Five Years Later…

Still grateful to David for introducing me to the later work of Michael Jackson, including this gem:


On another note, I have been wondering when David will get back to expressing his love for music. It was in that love that he shared on his blog this appreciation for Michael Jackson.

I mean, that Voice is still there and is still capable of moving me unspeakably.

Still, with his religious lens, which has immersed him on his two-year mission and which still seems to shape his worldview, it does feel a bit like music has taken a backseat to his first love of religion.

A different outlook, it seems to me, because prior to this, his love of music and his love of God had seemed more intertwined.

As of this moment, I realize that I’m just respectful. I love, love, loooove the Voice, and I am intrigued by David, who is such an enigma to me. And not because he’s of this mysterious religious faith called LDS. But because he’s so unique as a young guy expressing so publicly his need and his desire to be godly, to be righteous. It’s so different.

And no, I don’t tie it to the LDS faith. Having seen some of the snarkier comments, not only of fellow LDS members David’s own age but of even his fellow LDS Missionaries, I think David is unique even in their midst.

I also get why some folks – and it won’t be just non-LDS folks either – will begin distancing themselves from him. The last poll I took showed a slight majority of fans who think extreme religious devotion will drive more audiences away than “bad boy” behavior.

I have a theory about this. With “bad boy” behavior, there is always a path to redemption, always the option to get back on the straight and narrow. With righteous folk, there is always a “holier than thou” aura about them that makes them seem less relatable.

Now, I don’t think David is necessarily coming off as “holier than thou.” I absolutely believe in his sincerity. But that kind of attitude does make others resentful. There is setting a high bar and then there is setting a high bar that not enough people can reach, including the righteous person setting that bar.

I want David to allow for his imperfections and to allow that he’s still in a “good place,” even when he “sins.” Perfectionism can cause some serious self-punishing thoughts and behavior, and I hope he doesn’t entertain that worldview.

Not only that, but religious institutions can really stifle and limit one’s spiritual liberation. Since I’m honoring Michael Jackson on the fifth anniversary of his passing, I think it’s worth noting that MJ was always a devout person, even when he was making disco and funk music at a time when 70s disco and the whole free-dealing, swinging, and casual sex lifestyle associated with it circled around him. Somehow MJ kept above the fray, just as I’m sure David would have kept above the fray.

I had gotten that impression very early, sometime when he appeared on Idol Extra, and one of the Idols Michael Rogers (was that his name?) had said: “I cannot wait to get Archie on the road!” The Idol Extra host interpreted that as Michael wanting to “corrupt” David, and David immediately said, “No, that isn’t going to happen.”

David is not corruptible – no matter how innocent he comes off, he is not naïve, and he is working hard at being righteous – even if others around him (*cough* MIC *cough*) fall from grace.

At the same time, one’s religion can get in the way of one’s creative process. MJ eventually left the Jehovah’s Witness faith sometime after his church made a big issue of his use of the “Occult” in his widely popular “Thriller” music video. MJ had to put out disclaimers and I believe he even had to apologize to his religious community.

Perhaps MJ’s big ego – which would come no matter what, considering his world star status – made him flee his religious community, but how much of that is also due to their attempts at stifling his musical creativity?

If there is anything that concerns me with David’s religious devotion is not that he will eventually cause offense to his faith community with his musical creativity but that he will instead stifle his own creative growth because of it. A list of “Dos” and “Don’ts” might prevent him from pushing himself beyond certain borders, restrictions, and boundaries. The great artists have often done this, and David has it in himself to do this.

I know nothing about the Book of Mormons, but in the traditional Protestant Bible used in most Protestant churches, the most celebrated biblical heroes and heroines were those people who pushed against the boundaries, even sinned on a regular basis, and had a longer-term vision. And they were blessed by God. Jacob, Tamar, Ruth, David, Solomon. Those are what our artists and folk heroes have often taught us, and they never let institutions – religious or secular – get in their way.

I love that David digs deep and really tries to “listen” to that higher calling. And I will also hope that internal Voice speaks louder than institutional voices surrounding him. This always seems to make the Voice sound much more divine in song.

Posted on June 25, 2014, in David's influences. Bookmark the permalink. 38 Comments.

  1. HG fabulous post.. hoping David spreads his wings musically as well. thank you!

  2. Excellent writing HG. So insightful dismissing some of our tunnel vision and widening the view. Our tunnel vision is never helpful or lasting.

    I will always miss MJ. We were so fortunate to have such an artist.


