“The world’s first Mormon rock concept album”

Note to Church PR: next time you release a “famous Mormons” video, get rid of Steve Young and the Osmonds and turn the camera on Brother Brandon Flowers. I guarantee you that more people will join the church because of The Killers than hoteliers, jocks, corporate suits, and 70s puppy-lovers.

The Guardian features Flowers’ Mormonism this weekend. Other than Arthur Kane and Low, Brandon’s the only Kool Kat we’ve got, and Kane’s dead and no-one’s heard of Low.

This, oh PR-people, is worth ten thousand pass-it-along cards:

“Mormonism is a Christian religion, but the biggest thing is we believe we know where we’re going when we die. It’s not just about heaven and hell. The Bible says we’re all made in God’s image but we believe that literally – that God is a man. Other religions have always shied away from embracing that particular concept, but we don’t: we really think God’s a dude.”

He even “abstains” from drugs. This needs to be on the “Church in the News” section on lds.org. Now when people find out that Faith from Buffy is a Mormon, the kids will be flocking in. I say it’s time for baseball baptisms part two: offer free Mormon rock concerts with Flowers giving autographs at the end in return for baptism.

I got soul, but I’m not a soldier. Rock on, brother!

Comments

  1. Don’t forget The Jets!

  2. Thomas Parkin says:

    Wow – I had no idea. And it sounds like, unlike the Osmonds, he actually has some understanding of what makes his religion.

    What a great band.I’ve been listening to them and watching some videos on Rhapsody.

    I’m so proud of him – I hope he can make it all work.

    ~

  3. a random John says:

    If you’re going to mention the Jets or the Osmonds you’d better mention Randy Bachman, who actually rocks.

  4. Yeah but Randy went anti.

  5. Steve Young is still cool. He’s on ESPN every week and he tells Michael Irvin when he’s being dumb (which is often). Makes me proud. The Osmonds? Not cool.

    I was under the impression that Bro. Flowers wasn’t completely W.O.W.-compliant, so I think some members might have a problem with him being featured as an example. And Bro. Sparhawk (Low) is on record as a “huge f***ing chronic.” I actually think it’s a good thing for some obviously imperfect folks to be known as Mormons. It makes me hope that some other people who have difficulties that are difficult to hide can see people like that staying true to the faith even though they aren’t living it perfectly and then follow suit. Too many people feel uncomfortable in Church because they don’t measure up when the truth is that none of us measure up.

  6. Ronan,
    His son Tal went anti–I haven’t heard that Randy did. And, unlike his son, Randy rocks.

  7. Back in the day, I posted on Flowers. All in all, I think it is probably not bad to have prominent Mormons who struggle, but still wear their Mormonism on their sleeves. Humanity is always nice. After all, he could be jumping on couches.

    Actually having said that, what I meant to say was that I am glad that Brandon’s family, bishop, friends, and so forth have continued to embrace him in spite of his troubles, so much so that he still feels “Mormon” in an apparently good way.

  8. Um excuse me, as much as I like The Killers, and as intrigued as I am by Flowers’s recent effort, it is not the first Mormon concept album. That would be the all-out Prog-Rock rendering of the PoGP by the Osmonds, The Plan, from 1973. The panoramic art in the LP fold followed a pre-Eart–mortality–immortality theme, and even quoted Abraham 3 and/or the Lorenzo Snow “As man is…” quote (I don’t have it in front of me at the moment…). Also, it was originally released on the short-lived “Kolob Records” label.

    My natural inclination towards snarkiness would compel me to alter Ronan’s title to read “The world’s first good Mormon rock concept album,” but I’m afraid I can’t even do that. If you’re oblivious to the clunkiness with which deep doctrine is articulated through 70s rock melodrama, some of the tracks are actually pretty interesting musically. (“Mirror, Mirror,” for example is an odd 5-beat meter, and has some really interesting polyrhythms.) I played it once for a noted music theorist who plays in a prog rock band, has written extensively on Yes, etc., and recently authored a popular rock history textbook. I expected him to echo my own provincial embarassment; he actually really dug it.

