The World is a Strange and Wonderful Place

  • So let me see here…a post on Vangelis saying some of the most deep and beautiful words about music that have ever been said barely gets a discussion going, but a joke about how other websites obsess over worship genres gets us going past 60? In terms of popularity, controversy trumps beauty every time.
  • And I mean that for myself mostly. Why is my cure for boredom searching for ‘locked’ discussion threads on tone being in the hands, rather than looking for discussion threads on new music? 😉
  • The other day I was at the gas station at night, and two guys started fighting because one guy threw trash on the ground. Well, suburban fighting. Meaning, ‘Don’t make me come over there!’ ‘What?! Don’t make me come over there!’ and the like. Then this other guy walks in, and starts going from car to car, talking to all the folks pumping gas, and seems to know everyone by name. He even calms one of the guys down. He was like the godfather of the gas station, and he wasn’t even wearing a Vons uniform. Maybe the fumes are worse than we think. I mean, we are pumping dead animals into machines and then burning them so that we don’t have to walk to Burger King.
  • You spend your whole life searching for the tone that’s in your head, and then when you actually may have found it, it’s kind of sad. You open your computer and start aimlessly searching eBay and the Gear Page Emporiums, but you have no idea why. You’re just a lost soul who used to have a purpose. So was the tone addiction really more of an addiction to really expensive shopping; to looking cool by being able to sell a $600 pedal and say, ‘Eh, the mids weren’t chewy enough for my tastes’ or ‘Loses it’s sparkle in live applications’ when live applications means the youtube vid that you saw shot from a phone of John Mayer playing one; or to owning gear that no one has except the people that have it so that you can be unique with a safety net?
  • For me, I think it was just the blue led’s, and now that I’m getting older and the blue led’s hurt my eyes, I’m suddenly magically happy with my tone. 🙂
  • If you have a Tim on your board, but don’t hook it into your signal chain, people will totally come up to you and say, ‘Ya, I could definitely hear that Tim in your tone tonight.’
  • Remember a couple years ago when I posted about how the Tim was dangerously close to that place of no longer sounding good because too many people owned one? And as we all know, the tone of a pedal decreases exponentially every time another person buys one? Well, it’s happened. No one really cares about the Tim anymore. Did Paul start making them differently? No. Do their chips lose tone after 8 years? No. Do they still sound exactly the same and do the exact same thing to your guitar signal? Yes. But tone is about so much more than just tone.
  • If a movie is about the end of the world, I’m in. Good, bad, or otherwise. Kevin Costner movies excluded.
  • Man, The Social Network was a horrible movie. The score was too good for it.
  • As long as we’re remembering movies, Truman Show? Great movie.
  • Probably just alienated all the hipsters out there with that facebook movie comment, although they’ll never admit to feeling alienated by someone disliking something. It’s not very hipster to like something.
  • Thank goodness hipster is on its way out, and breakfast clubber is on its way back in. Watch.
  • Emilio! Emilio!
  • For those of you who work in churches, or spend a lot of time playing on worship teams, it’s sometimes really hard to get time to just sit in a service and worship. And when you do, it’s hard to shut your brain off to everything they’re doing ‘wrong.’ At least that’s how it is for me. What I’ve found really helps is to try to find somewhere to sit and worship that’s a smallish church, without lighting rigs, ProPresenter, or maybe even a band. Maybe the worship leader has chosen songs in a key just one step too high for his voice. And worship. There’s something about absolutely everything gone that allows you to shut your brain off to all the details, and remember why you started serving in churches in the first place.
  • I think every set of hands has that one gear combo that’s just magic for them, and them alone.
  • I have a set of Wolfetone pickups that I bought for my Godin in January. They are sitting on my desk. I’d like to think that’s because my time is limited, and I don’t play the Godin except when I need both acoustic and electric in the same song, which isn’t all the time. However, I’m beginning to wonder if it’s just about having, not necessarily hearing. 😉
  • You know what the sound of the future is? Fuzz. The future is the ’60’s.
  • When people say, ‘That sounds like U2’, what they really mean is, ‘That sounds like Where the Streets Have No Name.’ Because it doesn’t usually sound like Bullet the Blue Sky, Stay Faraway So Close, Discotheque, Sunday Bloody Sunday, One, Walk On, All Because of You, or Acrobat. So for most modern worship music, we’ve taken ‘Streets’, homogenized it into a formula, and then run all our songs through that formula. For most modern Christian music, it’s the same thing, but with ‘With Arms Wide Open.’ (You can only say that title by singing it in the Scott Stapp voice.) And still, people’s lives are changed, and God is glorified. The world is a strange and wonderful place.
  • Of course, some of that is a gross generalization, and there is some great and original Christian and worship music. But gross generalization’s are just so much more fun. If you’re new to this blog, remember to read these out loud with your tongue in your cheek. It helps.


