The Awesome Power of Music

Featuring Paul Baloche Posted on February 1, 2010

Many of us are aware of the mood-influencing power of music. Grocery stores play background music that stimulates buying—doctors’ offices play calming music—youth fashion shops play loud rock that attracts the young and the cool—Mozart supposedly stimulates learning abilities. Music was known to be therapeutic even in Old Testament times. When King Saul was visited by “an evil spirit from the Lord” he would call for David, whose harp playing would drive the spirit out (1 Samuel 16:23). Elisha summoned a minstrel to aid in his prophesying (2 Kings 3:15).

But few have really understood the incredible power of music to change the world.

• Plato understood the power of music when he wrote, “Give me the making of the songs of a nation, and I care not who makes its laws; I will control its people.”

• Martin Luther understood it when he wrote, “Music is a fair and glorious gift of God. I am strongly persuaded that after theology, there is no art which can be placed on the level with music. The devil flees before the sound of music almost as much as before the word of God.”

Bear with us if we seem to digress, your Honor. We want to change direction for a few moments, but you’ll soon see where we’re heading, and we’ll make our case. We want to talk about…The Beatles.

In a book on worship songs?

Yes, because they prove our point about changing the world. They were together for only seven years, yet their music filled the last third of the 20th Century and their influence continues strong into the next. Their melodies have been recorded by symphony orchestras, baroque chamber groups, easy listening strings, and even on music boxes as lullabies for babies. Harmonically, they liberated many rockers from the tyranny of three-triad monotony. In the end, sad to say, the Beatles, having captivated the hearts of a generation with their delightful, relatively innocent mischief, embraced hallucinogens and gurus, leading many with them down a dark path. But along the way they changed the world. Literally.

• Early in the new millennium USA Today and CNN News headlined: “The 100 Events that Shifted History, a list of the top news stories of the 20th Century, as determined by a survey of 67 journalists and historians.” Standing at number 58, lower in rank than the bombing of Hiroshima and the first man on the moon, but higher than the Vietnam war, Watergate, the United Nations, NATO and the Panama Canal, is the Beatles’ first U.S. TV appearance, in 1964.

• A&E Television Network polled over 300 distinguished world leaders and scholars for their “Biography of the Millennium, the 100 Most Influential People of the Last 1000 Years. The Beatles, “new leaders of a cultural revolution,” ranked 76th, ahead of Stalin, Marconi (inventor of radio,) Oppenheimer (“Father of the atomic bomb,”) DaGuerre (inventor of photography,) Ronald Reagan and Suleiman the Magnificent.

• On the 25th anniversary of the Beatles’ 1967 Sergeant Pepper album, Ted Koppel called it “an epochal event in the history of western civi•lization.”

• In a 2003 TV special Moscow’s Red Square was packed with thousands of all ages, including pre-teens, singing the old Beatles’ songs with Sir Paul McCartney. Many older people were in tears. It was almost like a religious experience. Between songs Russian historians discussed how the Beatles helped topple communism. Topple communism?The Beatles! Nah. Read on:

The Beatles were banned by the USSR, so they became the generation’s secret symbol of freedom. Both Presidents Putin and Gorbachev admitted to having been Beatles fans, listening in secret on Luxembourg Radio. Gorbachev said, “The music of the Beatles taught the young people of the Soviet Union that there is another life—there is freedom elsewhere.”Putin said, “Their music was a dose of freedom, like an open window to the world.”

Russian historian Arteme Troitsky said, “The Beatles have done more toward the fall of the Soviet Union than any other Western institution. They started a whole new movement in the Soviet Union, involving millions of young people.” Another Russian historian added, “The Beatles were affecting the superstructure of the society and it literally brought about that change that caused the collapse of the whole system.”
Outwardly, the events played out on the international stage of politics and diplomacy, starring Ronald Reagan and Mikhael Gorbachov.

In the heavenlies, great angelic battles were fought and won through the intercessory prayers of the saints.
But behind the scenes on earth, music played an astonishing role.

We now see that the movement the Beatles epitomized has changed the history, not just of western civilization, but of the world. Half a generation ago in much of the world, we would have heard music strange and foreign to our western ears. Each culture, in relative isolation for centuries, had developed its own system of music and cultural distinctives. But today in many cultures what you are bombarded with is the pop music music of the western nations, although sometimes with a refreshing local flavor.