    So, Brother Flowers, you may be the cool new kid on the block, but Wayne and Merril were rockin’ out to King Follett long before you…

  9. I never knew. Mr Brightside – one of my top 10 songs of the last couple of years. Ronan, I’d heard a rumour that Ian Brown (ex Stone Roses) was LDS back in the day. You ever heard that, or is that wishful thinking on my part?

  10. gomez,
    No idea. I can you that Wayne Hussey from The Mission is Mormon, if that rings any bells. His family were in my stake. Also, the guitarist from a British RATM-clone: Senser.

  11. Jason Orange from Take That is Mormon. His brother was in my ward growing up. Taught break dancing at the Manchester Stake house before his Take That days. I was too young to be there.

  12. Anyone who can unblinkingly say “God’s a dude” is cool in my book.

  13. Speaking of celebrities that are Mormon, I just found out yesterday that Glenn Beck the radio/TV/news personality is Mo. Converted 3 yrs ago or so. His conversion story can be found on Meridian Magazine’s online site. It is such a great story. It will totally choke you up, even if you are, as I am, not a big fan of his show.

  14. Now, gomez, I think we can safely say that Take That aren’t cool. Robbie Williams is strangely cool though.

  15. Kevin Barney says:

    I believe that Randy followed his son Tal out of the Church. (ETB/BRM-style conservative/fundamentalist rigidity coupled with natural brightness/inquisitiveness is a volatile combination. Those two things do not go together well.)

    We have a bunch of Low here at the house. I wanted to like it because of the LDS connection, but I couldn’t get into it. I guess I need to try harder.

    I agree with others that I think it’s actually a good thing to have a prominent Mormon who smokes and drinks and is still comfortable self-identifying as LDS. I also think it’s a plus that Brandon has embraced is very substantial gay following.

  16. “Robbie Williams is strangely cool though.”

    Which is odd as he’s from Stoke on Trent – a very weird place!

  17. a random John says:

    Ah, it looks like Tal Bachman was not properly inoculated. Who is responsible for administering inoculations up in BC anyhow?

  18. Kevin B: Low takes some time to get into. You have to slow down to their speed to really be able to take it in. Sort of like the whole “be still and know that I am God” thing. :)

    My daughter loves the Killers, but I haven’t gotten into them much. Sort of annoying…although the one song I’ve heard from their new album sounds a bit like early Waterboys, so I need to give the rest a listen.

    How cool that a guy from the Mission is LDS.

  19. I agree with others that I think it’s actually a good thing to have a prominent Mormon who smokes and drinks and is still comfortable self-identifying as LDS. I also think it’s a plus that Brandon has embraced is very substantial gay following.

    And I think it makes us (LDS Church) look like just another tired Protestant denomination confused by the philosophies of men, mingled with scripture.

  20. Kevin Barney says:

    Would it be better to excommunicate Brandon on the theory that he is in a position of prominence and is not living entirely up to the Mormon ideal re: the WoW? If not, what do you suggest? What is the practical alternative?

  21. Maybe we should write Bros. Flowers and Sparhawk cease and desist letters. “You’re making us look bad with your weaknesses. You can start calling yourself Mormon again when you start appearing righteous.”

  22. Kevin,

    I’m not in any position to judge Brandon Flowers or anyone else in terms of their Church membership. My critique was of what I considered to be an irresponsible comment that you made, which I quoted.

