Sunday, April 20, 2008

Spine Tingling Barometer [11/21/07]

When I was 16, my cousin Tim, had a dramatic encounter with God. He was a recovering alcoholic, had dabbled in some harder drugs, was a loner by nature, and misunderstood by a number of people. My grandma was the spiritual patriarch of my family, and greatly tried working with him. Most of all, she was a prayer warrior. Sadly, one day, he had a relapse because he could not handle the circumstances around him. To the best of my knowledge, he went off with a bottle of booze and fell asleep on the train tracks not far from his home. It was difficult for my family for a number of years.

I have a different memory of my cousin that I want to share. I was a senior in high school. I lived in walking distance from my school. One day, my cousin found me outside of my school, as I was leaving. He gave me a couple of presents...two albums to be exact. He handed me Jerusalem-Warrior and Daniel Band-On Rock. It was a pivotal point in my walk with Christ.

Both of those albums rocked! To this day, both remain as favorites. Actually, each record has spine tingling songs for me. With Jerusalem, it is Constantly Changing. With the Daniel Band, it is I'm Sorry. I think that is why they are still two of my favorite bands, though for all intents and purposes, they have gone into the Forgotten archives.

Fast forward to 1991. I had come from a solid Bible believing church background. Sadly, the church music had been only hymns, choral music, and Gaither-related choruses up to this point for me. I am not putting down any of it. I just remember as a musician being stifled and bored with it all. I knew there to be more creative music outside the walls of the church, and yet I never felt connected deep down to much of it. This is about the time I discovered "worship" music.

I was drawn to the Vineyard music in the early 1990's. I still am not totally sure why. I listen to most of it, and it sounds dated. It was not until the Touching The Father's Heart series #10 that I started paying attention. Slowly filtering into the music were elements of the spirit of rock and roll: guitar solos that did not suck, jamming, progressive rhythms, and authentic lyrics. Throne Of Grace (#12) introduced me to the violet burning.

I was beginning to find leadership skills and a calling to lead worship. It started in our Care small group (Bible study, worship, fellowship, C-Stone excursions). The worship that was influencing me heavily was the violet burning music.

I remember the first time I heard Strength. I was blown away! The guitar solo on the first song, There Is No One Like You, was played by Shawn Tubbs. There is a sweet, clean feedback that pierces like a singing violin. It sent a chill up my spine. The whole song, the whole album was spine tingling.

When I saw them perform at Cornerstone 1992 on the Encore stage at midnight, they played over two and a half hours into the dead of night. I knew I was in the presence of God. Anybody who was at that show will probably say the same thing.

I am not sure that Mike Pritzl looks at Strength as a "worship" album. The lyrics definitely show an authentic humility, and the music blends this in a combination that is hard to see as anything else but pouring one's heart out to an ever living God.

This is where spine tingling hits home. Authentic, heart-on-your-sleeve lyrics and music that is felt, not just played and performed before adoring fans, are the core of what makes that shiver go up my back. I roll my eyes back and breathe in deeply. This is how music endures for me.

I root for the underdog in sports many times. I listen to the bands that are not the arena and stadium fillers. American Idol is the epitome of what I detest. I know I am strange and out in left field from the average fan, but it is the essence of who I am. I will never apologize for not wanting to support Amy Grant, Phil Keaggy,...basically 9/10's of the CCM from the 1970-80's. Even the majority of music in the Christian bookstores does not interest me. I feel little desire to support artists or bands who have tons of fans. What stays with me are the albums from mostly independent, struggling artists who believe in what they are doing, regardless of the money or lack there of they bring in.

Authenticity and spine tingling somehow make for great incense burning.

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