Sing Me the Original
by Donna Morton
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I recently heard the song “I’m a Believer.” The opening lyrics are, “I thought love was only true in fairy tales, then for someone else but not for me.” No matter your age, you’ve probably heard this pop song as it’s been recorded by more than one artist over the last several decades.
I’m dating myself, but in my humble opinion, nobody sings that song like Micky Dolenz of the 1960s boy band, The Monkees. He was the first, the original, the one who made it a classic. Micky rocks.
I was a Monkees manic back in elementary school. I loved Davy Jones, their tambourine-playing, bell-bottomed boy with the British accent who often sang lead. Oh, why am I writing in the past tense? I STILL love Davy Jones. Next to my husband, he’ll always be the grooviest guy on the planet.
I had a friend who also adored him. There was a girl who lived down the street and she too was gag-ga for Davy—so much, in fact, that she once insisted he was in town for business and staying at her house.
We told her we knew her story was a colossal fib. We knew it because Davy was staying at MY house and we could prove it. We attempted this by cutting out a head shot of Davy from Tiger Beat magazine, attaching it to a shirt and taping it to the living room picture window of my house. Tada—there was Davy, gazing dreamily upon our marigolds.
I must say, the girl down the street was impressed with our ingenuity. She scurried home and ripped apart her own Tiger Beat. Suddenly, there was a Monkee in every front window of her house. Davy Jones, Mickey Dolenz, Peter Tork and Mike Nesmith—ALL of the Monkees were staying at her house.
Needless to say, whenever I hear a Monkees song, this escapade leaps to mind. This brings me back to “I’m a Believer”, because of all the Monkee’s songs (they sold 65 million records), that one seems to still get the most airplay, at least on the oldies stations I’ve tuned in to.
As I said, nobody sings it like Micky, but others have tried to improve upon his work. People have done that to a lot of the great oldies—they’ve updated the sound, changed some lyrics and even blended some songs with others. For those of us who sang along with the original songs, the new renditions are rarely as appealing.
People have tried to make the same changes in the Bible. They take the Word that has stood the test of time and try to make it appeal to a broader audience. They mix a little of this and a little of that in hopes of coming up with a song everyone wants to sing. They update the scriptures to fit today’s world and simply ignore the verses that seem written for another time, another generation. Voices that have served the gospel well are yesterday’s news, replaced with what the world might perceive as a fresher sound, saying it the way people want it to be said.
In reality, trying to improve upon God’s Song leads to a lot of distortion—and the practice is nothing new. In his letter to the churches he founded in Galatia, Paul wrote, “I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel—which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ.” (Galatians 1: 6-7 NIV)
You know, whenever I hear a remake of an original song, I’m immediately struck by the differences that give it its own sound. Often, the differences aren’t all that drastic and may not even be offensive to the ears—but they’re still differences that in some way alter the original. Scripture, too, is altered when people start injecting or rejecting ideas that distort the teachings that Paul said came to him not from any man, but from the revelation of Jesus Christ. (Galatians 5: 11-12)
Just as we hold a remake up to the original song, let’s be sure to test every teaching and teacher. (Acts 17:11, 1 Thessalonians 5:21, 1 John 4:1 ) against scripture. When we say “I’m a Believer”, we want to be believing the first, the original, the classic…in other words, the TRUTH.
©Donna G. Morton November 2007
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