The Rock ‘n’ Roll Song That Spoke Straight To My Soul

God was having a good day when he created music. Music speaks to us in ways that trip and trigger emotions and thoughts and spiritual life lessons and, on that rare occasion, an overwhelming desire for a white guy to get up and dance!

For me, music was the first way God ever addressed me directly.

In the dark ages of my life…the sixties, rock, roll, pop, folk and probably polka were considered the devil’s doing, luring our wholesome kids into that sordid and unsavory world. There was no TobyMac, no Third Day, Casting Crowns, Amy Grant or even Michael W. Smith. At least not on the radio. If you were a follower of Jesus, you were fed an earful of hymns and God-based barbershop harmonies with a little Gaither-esque and Southern Gospel music tossed in to brighten the tempo.

Since it was rare for this kid from Huntington Beach, California to be exposed to the likes of Sister Rosetta (y’all seriously, if you’ve never heard or seen Sister Rosetta, stop reading and go do it now. I’ll wait), I fell into the sin of rock and roll.

It was also my earliest days of my walk of faith.

I was torn. My pastor telling me rock music was sending me straight to youknowwhere but that same music spoke to me in ways that, frankly, The Bible didn’t. I treated music like my little sinners-secret. Playing dumb when kids at church asked me if I had heard the latest from The Beatles or Stones (I had and still have all of their stuff) while spending every spare second teaching myself how to play the guitar just like George and Keith.

As both my faith and my love for music grew, I started to see, actually, hear, Jesus sneaking into the music I heard on the radio. “Oh Happy Day” by The Edwin Hawkins Singers was a straight up hymn from the 1700’s that dominated my radio in 1967. “Spirit in the Sky” by Norman Greenbaum (ironically a Jewish man) was literally a three-minute testimonial about salvation.

At the same time, less than nine miles from my house, the Jesus Revolution epicenter of Calvary Chapel was changing Christian music forever. Godspell, Jesus Christ Superstar, and My Sweet Lord were all around me. But nothing blew my mind open to the power of the Gospel when it came to music than sitting in Sam Lewis’ Sunday School class the summer of seventh grade.

Sam made it his mission to teach me and my friends The Old Testament. Over a two-year period, most of it hit me like Charlie Brown’s teacher, until we hit the third chapter of Ecclesiastes:

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under Heaven…

“Wait a minute, I’ve heard this before.”

A time to be born, a time to die. A time to plant, a time to reap…

“Couldn’t be.”

It was. One of, if not THE most emotionally impactful songs I had ever heard in my life actually came from THE BIBLE.

It was Turn, Turn, Turn by The Byrds.

*Quick cut to Seal Beach, California in 1965, 4 year old me begging my brother Scott to “play it again” and again and again. I burned a needle through that single.

It wasn’t the incredible harmonies (which I love), the melody, or the folk-based three-finger pick and roll of Roger McQuinn’s 12-string Rickenbacker. It was the message. The lyrics spoke to my soul straight from Scripture. It was an epiphany, no other way to describe it.

That moment launched me into a life-time obsession with searching for God in every piece of music ever created. I’m not alone in this. On more than one occasion when I was visiting Ed, Scott and Martin Cash of We The Kingdom, like every other conversation we’ve ever had, the subject always turns to music.

But that gave rise to something much bigger. I started to seek out and find God in every thing. The lesson I learned and lived is God lives everywhere, we only need to search to see Him.

To this day whenever I hear that opening three-finger roll on a 12-string D chord, that’s it, you’ve lost me. For the next three minutes and fifty seconds, I can be found playing in the surf at Seal Beach or in the back seat of a church bus searching for my identity and my purpose in God’s family.

In fact, I’m listening to it right now.

A time for peace, I swear it’s not too late…

Skip Mahaffey
On Air Host, STAR 99.1


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  1. Bonnie Faires on March 28, 2024 at 10:15 am

    Great article
    Im a music fanatic too
    You had me rolling with laughter
    Love it

  2. Stephen M Chisholm Jr on March 28, 2024 at 8:10 pm

    Amen brother! I am a diehard Rock-n-roller, and still there is nothing that speaks to your soul like a good song. Sadly, it is true that there is a lot of darkness in rock music, but even that can speak to you if you are listening and hear how God wants to use it for your benefit and His glory. I still listen to the classics of the 60’s-80’s but when I need to feel some rock-n-roll that has been highly influenced by our savior, I just crank up my Mercy Me.

  3. Susan Kieferdorf on March 29, 2024 at 8:25 am

    YES!!! I felt the same way about those early rock/gospel songs. I wish you would play them more often!

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