Well, we’re back from a week in LA, which just confirms the fact that I never actually want to live there, but it’s awfully fun to visit. It’s just like summer out there, the perfect kind of summer, flowers everywhere, warm days, breezy beeches, oh my!
However, to get out there, one has to drive two full days through an eye-catching array of flatlands, prairies, mountains and high desert, which, though incredibly beautiful by turns, can also get incredibly monotonous by hours. Thus, we had ample time for discussion and music, and as it happened, we merged the two on this trip. Having listened to a really talented lineup of our favorite musicians, we got started on the subject of what truly makes some music “artistic and creative”, and why some music seems to lack that extra element of grace.
What sets apart a Rich Mullins, Michael Card, Bob Bennett, Andrew Peterson apart from so much non descript music. My two cents worth of idea was that I think in writing songs, some musicians say what they have heard to be true, i.e., “God is good, God is faithful” (and a thousand variations thereof), and some musicians say what they know to be true from having lived it. And the difference shows in the music thus written, because lyrics that are written from deep understanding and long experience have a depth, a subltely, even a symbolism that lyrics written without a personal understanding will never have.
It’s the difference between the “reckless, raging fury that they call the love of God”, in the words of Rich Mullins, and the blank statement, which I have heard sung a thousand times in various praise songs, “God’s love is amazing”. One has experienced the love of God in a way that shapes and drives the words, the other is simply a general statement.
So who are the true artists? I want opinions, artists and songs. Here’s a beginning list: