I Hate Christmas Music! (…sort of)

Ok so, maybe saying I hate Christmas music goes a bit too far, but there IS something I thoroughly dislike about how we, collectively, engage with Christmas music.

Before we get to that though I have to say I really didn’t grow up spending a ton of time in advent church services. I didn’t sing a lot of carols growing up either. People who know me though know that I have a hard time being satisfied with going halfway. I grew up in a family that lived by the mantras: “if you decide to do something you should do your best at it” and “Don’t be satisfied with mediocre.”

Similarly, I’ve believed that truly “good” art leaves a mark on its audience. It changes lives in a way. It’s not just…well…background music. And let’s be honest that’s mostly what Christmas music is. Isn’t it?

We decorate cookies, wrap presents, open presents and even shop for presents while listening to someone’s best Spotify Christmas music playlist. That can be fun. I get it. Buuuuut…

Isn’t that the same as making a beach music playlist and going to the beach? Actually a beach music playlist is pretty analogous and is ripe with potential to annoy me in a similar way. Now, I wouldn’t be sitting there in my bathing suit upset on my beach towel, but hear me out…

On a beach music playlist someone is likely to incorporate Bob Marley tunes like “Jamming”, “Buffalo Soldier” or “Could You Be Loved” and then have it serve as background music to a lovely beach day. On one hand this is perfectly normal to do. Right? Why would anyone object to that? Well, my issue with it is that these songs are culturally subversive and revolutionary. They’re not only technically good for a number of reasons, but the style was innovative historically and the lyrics were meant to be chewed on and thought about. There's so many things to find interesting in Bob Marley's music. I love that!

His music was meant to be the cry of a revolution not the background music to a beach hang. I think similarly Christmas music (if it’s any good) is filled with lyrics that tell of a miracle. They tell of a God who becomes a baby that becomes a man who has subversive and revolutionary teachings and ultimately dies for his cause and for his people. This shouldn’t just be background music should it?

Would you hang Picasso’s “Guernica” up in your bathroom as bathroom art? Ha! No way. You hang up some print of a random boat painting. That’s bathroom art. You don’t want to challenge your guests to ponder the meaning of life on your toilet. You just want to give them fresh, positive vibes while they…you know…do their business.

If this all comes off in a way that makes you think, “Geez, Dave is a real complainer.” I’m ok with that. Really, I am. I love chewing on good art and I really want to feel and taste and truly know what it means if God truly came to Earth. Like I said before, if I'm going to pursue the truth then I won't be satisfied going halfway.

I mean, if it’s all not true and the best thing about the whole season is just getting presents and drinking some nog to some nostalgic snowy time jams then I guess background music suits us best. But if we really believe this stuff then it would make sense to stop and think, meditate, pray, even sing at the top of our lungs together and really engage with all that connects to the heart of the Gospel…generosity, forgiveness, showing love and peace when it makes no sense…you know that kind of stuff.

Now, as I’ve wrestled once again with my Christmas music frustration. This time around in December 2017, of course I realize there’s much crazier, more sinister things going on in the world. There's much more serious things to worry about than whether it’s appropriate to play some Christmas songs as background music, but this time around I think something has changed in my overall outlook.

I have two kids now, 7 year old boy and 3 year old girl.  I’m older and wiser. I see now that some people don’t leave their mark on the world by going out and doing the seemingly most revolutionary thing that gets a ton of attention, the fame, the glory! Some people leave their mark on the world by cooking meals day in and day out for their families to give them sustenance and keep them healthy. Some volunteer with the elderly. Some have devoted their lives to protecting their fellow citizens or researching cures for disease.

Sometimes the longest lasting and most effective way to have an impact on the world is a quiet persistence of just doing the right and good thing over and over and caring for the people around us…which strangely enough sounds a lot like what Jesus called his followers to…and in a way kind of seems similar in effect to I guess what you could call “good” background music…hmmm…well, that’s frustrating.

 

On Finishing My Debut Worship Record

I did it. I finally finished this record! Okay, so I made some EP’s with bands and a couple full length albums through my teens and early 20’s and I’ve done some projects through the church even, but this is the first worship project I’ve ever done with all original songs that was self funded, self promoted, self coordinated, self…yeah!

I loved doing it. I really hope I get to do it again! All of the stars kind of had to align for this to happen. It ended up being the perfect timing in life to do it too. It didn't come without some sacrifice though. I spent a lot of hours working on songs and getting them ready, coordinating musicians/good friends’ schedules and just trying to squeeze the most out of every second we had when we had the mics live.

Several times I wondered if I was crazy for spending so much time and money to record, but ultimately and over and over again I decided that writing is a part of who I am and these meaningful lyrics were important to the culture I wanted to express to the world around me - the people in my life. Hearing my own kids sing the “Fruit of the Spirit” and seeing them get that it wasn't just a song or something from the Bible, but that it's a part of what Dad's about... It's what our family is about ...or at least what we try to be about ("Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-Control ohh wooah").

I have yet to find a medium more inspiring for me personally than that of music. For someone like me that has a very active mind and is constantly trying to think about the "big picture" it’s a great challenge to bottle up those thoughts into a strict syllable allotment and rhyming pattern. It helps me absorb and understand some pretty deep thoughts even more so as I wrestle and wrangle them down with pen and paper.

I really want to complete a novel one-day and I’d love to write for film, but I still believe music has a culture to it that’s unique all to itself.  Even if you don’t think of yourself as a “big music fan” you probably still get songs stuck in your head and from time to time find yourself thinking about a lyric or at the very least maybe let a groove and a catchy melody serve as the background theme to a party, housework or other stuff ...you know that you do with your time. Ha! In some way I think the songs of our lives serve as the fabric of our existence. They are telling of the mantra of our days.

Maybe I’m being too lofty going there, but then again maybe it’s just my inner artist showing. I think we all have an inner artist with some big dreams and expectations that many times gets quieted for the sake of things we just have to do because life is hard and there's just stuff we got to do you know? Still, I think everyone has something to offer creatively to the culture around them and for right now this is what I have to offer. These songs are dear to my heart. I’ve slaved over them and each one has a message of hope and love that I want to permeate my life and the lives around me.

They represent what I’ve come to believe about God and what I’ve come to value in my life. The record is available virtually anywhere anyone is used to finding music and if you see me face to face I’ll just give you one. Please, tell anybody you think might be interested in hearing it! I really just want to share my art with the world and hopefully inspire others to make something else that matters to them. I love that art can give us a window into each others' souls like nothing else can. So, yeah, if you’ve had a thought that maybe you’d try your hand at this or that or you’ve been meaning to work on some project I say make time for it and get after it! You never know whose life you might effect or who else you may inspire and plus …it’s so fun!

Thanks to everyone who helped me in the process and I hope you enjoy the record!