I met this morning at Broken Tree in Peoria with Jeff, the recording engineer that will be doing the recording in the studio for us at the end of the month. This was the first time that I have been to Broken Tree, and it’s a pretty cool place. But that’s beside the point. Jeff is from Peoria, though he is about one generation older than me. My primary goal going into the conversation was to somehow make a connection with him through my 18 years of involvement in the Peoria music scene. I’m not exactly sure why. I think I hoped that if I made a connection with him he would give us a good deal on engineer fees or something. My other goal was, apparently, to justify the project even though the songs are church songs.
Why is that?
Why have I felt the need in conversations with the studio/Jeff to apologize for the nature of the project?
Answer: I’m afraid.
My fear is based on my presumption that anyone who is involved in the music scene is detached from or would look down upon my faith and/or my music. Instead of being comfortable with who I am (something that I said I am still trying to figure out previously on this blog), I feel the need to prove that I am legitimately a musician despite the fact that I am also a Christian. I desperately want to be taken seriously despite the content of the music I have written for church. And, even more, I don’t want to be treated poorly because I am recording Christian songs for Christian people.
So, I told Jeff what we were up to, qualifying it as music that doesn’t fit the mold of what he might be familiar with in the world of Christian music. Because, lets be honest, Christian music is incredibly behind all other music – speaking generally. For the most part, especially in mainstream Christian music, bands are simply mimicking pop-music, and often very poorly and very late. I don’t want to be associated with that world, mostly because what I write is not mimicry. However, I have written these songs to be sung in a church community with other people, and the melodies are intentionally accessible, easy to remember and catchy enough to get stuck in your head.
Jeff told me that he has worked with a lot of Christian bands over the years, including a friend who leads worship at Rock Church here in Peoria. He didn’t seem concerned or apprehensive about our project – it’s work no matter what he’s recording after all.
I probably sounded like a confused idiot trying to disassociate from the people I’ve written music for. I’m ashamed of that, honestly. I’m very proud of the music I have written for Imago Dei, my church. I think that the songs are simply good songs despite the content of the lyrics. The lyrics themselves are also something that I am proud of and put together purposefully. My goal with every song is to shape the theology of those singing the songs – because as Aiden Kavanaugh has said, theology is born out of liturgy. My struggle, then, is with how to explain this to people who I perceive to be skeptics. My real problem in talking with Jeff or Matt, the owner of the studio, is to explain this project without it being heard.
Thankfully, I don’t need to have this conversation again. The next time I see Jeff, the music will be able to speak, not me. I’m grateful for that. In the meantime, I think I need to get over my spiritual schizophrenia, and own the fact that I am a Christian who writes songs for Christians. Here’s to hoping.