Friday, January 31, 2014

Stones of Remembrance: the Song

Once -- there was a tune and everyone knew how it went
But as time went by, people began to forget
Until at last no one could remember.
(The Tune - Larry Norman)

Music has always been a magnet for my soul. And a source of influence, whether life-giving or death-dealing, because music is powerful. And as a life-long musician, it's obviously an outlet for creative expression and just a whole lotta fun.

But as a Stone of Remembrance -- those markers in our spiritual journeys which represent crucial turning points -- it's hard to point to certain bands or albums, because music continues to be an influence in both large and small ways.

But when the mail arrived yesterday, bringing me a copy of the very first Christian album I ever owned, it got me thinking about the significant impact of music on my life as a young Christian.

Love Song:
Feel the Love

Keith Green:
No Compromise

Resurrection Band:
Awaiting Your Reply

The album that arrived yesterday was Love Song's Feel the Love. It's a very mellow folk/rock album with a couple of songs that are glaringly and (almost) inexcusably country. It's actually somewhat amusing that I liked this album as a young Christian, when my taste at the time was more along the lines of Led Zeppelin and Rush.

But the lyrics... With few exceptions, their lyrics were profoundly crafted and ran the gamut from devotional to testimonial to worship. And because it's a live album, there were short messages sprinkled throughout which functioned as mini-discipleship moments whenever I listened to it. I didn't even really know what "worship" music was, but I remember being profoundly moved by Sometimes Alleluia.

Shortly afterwards, I discovered Keith Green's No Compromise. Now, believe it or not, I had no idea who Keith Green was at the time, or what kind of music he played; he might have been the leader of a barbershop quartet for all I knew. But the artwork was so perfectly suited to the title of the album, I thought 'this guy has something to say', and so I bought the album. Again, it was nothing like Zeppelin or Rush, but the power and passion of Keith's music and uncompromising message immediately won me over.

And then along came Resurrection Band's Awaiting Your Reply. Music that I loved to play on the stereo and on stage with some of my earliest Christian bands (for the curious: we did Waves and Awaiting Your Reply). And in addition to their hard-hitting lyrics and rockin' music, Resurrection Band also sang about justice issues. And put their money where their mouth was, living in the ghettos of Chicago with the people they were reaching out to on a daily basis.
Wendy and I actually went to Chicago (twice -- during Wendy's first pregnancy) and were seriously praying about joining their ministry. God surprised us (yet again) by leading us to pastoring on Vancouver Island instead. Mysterious ways, indeed.
But it's intriguing today, as I listened to these albums -- on iTunes instead of the original vinyl; it's the 21st century, after all -- to note how much influence these musicians had on my early Christian life. I played the original vinyls until they were scratchy and popping like breakfast cereal, and was discipled by a collection of songwriters that in most cases I've never met. I'm so greatly indebted to their influence in my life.

And I sincerely hope that today's young people are also finding artists who can encourage and disciple through their music. Everyone needs their own Stones (and Songs) of Remembrance.

1 comment:

  1. I remember Love Song's very first album simply titled "Love Song'. I listened to 'Little Country Church' and 'Two Hands' and 'Welcome Back' over and over again and even learned some of the guitar parts. It was definitely one of the more significant collections of stones/songs of remembrance for me. Also Appalachian Melody by Mark Heard and of course 'In Another Land' by Larry Norman.