This is a bit of rant…
I was on my favorite gear discussion board today, when I noticed a few posts with similar titles: “Post your favorite U2/Praise and Worship Pedalboards”; “Favorite Praise and Worship Overdrive Pedals”; and so on…
Church, what have we become? Where has our creativity, our imagination, our artistry gone?
In 1998, “The dotted 8th” (let the musician understand) was a revelation. It was new, it was majestic and ambient, rhythmic and interesting, and could lay down tremendous beds of comforting sound around a band and worship leader.
That was 13 years ago now, folks. We were absorbed in the sound of U2 because, well, that sound was cresting and peaking. Now, the culture has moved on. U2 is still selling out stadiums, but Arcade Fire, Mumford and Sons and The National are making exciting music now. Why won’t we embrace them as “temple musicians”? Why have we stopped growing?
Yes, U2 is an amazing, even anointed band. Yes, Coldplay is their scrappy sonic younger brother. But we’ve all missed the point, and by missing the point we’ve cheapened U2/Edge’s sonic tapestry as well as the creative element in worship music.
Because what we should really be interested in, musicians, is the way Edge thinks. Not how to rip off his delay tone.
He said once in an interview, “I’m interested in abusing technology.”
Where’s that attitude and approach in our efforts? Have we settled?
We pick and choose the safest parts — we love “Where the Streets Have No Name” (c’mon, I know it makes you cry; I’ll confess: me too!), but we shy away from “Mo Fo” sonically as well as lyrically (even though I’d say that the latter is about an overtly spiritual song as you could find, if you, um, cared to read the lyrics). Feed 3 or 4 fuzz pedals into a Whammy Pedal and hit “Go” … because that type of thinking is where all of this tapestry came from!
But we’d rather figure out how to find the right “Praise and Worship Overdrive Pedal”.
You know what the right “Praise and Worship Overdrive Pedal” is?
The one you can afford. The one you’re stepping on right now.
Because worship music is about incarnation. Which means it’s about God’s intersection with you. With your experiences, your gear, your creativity, with your imagination.
Worship guitarists out there — what are you afraid of? Ry Cooder once said, “Go where it’s dangerous and say, ‘Yes.'”
Go ahead. Step on the pedal; the one that’s “NSFW” (“Not Safe For Worship”). It will be okay (though I didn’t say it would be easy)… Edge would be proud.
And the church, in the long run, will be edified…
Because we still need imagination. Maybe now more than ever.