“Love, so many things I’ve got to tell you, but I’m afraid I don’t know how...”. The chill bumps that appear. The hairs that stand on my neck, when I hear that song.
I can imagine when Musiq wrote “Love,” he didn’t know the affect it would have on those who listen vows that would be renewed, unions brought together.
Although, ideally, we interpret “Love” as a love song between two intimate people, the song was originally intended to be named “Lord”. The record label didn’t want to risk it being viewed as a gospel album, so Musiq changed the words.
Does the aura and intended energy still exist within the song? I believe so. Although the intended message was to say Lord in the song, instead of love, the core concept is not lost in transition. In fact, by using love instead of Lord, the message reaches a broader audience than that of one confined by a given genre. I’m sure there are those who may have controversial opinions and speculations regarding the change. Many religious leaders and followers have drawn the line with artists “watering down” spiritual messages and with secular artists sharing spiritual messages in their music.
This leaves a lingering question: does changing the lingo and lyrics of the song change the message? Unless it’s “Lord” is it still love?
It seems as if anything crossing the lines of comfort tests as contradictory to Christianity. For example, the controversy surrounding the artist Lecrae’s song “Country Shit” is similar to that of Kirk Franklin producing “Stomp” in the ‘90s. Although these artists continue to make phenomenal gains in transition for Gospel music, they constantly received backlash from the Christian community. The level of scrutiny is so great, that once Gospel rap artist Lecrae has decided to not be labeled as a Christian artist. His decision intensified the controversy and proved how great the judgment can be when many in the Christian community now view Lecrae as “lost” and a “backslider”. In actuality, Lecrae’s decision to broaden his scope has made evolutionary strides in reaching more people that share in his faith.
“Love” is still love—even if it’s not “Lord”. An artist that goes beyond the confinements of Gospel music and remains within the boundaries of love and God’s spirit still effectively delivers His message. Their identity and affiliation to any particular category of music do not change the message and intent of musical expression.
I can only imagine when Lecrae reaches record numbers of people when his original aim was to reach beyond the confinements of the church walls. Like when when Musiq adapted to his label’s wishes and changed “Lord” to “Love,” he knew the purpose and his message was the same.
One of my favorite “gospel” songs is by Anita Baker, “Giving You the Best That I Got”. The song is not categorized as Gospel. It identifies as R&B/Jazz, however, when I hear it, I can only think of God’s love:
“Ain’t there something I can give you, in exchange for everything you give to me...”.
Whether that was Anita's intentions or it was simply a profession of adoration for a lover, for me, the love is not lost in translation.