Week of Music '13
In what has with this post become an annual tradition, I will be taking the next week to talk about something dear to my heart: Art. By art I mean the vast array of options available to the imagination: music, visual arts, poetry, prose, etc. Last time I spent a bit more time complaning about the sorry state of the poetic among people who claim Jesus. This time around I'll do less complaining (with the exception of today's post) and more pointing toward a few people who I think are doing a whiz-bang job at creating music and such that cuts past pretensious faith and pat answers. If you want to get some listening in before I get started I highly recommend (as you will find out), Andrew Osenga's "Leonard the Loneley Astronaut." Lyrically I found it exceptional, musically it shows all the signs of what happens when a guitar for hire makes his own record; so of course as a guitarist I loved it. If we have any sort of similar taste you'll love it (and no one paid me a dime to say that).
So here is my primer for next week.
I am under the growing conviction that we have impoverished ourselves by considering the poetic a second rate means to know God, and as a result, we have often settled for second rate art as the norm. Though I haven't made my living recording albums, I've at least witnessed the fringes of the "Christian" music industry, have friends who have been near the heart of it (one of whom you will hear from); there is even an aquaintance of mine who dated a girl from Out of Eden. Many of those who have been in or near all things creatively evangelical, including voices like Michael Gungor, Steve Taylor (who produced and wrote a bulk of Newsboys' Music), Derek Webb, and even Chris Rice have all leveled remarks that much of CCM has about as much meat and meaning to it as a pop country song. To reitterate what a label rep told me (my paraphrase), "First figure out how to make they money work, how big you'd like to get, then just trust that the ministry will happen along the way."
Though we chose not to work with that label for various reasons, the guy who said that to me was simply telling the truth. I had, and still have a lot of respect for that man and the things he has personally done for God's kingdom. In the little time I knew him, it seemed obvious to me that the 'ministry along the way' was happening. When he said find how to make the money work, he was simply saying that Christians are paying for a certain thing, and as we found out when we (Escaping Yesterday)worked with them, that certain thing had a very specific and repeated sound. Both the artist and the consumer are to blame. You can check out our single 'Walk Away' on iTunes. Then listen to Internet Radio U for a while and you'll hear what that sound was in our specific genre. I feel dirty about that song, it feels like a charade. I wrote the lyrics, but nearly every note in that song was a product of the head honcho at the studio. If you want a radio single (read: anything played on the radio) there is a formula for it. From what I've heard on the radio and from those within the industry, the CCM branch isn't much different, though I there are shining exceptions.
Wait. I thought I was going to do less complaining. I promise, I'm done now.
I'll leave you with the following. A couple of weeks ago I asked for feedback regarding what I could do better on the blog. My favorite response was a question that I'll be asking myself this week regarding art: "What is something that Christians do that is unique and notable?" Since I've done a thorough job of expressing what I think we do poorly, I'll spend next week answering that question.
May He guide you through the wilderness And protect you through the storm. May He bring you home rejoicing at the wonders He has shown you.