  3. Having read the most recent posts on the previous thread, I see where the purging of some of David’s fans has begun. As I said in my post on that thread, this is a very positive sign. David has upped his game, and he needs fans that are willing to do the same. David is way more than a mere entertainer. I assumed all of his fans knew that, and were drawn to him for that reason. I will plead naivete on that one. Who knew? It’s time for some spring cleaning of the fan base, and it will happen naturally. There is a time in everyone’s life that we learn who our real friends are. David has issued a reasonable request to his fans to allow him the time he needs to sorts things out and work on his music. He is already learning who his “friends are” in his fan base, and, after reading many tweets and posts on fan sites, I was heartened to see that David will retain many of his fans.

    As I was watching the chat last night, I was reminded of a scene in the “Godfather” when Michael Corleone says “Today, I took care of all of the family business”. Well, last night, David took care of all the fan base business. He is his own person now, and doesn’t “care if the Fenster is calling” anymore. David showed us the “person he brought back”. There is no bitterness in David, just growth and a clearer understanding of himself. David gave a tutorial in what growing up looks like.

    David is a person of enormous substance. He is a worthwhile person. Anyone who sees those qualities in him will be richly rewarded in the coming months and years.

  4. Michael *Johns* from Australia. He was touring with Mormons Brooke White and Benton Paul, when David joined them for “Proud Mary” and “Let it Be”, so I doubt he was too serious about corrupting people, lol.

    While I agree that David is nothing but sincere and humble, I think that the “holier than thou” vibe can come from the type of songs he has favored. I loved “Somebody Out There”, especially, but by the time he got to “Don’t Run Away”, I started to get weary of the savior theme that he has repeated. I even had a niggling complaint about him changing the first chorus of “Beautiful” from “I am beautiful” to “You are beautiful” on his BEGIN album. Was it intentionally, to “teach” us, or was it an excess of shyness and humility? IDK.

    Your example of “Jesus Take the Wheel”, being a popular religiously-themed song, is a good one, because it’s so relatable and heartbreaking, and doesn’t preach to us. Can he be vulnerable enough in his songwriting to make his message fresh and relatable? Or will he still be trying to teach us? I didn’t care for the song “Glorious” that he sings and Stephanie Mabey wrote for the LDS audience, for the same reasons (but I’m sure it’s very inspiring to the intended audience).

    Here I go again, but in response to your thoughts about religious institutions vs. the creative process, I’m struck by the timing of David’s return and embrace of his religion. The LDS pendulum has swung from conservative activism during prop. 8, and then reacted to the backlash (and the 2012 election) with a time of apparent greater openness and compassion, and now has swung back to enforcing orthodoxy, with the recent excommunication actions and lesser punishments. Chillingly, the parents of the feminist who was excommunicated, were disciplined for supporting her, by having their ability to go to the temple taken away, (something they did weekly, like David does), and another person was punished for congratulating the first gay couple to marry in Utah. It’s hard to envision which way a 23-year-old artist might go in the course of a career, but some directions may be permanently off the table, if he remains obedient (the highest praise in missionary lingo).

  5. hell0g0rge0us

    Bliss, I don’t know how long you’ve been following this blog, but I started it 5 years ago (a few months before MJ died actually), and I can tell you that there is no “purging” of fans happening at this moment.

    David’s BEEN losing fans over the years. Some FANS who used to frequent SD up and left not long after his Mission announcement, while some held out hope, some aired their own struggles over loving David the man, David the musician, or even David the idea, clinging to one of these things …until they chose not to cling any longer.

    I don’t categorize these things as being “real” or “unreal” fans, being “true” or “false” fans. “Fan” is short for the word “Fanatic.” One can go through a phase of fanaticism. Over the years, I’ve had tween and teen fans of David on this site, who outgrew their “cute boy” crush. I’ve had gay fans of David who left of their own volition because they could not reconcile his belonging to a faith that openly condemns who they are (and others who probably left for other unnamed reasons).

    I’ve had fans of David who loved his music primarily until they no longer enjoyed the music he was putting out. People have their various reasons for being “fanatic” about a pop artist. Yes, when that person changes, that might lead to a change in the fan who is following him. And yes, there are deal-breakers. A Fan who does not subscribe to religious feeling and who is indeed made uncomfortable by such religiosity has every right to say: “That’s it for me!” And they’re out of here.

    They have every right to that response, just as David has every right to be open about his faith. I personally don’t think he’s making a decision to forge a “religious” public identity. I think he’s just being presented with opportunities to discuss his mission experience, and he’s just bothering to share with the rest of us – for those who are so inclined to tune in.

