Random Thoughts From the California Desert

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:

Andrew Peterson

Rich Mullins

Chris Rice

Bob Bennett

Fernando Ortega

Bebo Norman

Michael Card



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7 responses to “Random Thoughts From the California Desert

  1. Gal220

    Hi Sarah, my name is Ruth. I was at the conference you were at here in CA. What do you think about Steven Curtis Chapman, The Benjamin Gate, Caedman’s Call or Jennifer Knapp? I realize they may be much more main stream which my constitute an opinion of them as not having much depth but I have found myself turning to their music to allow God to lift me up, convict me and to simply usher me into His presence. Oh, and Nichole Nordeman!

  2. Tuesday's Child

    Yes, those are definitely going to make my completed list. Each one writes songs that have depth and creativity. But I don’t know Benjamin Gate…?

  3. blackbeltkat

    Hey Sarah, I think that it is often not so much the artist, but the song writer that can make something “good music”. Look at some of the country music songs, the lyrics are so moving and beatiful, but sometimes it is the performance of the song that is lacking. Just look at some of the secular music, some of it seems more spiritual than what is played on a “Christian” radio station. Another artist to add to your list: Rebecca St. James! Sarah, I can’t wait to see you in a week!!!! YAY!! Love you!~Katrina

  4. Gal220

    When you get a chance, check them out. They are a band from South Africa. They have a very unique sound. I think their sound is referred to as ‘industrial rock?’ The depth of their music is accentuated by Adrienne’s voice and the band’s passionate sound and lyrics.

  5. Tuesday's Child

    Hey there, I can’t wait to see you too! Good point about the performance, it goes with the writing theory, because if you really love and are passionate about what you are singing about, then it is going to be a song full of depth. Can’t wait to see you!
    Also, I’m looking up Benjamin’s gate Ruth, thanks!

  6. eucharisto

    I’d like to add a couple (or a few)!
    Steven Delopoulos, with his views on our daily lives, interwoven with his unique traditional greek sound.
    Then of course, there’s Jars Of Clay, the ever-changing group of four, who write with in a thoughful, questioning way. And then there’s Sam Phillips, someone who doesn’t get half enough attention. A very eclectic writer who sees deeply into the emotions of our lives. I also appreciate the musical genius of DC Talk, while they lasted. They were so convicting, but in a thoughful way. Oh, and Mark Schultz, with his fascinating story songs. I know there’s someone I’m forgetting, but oh well.

  7. fa-so-la-la

    How about Nickel Creek? Their first CD is on my top 10 list, although the last two have not been as good. 😦 They are Christians, but it is understated and only clearly evident in a couple of songs that I can think of. Their song writing quality is amazing, and their albums for the most part are happy and thoughtful, which is a relief in the gaggle of ‘in love and misrable’ songs out there. Why oh why can’t bluegrass artists just be HAPPY for a change? 🙂

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