Honestly…

This is a blog of honesty. I don’t know why…it just happened that way. Somehow, this site became a way for me to pretend I’m not prideful by admitting mistakes that I know others will not hold against me because they find them humourous. (Ooh. That’s the honesty I’m talking about. I probably shouldn’t write stuff like that.) However, at the same time, I think laughing at oneself is a good motif to get into. It keeps us musicians from having that ever-intriguing inflated view of ourselves, who (let’s face it) think that we literally changed the world last weekend with our Gilmour-esque solo, or our Brian Eno synth run, or our ‘Spirit-inspired’ chorus repeat. (Sorry guys, the honesty is just happening today. I understand that God ‘told’ you to run ‘How Great is our God’ into ‘How Great Thou Art’ because it’s edgy and post-modern to rockify a hymn even though you heard Tomlin do it on a live recording six years ago…it’s cool, you’re still post-modern in my book…and then He ‘told’ you to move into minor chords (even though they don’t really work) while you tag the ‘how great Thou art’ line exactly 23 times. Even if your congregation doesn’t understand that God ‘told’ you to do that……I do. I gotcha. I’m right there in it with ya. ;) He ‘told’ me the same thing…even though in the back of my mind, I was thinking that there were only 2 hands raised, and if I were to get the ‘worship was kind of mediocre’ talk at staff meeting this week, I’d need to see at least 9.5 hands up (the quick hand sway at chest level counts as the .5) to make my argument that no, worship was actually, in fact, both monumental and life-changing. Hence, we sing the chorus again.) So this is to keep me humble. And I really, really hope you can find at least a little piece of yourself in the above paragraph to chuckle about. It’s not meant to stir up feelings of bitterness because ‘the church’ and ‘worship leaders’ aren’t perfect. (Shocker.) Once we get over the fact that we’re just a bunch of losers doing the blasted best we can to be used by God, but that at least half the time we fail, and God somehow accomplishes His purpose anyway, picks us up, and tells us to try again to jump on board with Him again tomorrow……I think then, the more God can use us. And taking ourselves just a bit less seriously, might be a good motif. As it is also fun……

  • I plugged in my direct box during practice even though I knew it would pop and even though I get angry at my team when they do this. But our sound guy was so far away and I needed to save my voice instead of yelling back to ask him to mute the channel…
  • I tuned my guitar to drop D for the last song of the first set, and then forgot about that while playing the last set……four times……and the last set is just 1 song.
  • I forgot that my team is a bunch of volunteers doing their best to serve, and I got quite noticeably frustrated and indignant during practice that the sound of the band was not what I wanted it to be.
  • I typed different lyrics on the song sheet than I did on the background screens, realized it, and then sang the words on the screen and totally hung our background vocalist out to dry.
  • I chose to get the right tone out of a pedal…for 15 minutes…rather than listen to my team.
  • When I finally did listen, I was still thinking about my pedal.
  • I got off the click track, but then quickly found something else wrong with the song so that we had to stop it and start over, so as not to admit that I was the reason we needed to start over.
  • I missed a lighting cue while looking for a Landgraff on Gear Page in the tech boothe.
  • I strummed my acoustic like an electric, hitting the big D chord, and then rocking the guitar around for ‘sustain’; and completely succeeding in looking like ‘I really wish I was a rockstar, but I guess the church will have to do for now.’
  • I pretended not to hear an idea from our drummer, and then five minutes later ‘amazingly’ came up with the same idea.
  • I borrowed a friend’s Taylor acoustic to play. It sounded fantastic. That’s not the bad part. The bad part is that I literally asked someone 4 years ago to shoot me in the eye if I ever played ‘the worship leader guitar.’ I’m glad he had the weekend off. No, I don’t think he literally would have shot my eye out (hehe, good movie), but I would’ve had to eat some serious crow (such an odd phrase) when I told him that I quite enjoyed the sound of the ‘sellout’ guitar.
  • Some people in the congregation didn’t seem into worship, and my literal first thought was that I might need to switch to EA cables from Lava.

And there you have it. I am not…how do you say it…oh ya!……not good. However, I do feel much more humble now, and of course, the true test of being really humble is when you know you are. ;)

Splendid.
Karl.

