a rose by any other name…

So, I love music… I love all sorts of music (and yes, I have an appreciation for old country and rap), and I have been really blessed to be in a couple of different bands over the years. One of the most fun and difficult things about starting a band is figuring out what you are going to call yourselves as a collective… what will be your identity as a band? How will people know the group as a group? And it can be fun…

But bands can come up with some seriously messed up names.

As I thought about this I took a look through the old iTunes library to see some of the bands I have on file, and then I browsed through the iTunes music store to find the kings and queens of the ridiculous band names (actually ‘Kings and Queens of the Ridiculous’ is not a bad band name)… Anyway, so here are ten that I found in no particular order that I think are kinda crazy from different genres (though the rock/alt genre gets more play from me) and different decades. And, because there are literally billions of unsigned, unpublished musicians out there with crazy names, I am limiting to those that have produced a record on some sort of label. (editor’s note: Because this is a faith-based blog I have to say that just because these bands are on the list does not mean I endorse them, their message, or their music)

1. …And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead
The ellipsis is actually part of the band name, and no, they are not a thrash, death metal band, which makes the name all the more quirky.

2. Panic! At the Disco
I give credit to any band that puts punctuation in the name.

3. Blue Oyster Cult
Classic. Maybe one of the definitively great band names of this decade.

4. Three Dog Night
Again. Classic. Mama Told Me Not to Come is great!

5. Kajagoogoo and Limahl
80s greatness. I’m not sure if this name is actually related to the band members’ names, but it’s on the list because Kajagoogoo is funny to say!

6. Hootie and the Blowfish, Red Hot Chili Peppers, The Goo Goo Dolls
Because there are so many, kinda weird, but not quite “out there” band names from the 90s I’m combining these together.

7. Chumbawamba
I rest my case.

8. Strawberry Alarm Clock
Psychedelic band from the 60s with great songs like Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow.

9. Death Cab for Cutie
Indie rock for the kids.

10. Fat Boy Slim
Praise You is a great song, and great for running really fast.

So, what is with these names seriously? I mean, even the normal band names aren’t really that normal… Coldplay, U2, The Beatles, The Rolling Stones… Now, some of them have interesting back stories, some come from nights of inebriation, others are really just three or four randomly selected words that happen to fit together like a game of Mad Libs. I have been in bands that have had very strange names, and if you ask nicely I’ll tell you, but I’m not going to totally throw myself under the comedy bus… but trust me, it’s good.

No matter what the reason a band name gets chosen, the fact is that the mention of a band name alone can bring up memories of songs, high school dances, long drives, family struggles, and on and on to those that are fans. The identity of the band is so strongly tied to its name.

For us, even though technically our parent’s give us our names, God understands how names can tie in closely with our identities. For me, my name is Zachary, and it comes from the Hebrew word which means “God remembers,” and that has always stuck with me, whether I felt close to the Lord or not. My wife’s name is Julia, which means “youthful spirit”. If you know Jules then you know that fits her bright personality well.

I understand that in our modern day, we don’t name our children based on meaning and that’s okay. We name based on family names, names we like the sound of, names of our favorite authors, names of our favorite television characters, etc.

Regardless of our given names God already has us named. Throughout the Bible God renames people to tell the story of His actions in that person’s life… Abram to Abraham, Joshua to Israel, Simon to Peter, Saul to Paul… Jesus was given his name specifically and for a real purpose. And for us, God has done and will do the same things.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To him who overcomes, I will give some of the hidden manna. I will also give him a white stone with a new name written on it, known only to him who receives it. – Revelation 2:17

But the question is: what is the big deal about getting a new name?

In God’s economy our names are tied directly to our identities, and He is in the business of restoring our identities. Many of you probably don’t feel good about yourselves. Maybe you feel like going by the name of Failure, Unloved, or Unlovable. Maybe you feel like your name should be Ugly, Dirty, Tired, and so far from God that He can’t possibly hear you.

But the truth, is that is not your actual identity in Christ. In Jesus Christ, we have the name Loved, Forgiven, Free, Righteous, Child, Friend, and the list goes on and on. The Bible is full of promises to us that seek to show us how God actually sees us. The way we see ourselves it comes straight from Satan who lies to us to keep us in our guilt and sin.

We simply can’t live the way God longs for us to live unless we understand that in Him and through Him we have the power to overcome our current condition, and in Him and through Him we are loved beyond any measure we can hope for. And here’s the beauty part, God has taken the initiative to write that new name for us, and notice in Revelation that name is written on stone, not paper, not even in a computer, but on something that is substantial and permanent, something that cannot be lost.

on the subject of band names… if you know the back story of any of these band names, or have a seriously weird band name, post it here…

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