If you’ve known me for any length of time, you’ve likely heard me talk about Derek Webb. For the better part of 20 years now, he’s been one of my favourite musical artists, from his time with Caedmon’s Call through his solo career (and podcast, which I appeared on).
Webb’s Album ‘Stockholm Syndrome’ turns 10 this year, and it remains one of his best, in my opinion.
A huge theme on Stockholm Syndrome is sexuality. I have already blogged about the not so controversial song What Matters More, but sexuality is also a theme in the upbeat but cautionary tale of Jena and Jimmy, in What You Give Up to Get It [Like sex when you’re too young … Oh it’s never quite worth what you give up to get it], and in the final tune American Flag Umbrella. I am a big fan of the song Freddie Please, a song directed to the figurehead of Westoboro Baptist Church, infamous for their anti-homosexuality demonstrations featuring the ‘God Hates Fags’ signs. This song seems to be sung from the perspective of Jesus, who asks this question of Phelps: ‘Freddie please / How could you do this to Me? / How could you tell me you love Me when you hate Me Freddie please?’
One of my favorite songs right now is Becoming a Slave, which addresses the reality of imbalance in the world in which we live and causes the listener to consider the price that is paid in order for us to have the ‘things’ that we value so highly – ‘There’s always a price to pay / It’s gotta hit somebody’s back / Trust me, new worlds / Don’t just build themselves.’ Slavery is alive and well in the world, and Christians must sit back and think about our implicit participation in oppressive systems. We are slaves to our ‘stuff’ whether we acknowledge it or not, and this cycle will continue until we fight for ‘justice in the system.’
Other key tracks for me are Heaven, Black Eye and The Proverbial Gun, but who I am kidding, I dig them all!
While some may argue that this album is quite critical of contemporary Christianity and perhaps might even come across as judgmental and short on grace, I would say that Webb provides an important prophetic voice that constantly points us back to the key question, ‘what matters more?’ While doctrinal debates rage on, the world around is desperately looking for a group of people to embody a different, more loving way of living. This is what the Church has to offer; that we can be a hand to hold to keep the world on its feet, a reminder that, though Chrust, the following is true: ‘And in the end it will all be OK / That’s what the wise men tell us / So if it’s not OK / Then it’s not the end, oh my friends / There’s hope for everyone’
To commemorate the occasion, he’s going on tour to play the album top to bottom (fingers crossed that I can swing a trip to the closes venue – a mere 6 hours away), and he also released a ‘making of’ documentary on YouTube. I share it here in hope that you’ll watch it and come to love Derek as much as I do.