Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Marked by Music

I have a little activity I like to do in a small group setting that usually results in an encouraging display. I give everyone a Sharpie marker and ask them to make a mark on every person's hand in the group. It could be initials, a smiley face, etc. In the end each person should have as many marks on their hand as there are people in the group. Once this is complete, I explain how all of us have been "marked" by others in our life in some way, and we carry that mark with us. This then leads to an opportunity for the group to share how each other has marked them. It always seems to have a good effect. My current job is pretty boring, but the upside of it is that it gives me lots of time to think. So I've been thinking about how I have been "marked" by various influences. I started with music, and tried to list some significant works that had a huge impact on me. This is not a "I recommend" list, because it may not be the enduring quality of the music that was influential, but rather the point along my journey when I encountered it. Here are my top 5: 1. Styx - Crystal Ball (LP) Released in 1976, I'm 13 yrs old. This record actually belonged to my sister, but when she wasn't around, I would put it on the hi-hi and crank it to eleven. It was my first experience of having music make me feel something, almost drug-like. The music took me somewhere. I was hooked. " me loud, don't you worry 'bout your neighbors, hope I make you feel good all day long..." 2. John Rutter - Requiem In 1989, I opted to take choral music instead of music history in seminary. Two hours of singing once a week with no homework sounded better to me than three hours of lecture, plus tests. Rutter's Requiem was our material. I was ambushed by the beauty. There were many rehearsals where I was moved to tears, which was a little embarassing and hard to try and explain. 3. Dennis Jernigan - I belong to Jesus (CD) When I was in college, several students found their way to Western Hills Baptist Church in Oklahoma City. But I was warned of that place being charismatic, because of some guy named Jernigan who led worship that was a little touchy-feely. So I never went. Around 1993, I came across this album, and I recognized the name. I finally saw what I had been allowed to miss. His music was so intimate, and was forever marked by it. 4. David Gray - White Ladder - (CD) Released in 1999. I bought this before my trip to China. This is before the days of iPod, so I kept the disc sealed until I got on the plane. His songs struck a chord with me as I was entering a dark time of life. I listened over and over again. "It takes a lotta love, to keep your heart from freezin', to push on to the end." 5. Moby - Play (CD) Given to me by a co-worker in 1999, this introduced me to the world of electronica, in which I am totally immersed now. Moby combined lyrics of old spiritual songs into modern electronic beats and sounds. Many a night was spent chilling in deep space with this disc. It influence the way I make music now.

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