    Below is a blurb from Wikipedia on Brother Brandon:

    Although reputedly an active Mormon himself, Flowers smokes cigarettes and drinks alcohol, behavior prohibited by the LDS church’s health code. However, he has said that he belongs to a “very tolerant gathering.”[3] In an August 2005 interview with Rolling Stone he mentioned trying to cut-back but, as of August 2006, the Killers continue to consume alcohol.[1]

    The Killers, as a band, are known for suggestive homoerotic play between band members onstage, as well as for their gigs in a drag club in Vegas. The lyrics to “Andy, You’re a Star”, “Where the White Boys Dance” and in the hit-single “Somebody Told Me” contain a sexual ambiguity. Flowers is viewed by some as a famous example of metrosexuality, a type of personality which combines feminine and masculine characteristics. The band has a considerable gay following,[3] fueling speculation that Flowers is either gay or bisexual.[1] In response to such speculation, Flowers said that “Andy, You’re a Star” was “free for people to interpret as their own,” in a Genre 2005 interview. This contradicts an earlier statement made in a QLas Vegas interview during 2004, wherein he claimed it was about a crush he himself had formed on a male athlete while attending high school.[6] Flowers has also stated that some confusion over his sexual identity is “not a bad thing,”[1] but did say “I’m not gay.” [7].

    I see nothing praiseworthy, lovely, or of good report with that description being associated with a “role model” for our Church. It is harmful to the Church’s image, AND more importantly it is harmful to hold him up as any type of LDS role model for our youth. The real world out there with all its bad habits does not need any help from our end by holding folks like Brandon Flowers up as an LDS role model.

    Praise him for what he is. If he’s a great rocker— great then rock on. But let’s not make him something he’s not, and should not be.

  23. Nick Literski says:

    Too bad this guy is speaking in direct opposition to Gordon B. Hinckley, who when asked if God was once a man, said “I don’t know that we teach that, that’s more a little couplet than anything…we don’t know much about that.”

    Sad when a rock star is more willing to acknowledge Mormon teachings than the president of the church….

  24. I think the attitude Guy conveys links this thread with the subsequent one about Mormon demographics and rates of Mormons who self-identify as such.

    I read somewhere (how’s that for citation) that a most members of the church, at some time in their lives, go inactive for a substantial length of time. Wouldn’t it be tragic if someone in that phase in their life stopped thinking of themselves as Mormon? Or, I should say, isn’t it tragic, that so many people who, in a period of inactivity (and/or WoW or chastity lapses, etc.), stop thinking of themselves as being part of our community==or at least thinking of it as the place they will return to when they get their spiritual act together?

    I think it would b fantastic if more people who aren’t currently temple- or sacrament- worthy considered themselves nonetheless Mormon. I can’t help but think that would make it more likely that they’ll return to activity some day.

    (And, of course, it would make the membership stats we advertise ring a little more true…)

  25. Of course we shouldn’t ostracize someone like Flowers, but I think Guy’s point is that we shouldn’t put him up as a poster boy for the church.

  26. So, I don’t think that the Word of Wisdom caught on in Sanpete county until the 1980’s because as far as I am concerned (as confirmed by the many wonderful Mormons I knew from there that still struggled with the WoW) you can be a great mormon and not live it completely.

  27. Note to Church PR: next time you release a “famous Mormons” video, get rid of Steve Young and the Osmonds and turn the camera on Brother Brandon Flowers. I guarantee you that more people will join the church because of The Killers than hoteliers, jocks, corporate suits, and 70s puppy-lovers

    Unless I read Ronan’s opening paragraph wrong, I thought the purpose of the post was to place Brandon Flowers up as some type of Mormon icon, role model, famous LDS figure a la Steve Young, Osmonds, intially even Willard Marriot.

    Ian #25 above is exactly right. I’m not suggesting the saints ostracize anyone–including Bro. Flowers. I’m just saying don’t hold him up as a role model: He’s not. Nor, am I for that matter.

  28. Guy and Ian,

    I got the vibe that Ronan was being a little tongue-in-cheek and overstating the case for Flowers’s coolness. I don’t think he was really suggesting putting “God is a dude” on pass-along cards.