0 thoughts on “Honestly…

  1. Yes – Taylors do sound and play amazingly great. I own one. And I love it. I bought mine while my wife was vacationing in Morocco. I was heading home from somewhere with my son and said, Hey let’s stop at Guitar Showcase – It’s on the way home! (it’s my personal belief that Guitar Showcase is always on the way home…) We stopped in, and like a compass pointing north I walked straight through the store to this Taylor on the wall. Do you all have that knack? To find the best and most expensive guitar in the store by using some sort of guitar-radar? Happens to me all the time. Anyway, I play this thing for a while. My son is looking nervous. It’s that, mom’s gonna kill you if you bring home another guitar and I want to keep my dad a little longer look. I talk price with the guy. He writes down some info for me. I left the store. I tried calling my wife. (She was in Morocco mind you…). I couldn’t get through. I took that as a sign. I made a U-turn at the first light not twenty feet from the store and went back and got it. It’s a wonderful 2005 Fall limited edition 810. Curly maple binding. Cocobolo back and sides. God himself was involved in making this guitar. (Bob Taylor is a Christian after all…) So, I leave the store with the new guitar. As I’m getting to that same light that I U-turned at – my wife calls me. My son has that nervous look again, like, How am I going to get home if mom somehow manages to kill dad through the phone. As it happens, she was in the middle of a major haggle over a hand-made Moroccan carpet. She asked if I would mind if she spent (scary amount of money) on said carpet. I, of course, said – of course honey! Anything you want! Say, gorgeous, remember we talked about getting me a Taylor one day?

    So yeah – honesty. I once heard somewhere that the human mind is at its most keen and active when in the process of rationalizing. It really is a lie, even though it’s only to ourselves. I believe that lying to ourselves is the easiest lie to make.

    I’m still glad I have my Taylor though. :-)

    Oh – and the carpet is pretty cool.

  2. hahaha! last sunday while there was an announcement of some sort, i was looking at my board thinking that I might be able to squeeze in another pedal in there. whatever that pedal is, kept me from hearing what the announcement was all about … sad but true.

  3. Tom–nice! That’s like a dream come true, isn’t it? Crazy! The same day you dive into a huge gear purchase, your wife wants to purchase something big, too. haha That’s awesome. :)

    And very interesting point on rationalizing. So then, that’s just more reason to buy more gear…because you’re exercising your brain to its full extent to rationalize the purchase of a $400 4 inch metal box! It’s perfect! ;)

    Rhoy–brother, you don’t know how much better you just made me feel!! hahaha That is awesome.

  4. I love you.

    Thank you for not being the douchebag-Christian-worship-leader/guitarist I’ve seen far too many times. You and I would get along very well.

  5. I must confess to too many times just putting the service “recipe” together without much effort or thought and wondering why it just didnt work… *thinks to self on way home after service “I wonder what was missing today…”*

  6. Karl,

    I went forward to pray with my wife for VBS a couple of weeks ago. The lead guitarist was using a uni-vibe type sound on an ambient pad type chord progression. Very cool. I actually gave him a thumbs up when down in front.

    Ugh, I’m horrible.

    You’re not alone Karl.

    Nate

  7. Hahaha, I’m loving these, because I absolutely identify with so many…

    Announcements have become, for me, the time to look back on the set and “play through” it again, taking note of all the mistakes and mishaps…I get reminded about how this is bad whenever a friend at church asks about one of the announcements, and all I can do is just mumble, “Oh, I don’t think I caught that announcement” or “Oh, it’s hard for me to hear the announcements because it’s not on my monitor” for the more tech-savvy ones, even though either way, the announcement guy’s like five feet away from me…

    Tom, your son’s a good kid, forever loyal to both his parents :D

    I’ve sung some awesome lyrics before when focusing purely on the notes and not the words…stuff like “Not because of what I’ve done, not because of what You’ve done” for “Who Am I?” by Casting Crowns…

    I remember running a practice to get a 3-song set down, and it was so over the head of the team that one song wound up taking the ENTIRE day of practice, and I didn’t think any less of it…little wonder I lost my voice, hahaha…

    There was another time when it was one of those everyone-drops-out-except-the-leader in one of those fast songs, and a couple people “forgot” about that, so I was singing, and in-between breaths I was like “Just me, just me!” and kept singing about God the King who is worthy…

    Ah, good times, good times…

  8. Karl, thank you so much for your honesty – your post made me chuckle slightly uncomfortably as it reminded me of all the times I’ve done much the same thing as you!

