As Steven Tyler becomes an ordained minister, columnist Mark Beaumont hopes rock gods will replace, well, God.
I’ll never forget the jazz vicar. Chief hep cat of the Unitarian church in Cambridge, he arrived to oversee the wedding of my friends Jon and Amanda wearing leather trousers and carrying a double bass. Between vows, he’d put down his prayer book, pick up his bass and knock out some smokin’ rhythms like steam off a hot plate, dad. It was all the best man could do not to drop the rings, what with all the finger clicking.
Let’s face it, religious ceremonies need lightening up. All that mumbling and moaning and atonal plods through half-remembered hymns that sound about as joyful and triumphant as a shipping forecast. They need to be more like gigs – dynamic, pyrotechnic, a bar. We’ve all been to reverential gigs in churches, where bands seem to think that amplifiers are an insult to the almighty and bore through solemn acoustic sets that make you realise why they put those little square pillows under the pews. No, The Polyphonic Spree had the right idea; religion needs more razzmatazz that strips the lead from the roof.
So it’s with much excitement that we learn that Steven Tyler from Aerosmith has become a minister, via that holy and sacrosanct tradition of paying $80 on www.priestmeup.com. For just $200,000 you can hire him to ordain your wedding, christening or funeral, although no price is yet quoted for him to cover up your paedophile scandal. And it’ll be worth every God-bothering cent. Imagine him rising on an elevated pulpit, bandana made of shredded cassock, hair matted with communion wine, bawling ‘Dude (Looks Like A Deity)’ as a firework curtain tumbles down the stained glass windows and flames pump from the font. Follow that, ‘rocking’ Reverend Richard Coles.
Mick Fleetwood has apparently taken to the cloth too, although judging by his Brits shambles you wouldn’t trust him not to set the crematorium ash collector to ‘blow’. But with such hefty wedge to be made from the oldest con game in the (good) book, I wouldn’t be surprised to see other musicians putting their oversized crucifixes to their proper use. Roger Daltrey could get a hefty swing going on an incense burner, Nick Cave could deliver a fire and brimstone sermon to chase the devil from any door and Katy Perry would probably bury you surrounded by tiny dancing headstones.
So many major names emerged from the house of God – Aretha Franklin, Kings Of Leon, um, Father John Misty it sounds like – that it’s about time rock’n’roll took over religion, if only to better reflect the ridiculousness of the whole sorry sham. In an age when even the most gullible collection plate chump can easily google phrases like ‘how long could a man live inside a whale?’, ‘symptoms of sunstroke on road to Damascus’ or ‘dinosaur/mankind timeline’, surely no-one in their right mind still believes all that crap about an all-knowing sky bastard who watches you wanking and pre-ordains people cancer and car crashes anymore. It’s basically pensioner panto, so let’s treat it like the brainwashing showbiz lark it is and get the rock stars in charge. They know how to make large crowds worship them, they can summon as much wine as they like in an instant and they make people feel spiritually uplifted with meaningless nonsense about souls and soldiers and shit. Imagine the sermons: “we will now sing hymn number 342, ‘Bloodbuzz Ohio’, while the congregation lines up to receive a face-melting solo from Brother Bellamy.”
Youth attendance will rocket, places of worship could charge a tenner on the door, you’ll have somewhere to keep partying on a Sunday morning until the pubs open and maybe everyone will stop taking some old books full of erroneously translated fairy stories so seriously and we can all get along. Just one caveat – under no circumstances should Bono be allowed to become the actual Pope. Lord, spare us.