Desecrating the Houses of the Holy

Leave me alone, don’t want your promises no more
‘Cause rock and roll is my religion and my law
– Ozzy Osbourne

I’ve never had much use for religion. While I’m culturally and genealogically Jewish, my time with Judaism ended before I was 10, when I got in trouble for poking holes in a plastic table cloth during some high holy days ceremony and my mom stormed out of the synagogue with me and my sister in tow. Since then I’ve come to my own conclusions about the nature of the universe and morality and everything, and I’m fine with that.

With that said, the closest thing I have to actual religion is music. A rock concert to me is more than a louder version of an iTunes album. It’s a place to commune with likeminded people in worship of something greater than ourselves. Music brings us joy and moves us to tears. It brings us to our feet and makes us hug our loved ones. A modern arena concert, with 15,000 people singing along with their heroes, is a religious experience.

And so for me the terrorist attack at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester is especially heinous. A concert is a place where people come to worship and be joyful with fellow worshippers. After the final encore of a concert, we’re supposed to be left feeling euphoric. To have that moment of ultimate joy turned into one of fear, pain, and death is unimaginably evil to me. Having attended a Metallica concert just a few days ago with my family, the idea of the sanctity of a concert being broached is especially terrifying and sad.

On another note, only tangentially related, I’m still not over the death of Chris Cornell. He’s been one of my musical heroes for over 20 years. I somehow ended up following his wife on Instagram a couple years ago and have seen him as a loving father and husband in addition to someone with unique and powerful musical gifts. Every time there was an interview with him I made a point of listening because he was also obviously extremely intelligent. The idea that someone with so much going for him — wife, kids, two major bands plus a new solo project — could choose end it all is hard to swallow. If music is a religion then Chris was one of its greatest prophets. With Layne and Scott, their deaths were terrible but I don’t think anyone was really surprised. Chris seemed like he was above it all. One of my favorites.

A terrible week for music and its faithful.