    Also slightly concerned that I appear to be married to a clone of GuitarToma’s wife. I’m wondering whether there is a secret society of gear-hating wives that we don’t know about…

  9. At least his wife could be “manipulated” by letting her buy something expensive. Mine doesn’t work that way, and she’ll walk across the street to pick up a penny.
    And the old adage about easier to ask forgiveness than permission…. as Mr Spock said to Capt Kirk when climbing in Yosemite “unwise”

  10. My wife has bought me 4 guitars and an amp since we’ve been married. If I need (Key word, “need.”) a pedal for something specific I drop a hint and 99 times out of 100 I get a, “Go for it.”. OOOOHHH WHAT A LUCKY MAN….I AM! My guitar playing friends usually just ask if she has a sister.

  11. Tom – nice story! I read a story a while back about the owner being a christian and you can see the fish on the big store sign. One of the guys who posts on the gear forums travels around doing clinics/demos for Taylor. Of course, I found out about the one they just did at Gryphon a few hours after it was over…

    funny stuff in the last month:
    Watching a Hillsong or Lincoln Brewster live video on youtube with my 3 year old daughter.
    She says – Daddy, this is just like your concert. You play guitar on the stage.
    Uh not so much, not playing to 10,000 people anytime soon.

    The drummer asked the keyboard player if he was texting in the middle of the song during practice. Yes, he was but he is good enough to not miss a note. At least he wasn’t surfing TGP for pedal deals on his iphone. :)

    Hearing the guitar player tune during a prayer. Even from the far opposite side, I could hear it. I have to remember that. This guy’s modern boutique guitar didn’t need to be tuned before every song. I don’t have over-tuningitis since my tuner is not my signal chain and my guitar stays in tune verl well. If I get a Turbo Tuner, it’s all over for me.

    • Hey Dan -
      I went to the Taylor Roadshow at Gryphon about a year ago. It was phenomenal. The Taylor tech adjusted things on my guitar, I met some very cool people from Taylor, and the performer they had there to showcase their stuff was amazing. Marc Seal (marcseal.com) is a guitarist out of the LA area. Does a lot of solo work (satriani-ish) but more importantly he plays in his worship band down south. He was super nice and we chatted until they kicked us out. It was a neat experience and I highly recommend catching the next one. If you sign up at Taylor’s website they’ll send you a postcard to let you know when the next one is coming.

      How very cool that your little girl admires you that much.

      And yes – get a turbo tuner. You’ll wonder how you ever tuned without one.

      Oh yes – Bob Taylor actually plays in a worship band also. At least he used to.
      -Tom

  12. Colty–haha I think the only difference with me is that I actually realize when I’m being a jerkface……well, at least half the time. ;)

    Cam–oooh. Good one. Ya, that hurts, because I tend to do that as well. Good comment!

    Nate–lol That is fantastic!!

    Paul–haha That Casting Crowns song is dangerous! It’s so easy to switch the lyrics and get things like, ‘Not because of who You are, but because of what I am’…wait…what?! lol

    And did you really say ‘just me’ into the mic, live? haha Now that is spectacular! :)

    Randy–haha I knew there was someone here who had it figured out. ;)

    Mikef68–hehe My wife’s really good about it. She’s awesome when she can hear a difference…i.e. when ‘there is’ a difference. But when I sell a $100 Fuzz Face clone for a $450 one, that’s when she just sweetly says, ‘I guess my ears aren’t good enough to hear the reason we’re not eating this month. But I’m sure it’s there, Sweetie!’ hehe j/k

    Randy–that Star Trek reference was classic.

    Mark–so awesome!! My wife is totally cool like that, and would let me buy anything I wanted……if we actually had money. ;)

    Dan–haha You should’ve just told your daughter, ‘No, Honey. Daddy plays ‘good’ notes.’ hehe ;) Totally kidding! Lincoln, if you’re reading this blog, and you’re not, you’re better than I’ll ever be!