41 thoughts on “The World is a Strange and Wonderful Place

  1. Preachers have the same problem as worship planners when it comes to just sitting and listening with an open heart. And when you both preach and play? … doomed

  2. Yes, it’s very hard to just sit in a worship service after spending any extended amount of time leading worship. I remember taking a month off last summer, and going to a couple of different churches around me to check them out. I couldn’t shut my brain off to save my life. Everything from how they ordered the service, to what parts the guitar players played, to song choices…I would’ve done it all differently (read better 😉 ). But they were all very production driven churches, and I’d agree with you about really stripped down worship services as the remedy to that. I’d also say try attending a service where the style of worship is completely different from what you usually do, and completely beyond your abilities (i.e. traditional music, choir, organ, orchestra?). The most moved I’ve been in recent memory was a Good Friday service where an incredible choir sang a piece by Dvorak. Beautiful. Since I could never do what they did, or even begin to imagine it, it brings back that sense of wonder that we had about music when we first started playing, and allows us to turn off our deconstructive mentality to just worship God.

    And apparently, tone is not in the hands, it’s in the mouth:

  3. As far as the tone search thing, I totally agree. It’s easy to replace musicianship with consumerism. I mean really, buying an expensive overdrive pedal is so much easier than sitting down and working on your actual chops. Of course, I am as guilty of this as anyone.

    Oh, and you really thought that The Social Network was horrible? I thought it was amazing. It was full of horrible characters, sure, but the movie was excellent. And yeah, the score was really good.

  4. This could be quote of the year….

    “I mean, we are pumping dead animals into machines and then burning them so that we don’t have to walk to Burger King.”

    Thanks this is making my morning… Now off to worship!!!!

  5. Good points. I get to sit and try to worship in a small church with minimal band every other week — my own. And the song selections and style are quite different on the weeks I don’t lead. Very hard to worship and not analyze.
    Bret, LOL, where have you been? I’m 64 and knew who Creed was. I knew the distinctive sound of the lead singer’s voice but not his name. 🙂
    I think the gear quest reaches the point of diminishing returns. You do need to sound decent, but eventually it just becomes an obsession — few if any can tell the difference when you replace the $150 delay or overdrive with the $350 delay or overdrive.
    I googled “guitar practice” and “guitar trainer” last night because I noticed that when practicing at home it sounds so much better running my two channels through my two amps instead of into a cheap headphone amp and headphones. The Boss eBand came up — looked intriguing although not cheap. Then there is the option of just picking up the instrument and actually practicing to improve your sound — but something like that could make it enjoyable enough to actually do.
    After playing with others in a band I find practice at home by myself really dull.

  6. “With aearromss wyerduh owerpohnnuh” is the best Creed line. Except for “Yourruuhhhh tarkuh meah hiiiuhhhh (de de de dedel deee!)”

  7. Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty four. Maybe next year when I turn that certain age I’ll finally hear all the cool stuff I’ve missed in the last twenty years. Hah! And Naal is there an interpreter in the house. I’m still trying the figure out “Happiness Stan” by the Small Faces. Anyone give that a go.

  8. Zach–haha Very true. It’s so hard to shut our brains off. Necessary, I think, but very difficult. I’m right there with ya! 🙂

    JK–great point on going to services totally different styles than yours. That can be great for helping us to let go and worship without critiquing. 🙂

    And amazing video! haha Actually I think his vocal chords sounded way better than the other two guys’ guitars.

    Phillip–yep, same here. Hard to get up and work hard, but easy to snack while I surf the web for tone. hehe And I very much appreciated the subject matter of the movie; fascinating how a website took over the world. I just couldn’t stand the acting so much that I couldn’t even tell if the screenplay was good. hehe

    Andrew–I used to be the same way. New amp every month. I’d love to say that I got better, but I think I just got Matchless. 😉 Almost three years and counting.

    Gtr1ab–glad it’s not just me!! 😉

    Bret–you sir, are who I wish I was. A man who has not heard Creed. 😉 Although, they did have their place…it was just that then they kept re-writing the same song over and over, and their lead singer really seemed to like himself.

