10 Musicians Who Got Religion, with Mixed Results

As we listened to the new Rapture album on Monday — once the initial shock that it just wasn’t very good had worn off — the thing we couldn’t help noticing was that the lyrics seemed pretty rabidly Christian. Perhaps this shouldn’t be a surprise, considering the band’s name, but as far as we’re aware, their songs have never been overtly religious before. Anyway, it turns out that there’s a story behind this — according to the Village Voice, singer Luke Jenner converted to Catholicism in 2009. He’s not the first musician to undergo a road-to-Damascus experience — so after the jump, we’ve looked at a selection of other famous musical conversions, and what they meant for the both the artist in question and the music they made afterward.

Bob Dylan

Religion: Christianity

Dylan’s well-documented Christian conversion was perhaps the most famous example of an artist getting struck by a bold of spiritual lightning. His unexpected acquisition of “born again” status came at a difficult period of his life — his marriage had broken up and his latest record hadn’t enjoyed great reviews. And then someone threw a silver cross onto the stage at one of his shows, which he picked up and kept. Apparently, it was accompanied by a vision of Jesus, and all of a sudden, Dylan was going to Bible school and recording albums like 1980s’ Saved, which featured cover art with a huge hand of god reaching down to the hand of the benighted masses. Fans, understandably, were mystified, especially since the singer refused to play his old material live: “I won’t sing any song which hasn’t been given to me by the Lord to sing.” This would have been fine if the new songs were any good — but sadly, they weren’t a patch on those from Dylan’s glory days. “Being born again is a hard thing,” Dylan told an interviewer in 1980. It wasn’t easy for his fans, either.

Before: “The Times, They Are A-Changin’,” voice of a generation, etc.

After: Bombastic evangelical songs, a confused fan base