Monday, May 12, 2008


I know that a key part of my ability to lead worship in my church is to listen to and find new music... or is it???? I have been a song writer in the past but it was something that just happened. The Lord inspired me, gave me words regarding scripture, things that were happening in my life, etc. It was not something that I sat down and did like a job. Well there were a few times when Chris Caraway and other friends (David McElveen, Tom Baker (T), Annie Gipson, etc..I hope no one gets mad) and I sat down with the intention to write a song...about a play we had in mind doing or for a group of new confirmands but so many times it was just something that came to me. It was usually when I had some time alone. I also know listening to music influences the ability to write.

Long drives to meetings... back when I used to have to go out and deliver (thank God that doesn't happen any more) those were times when I seemed to be blessed with inspiration from God. It put me in a habit of driving whith my radio or CD player OFF. My mind and my heart would reflect on God and God's work.

I've also been a person that usually does not listen to more than 3 or 4 artists at a time. When I was young(er)... ZZ TOP, Jimmy Buffett, Jerry Jeff Walker. Not a ton of chart topping musicians there in that group.. at least not when I started listening to them. But that was pretty much the 3 artists I listened to in college... throw in some Foreigner, Van Halen, SRV, Ray Wiley Hubbard, Gary P. Nunn...oh yes.. I did have my infatuation with E.L.O. for a while too, but most of the time I listen to just 3 or 4 groups/artists at a time.

Then comes MTV (yes I am pre MTV) and ZZ TOP becomes huge. I hear not too long ago that Jimmy Buffett is some kind of huge country music star and has actually put out an award winning song. JJW is still not a huge star although he has written a huge song (Mr. Bojangles)..yeah he wrote it.

With all of that, I usually listen to any of their older stuff... that's what happens to people that are not young(er) any more. I listen to K-FOX now and again to hear what the students listen to but it really doesn't sink in... (I do love "Hey There Delilah").. I know it's old and stuff but the melody and the chorus just says I love you like I want to say I love you to my wife.. ahh.. go ahead, make fun of me... anyway......

With all this, it makes it hard for least it is against my nature... to listen to a lot of music. I savor music. I hear things the 23rd time that I didn't hear the first 22. I listened to Third Day's "Offerings" CD a lot... and I mean a lot before "Love Song" suddenly kicked me in the gut and had me crying as I was driving down the road. I like listening to contemporary christian music. I like worship music. I liked Crowder when hardly anyone listened to him.. years before he was on the radio. I like Mercy Me.. not near as much as I used to. They haven't done anything to me.. it's not their fault. I loved them before they were signed to a label and were gigantumongous rock stars. But I still love to listen to "Worship Project" a lot. I love listening to my old passion CD's.. a lot. They still make me feel closer to God. I love Chris Tomlin and Matt Redman. Heck I still listen to Among Thorns.

By the way this would be an appropriate time for me to give credit to Chris Caraway for turning me on to all this great stuff before hardly anyone else knew who they were. Thank you Chris!

All this leads to a couple of things....

Does worship music get old? It seems that worship leaders are always looking for and gobbling up new worship music like it was mom's apple pie. I realize the need for fresh music but I get intimidated by the fact that I like to do music that is 5 to 10 years old and I look at other worship leaders song sets and I don't do anything like they do.

How do I do a better job of finding new fresh music without putting my congregation in to culture shock? I still love Crowder... most of his stuff works at youth and I do love some of his slower stuff for the main service but no doubt there is a lot that is not doable for me in my main church setting. I have subcribed (as you can see from my "listening to" blocks to the right over there) to vineyards music club to try and help me expand my horizons a little but I have to say... with a 4 minute ride to work each morning and a 4 minute ride home... a full and I mean FULL time job at FedEx along with my part time duties at my church. I have a hard time digesting new music... (remember how long it takes me to get in to some music...most music... I bring up Third Day's "Love Song" again). How do I find new stuff to do without turning it in to a detestable excercise that makes me want to turn my radio "off" and listen to God in the quiet of it all??? Or the road noise of it all?

Anyway.. I want to know more, but it's also against my nature and the way I operate. I mean look at traditional worship!! They have books folks. 600 something pages of stuff they do over and over and over...and usually do only a small section of that.

My life is "rich and full" as I like to say which means I'm buried most days. I don't want my listening pleasures.. what few I have... to turn in to drudgery. I like doing "Not to Us" and "Let it Come", "Forever", "Sweet Wind" and "It's all about You (Jesus, Lover of my Soul) with a "Rain Down" thrown in there for a little spice. (Rain Down is actually an old song too... but was re-released on Crowder's "Remedy" CD.. I love it!!)



Todd Wright said...

First off, kudos. You're much a cooler guy for taking your time in choosing songs. So many worship guys are so adept at plugging anything and everything into their services that the congregation begins to feel as if they don't even matter.

I think you're also touching on something all of us have feared for some time - that the worship music being released by record labels is gradually becoming less and less of a resource to churches who, you know, worship.

And third, I think what may end up happening is that you start writing songs for your church. I know it's hard and there's very little time for it. But sometimes the best thing to do when you can't find a song is to just write it yourself.

I also think you guys might enjoy some of the stuff from Indelible Grace out of Nashville. Don't know if you've heard it. It's cool...kinda' mellow, but I think your team and your church would dig it.

Artie said...

Thanks for the feedback. It means a lot coming from you. I'll give Incredible Grace a try. Do you suggest a particular CD to start with from IG?
Writing again? I'd love to. I would have to be very intentional about that if it were going to happen now. Maybe that's what needs to happen. Hmm.. when????

Todd Wright said...

I'll tell you a great way to get the creative juices flowing.

It's a site called Here's the deal.

It's a fiction site. You log on and write a story. The catch? You can only write 1024 characters. Yeah. Which means you're writing little fictions, aka, "ficlets."

The cool part is that you can write your own stories, prequels or sequels to other folks' stories, or they can write prequel/sequels to yours.

It's a fast way to be creative. Signing up is weird, because you have to get a free Typepad account to sign in. It's a bit of a hassle, but worth it - it really gets my writer's voice going!

Artie said...

That sounds pretty cool. I'll have to give ficlets a try. Going to have to stake a night out each week for this kind of stuff. That is the hard part for me. Just trying to find some down time.. some "sabbath" is the tough part much less all the rest. I appreciate you're advice and help.

I've noticed you've got all your stuff on CCLI but no chord charts. Is it an additional charge for lead sheets, chord charts etc? I looked in to CCLI a few years back but have never gone through with putting my old stuff on there. What is that whole thing like?

Todd Wright said...

CCLI only posts chords as a part of "Song Select." Song Select is really for the top 100 or so songs (or something like that.) They don't let everybody put chords online.

Of course, you can always find my stuff at (Or just shoot me an email and I'll be happy to hand them over!)