NEW YORK - There seems to be a strong revival of religious themes in pop songs but it has come with mixed blessing.
Biblical expertise is needed to understand one recently recorded by The Cowsills “The Prophecy of Daniel and John the Diving.” And another recorded by Tammy Grimes – “Father O’Connor” – has been banned by many radio stations because it deals with a love affair between a Roman Catholic priest and a member of his congregation.
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As for The Cowsills’ “The Prophecy of Daniel and John the Divine,” it was tagged by “Billboard” magazine, the record-industry journal, as a sure bet for “top 20” on the record charts. But if teen-agers really want to dig the words, they’ll need a good Biblical exegesis to do the job.
For these are the words to the song”
“And when they saw her rising from the ocean/a name was on her forehead./Babylon; Babylon. / Six is the number, six is the number of a man.
“She was arrayed in purple and scarlet color, and gold and pearls, / and in her hand she held a golden cup.
“It’s been written down to reveal, / six is the number of his seal. / It’s been written to understand, / six is the number of a man.
“Then finally one day, she was cast back into the sea from where she came, so that she would never torment man again.
“It’s been written down in Revelation, / Daniel and John explanation. / If you read it you will find, / it’s a warning for mankind.”
The song touched off some controversy in the music publishing world when “Billboard” suggest that The Cowsills’ recording might be banned by some radio stations because “it deals with the destruction of the world as predicted in the Bible.”
However, Bob Cowsill, 20, eldest of the performing Cowsills, argued that “Prophecy” does not deal with the destruction of the world “but rather with the destructive force within the world and human nature, which has been with us since the beginning, tormenting humanity with wars, greed, vanity and dissension.”
The composer of the song, Remo Capra, said he got his inspiration for the song from the prophecies of Daniel in the Old Testament and from the Apocalypse of the New Testament, specifically: St. John, Chapter 13, Verse 18, where he describes beasts coming up out of the sea and the earth:
“Here is wisdom. He who has understanding, let him calculate the number of the beast, for it is the number of the beast, for it is the number of a man; and its number is 666.”
In “The Prophecy of Daniel” in the Old Testament, there are frequent references to “beasts” as being representative of evil powers. As for the “666” reference in the Apocalypse of St. John, it is believed to be the “number” of the Emperor Nero, when a man’s number” was determined by adding up the various numerical values given each letter of a name in ancient times.
Nero was the first emperor to persecute the Christians and was said to have embodied all the worst characteristics of the Old Testament “beast.”