Joy FM pulls “Jesus and John Wayne”
As Joy FM DJ Daniel Britt explains in this post, his station has decided to pull the current Gaither Vocal Band single, “Jesus and John Wayne,” from airplay due to a number of listener complaints. [EDIT, 6/6/12: Broken link removed.] As one might imagine, this has sparked a flurry of posts across the Internet.
The controversy, of course, is over the song’s theme. The money line is at the end of the chorus: “I try to be more like you, Lord, but most days I know I ain’t / I’m somewhere between Jesus and John Wayne.” The songs’ supporters and opponents would probably both agree on what the line is about: It is about the tension between being more like the Lord versus giving in to our old sin nature.
I do understand why those who complain would complain, and I’m going to give a try to explaining why.
Here’s the thing: Many Southern Gospel fans just don’t “dig” subtlety. While CCM attracts more fans of subtle lyrics, for a song to catch on in Southern Gospel, the Gospel message has to be unmistakably clear.
The problem with “Jesus and John Wayne” has nothing to do with the topic addressed or the Hollywood reference. The problem is that the song isn’t that clear whether we are fighting or accepting the fact that most days we’re not as close to conquering our sin nature as we should be.
While the answer is obvious enough for any dedicated Christian that we just assume it refers to fighting our sin nature, it’s not quite clear enough for Southern Gospel radio. And therein likes the conflict.
Of course, what’s past is past. The song is cut and singled. I only post this as a reminder to Southern Gospel songwriter: Be clear. It’s what the genre requires.