    On the other hand, I think Flowers does serve an important PR purpose, one that the church probably wouldn’t and shouldn’t activly cultivate but one that nonetheless does the church some good: every Mormon that at very least affirms their identity as such within a public sphere created by their success (at music, business, or whatever) lowers Mormonism’s weirdness factor within that sphere. In turn, in some peoples’ universe that makes the idea of becoming a Mormon a statistical possibility, however remote (i.e., “within my universe, the possibility exists that one can be a Mormon and not be a freak). Inevitably, it would seem to me that that, in turn, would result in a few of them finding themselves in favorable circumstances for actually pursuing that possiblity.

  29. Thomas Parkin says:

    Nick,

    Flowers says God is a dude (s/b Dude), not God was once a dude and became a Dude, and as Dude is, we dudes may become. (Wouldn’t this make Jesus the Son of Dude?) I don’t think Pres Hinkley has ever hedged on the idea that God is a Dude.

    ~

  30. Thomas Parkin says:

    … that’s all my minor blasphemy for the day.

    ~

  31. What Jeremy said (#28).

  32. What I’ve liked about Brandon Flowers is that he is up-front and unashamedly Mormon in identity … and when he admits that he drinks and smokes at times, he seems pretty sheepish about it.

  33. D. Fletcher says:

    I’m not sure why being Mormon as well as cool is a good thing, even a thing to be cultivated. Aren’t we above this?

    Donny Osmond has been going to my ward in NYC, and he’s completely nice, and a real believer. I’m happy to have him represent the Church.

    I know this post was a bit tongue-in-cheek, but a lot of people here and at Kulturblog think way too often about coolocity.

  34. any mouse says:

    d. fletcher, please send me the address and meeting time for your ward so that i may fly cross-country to appropriately stalk the love of my life. thank you. i’m sure neither my husband nor his wife will mind…

  35. D. Fletcher says:

    Donny is currently appearing as Gaston in Beauty and the Beast, at the Lunt-Fontanne theater.

    He’s attending the Morningside Heights Ward, which meets at the Stake Center/Temple (2 Lincoln Square, at the intersection of Columbus Avenue, Broadway, and 65th Street) at 9:30 am (Sacrament Meeting).

  36. any mouse says:

    donny had better consider himself properly stalked, what with that little sharing of information. i wasn’t aware he was appearing in “b&tb,” but find it interesting that i dug out my cd of said musical just last week. kismet! i saw “b&tb” in los angeles in, gosh, 1997? the musical tells a far better story and with donny osmond starring, the animated version is officially kaput. off to book plane tickets…

  37. Molly Bennion says:

    My favorite gospel doctrine teacher smoked. Everyone knew it. He knew he was making a poor choice. When I ran into him on the street, he always put the cigarette behind his back, making it that much more awkward for us both. But he was kind, wise, brilliant and dedicated. A heck of a good example as a father to his needy family and friend to the ward. Miss him; haven’t learned as much in GD since he was released.

    Our tent is too small for many of the creative types and way too small to tolerate the aberrant experimentation and rebellion that characterizes only a small period of many lives, especially those of the creative. So we often lose them for good. Our loss and theirs. Surely we wouldn’t look too bad to the world if we were loving and patient with the errant, if we were proud to embrace them as our brothers and sisters? Not as an icon (we don’t need any of those) but, as I interpreted Ronan’s post, just as one of us, sinners who may or may not easily hide their sins. No one who looks twice at the church would confuse such kindness and inclusion with a change in LDS social policies.

  38. There was a time, not too long ago, when prominent non-General Authorities sometimes spoke at general priesthood meeting. Perhaps Brother Flowers could speak about the courage it takes to continue to self-identify as a Mormon while struggling with some of its health standards. I wonder how he would be as a ward choir director?

  39. So this Brandon Flowers fellow is our Jack Dempsey for the 21st Century, but noted for music and sexual ambiguity rather than 50 KO wins? (“I’m proud to be a Mormon. And ashamed to be the Jack Mormon that I am.”)

  40. I’m surprized not to hear any word of Panic! at the Disco lead singer Bredon Urie. He’s mormon and has fronted a band that has been at the top of the charts for almost a year now. Apparently, he and Flowers have exchanged words several times.

