The (Christian) Music That Has Shaped Me

So, I’ve been thinking: what if I did a series on the blog about the Christian music that has had a significant influence on my life. Music that shaped me.

If you know me well, you know that I cut my musical teeth in HS Jazz Band. I think I must have had the best band director in the world, Jerry Robinson. The joy and freedom that he brought to our group combined with his high expectations of us just lit my fire. I was immersed in the music of the Stan Kenton bands as well as Buddy Rich, Don Ellis, Maynard Ferguson and others. The complexity and intricacy of the arrangements, along with the fire and energy of the rhythms, plus the freedom and self-expression of the solos…all of that combined to imbed the “big band” jazz form deep in my soul.

Consequently when bands like Blood, Sweat & Tears, Chicago and others came along…well I couldn’t get enough.

But, here’s the thing. I was also serious about my faith. I loved music, and believed it was all from God. Still do. But this was 1968-1971. Christian music? It was choir, hymn, or Southern Gospel.

It left me a bit…dry.

In church, I normally sat with this one buddy of mine. We would sing the hymns with gusto. We would sing whichever part we liked the best. Often the parts we sang weren’t on the page. We would add the 7ths, 2nds, and 6ths that we knew should have been there. The people sitting near us may not have agreed.

But I digress.

Something amazing started happening with Christian music. I realize that the music used in the church has undergone many changes over the millennia, but this is different. Even after a career as a church musician and worship leader, it’s still hard for me to describe what has happened in my generation.

There are churches who like to do some special services they call “Classics” or “Heritage” or some such name. The idea is that they get together and sing the old songs that the old people miss.

Ok. Whatever.

If we did a service like that for me, I would likely want different music. I’m in that awkward stage. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE tons of the modern worship music. Absolutely love it!

But I miss the freshness and life of the earlier and developing Christian music. Music that started pushing the boundaries. Some of those earlier recordings honestly don’t sound very good today. But they moved me. They still do.

This was music that didn’t limit itself to the I, IV, V of Southern Gospel. It also used language and imagery that resonated with me and my generation.

So, starting on Tuesday (4/26) I think I’m going to do a weekly post (until I run out of songs…or endurance) on one song that helped shaped me. Maybe it was a lyric. Maybe it was the instrumentation. Maybe it was just some harmonies that moved me emotionally.

These may be musicians and groups you have heard of. Maybe not. Either way, the individual songs I share are the ones that shaped me in some way, and aren’t necessarily the ones that were the most popular.

I think this will be fun. I hope you do too!



16 thoughts on “The (Christian) Music That Has Shaped Me”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *