I caught up with Josh Harmony the day he planned to master a six-song EP of original songs. If you're a Christian, you'll definitely like it. It's called "There's a Rhythm." For you less pious folk, I'll be the first to admit that I find contemporary music with heavy Christian undertones odd at times. But when I heard some of Josh Harmony's songs, I sat there listening to the lyrics, took a step back and listened to Harmony's songs the guitar, the drums, the rhythm for what it was.
Beside it being more folk and less blues, there wasn't much of a difference between his music and all of the blues greats I've always loved Mississippi John Hurt, Joseph Spence, Reverend Gary Davis and the Reverend C.L. Franklin (yes, Aretha Franklin's dad) musicians I could listen to all day, in spite of the fact that they spent more time writing songs about God's glory than backdoor women or searching for meaning at the bottom of a bottle.
So I stopped dwelling on whether I agreed with the theology of Harmony's music and just listened. And, like those Bluesmen, I liked what I heard Josh has got some talent.
Still, in an age where religious ideology is thrust in our faces at times, it's understandable that some people in skateboarding are weary of people like Josh, who ascribe to a faith. And Harmony gets a lot of backlash for his beliefs as he probably will for his music.
But, for the haters out there, I must defer to the master of flipping a subject on its head "South Park" to get another take on the religion conundrum. In Episode 712: All about the Mormons?, after ridiculing the foundations of Mormonism, the final dialogue goes as follows:
"Listen," the Mormon character, Gary, tells Stan, "I just wanted to let you know that you don't have to worry about me trying to be your friend anymore."
"I don't?" Stan replies.
"Look," Gary continues, "maybe us Mormons do believe in crazy stories that make absolutely no sense and maybe Joseph Smith did make it all up, but I have a great life and a great family and I have the Book of Mormon to thank for that. The truth is, I don't care if Joseph Smith made it all up, because what the church teaches now is loving your family, being nice and helping people. Even though people in this town might think that's stupid, I still choose to believe in it. All I ever did was try to be your friend, Stan, but you were so high and mighty, you couldn't just look past my religion and be my friend back. You got a lot of growing up to do, buddy." I can't write it here, because it's dirty and naughty, but then Gary tells him off.
In any case, Harmony is of a much different religion a born-again Christian but his overt Christianity in life and in music have made him somewhat of a lightning rod in the skateboard world. Much like Gary in that South Park episode, Harmony's faith is what works for him it taught him about "loving your family, being nice and helping people." And it has worked: all claims of Harmony being the nicest boy in the world are true, and he has a lovely family with his wife Jenna and son Harrison.
But the beauty is that anyone who doesn't agree with his religious views can still enjoy the things he has had an influence on or the things he has accomplished for what they are his Toy Machine boards, his newest Fallen shoe, The Lotus, any of his video parts (from "Good and Evil" through "Ride the Sky" up to Toy Machine's forthcoming video, set to drop this winter) and now his music in the same way atheists, agnostics or people of other faiths have listened to Delta Bluesmen croon about Jesus for decades...and still enjoyed it.