Forgive me for this post, because this may bore some of you right to sleep. But I have this huge thing for musicians who show up to video shoots without caring how they look. And no, I’m not talking about carefully picking out your most worn looking pair of shoes, tearing the Guess label off your torn jeans so you can say you bought those fitted flare jeans at a thrift store, and finding the perfect ‘I didn’t shave today’ setting on your razor, so that you can get that ‘I don’t care how I look’ look. And for what it’s worth, I shop at Guess (well, the outlet stores, anyway), I love when my shoes get frayed, and I do have a setting on my razor that makes it look like I was too cool to shave this morning. The current musician style is awesome because it started out with folks who didn’t have enough money to care about how they looked. Now we take great care to keep looking like we don’t. And I’m probably one of the worst. But still, it’s incredibly refreshing to see musicians who know they’re going to be filmed, yet didn’t polish up, didn’t polish down, but showed up as if they thought it was a Chili’s:
(This is the guy who did the music for The Fighter, Into the Wild, and some of Heat, and the gal who has sessioned and toured with Smashing Pumpkins, David Bowie, Sheryl Crow, and Jewel.)
(And just saw these guys in best picture nominee Winter’s Bone, and thought they were fantastic. My disclaimer here is that the example is Marideth Sisco herself, not the guy towards the end who has made his widow’s peak patch into a mohawk. Although he is now my new hero.)
And I wonder if we put too much time into polish. I’m not saying stop caring. If people in your church are trying to worship, and the drummer’s (sorry, drummers) half-eaten donut is sitting on the sub-woofer, that’s gross. And gross is distracting. And if you did go to Chili’s the night before, maybe put on a clean shirt. There is definitely a place for aesthetics and doing our best not to distract. Same as not hitting wrong chords, and not blacking the lights out while people are conversing. But there is also a place to be real. And not ‘try to be real.’ Just, real. Meaning, your stage does not have to have movable led lights shining blue for the slow song with the With or Without You chords and bright white on the downbeat of the first fast song because it worked in Rattle and Hum (although that was pretty awesome, huh! hehe), your guitar does not have to be a Tele, Duesenberg, or Gretsch, you do not need line array and a digital board and whatever else Church Sound magazine told you to get, and basically, if everything you do isn’t a complete copy of Hillsong, you’ll still be okay. And if you think I’m reaching here, just do a quick search of worship centers in contemporary churches across America, Europe, and Australia. Oddly the same.
Now if you like blue lights, four chords, Tele’s, and digital boards, go for it! (Connect four. Wow.) It’s just that sometimes the time and polish put into these things may, on occasion, get a little out of hand. Might be nice to be truly ‘authentic’ for a little while. Because those ‘we’re still under construction’ metal trusses on stage? Those aren’t fooling anyone anymore. Neither do people think it is magic when the pastor prays and then they open their eyes and the band is suddenly on stage. And I’m pretty bad at this myself…I have a default ‘Stevie Wonder move’ (at least that’s what people call it) that I do whether or not I’m feeling the worship, rather than being authentic. And are any of these things inherently bad? Not at all. But just something I was thinking about tonight. I don’t know; just a little less rockstar and a little more Chili’s might do us some good.