    Until the secular opportunities come along, he’s taking advantage of the visibility that the LDS community is giving him right now. So, I’m patiently waiting to see what his next steps are, rather than jumping to conclusions that he will only be creating a music career within this community. Either way, a Fan can always make that choice to stay on or stay away. I’m just glad those who’ve been here for so long are letting us know that they may be leaving, withdrawing, or cutting back on their presence here.

    There are MANY MANY more who simply disappeared. So, no, I don’t see any major “purging,” just the continued slow drifting away that happens for those who may be “less” fanatic than other fans (though not necessarily “false” in their fandom).

  6. HG-Thank you a million times over, I havent commented on the chats from last night as a zillion thoughts have been running through my mind. Ive been trying to find a way to express them so they didnt cause angst for anyone on either side of the David coin. Thanks to your heartfelt and beautifully expressed comment, I dont have to say a word. I can just smile and say “Yep, me too.” 🙂

  7. HG, I hear ya. and appreciate your response as well as your article on this thread. Fan bases are like the ocean, they ebb and flow. David is no different than any other “famous” person in pop culture. People have all levels of “fandom” and are free to exercise their right to come and go as they please. I am sure that David’s fan base has thinned out considerable since the heady days following American Idol. So has every other AI phenom’s, more or less.

    I was basically referring to the fans, on this site, who declared that they have “had enough” and were giving up on David. These are the type of fans who are not leaving as a natural order of things, but are leaving because they feel that David “faked it” (creepy reference, if you know what I mean) or he was ” just acting like he enjoyed the fans”, or “doesn’t care anymore, etc.

    It’s perfectly natural to outgrow artists or change one’s musical tastes and move on. I’ve done it many times. It’s quite another thing to blame that artist for not living up to some imaginary agreement that he/she would always be what the fan wants and requires, lest they feel betrayed and have no choice but to move on. This is what I read here.

    As for David’s religion and his beliefs, David is a faith based person, and always has been. Yes, the Mormon Church has some draconian and antiquated views on gay marriage and homosexuality. As a liberal, it offends me too. There is no religion that I know of that accepts gay culture or gay marriage. However, the assumption that David takes 100% of his cues from the teachings of the Mormon Church on all issues is just that, an assumption. David has never given any policy statement on that or any political issue.

    I don’t think that David is any more Mormon today than he was when he was bouncing around the stage singing “Zero Gravity”. He’s just more confident to discuss it now, and may actually become freer on stage now that he has nothing to explain or justify. It’s his choice, his life, and his right, and I love that David is now living in his truth. Isn’t that what the gay community wants for their people? Of course they do, and they’re right to do so.

    • hell0g0rge0us

      I agree that some fans seem to have a strange reading – that whole “David was faking it” or “didn’t really care” – that sounds more like projection than actual listening of what David actually said. And I’d rather if people were honest with themselves and what their own reasons for change might stem from. I still think and agree with you that the eventual leaving is a regular part of any fanbase.

    • Many liberal religions support gay marriage. My children’s beloved Sunday School teacher was a gay man who has now become a minister of his own congregation, the second from our small church to do so. Our minister was thrilled to perform her first same-sex marriage when it became legal, until prop 8 passed, and prior to that, regularly officiated at commitment ceremonies for gay couples.

      According to Wikipedia, both Reform and Conservative Jews accept same-sex marriage.

  8. CCHalo, I stand corrected, and happily so. The sooner that gender and sexual preference is eliminated as a criterion for love and marriage, the better.

  9. HG, great commentary and critque of David’s chat, which I was surprised to learn it was more of a “Fan Chat” than what I initially expected.

    I didn’t listen in so all I have to go by is what I’ve read here and the other sites. From what I gather he didn’t come out and say what musical direction he’s going in so here’s one fan (sorry to disappoint you, Bliss ) who will stick around until I hear his new music. Only then will we get a true idea of where his head is, musically speaking. So for me, it’s still a waiting game because The Voice is what drew me to him. And I’m an Agnostic. Go figure. 🙂

  10. Senseless-you actually make a lot of sense. 🙂

  11. Just wanted to make one thing clear (I told you it would be hard to break the habit, lol) I truly still believe in David having a secular career and when he does put out music I will be checking it out for sure. The one thing that I want to step away from is commenting, but still love reading everyone’s comments and will continue reading. Hg, loved, loved this post, exactly what I feel too, RIP MJ.

      • Cq and Marie – Please continue to keep checking in and commenting from time to time. I especially remember in the the 2-year drought – at times, only you two would keep a thread going with with regular comments. I understand about cutting back. It really does a body good 🙂 I only comment when I really want to add my voice to a topic, so I now pick and choose.

        I will be absent for the month of July and will not be back till August, so my break is coming up as well.

