"All words are symbols that represent unspeakable realities. Which is also why words are magical." (Donald Miller tweet)

Thursday, September 23, 2010

freaky music

Part of my job is choosing, teaching and leading the music that happens in our services. This is no small task. Gone are the days of a simple choice between Hymn #12 (verses 1, 2 and 4) and Hymn #57 (with optional descant). We only recently re-introduced a few hymns in our evening service which is geared to reflect some of the ancient traditions of the Church. I own the only hymnbook in the entire building.

Those old days are gone, and I am fine with that. But it's way more work now. Today's congregational worship songs cover a vast plethora of styles and skill levels. New "must-have" CDs are churned out every Tuesday, and each year a few hundred dollars from my budget pays for the right simply to project lyrics and print chord charts for all of these songs. Throughout the year, I receive countless recommendations of bands, CDs and songs ... I usually shove them into a "Possibilities" folder and then slog through them all at once, to create a collection of 10-15 songs that we can learn over the next year.

So. Over the past couple of weeks I have listened through multiple CDs - well over 100 songs - by this guy, these people, this dude, this other guy, this gang, this band, these people, and this other one. I assure you, this is not fun. First of all - this isn't really the music I listen to for my own enjoyment. My personal music preferences include this guy, this dude, and stuff like this. Second of all - it's not just listening. It's listening intently, examining lyrics, asking ... "Is this singable? Is it playable? Does it fit our church's style? Does it reflect what we believe? Is it worshipful or just a (very nice) song? Will it help our people to connect with God? Is it covered by our copyright license?" It's hours ... days ... of my life.

It's exhausting. And I gotta tell ya ... eventually my brain starts hearing, "blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah" and I don't like ANY of them anymore, especially the super-earnest ones.

That's the background to this story.

Last night, I begged Spike to listen with me to the greatly-reduced list of 28 songs that I still had to whittle down to 15. It took just under 3 hours. At about song 22, I was cross-eyed and giggly. I looked at the next song on the list, and said, "OK ... I don't know about this one ... it's a slow one, and I don't like it all that much, but others do ... see what you think." I pressed play, and 10 seconds in, Spike (who has very few unexpressed feelings) rolled his eyes and threw himself backwards in his chair. "I know," I said, "but just wait until we get to the chorus." He shook his head and to my utter shock, declared, "I LOVE THIS SONG!"

"What???!!! Seriously???!!!!"

"Patti! It's amazing!! This is an incredible song! Listen to her voice - it's beautiful!"


He sighed in disgust at my obvious lack of taste, and we continued listening. Two-thirds through, I had returned to clinical evaluation mode, saying, "OK, and the rest of it is just more of the same," as I pressed pause and prepared to move to the next song. Glanced up to see my husband, speechless, jaw hanging open, having been completely lost in the wonder of this musical creation that spoke deeply to his very soul. Hastily pressed play again ... and started giggling.

And I couldn't stop.

The song moved on to its passionate peak, and my whole body started shaking with mirth. Tears formed in my eyes as I gasped hysterically, "I'm sorry, I just can't stop ...."

Across the living room, my tattooed, pierced, spiky-haired hard-rock musician love of my life, threw up his arms and hollered, "IT'S PRECIOUS! IT'S PRECIOUS, YOU FREAK! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU????"

I howled. Then he burst out laughing too. When we finally managed to breathe again, we agreed to keep the song, and wisely moved on to the next one.

But when it was all said and done, I played a little of this, just for me.


vjc said...

"IT'S PRECIOUS, YOU FREAK!!" HAHAHAHAHAHA! Patti, this is fantastic!

Anonymous said...



TLC said...

I gotta know...what was the song??!?

Patti said...

Nope, not telling. ;)

Anonymous said...

you R a FREAK...