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Body Piercing Saved My Life - inside the phenomenon of christian rock
Author: Andrew Beaujon
Published: Da Capo Press

Chapter one, sentence one, Beaujon is talking about Cornerstone Festival. I am already on board.

As a Christian music insider, Cornerstone Festival embodies all there is worth noticing in the Christian music scene. How did Beaujon know where to start his journey into the mind and heart of what we care about? We are not sure, but maybe it was ordained. Beaujon, an unbeliever, would probably not accept that answer, that's ok. Some Christians might not like the implication either. As we were reading the book, we heard odd rumors about the author and the book. Some of our friends, who should know better, were already prejudiced against the book without having read it. Undaunted we continued the read and can now recommend it to all who, like us, love this world of rock music that moves our spirit and heart as well as our bodies. Beaujon is an honest, fair outsider who probably started his research knowing about as much as your everyday secular music critic knows about our music, not much. However, after writing the book, he ends up being an authoritative Christian music historian, and supporter of the music, the musicians, and even personalities and the culture around the music. 

Mr. Beaujon is a contributing entertainment critic and writer for Spin magazine as well as The Washington Post, and others. He clearly has a leg to stand on when talking about the live and/or recorded music of the artists he chooses to cover in the book, which for me, are the artists that matter. The title says that the book is about Christian rock and it is. Beaujon also tells us his experiences with praise music and CCM, but is most comfortable and cogent when writing about rock. There is no problem with him criticizing the music and saying that most of the day at a particular festival was full of mediocre bands, because he also lets us know that he's found some wonderful music in the scene. He has become a fan of Danielson, and mewithoutYou, and Pedro the Lion, Mute Math, and others. How could anyone have a problem with his comments when they are so true?

One feature interspersed throughout the book are chapters he calls "Lifers." Beaujon interviews various artists and record executives to get their stories, and opinions on the state of Christian music. The first "lifer" in the book is Doug Van Pelt, editor and chief at HM magazine. Mr. Van Pelt becomes a recurring character through the book because the two men become friends and Van Pelt is one of his best contacts and sources of access as well as information. Beaujon meets lots of Christians that he likes, and given the way he remarks about this, it is clear he is writing for an audience that will take the notion that Christiansare likeable as surprising news. Mr. Beaujon also talks to Steve Taylor, Jay Swartzendruber, Bill Hearn, and Mark Solomon in the "lifer" chapters. 

Another industry insider Beaujon gained unprecented access to was Tooth'n'Nail/BEC Recordings Brandon Ebel. Beaujon takes his sharpest music industry lens out to expose Ebel as a a surpisingly savvy business man and manic driver. (The chapter begins, "Brandon Ebel tried to kill me.") This portrait may be the one that has forced many alternative Christian music insiders to turn away from this excellent journalist survey of the many-headed beast known as Christian music.

The cover is being blown off of the Christian underground scene. In 2005, the DVD release of the documentary movie, Why Should the Devil have all the Good Music? laid out the major paths of inquiry through the scene; a year later, Body Piercing covers a lot of the same territory very well before pushing even deeper into the forest to introduce readers to more species. At the same time, Beaujon's serious look into the subject was being released, yet another non-Christian journalist appeared at Cornerstone Festival 2006 to investigate as much of the burgioning scene as could be absorbed during a five day festival with over 20,000 participants. Cornerstone Festival an inspirational gathering point for the best of the Christian alternative scene, where body piercing saves lives, remains the gateway leading people into a story that never grows old in the telling, that will never be captured in its entirity, one that the world needs to hear, that is ripe for discovery. Buy your tickets early.

Tony and Linda LaFianza


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