the one thing I can promise is that it will always be honest both as a form of art and as an expression of what I think and feel. Steady On may be labeled as Christian music, but it gets its identity honestly, and you can trust me for that.