"When John Lennon made the statement that he was more popular than Jesus, he was just as right as day," singer Bonnie Bramlett told Mark Schwed of 'United Press International' in 1982. "There are a whole bunch of people in the world who don't know Jesus Christ, but they know who The Beatles are and they know who Elvis Presley is. That's the point he (John Lennon) was trying to make. Through our music we will reach more ears with the message with good news and then the Lord will open up their ears to it. He's using us as a vehicle to do it. 

"I've had some of my friends say, 'OK Bonnie, now don't start that Christian stuff. We just left Dylan.' I'm not going to beat them in the head with the Bible, but if they ask I'm going to tell them. I think the Lord's using us, the musicians that have been in the dens of iniquity, the pits of hell. You realize that talent is a gift and not a curse. That's when you find out what the Lord's all about. It's come very slowly for me." Bonnie was 37 in 1982. 

To a generation in the 1960s, Bob Dylan was "the prophet of their own social, political or musical rebirth." Then in 1979, Bob Dylan stunned the music world when he announced he had become a born-again Christian (born-again was said to mean accepting Jesus as a central force in one's life). However Bob's publicist told the press, "He's not reborn. He only hangs out with some of those people and studies with them. There's been no conversion. He's Jewish. Nominally." 

In an interview with Robert Hillburn of the 'Los Angeles Times' in 1980, Bob Dylan elaborated, "I truly had a born-again experience, if you want to call it that. It's an over-used term, but it's something that people can relate to. It happened in 1978. I always knew there was a God or a creator of the universe and a creator of the mountains and the sea and all that kind of thing, but I wasn't conscious of Jesus and what that had to do with the supreme creator." 

Bob remembered being in a room that moved, "There was a presence in the room that couldn’t have been anybody but Jesus. The funny thing is a lot of people think that Jesus comes into a person’s life only when they are either down and out or are miserable or just old and withering away. That’s not the way it was for me. This is no maharishi trip with me. Jesus is definitely not that to me. 

"I was doing fine. I had come a long way, in just the year (in 1978) we were on the road. I was relatively content, but a very close friend of mine mentioned a couple of things to me and one of them was Jesus. Well, the whole idea of Jesus was foreign to me. I said to myself, 'I can’t deal with that. Maybe later.' But later it occurred to me that I trusted this person so I called this friend back and said I was willing to listen about Jesus." 

It was reported Bob Dylan gradually accepted "Jesus was real and I wanted that … I knew that He wasn’t going to come into my life and make it miserable, so one thing led to another…until I had this feeling, this vision and feeling." Bob then attended 3 months of Bible classes, "At first, I said, 'There’s no way I can devote 3 months to this. I've got to be back on the road soon. But I was sleeping one day and I just sat up in bed at 7:00 in the morning and I was compelled to get dressed and drive over to the Bible school. I couldn't believe I was there." For 3 months in 1979, the Rev. Ken Gulliksen of Vineyard Fellowship in California's San Fernando Valley was Bob Dylan's pastor.

Chris Peck of 'The Spokesman-Review' made the comment in 1980, "Once, Bob Dylan spoke the language of the old hippies and near-hippies. The new Bob Dylan speaks a different language. His new songs are filled with words of Christian symbolism and the need to live an ethical life. The revolution of the '60s has ended. Dylan was the man responsible for more blows against the Establishment than anyone else. A war was stopped. Environmental awareness rose. The foundation for a new political and social structure was laid down.

"It was clear some of the old hippies didn’t understand the essence of the revolution. They believed times would stand still forever. They were still clinging to memories of the revolution 10 years gone. Time didn't. Dylan didn't. Change, finally, is the essence of revolution. Hippiedom was only a vehicle. Old hippies change. They have turned 30, cut their hair and bought Volkswagen Rabbits. Many of them have entered the 'money trip' segment of their lives with kids to support and payments on the house that doesn't look much like a dome."