    Sal–hahaha Off to worship for me too!

    Randy–I agree on the diminishing returns. A $100 guitar to a $500 guitar is a much larger leap then a $2000 guitar to a $10,000 guitar. And bands are fun. 🙂

    Naal–bro, I was just talking with someone about Higher, and we both made the guitar sound. haha And then I saw your post. Good form!! Best ever.

    Bret–no need, you’re fine without Creed, I think. haha

    • Sad thing is, I’ve had 2 Matchlesses (DC-30/Spitfire) and sold them. I think I’m going to be pretty satisfied with my Morgan for a while, as much as I’d like another Matchless…

      Now I just gotta sell one of my three guitars and my old 65 Amps… :/

  9. I think the tone chase thing is so true. When we were teens (when i started playing) i didn’t worry about my tine cause all the gear i had was it, and i had to make due. All i worried about was my chops and trying to figure out “how did Jimi play that?” instead of “how did Jimi get that tone?” we don’t do that anymore cause we’re adults with jobs and can go start over tomorrow with a trip to GC.

    My one magic combo was a les paul with burstbuckers through a JCM 900. I sold it all when my first daughter was born. Today, i have an lp with burstbuckers and am looking for the cash to get the amp again. Go figure.

  10. nice one, Karl. The problem with the Vangelis post is that there’s not much to discuss, can’t really argue about anything that the guy said 😉

    i really haven’t been ‘tone-chasing’ (read: haven’t bought pedals/guitars/amps) for a while and it’s a good thing for me and my wallet. i noticed that i’ve been picking up my (unplugged) guitar more to play at least 1/2 hour. most of the time I’ll just play along with the melodies of whatever I hear on the TV/Radio. it’s been fun and I’m learning new chops, too! 🙂

  11. On a more serious note, you didn’t like The Social Network? Sure, it didn’t have very much to do with real life, but… Come on… Terrible movie? Those are fighting words. I’ll leave my TOMS and baggy beanie and v neck at the door and we’ll throw down! 😉

  12. Andrew–haha That’s awesome. And like I said in my post, I think everyone has a gear combo that’s magic for them. Maybe Matchless isn’t your magic combo, and Morgan is. Although if you like Morgan, I’d suggest a D13 RSA23 if you haven’t already tried one. 🙂

    Dan–very true!!

    Joe–totally. I think we could all do with a little more ‘making due.’ Now that we can afford at least decent gear, it may be time to put ourselves on months at a time where we have to make due with whatever we have at the time for that month. Could be good!

    Rhoy–haha Quite true! 😉

    I love the idea of playing to whatever music comes on tv. That could really send you learning a bunch of different and eclectic styles! Right on, brother.

    Naal–lol I don’t mean to be a jerk. I like Fincher’s directing, I like the guitar score, and it’s a decent idea for a film. But Andrew Garfield and whatever actor played the twins, made me not able to see anything else in the movie. I actually forgot that I had written a review on it for a site that I forgot I started a couple years ago: Be warned, it’s not very nice, but I do make fun of myself for being an armchair reviewer at the end. 😉

  13. “Will you still need me, will you still feed me, when I’m sixty four.” There was an awesome book about misquoted song lyrics. One I’ll never forget was people thinking Travolta was singing, “I’ve got shoes, they’re made of plywood.” When I was a kid it was, “…will you still feed me when I’m six feet four.”

    On a more serious note, it looks like there can be made an argument for fasting from gear acquisition.

    • I did “gear fasting” 2 years ago for a whole year and I’m into it again this year. The one bad thing that happened before is I was worst after the “fast”. I ‘m hoping that I’ve learned my lesson that after 1 year, I’ll have more “control” on my gear-spending 🙂

  14. Jumping back in to the fray. Ok so we agree to practice more and perhaps buy less gear. What I want to know is how you all practice. At times, we all need to be fairly quiet. When I find that playing through amps sound way better than headphones, ( especially overdrives ) the obvious answer is don’t use headphones ( kind of like don’t run the board stricly by using headphones ). If you need to be quiet, what is the most likely culprit in trashing your sound — headphones or whatever is providing the post-pedal-board signal to the headphones ( e.g. headphone amp). I’m using a $100 pair of “cans,” not cheap ear buds and one of these Rolls headphone amps–RLLPM351

    • Well, the Rolls headphone amp looks like it’s a line level input only. Line level expects a much higher input levels (+4dBu) than an instrument output (which tends to be about -20dBu), which would tend to produce a fairly weak sounding signal. I know that VOX makes a few different headphone amps that are cheap, though I’ve never tried them, and some practice amps will have a headphone output jack that mutes the internal speaker. Also, most recording interfaces come with an instrument level input, but that requires the use of a computer in addition to the device. I’m lucky enough to have a rehearsal space where I can turn up and not worry about it, so I’m sure someone else has better suggestions than I do.

