Sacred Songs: Religion, Spirituality and the Divine in Popular Music Culture

Call for Chapters: Sacred Songs: Religion, Spirituality and the Divine in Popular Music Culture


In March 1966, The London Evening Standard published an interview with John Lennon, entitled ‘How Does a Beatle Live? John Lennon Lives Like This.’ During this interview Lennon remarked upon the relationship between religion and popular music. “Christianity will go,’ he remarked, ‘it will vanish and shrink. I needn’t argue about that; I’m right and I will be proved right. We’re more popular than Jesus now. I don’t know which will go first, rock ’n’ roll or Christianity.’

Lennon’s controversial remarks highlight an often-ambiguous relationship between popular music and the sacred, where at different points individual musicians have endorsed or forcefully rejected religious ideologies via their music practice. For example George Harrison’s close affiliation with the Hare Krishna Movement, Bob Dylan’s return to Judaism, Cliff Richard’s open espousal of born again Christianity and Kanye West’s recent lyrics proclaiming that ‘Jesus walks with me.’ Entire popular music genres may reflect or help to constitute sacred practices as illustrated by Reggae’s relationship with Rastafarianism and Death Metal’s articulation of existential themes.

As Lennon observed during the 1960s, fans may elevate popular music artists to the stature of spiritual leaders, looking to them for guidance in uncertain times and sometimes dedicating their lives to emulating and pursuing the rock gods. The quasi-religious character of popular music genres and the role of the artists as avatars, are among the topics Georgina Gregory (University of Central Lancashire) and Mike Dines would like to explore in an upcoming volume on popular music spirituality/religion and the sacred in contemporary culture.

We are especially interested in the variety of approaches to the subject, which may include, but not restricted by the following themes:

  • Role of religion in lives of artists within the popular music genre
  • The incorporation of popular music in sacred ceremonies
  • Religious metaphor in popular music
  • Incorporation of religion within popular music practice
  • Fandom as a form of worship
  • Divinity and rock stardom (rock stars’ homes as sites of pilgrimage, etc.)
  • Pop memorabilia as holy relics

Those interested are encouraged to send proposals of up to 500 words via email to Georgina Gregory on or Mike Dines at by 1st May 2017. Please included a brief biography.

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