Beck Spills Some Musical Truth

“It’s never for the glory, it’s for the satisfaction of blowing up a gig. a lot of people are satisfied with a video. Those who aren’t satisfied with a video will buy the album, and then there’s a few who get the album who will go to the show. That’s where it’s human beings, and that’s what we live for. That’s where it gets sick. If it’s all on video or all on record everything is proper and everyone is minding their manners. We like to get in there and cause a commotion. That’s music; that’s the way it’s meant to be.” Beck.

I love this quote. It actually came off of a show called Sessions at West 54th that used to air back in the 90s. It featured really great bands and musicians  playing absolutely live and in the round. It was an intimate venue that allowed great artists to put killer abilities on display.

At some level I will always be a live musician. I used to be intimidated by the studio, but got over that fear (thanks to a lot of work with a metronome, amongst other things), but it still always comes down to the live event, the exchange of sweat and blood and volume and energy that happens when you’re just pouring it out on a stage, and people are soaking it up and nodding their heads up and down and moving with energy. It’s always great to just let the moment take you, to throw aside perfection in favor of the power of a moment.

That’s still where it’s at.

What Beck Can Teach Us About the Bible and the Mission of God

Beck’s latest record, Song Reader, is a phenomenal example of innovation and new thinking in music-making in the 21st century.

You see, Beck released Song Reader not as a CD, or a download, or even vinyl, but as sheet music.

That’s so Gutenberg!

Let me be clear: Beck released Song Reader with the intention that the actual performance of the songs would be carried out by people who bought the music. They would determine the character of the songs, based on his suggestions and music (folks could then submit their performances).

It’s a lesson about so much: not only about how we used to consume music (sheet music used to be enormously popular in the early 20th century) but about what art actually is and where it “resides.”

But I’d like to suggest that Beck’s idea can teach us something compelling about the Bible.

N.T. Wright uses this great analogy about how the Bible for us is sort of like a script to a great play without a written ending. We’re stuck, right now, in the gap between what’s written and the ultimate fulfillment of our story (in Revelation 21).

And, as Wright puts it, it’s up to us to improvise. 

Now, we don’t improvise in a way that is inconsistent with what’s written before; but we also don’t simply repeat the earlier acts. We symbolically “write” our own stories into the play, knowing that eventually the whole thing is going to be resolved by Jesus.

In this same way, Song Reader reminds us that we have the opportunity to take the “song” that’s been given to us—the command to love God and love others—and perform it in new and compelling ways.

Our song may not sound like everyone else’s; it’s really not supposed to.

It’s supposed to be our “performance” of what’s been given to us.

Are you singing? Are you playing?