I knew a very wise man [who] believed if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation. And we find that most of the ancient legislators thought they could not well reform the manners of any city without the help of a lyric, and sometimes of a dramatic poet. But in this city the dramatic poet no less than the ballad-maker has been almost wholly employed to corrupt the people, in which they have had most unspeakable and deplorable success.
Andrew Fletcher, in 'An account of a conversation concerning a right regulation of governments for the common good of mankind'.*
After all, a song-writer doesn't merely reflect society, but forms its thoughts. Its not just the catchy phrase that gets stuck in your head.
Lady Gaga saddens me - she seems so insubstantial, so ever-changing, that I wonder if even she knows who she is. Singing female-affirming lyrics, but gyrating undressed enough to ruin any man's imagination. Announcing herself as an obscenely-birthed goddess, 'mother monster', but reducing herself to a piece of meat on stage. But 31,124,368 people 'like' her on facebook, and she attracts such comments from young girls as,
'mother monster, I wouldn't have made it this far in my life without you, if it weren't for you coming along in the spotlight, i would have commited suicide. YOU saved my life! I always keep you in my heart.'
So when Lady Gaga confusedly denies anything wrong in her life 'cos God makes no mistakes, I'm on the right track, baby: I was born this way', wanting acceptance without repentance or atonement, that'll be what people hear. When Lady Gaga insinuates that it's God's job to accept her, 'cos she was born this way, that's what people will feel. When Lady Gaga sings of justification by self-love 'just love yourself and you're set', poor homo curvatus in se will turn in on ourselves with little encouragement needed, and be justified as little as the Pharisee in Jesus' story.
We need songs which call us out of ourselves! [Amusing '80s example - with some truth!] Even better, songs which impress truth into us from outside, so we can then express it. What goes in will come out!
[* HT: Christian Persuaders podcast - Susan Boyle & the MP expenses scandal]