Sunday, February 22, 2009

Anthem, U2, and Other Thoughts on Music

I've been thinking a lot about music lately.

The Anthem band led worship this weekend at Cornerstone. We tried one of the new songs on Saturday night that had just been written, or rather composed, that day. It's a song called "Take the day" that Ryan Seiler wrote. 

Honestly, it kind of bombed. 

Mostly because I still hadn't figured out the melody line for the bridge and the whole song stretched my range. It will sound much better with an actual vocalist singing it. For those of you that were there on Saturday, trust me, it's really a good song. 

On a semi-related side note: I'm a musical hacker. But I stay up on stage to remind me and everyone else of the great cosmic joke- God is using ordinary people to accomplish His work. 

I'm currently listening to the new U2 album on their myspace page (click here). 

It officially releases on March 3rd. It's classic U2. You never know what they're going to come up with, but they always make it work. It's already growing on me. But I have this policy not to make a final assessment of whether or not I like an album until the fifth time all the way through it. And I've found that the longer it takes me to like something, the longer I end up liking it. So I'm not worried if I'm not immediately hooked. Moreover, if you listen to something long enough, you can like it. I just haven't taken the time for country yet...

After the service this morning, there was some music playing. Bobby (one of our electric players) looked at me and asked, "Do you guys like this?" It was some CCM _______.  The first word I thought of was too antagonistic of a word to use. So there it is, left blank. (CCM= Contemporary Christian Music...basic stuff you'd hear on Christian radio). I'm sure they have good hearts... A couple of us shook our heads in response to his question. He said, "Good."

That led to a discussion on how we will strive to not sound like that. 

Not to say that our music will be totally original. Nothing is. Everything sounds like something else. For example, the first time I heard Coldplay........ 

........hold that thought, I'm just now listening to an incredible solo by the Edge on "Unknown Caller"...........

Back to Coldplay. The first time I heard them I laughed. I thought it was the most ridiculous U2 rip-off I'd ever heard- from his voice inflections to the delay guitar sound. But the more I listened to Coldplay, the less they sounded like U2 and the more they sounded like...Coldplay.

My vision is for God to create a culture of songwriting and musicianship- an outlet to express passion for Jesus through anthem-like melodies that inspire a generation to live Isaiah 26:8 lives.

Another digression... This U2 album is taking me back to the summer of 1997, where I spent most of the summer in Morocco. They recorded this album in Fez. Morocco is a magical place.

Finally, I'm reading a very interesting article from a guy who shadowed them for 18 months as they recorded this album (click here). Here's an excerpt...

What is most intriguing - and, to their detractors, infuriating - about U2 is that they succeeded by ignoring, indeed breaking, most of the unwritten rules of rock stardom. They didn't - with the exception of the pre-rehab Adam Clayton - do sex or drugs and, as their critics pointed out, neither did they really do rock'n'roll. They were not rebellious, nor angst-ridden, nor did they trade on adolescent alienation or anger. Instead, they did joy. And spiritual joy, to boot. This made them unfashionable in Britain, the irony capital of the world, where sincerity, especially sincerity tinged with spirituality, is seen, at best, as uncool, at worst as downright embarrassing.

"One of the reason's for U2's longevity," says Brian Eno, "is that they are not in music for entirely selfish reasons. I don't want to make them appear as evangelists, which, of course, they were seen as by some sections of the music media in the early 80s, but I do believe that they really think that what they do serves some greater purpose than simply filling their bank accounts."


Chris said...

If you listen to the latest Coldplay album you definitely hear U2, mostly because Brian Eno produced it.

I have to say, I had the privilege of experiencing most of the new Anthem songs 5 times this weekend, and I think you've hit gold. We should be very grateful Cornerstone took a chance on hiring Clint.

And I don't think you have to worry about sounding like CCM _______ .

Leah said...

I echo Chris re: Clint, we love that guy.

I can't wait to hear the new stuff. Not sure when that'll be though :( We're happy to support from afar. We should have you come to Core sometime.