    And +1 on the tuning thing! Sometimes when I’m not thinking about it, I just absent-mindedly pluck the daylights out of the strings when tuning, and I know people in the congregation can hear it! hehe Oops.

    And he was texting and still hitting the right notes? haha Fantastic. Are you sure the worship leader just didn’t ask him to play pads only, and he wasn’t trying to show how little effort it took, by texting, too? hehe

    Tom–put me on that e-mail list, too, if ya don’t mind? ;) I have railed against Taylors for so long; but they are, in fact, quite wonderful guitars.

  13. Since this is about honesty, I’d like to add one more thing. Honestly, if I was posting videos of guitar techniques, I’d put the camera where it focused on my hands and/or pedals and keep the back of my jeans out of the picture. :-E

    We might find bloggers who would be an exception to that, but not here. :-)

  14. this blog post title has reminded me of something bad that happens in my head whenever we play the song “above all”… when i get to the C# chord at the start of the chorus I get “Honesty…is such a lonely word…” start up.
    Billy Joel in you head is possibly the best way to kill worship.

  15. Randy–haha Is this directed at me? ;) hehe My apologies…sometimes the only time I have just allows me to set the camera up and go. But if you want any technique out of that video, just rip off ‘Streets’ for the riffs, and play a D chord for the pads. :) lol

    Cam–haha That’s awesome! I’ve so done that. But I love Billy Joel! ‘Slow down, you crazy child…’ ;) Although…uh…ya, very much on a song by song basis. And probably not in worship. hehe

  16. I’m glad I’m not a ‘sellout’ using those Taylor things, but rather use Crowder wannabe Ephiphone Chet. Haha I’m kidding about the Taylor = sellout part.

    Sometimes stripping down to the bear bone of worship without the whole sha-bang of music production and just worship with an acoustic will bring me to my place. I think our offering to God in the aspect of praise and worship gets so caught up with wanting to offer the best tone, sound, techniques we really forget that it is our heart of worship that God wants not if I can nail that solo. It was hard for me to come to that understanding, thinking those went hand in hand… not really.

    Before leading praise or playing electric for our church praise band I constantly tell myself that I suck! De-pleating my ego down haha.

    Great blog Karl, this brought me to my thinking.

    Thanks!

  17. Actually, I managed to text and play bass at the same time one during practice. I missed a few notes and it wasn’t as smooth as me using two hands, but it could be done.

  18. Haha, oops, I meant that I was saying the “Just me…” thing during our practice, not the service…yikes, that would have been pretty bad, hahaha…but who knows, one of these days…

  19. I joined our worship band to give back to he who gave me the gift to play guitar . its easy to get caught up in the moment when your playing professionally. and those habits are hard to break but i try to be clay for the molding and hope god will forgive me for thinking i had anything to do with my improv. abilities . its all for him and by him now thank the lord and thank you Karl for helping us keep grounded in this crazy wold of music !!! god bless

  20. ps. say a little prayer for an icon in the music business who never seemed to get a grasp on life ,and religion. but was a song writing genius ! love him or hate him he was the king of pop god rest his sole Michael Jackson.

  21. Jonathan–great comment! It’s all extremely important, and then at the same time extremely for nothing if our heart is in the wrong place. Great stuff, brother!

    Colty–haha I might need to try it if something is ending on e-bay right as the set is starting. ;) j/k

    Paul–haha Okay, that makes more sense! I thought it woulda been awesome if that was during the set, though! hehe :)

    Clay–great comment, brother! :) Can’t say it much better.

  22. just a side note question…

    have you tried any of the other Damage control pedal other than the Timeline and Glass Nexus? Their OD pedal look interesting and would be good to see how they stacked up against the other “boutique” OD pedals…

    on another side note – Thanks to your goodself I have been inspired to resurrect my old blog… we will see how long it lasts!

  23. I haven’t tried their od’s yet. I’m sure they’re great, but I don’t have the board space right now, or the power for another 2 amp pedal. But ya, I would love to try them! let me know if you get a chance to!

    And great blog! I’m going to put you on my blogroll, if you don’t mind. Cheers!

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