You can watch the band as they come down the stairs of their private plane from England into the US for the first time, 1967. It is all black and white video. They pop down the stairs and the screaming and hysteria rages. The fans are not even close to where the band walks off the plane to their awaiting limo but it is the mere sight of them that brings them to a point of emotional insanity. They are crying, screaming, fainting. The Beatles were a world phenomenon and there were others. Elvis as an example.
Movies spend millions on each element, each moment of sound associated with the visual story they are trying to tell. Television shows carefully select the theme songs and the volume that plays as they bring their show each week. Some television shows are short lived but the theme song goes forever. Even in the most remote parts of the worlds a popular TV shows theme song will spark a common cord between cultures. How many commercials can you hum the theme song to?
I was watching a random movie recently on Netflix. The film was an award winning movie from the Canes Film Festival. It was filmed on a small island where the true life characters spoke broken English and it took all of my attention to track the story line. But there was a theme that ran through the movie that I though was interesting, it was Michael Jackson. The kids had posters of him and sang his songs in broken English. They tried his dance moves, laughed and played about to the rhythm of his songs in their heads. They were, are, totally drawn into the emotional elements of “Thriller.”
I spent a lot of my youth in a drug induced fog. I am not proud of a lot of the things I did, the way I treated others and my own body. One day while digging through some old boxes of things from back then I found a bunch of ticket stubs. They were the half they give you back as you pass into the event.
The collection includes Led Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd (the original), Pink Floyd and well, there are four frames full. One of the things I remember about back then was the next day I would be so frustrated because I could not recall the concert. I would be so preoccupied by the drugs I would miss the concert going on in front of me. The old saying “I went to a drug party and a concert broke out” fits here.
But the music made an impact on me. I can hear songs from back then and they get stuck in my head for weeks. I Youtube them, whistle them and Itunes them for more. I still have a pretty extensive album collection, not one I listen too but I just can’t seem to sell it or drop it off at Goodwill quite yet. That music moves me to this day.
I had a girl I was head over heels with in my early teens. One day her parents moved them 100 miles away and I was heartbroken. I made up my mind. I put forward a plan to runaway, hop on a bus and go see her. I knew she would be elated. Back then there were no cell phone, no texting, no computers. I think I called her once and found out where she lived and began my planning. It was months before I could get away but I did and rode a Greyhound bus to see her.
I was on pins and needles as I walked through the small town she had moved too and the apartments she lived in. I found her building and her little sister sitting on one of the steps leading up to her apartment. Elton John’s Mad Man Across the Water album was booming from the apartment. I told her hi and was a bit thrown off by the cold hello. When I asked where her sister was she explained she was inside the apartment and that when the music was blaring she was not allowed in. She had a new boyfriend. I was broken. To this day that music affects me in some weird way when it comes on the oldies station. Just something inside.
I spent a lot of years listening to progressive country music. Not a lot of the old classic stuff but the newer stuff with a bit of a rock vibe. The Texas music scene was huge in that realm and I lived in the middle of it so there I began a new list of brain songs. They get me to turn it up when they come on but few have attached to me emotionally.
I don’t remember much music in the Catholic Church growing up. If there was music it was something I ignored with the rest of the service. There was no connection to it except it was part of the much despised forced Sunday event each week. When I found my way into a bible based church I noticed the music was different, there, I actually liked some of it.
The music in those churches began to speak to me, the words moved me. It was a mixed experience of emotion and pleasure. I had one worship pastor who at the end of service, as they played and everyone milled out, he would hit a short guitar solo riff. The worship leader was friggin good and I always lingered behind hoping for a few minutes of rock solo church. And so this is where I have begun my newest and most powerful relationship with music.
The way most churches plan out their music is a few songs up front, maybe one in the middle, then a tune or two at the end. I don’t like to be late rolling into church and not beginning my worship with the musicians. This is where the Sunday service really takes its place in my heart. There are times, plenty of them I just start to pray. I pray for the message, my pastor, the new folks in the chairs that day. I pray to be present with all that I am and not be distracted.
I love it when the music wraps up an inspired message. This last Sunday it was so good. I was in tears as I watched the band play. The music just brought the emotion of the whole message to a peak for me and I loved it. When I can see the band is not just playing music, that they are worshipping through their music in that moment, it brings down the house for me. I have seen Jimmy Page (Led Zeppelin) rip his guitar, I have seen Mick Jagger ( Rolling Stones) bust a stage for 3 hours, Eric Clapton pour out on his Stratocaster and even my hometown boys ZZ Top slinging sweat from under their cowboy hats for two hours of pure, unadulterated Texas rock and roll but nothing, absolutely nothing compares to those moments in church.
I am a pretty consistent runner, Usually when I run I listen to podcasts. But there are times God calls me, tells me to stop and listen to music, His music. I have hit my knees weeping at the running track, I have had to pull over when I was driving, I have been so close to Him in moments of praise and worship through music I had a hard time breathing. So intimate and powerful.
There is no question that in the bible God talks about loving Him through music. For us men, if you are afraid to go there, allow yourself to feel what Jesus says to your heart through worship music, dig deeper. We will jump up out of our chairs yelling and screaming at a sports event but our hands are glued to our sides during worship at church. You only listen to sports radio or some other channel when you are in the car. You get to church late so you don’t have to listen to that loud dang music. Let me suggest there is more to that than the music. You have got something else keeping you from an encounter with God that may makes you vulnerable and open. Dig in brothers. He so desperately wants to know your heart and music can help you get there.
At church this Sunday I was so close to God as the music team was praising Him, sharing their worship with us. This morning as I finished my run and listened to Sanctus Real, “Lead Me”, I was so close to Him. I love those moments. I also love that and I can still have guns, eat meat and listen to The Allman Brothers album Eat A Peach as I write this today. “I aint wasting time no more, time goes by like hurricane, pouring rain, so much faster than”. Rock on, it’s a good day.