Recently, a friend of mine caved in to social pressures and joined Facebook. (It is inevitable. Resistance is Futile. One cannot help but be assimilated into the Zuckerborg.) Excited to show my friend all the fun ways Facebook is useful in sharing interesting articles and things, I posted a video for one of my favorite songs by Amadou and Mariam on her facebook page.
Now, Amadou and Mariam are from Mali and most all of their songs are not in English. Many are in French, but many are also in languages from the Sahelian region of West Africa. After I posted the video, another friend commented and asked "How on earth can you love a song you can't understand?" She then said (tongue-in-cheek) that they could be making fun of folks from Mississippi and we wouldn't even know it.
This got me to thinking. It is true that I really have no idea what Amadou and Mariam sing about. In fact, I have no idea what all the international musicians for whom I have music are singing about (and I have a lot- I have somewhere between 60-70 non-English speaking albums). I assume they are singing about the same stuff other people sing about: love, loss, joy, sorrow, life, death, anger, peace.
This got me thinking about another topic that has passed through my mind over the years. I have A LOT of African artists in my collection, many of whom come from predominantly Muslim countries. I also really like Middle Eastern music a lot. I am QUITE certain that I have plenty of music in my collection that are praise songs. Those would be praise songs to Allah and probably Mohammed. In my Indian music collection, I'm sure I have songs that are praise songs to Hindu deities.
So here's my thought, followed by a question about which I would love to hear people's thoughts: I know people that are Christians and they ONLY really listen to Christian music (or really only read Christian books, watch Christian movies, etc). They do this for any reasons, but I assume it is mostly to express their faith in God. So here's the question: As a Christian (which I am) should I be listening to music that is celebrating a faith I do not practice? Again, I cannot understand most all of what is being said, so I don't know the content of the lyrics. So for instance, if I know an artist is Muslim, don't understand the words, but can clearly see the title of the song is something about "Allah" should I listen to it? On some level, is listening to this music indirectly participating in worship of belief I do not hold?
And back to the original thought, how can you love music that you cannot even understand? Please share.
I would love to hear people's thoughts on either of these questions. I have my own opinion but I'll hold off sharing because I would really like to get other people's thoughts on this (though you can likely glean my opinion from the fact that I own 60-70 non-English speaking albums representing many faiths).
Share your thoughts in the comments section.