Yesterday was difficult. I was asked again and again to rethink chord choices and melodies, to ask myself if what I’d written was the most artful it could be. And my answer? No. And I’m OK with that.
There’s a subculture of brilliant Nashville musicians who are rebelling against being at-all “commercial” or “CCM” or whatever they call what’s on the radio and selling well. Their thinking, as expressed to me, is often that making “art” communicates that God is the Artist – creative, skilled, beauty. And making something commercial – often offering little to nothing new musically or lyrically in their opinion – is to communicate that God is less than this.
What if there is more to say about God than “He’s The Artist”? What if “Artist” is not only just part of who He is, but not the greatest part by far?
If God is more than “Artist” then maybe when I sit down to write a song my primary goal shouldn’t always be to make “art” (whatever that is to me this week). Because making art can, and often does, get in the way of clearly communicating anything about God beyond His beauty. In a way that is actually heard.
Effective communication requires hearing. It requires that I not only send out a message but that my message is heard. By another human being. Preferably one who doesn’t already think like me. One who listens long enough to hear.
I was explaining to Mitch The Producer yesterday that to me much of the world is on fire. Millions need rescue – food, education, medicine, Jesus. I’m yelling “Fire!” through my music. It’s very important that this message get through to potential rescuers. So on the one hand I’m not speaking Icelandic – very few people know that language. But, on the other hand, others have been yelling “Fire” for so long that the word has lost it’s meaning and is easily ignored these days. So I struggle to find the lyrical and musical language on each song that makes clear there is a fire, but language that does so in such a way that draws people in to listen.
And I don’t think an atonal masterpiece in 5/4 time does that for my intended audience. Nor does G, C, D, and E minor on every track. I’m praying for something in between.