        Does anyone know the longest running fan website for an artist? Off the top of my head I believe the Grobanites are pretty strong. I have always wondered when HG and other sites will fold up their tents. Will these sites be here 10 years from now? Hmm…….

      • Thanks joymus 🙂 cc halo and grammyj and desertrat and of course peter are just a few others that have kept the site going with comments. It is a great idea to cut back a bit from commenting at times and I am finally doing that. Of course I will still check in and comment occasionally. cq is right -old habits die hard. lol. I just don’t have that much to post about David’s career anymore. I have made my feelings and opinions clear enough times. lol. I hope others continue to comment here at SD to keep this site going. 🙂 Off topic Watched SYTYCD last nite and think it is a great top 20. They should make Twitch a permanent Judge. The guy just appreciates dancers so much. 🙂 Have a nice weekend everyone. 🙂

    • I get where you’re coming from, cq. I’ve taken breaks from commenting before myself — sometimes it can be pretty re-invigorating! Do hope to see you back commenting again when you’re ready though. I enjoy hearing your perspective on things 🙂

  12. Really great post HG. I also hope the dos and donts, don’t stifle the creative process and pushing limits. It does not seem to have done that with Imagine Dragons, but I realize that group I believe only has 2 members, and I have no way of knowing the priority it plays in their lives. I don’t have Facebook and did not watch the chat. I will catch it when it is posted to YouTube, so I can hear David sing. It sounds like his sincerity really came through in the discussion.

    • Hi Rae – remembering good times as well Davidconcerting LOL! I’m sure glad we went when we did 😀

      • Yes. :). Hope you are well dear friend. Who would have known then that national tours would be scaled way back and then totally end, indefinately? Lesson to grab on to something good when it is there because it may be gone tomorrow. Glad we went for it.

  13. “And I will also hope that internal Voice speaks louder than institutional voices surrounding him.” THIS is my biggest hope for David.

    Re. being soooo ODD during David’s first year post Idol, the majority of my spare time was spent either reading blogs and tweets, watching D’s videos, or searching the internet for D info. The shock of Michael Jackson’s death was the first major event that pushed me back into the real world. Hard to believe it’s been 5 years.

  14. cchalo, your 3:19 post hit on something that I’d never thought about before. There was something about TOSOD that fatigued me, but I wasn’t sure what it was because I really appreciate the positive messages David puts in his music. I now think that it might be that it was a little heavy on teaching. I’m not sure, I’ll have to re-listen to it. Your comment ” Can he be vulnerable enough in his songwriting to make his message fresh and relatable? Or will he still be trying to teach us?” is something that must be challenging when you’re trying to send the right message. I do think I remember him saying in interviews that it’s important that the message and lyrics are relatable, so hopefully he can find that balance.

  15. Re: Vulnerability in music. I think that’s key. It’s what was missing for me in the song Beautiful when David sang it.

    It’s the first person perspective that’s needed to make a song personal, not only for the singer but for the fans who sing along. I think that’s what makes a song truly great.

    For the message to be personal the singer needs to be sharing his/her own feeling of realization that they are beautiful no matter what others say. And when you sing along you are saying “I” am beautiful. The point of the song is to make you feel and believe that you are when you sing along.

    It needs to be more about a self realization that you share rather than trying to tell others what to feel. Others will feel it more through your personal own belief in the message of a song when sung from a first person perspective. JMO about what works for me personally.

    In the chat, he mentions that he learned to love himself for who he is. I think that’s the same realization that the original writer of the song came to, and what prompted the writing of this song.

    I’d like to see him sing that song now with all the correct lyrics, including the “I” am beautiful part with that realization in mind. It was always my favorite on the album because of his vocals but, with his new perspective, I’ll bet it would be even better now.

    Someone mentioned Jesus Take The Wheel. The reason that song works is because the singer is telling us Jesus took the wheel FOR HER, not telling us to let Jesus take the wheel in our own lives. She’s simply telling a story of how it happened for her personally. Then she lets you take what you will from it. I’m not sure if I’m putting this the right way but I hope you get what I mean.

    Hopefully his new songs will be written with the first person perspective showing us all he has learned and how it changed him personally while he was away. We could be in for some really, beautifully heartfelt music.

    OK, back to lurking. 🙂

    • Really well said. Thanks.

    • Sorry – one more thing. There is a difference between showing and telling. The best in art allows us to discover the truth for ourselves by awakening something in us, by giving us a personal, emotional experience not by telling us what we should be learning/experiencing.

      I think that’s what you’re saying.

    • Anon (too) Thanks. I think that’s exactly right.