    Call Out: “All those bands, Fall Out Boy, Panic! at the Disco, they [are] only influenced by each other and Blink-182. How can that be a good thing? Emo, whatever you want to call it, is dangerous.” — Killers frontman Brandon Flowers

    Response: “Do I think of myself as dangerous? Not at all! It’s a shame that [Brandon Flowers] feels that way really.” — Panic’s Brendon Urie

    Sounds like the foyer between Sunday School classes if you ask me!

  41. Guy,

    If Brandon Flowers is not a role model because he doesn’t perfectly “keep” the Word of Wisdom, does that mean you think Joseph Smith, Brigham Young, Orson Pratt, John Taylor, Joseph F. Smith, and other prominent leaders of the church who did not abstain completely from alcohol or other WoW substances are also not role models for the church?

  42. Eauality, the WoW wasn’t a test of fellowship while they were alive.

  43. 42.:

    Well, the WoW isn’t really a test for fellowship now. That is, the CHI says a church court should NOT be held for members who do not keep the Word of Wisdom. And, in fact, there were members who were tried and excommunicated for Word of Wisdom violations during Joseph Smith’s day. At least among some saints, the WoW has from the beginning been taken very seriously. My point was simply to courteously and respectfully point out that there is today and has always been a substantial percentage of the Mormon population that does not toe the line 100% of the time where the WoW is concerned and, indeed, even leaders of the church have been among those numbers historically.

  44. The Dude abides.

  45. On the contrary.. in his heyday, Joseph Smith was a wine drinker himself. The WOW was merely a suggestion of health, until Brigham Young seriously took it on during the big prohibition era. Let’s do some church history, folks.

  46. Carolyn Wilkerson says:

    Isn’t so much that God is man, but that man is like God, in His image and with ability to become as he is – truly God’s Son or Daughter. We can be co-inheritors of the Kingdom with our Savior Jesus Christ. I have yet to hear this group but heard about it and hope to hear it. Sweet Caroline

  47. Carolyn Wilkerson says:

    About word of wisdom, was recommendation in time of Joseph Smith and wasn’t commandment until later, during Brigham Young’s time. Lord sometimes gives us time to make big adjustments. And I know of no one ever being excommunicated over Word of Wisdom or tithing. Only on morality or false teachings, really serious stuff that could affect faith of others usually or to call to repentance. Lots of people sure have wrong ideas about Mormons as well as about our very deep faith in our Savior, Jesus Christ. Sweet Caroline

  48. Carolyn Wilkerson says:

    Just listened and watched a video. I think I’m too old for that. Think I’ll stick to soft rock, country or hymns. Bit too suggestive and gory for me with the skeletons, etc. I’m outta there. I like peace. You young dudes can have it. Sweet, but old, Caroline

  49. justsomedude says:

    Alan Sparhawk is my hero. I’m a young single adult living in Provo… I’m LDS. I’m far from perfect and sometimes I don’t feel like I fit in the BYU scene because I don’t try to pretend I’m perfect and I guess I just don’t really identify with most BYU kids around here. I got into low a couple years ago because I liked their music. It touched me… only later I found out Alan and Mimi are Mormon. I read a lot about them. Alan went to BYU for a while and had a very similar experience to mine. Alan and Mimi seem like very genuine, good people, trying to do what is right. Alan has admitted that he’s got some WoW problems but they are active mormons as far as I know. I guess knowing they exist, identifying with the emotions expressed in their music, and knowing that they aren’t perfect and yet still are trying to be good mormons gives me some hope and strength to endure and lets me know I’m not alone in some of my struggles.

    While I don’t think the church needs to hold people up as mormon icons, i’m glad that people like the Sparhawks and Brandon Flowers identify themselves as Mormons… it’s also helped some people who are totally turned off by religion take a look at what mormonism is really about. I’ve heard so many atheists and agnostics describe listening to low as a religious or spiritual experience.. they sense there’s something deeper than just whats on the surface.

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