Bob Dylan released the album 'Slow Train Coming' in 1979. Robert Ely of 'St. Petersburg Times' remarked, "If 'Slow Train Coming' is to be taken at face value, the times are indeed changing. Dylan's songs have always been replete with New Testament themes, but none have been so pointed as those on this album. What is important in this album is not whether Bob Dylan has become a born-again Christian.

"The world, as Dylan describes it here, operates by political, social and economic forces. But above all else, it operates by spiritual forces. Regardless of how you structure it religiously, Dylan's central message is in the album's first song, 'Gotta Serve Somebody.' The distinctions between good and evil have always seemed abundantly clear to him."

Robert Palmer of the 'New York Times' made the observation in 1981, "When rock-and-roll enjoyed its initial surge of popularity in the mid-1950s, many fundamentalist Christians recoiled in horror. To them, rock's 'savage rhythms' and the thinly concealed sexual double entendre of many rock-and-roll lyrics, made it 'the sexual Devil's music.'" Disc jockey Alan Freed reportedly came up with the term "rock'n'roll" in 1952. Little Richard told the press in 1986, "The name of my music is the message sound. It's the message sound in rhythm and it does rock. I never said it was Devil's music. I think music and rhythm was created by God."

Drummer Robert Sweet of the quartet Stryper told Jeff Sewald in 1985, "Let's face it, we're coming from a totally different way of thinking." That way was "melding 2 traditionally disparate elements – Christianity and rock'n'roll – by fusing a melodic brand of heavy metal rock beat with positive message lyrics." Robert continued, "In some Christians' eyes, all rock'n'roll is evil. But it really isn't. It's what you do with it. That's why we're here. To give people the music they want and the look they want but, instead of filling their ears with something negative, we give them something that's going to make them feel good, give them life."

Billy Graham told the Associated Press in 1980, "In the '60s, it (rock'n'roll) encouraged listeners to think of themselves as rebels and to question their parents' values. But now we're hearing musicians talk about politics again, about creating change, about doing away with oppression. The new generation of rock'n'rollers may have short hair instead of long, and it may be dyed orange, purple or pink, but we're witnessing a new social phenomenon, a new social rebellion.

"Ours is a generation that was weaned on Bob Dylan and raised on The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. These kids came of age with the rebellion of Sid Vicious and the Sex Pistols and they're at least as serious about their rebellion as the hippies of the '60s. Sure, rock'n'roll is good business. It makes you feel better and makes you more decent to your fellow man. And if the music of the '80s can make you get up, shake off the lethargy of the '70s and do something – maybe it can make the world a better place to live in."

The political activism of fundamentalist groups such as the Moral Majority in 1980, Bob Dylan maintained, "I think people have to be careful about all that . . . It's real dangerous. You can find anything you want in the Bible. You can twist it around any way you want and a lot of people do that. I just don't think you can legislate morality. I had always read the Bible, but I only looked at it as literature. I was never really instructed in it in a way that was meaningful to me. That's not the way it was any longer for me.

"Music has given me a purpose. As a kid, there was rock. Later on, there was folk-blues music. It’s not something that I must listen to as a passive person. It has always been in my blood and it has never failed me. Because of that, I'm disconnected from a lot of the pressures of life. It disconnects you from from what people think about you.

"I've made my statement and I don’t think I could make it any better than in some of those songs. Once I've said what I need to say in a song, that’s it. I don’t want to repeat myself. If someone really wants to know, I can explain it to them. I don’t feel compelled to do it. Most of the people I know don't believe that Jesus was resurrected, that He is alive. It's like He was just another prophet or something, one of many good people."

On reflection, B.J. Thomas told Bohdan Hodiak of the 'Pittsburgh Post-Gazette' in 1983, "There's a tendency not to deal with real humanistic pain that you find in pop music. It turns into Christian pap. I'm in the music business. I want to get to heaven. I want to praise the Lord and all that, and I’m gonna live right. But if I'm gonna make records, I want them to sell."

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