  16. That’s all true, both Anons. And Anon Anon, that’s a good idea to look back at TOSOD, because it really was his most vulnerable. To promote it as something that’s about HIM and his feelings, was a huge risk, because not having it do well, could have been devastating. Maybe it was–I hope not. There was speculation that that was why he went on the mission, rather than plugging along with his career, but I think he dispelled that idea in the chat.

  17. While we’re waiting for new music from D, check out this video of a 9 yr old boy from Japan performing “Slave to the Rhythm”. There are some great artist out there today but I don’t see any of them reaching the iconic status of MJ and Elvis. Enjoy …

  18. Shanny in Australia

    As a young teenager with my first spiritual stirrings, I loved to read and copy out passages from the Bible. One idea that hit me from those days and has always stuck with me, is that a wise man loves correction. Or in other words, is willing to learn from others.
    That’s the spirit I receive David’s inspirational tweets and message songs with. I don’t feel he is being holier than thou, or trying to ‘teach’ me something. I think he is sharing something that resonates with him and/or sharing something that he has benefited from in his life. I love learning from the experiences of others, both good and bad, both young and old, because they save me from making certain mistakes in my life and they show me how to live a more full life. I don’t believe I have all the answers to everything and I don’t think David has them either but I’m open to listening and learning and hearing and being inspired.

    • Shanny in Australia

      Also, David may share something he’s learnt….and due to the natural evolution of things, his view may not be as rounded or matured or complete or even as tempered as someone else’s understanding of that same principle but I think there is still something to learn from people who are still ‘evolving’ in their maturity.

      • Shanny…I agree with much of what you said. Thank you for sharing your personal spiritual side as well.

  19. Shanny, ITA with your thoughts when you say, ” I don’t feel he is being holier than thou, or trying to ‘teach’ me something. I think he is sharing something that resonates with him and/or sharing something that he has benefited from in his life.”

    IMO, there a number of fans who find it hard to accept that David, who is so much younger than they are, can actually have insights and awareness about life that they don’t have. To them, it’s OK to view him as they would view any young man i.e. handsome, sexy, adorable, funny……, but the notion that David might actually be “wise” is seen as pushy, preachy, or, worst yet, proselytizing. I’ve seen posts by some people indignantly stating that they do not need to be taught anything by David. It insults them that David would presume to even think that he can teach older,self defined wiser people, who are, after all “only here because of his Voice”. They opine,” who does this whippersnapper think he is trying to teach Me about life.” These are the same people who repeatedly posted on fan sites that David should be grateful to have any fans since he dared to take the independent action of leaving his career to follow his heart without consulting first with the fans who “made his career happen”.

    David is an example of how to live a live of purpose and integrity. He teaches by example. I have learned much about myself just by paying attention to this remarkable young man. Anyone, of any age, who doesn’t think they can learn something from David Archuleta is a damn fool.

  20. Bliss…the depth of admiration and love and loyalty you bravely and openly pour out from your heart and soul truly impresses me, makes me feel lucky to be exposed to your emotions towards him. And i think anyone who is the recipient of such feelings from you is a very lucky person. David in my view, after seeing his video ,Called to Serve, and viewing the chats in Spanish and English, is indeed remarkable and deserving of such praise. I cannot hear the music that I don’t see inside his heart. And while i don’t always agree with all you say or even how you say it, when you express your devotion to David, I feel I can see a part of your heart as well. And that is a blessing to me on many levels. Thank you.

  21. Carol, I thank you for those kind words. I admire David because he has earned it, over many years. We have all seen the many kindnesses he has visited upon people from all walks of life, and he has done so with a quiet and selfless dignity that has left me wondering how such a young man can exist on planet earth. We have seen David interact with 7 year old Jonah and 97 year old Edith with the same ease , and have his respect for them returned with the same ease.

    On “Seinfeld”, Jerry’s mother used to say, about Jerry, “Who couldn’t like him?” That’s how I feel about David.

  22. Shanny, Bliss , and Carol, your comments about David are spot on and totally resonate with everything I love about David as a person and an artist. It’s all about his heart , honesty, and humility. David is not self centered, he is other centered. What he sings comes from his heart and experiences, which he in turn wants to share with others. I don’t believe he will ever just focus on himself. He has shown this in everything he has said and done over the last few years. He believes his talent is a gift from God to share and benefit those who wish to hear him sing. If this seems “preachy”, boring, and out of touch to people then so be it. There are lots of talented singers out there , like JT, Bruno Mars, ect. But for me there is just no one else like David. His voice,personality, and cuteness is what made me a fan. Who he is as a person will keep me his fan. HG thanks for keeping this fan sight open and giving us a place to talk about this awesome young man.

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