By Jeff Brinckman
Over the holidays, it's hard to avoid Bing Crosby's "White Christmas," a classic that for decades has indoctrinated millions of Americans with a Christian message. Sadly, in our land of freedom, religion has insidiously infiltrated all aspects of culture, including music.
The following are some of the popular songs from the 1960s and '70s that promoted God, Jesus, spirits, angels, souls and heaven.
As the '60s began, the Highwaymen sang "hallelujah" for "Michael" (1961) to "row the boat ashore." That was followed by the Singing Nun, who used French to sing "Dominique" (1963). Do you recall the number of times the Impressions repeated the word "Amen" (1964)?
During the Vietnam War, the Byrds expropriated biblical lyrics to write, "Turn, Turn, Turn" (1965), and two years later, Dionne Warwick promised to "Say a Little Prayer" (1967).
The heavenly harmony of the Beach Boys proclaimed "God Only Knows" (1966), as the provocative O.C. Smith had the gall to say: "God didn't make 'Little Green Apples'" (1968).
The dramatic Righteous Brothers skipped over the concept of soul, as they belted out "Soul and Inspiration" (1966). Sam and Dave followed with "Soul Man" (1967), as the Box Tops topped it off in "Soul Deep" (1969).
Merrille Rush's "Angel of the Morning" (1968) reinforced a spiritual myth.
The Edwin Hawkins Singers shouted out "Oh Happy Day" (1969) as they gave the impression they were actually there "when Jesus walked." The group Ocean told us to "Put Your Hand in the Hand" (1971) of "the man from Galilee."
Norman Greenbaum believed we were going up to the "Spirit in the Sky" (1970), theorizing, "that's where you're gonna go when you die." "Knocking on Heaven's Door" (1973) was written by Bob Dylan, as the Righteous Brothers reported that our fallen rock stars were in a "Rock & Roll Heaven" (1974). Eric Clapton shed "Tears in Heaven" (1992) for his deceased child.
Judy Collins added her version of "Amazing Grace" (1971). George Harrison presented "My Sweet Lord" (1970) and cried out: "I really want to see you, really want to be with you, really want to see you, Lord, but it takes so long, my Lord."
So let's turn it around and have some fun with this. Here are my secular nominees:
No Afterlife category
"Imagine" (1971) by John Lennon. "Imagine there's no heaven, it's easy if you try, no hell below us, above us only sky."
"Let's Live For Today" (1967) by the Grass Roots. "Sha la la la la la live for today, and don't worry 'bout tomorrow, hey hey hey Sha la la la la la, live for today."
"The Logical Song" (1979) by Supertramp. "Watch what you say or they'll be calling you a radical, liberal, fanatical, criminal."
"What a Fool Believes" (1979) by the Doobie Brothers. "But what a fool believes he sees, no wise man has the power to reason away. What seems to be, is always better than nothing, there's nothing at all, but what a fool believes he sees."
"Dust in the Wind" (1978) by Kansas. "Dust in the wind, all we are is dust in the wind. Dust in the wind, everything is dust in the wind."
"Is That All There Is?" (1969) by Peggy Lee. "When that final moment comes and I'm breathing my last breath, I'll be saying to myself, is that all there is? Is that all there is? If that's all there is, my friends, then let's keep dancing, let's break out the booze and have a ball, if that's all there is."
'I Think, Therefore I Am' category
"I Am, I Said" (1971) by Neil Diamond. "I am, I said, to no one there, and no one heard at all, not even the chair."
"I Got a Name" (1973) by Jim Croce. "Like the pine trees lining the winding road, I got a name, I got a name. Like the singing bird and the croaking toad, I got a name, I got a name."
"Both Sides Now" (1968) by Judy Collins. "I've looked at life from both sides now, from win and lose and still somehow, it's life's illusions I recall, I really don't know life at all."
"Born to be Wild" (1968) by Steppenwolf. "Like a true nature's child, we were born, born to be wild, we can climb so high, I never wanna die. Born to be wild, born to be wild."
"I Was Made to Love Her" (1967) by Stevie Wonder. "Don't you know I was made to love her, built a world all around her, yah, hey, hey, hey"
"All You Need Is Love" (1967) by the Beatles. "All you need is love. All together now. All you need is love. Everybody. All you need is love, love. Love is all you need."
"What the World Needs Now" (1965) by Jackie DeShannon. "What the world needs now is love, sweet love. It's the only thing that there's just too little of."
"Put A Little Love In Your Heart" (1969) by Jackie DeShannon "Think of your fellow man, lend him a helping hand. Put a little love in your heart, you see, it's getting late. Oh, please, don't hesitate. Put a little love in your heart, and the world will be a better place, and the world will be a better place, for you and me."
Best Deist Morality category
"Desiderata" (1971) by Les Crane. "You are a child of the universe no less than the trees and the stars . . . be at peace with God, whatever you conceive him to be."
"Que Sera Sera (Whatever Will Be Will Be)" (1956) by Doris Day. "Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be. The future's not ours to see, que sera, sera. What will be, will be."
"The Way It Is" (1986) by Bruce Hornsby. "That's just the way it is, some things will never change. That's just the way it is, ah, but don't you believe them."
FFRF Member Jeff Brinckman is a retired attorney living in Madison, Wis.