The late Larry Norman, in his work toward debunking the notion that rock’n’roll was unsuitable for Christians, wrote a song titled “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?” Much the same can be said today politically. Where are the artists who are both at the top of the list musically AND see things with a conservative point of view? Believe it or not, they exist.
Richie Furay is a retired pastor in Colorado. He is an unassuming man who looks far younger than his seventy-seven tours of duty on this planet might suggest. He and his wife have been married for over fifty years, with kids and grandkids a-plenty. And lest one wonder “gee, that’s nice and all, but what does this have to do with some music worth listening to …”
… he’s also a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Back in the 1960s, when popular music was beginning to rediscover its long-neglected role as social commentary’s voice, there was, for a brief time, a band that proved seminal both in its impact on a generation of music — culminating with the Eagles — and on modern culture as a whole with its lyrical bent. Even as important as the band was, its members’ work after disbanding proved to be even more crucial in musical and societal change. The band was Buffalo Springfield. One of its three-headed monster leadership? Richie Furay.
Although as far as public recognition, Furay remains well behind Buffalo Springfield’s other main members, namely Stephen Stills and Neil Young, Furay was a vital element of the band’s sound on all fronts: guitar, vocals, and songwriter. His “Kind Woman” became a staple of the band’s catalog, a track that perfectly captured what, at the time, was a revolutionary and hitherto unimaginable fusion of country and rock. Turn on any modern country or classic rock radio station and you will hear the full impact of Furay’s work. He did not singlehandedly invent country-rock, but Furay was one of the first — if not the very first — artists to make it work.
Following Buffalo Springfield’s demise, Furay rounded up a bunch of like-minded artists for a new band named Poco. Poco never made major headway commercially, but was revered by its fans and peers for refining, if not flat-out defining, the country-rock genre.
Furay eventually left the band to get together with fellow veteran artists J.D. Souther and Chris Hillman; it was during this period in 1974 when Furay came to Christ. Over the subsequent years, Furay focused more on pastoral duties than music, although he still recorded and performed. And, as the following clip from his most recent album showcases (there’s a new album coming soon), he still has his songwriting chops, presented via his clear with just a touch of twang tenor, hitting the high notes without breaking a sweat.
Richie Furay breaks the mold of rock artists by being a full-bore unapologetic conservative, unafraid to speak up through song as these examples brilliantly show.
He routinely speaks up about political views on his Facebook page, where he politely and directly engages with his fans. Which in and of itself breaks the mold of most rock stars and celebrities who prefer maintaining as much distance from their fans as possible.
Here’s the deal. When you have an artist on your side of the aisle who is so accomplished musically that even Rolling Stone treats him with respect, you’ve got something and someone worth getting behind. So get going. Crying and kvetching to each other doesn’t change things worth a lick. Instead, start talking up someone with a good guitar lick. Buy a CD or download. Stop your leftist friends who smugly insist they have all the classic rockers and top-notch tunesmiths in their back pocket by saying, “Oh really? Listen. To. THIS.”
The late Andrew Breitbart was right. Politics is downstream from culture. Seek out and support artists who are both delivering the goods artistically and telling the truth. Make good things happen by talking up and actively supporting great music by a good man. We can, should, and must do this.