Bruno Mars was nominated this week for 7 Grammy Awards. I don’t expect to join his fan club, but I appreciate his honesty and creativity in writing “Liquor Store Blues.” He can teach the Church how to talk about sin in a way that people understand.
Some of the Psalms are uplifting in how they transfuse us with hope, raising our eyes to God. Some Psalms are painful and poignant in how they lay bare our inhumanity—sin. Similarly, the Good News of Jesus points to his transforming love while the Law exposes our weakness and failure.
Negro Spirituals allowed enslaved, and then segregated, African-Americans to exult in the middle of oppression—the Good News! Within that cultural milieu, musical geniuses who did not feel a personal relationship to Jesus wrote musically similar songs—the blues—that tell the truth about our need for God—the Law.
Thank you, Bruno Mars, for renewing our lament and cry to God with “Liquor Store Blues”:
“Standing at this liquor store, Whiskey coming through my pores,
“Feeling like I run this whole block.
“Lotto tickets and cheap beer That’s why you can catch me here,
“Tryna scratch my way up to the top.
“Because my job got me going nowhere, so I ain’t got a thing to lose.
“Take me to a place where I don’t care, this is me and my liquor store blues.
“I’ll take one shot for my pain, One drag for my sorrow.
“Get messed up today, I’ll be ok tomorrow.
“One shot for my pain, One drag for my sorrow.
“Get messed up today, I’ll be ok tomorrow….”
What “secular” songs or poems point you to God?