    • I run Peavey Revalver software I picked up for like 70 bucks. I either run it thru my Boston Acoustics 2.1 channel speakers or a set of headphones, but they died as of late. I just set an amp up to shimmering clean and use my pedals for any sound. It attempts to model amps, but is a sim and it was cheap. It does the job of me being able to practice at night, or when I need to be quiet.

    • If i had the money to shell out for a “good” amp i might like it better than my current setup, which is a GT10 straight in. I also practice with headphones on. However I plug the board into my laptop in, and my head phones and use audacity to monitor the level. I can also record using this setup if i want to.

  15. James, Rhoy & JK–haha I can imagine totally binging after gear-fasting. Four D’Pergo’s or something.

    Randy–I try to plan out when I need to practice with effects and amps for the daytime. Then at nights when I need to be quiet is when I do acoustic or unplugged electric and work more on technique and finesse.

    JK & Shawn–good info! Can’t say I have much experience on any of that myself.

  16. That Creed reference almost made me pee my pants in a Starbucks…

    I totally do that every time I say that song name. Which is every time I’m talking about Jeremy Camp and how I can’t handle his voice or lack of a real style…

  17. hahaha Ah, poor Jeremy Camp! I remember seeing him open for The Kry (yep), when I was in high school, and he was just getting started. Dude’s voice was incredible. Then a couple years later, it was like, ‘Who is this guy?’ He got tossed into the Christian music marketing machine, out of which everyone emerges unable to sing less than three syllables for every one syllable word. 😉

      • Right on! Do you know who’s playing with him? It’s always so hard to find anything about the musicians on solo artists’ web pages. haha

        • It was hard to google but his current guitarist is Toby Friesen. I remember seeing posts from his former guitarist, Randy Williams, on TGP and pictures of his Morgan 30/800.

          I thought the Social Network was a lot better than I expected it could be. Sorkin’s script made the movie. The only Fincher movie that I didn’t like was Zodiac. The Truman show was great. My friend came to CA for a visit and said that the sky was so blue that it looked fake – like the Truman show. We have a nice dome in CA.

  18. every time a song from the original self-titled jars of clay album comes on i remember how powerful acoustic + vocals can be. keeps me grounded, musically. them i turn on my timeline + tim + the rest of my pedal board through my orange amp and remember how much i love to rock and forget all about acoustic/musical simplicity. sigh.

  19. Rhoy–that must be it then. Matchless makes you sound 75% tighter automatically. 😉

    Dan–okay, cool! Thanks man. Your googling skills are better than mine. And you must not’ve taken your friend to the part of California I’m from. Tan skies over here. Just plain tan. 😉

    Tim–Ya!! I love that original Jars of Clay album. ‘Ha ha ha…four.’

  20. I know some of it is in jest but I think it’s important to aim for supporting rather than attacking people God uses, like us, to minister to our brothers and sisters.

    With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be. Can both fresh water and salt water flow from the same spring? (James 3:9-11 NIV)

  21. Naal–we’ve got great skies! As long as you don’t go any more than 15 miles in from the coast. 😉 hehehe Although to be fair, Dan’s from Northern California, I believe, which is pretty much a different (and prettier) state. haha

    Josh–I’m tellin’ ya man, his early stuff was super good! It’s like on a self-produced, self-titled homemade album I’ve got somewhere. I need to find it. 🙂

    James–absolutely appreciate the exhortation, bro. I agree, we need to refrain from attacking people, as you put it. I do also think it’s important though, to be able to express dislike over styles of music, voices, etc. We need to learn how to differentiate between healthy distaste that pushes us to excel in our own art and glorification of God, and between attacking someone personally.

    For instance, with my own music, I’m pretty sure God uses it. But definitely don’t feel pressured to say you like it if you don’t! In fact, I welcome the periodic well-placed joke about the amount of money and delay pedals it takes me to play one ambient note. 😉 😉

  22. Re: sitting in worship services. Nope, can’t hardly worship in the traditional sense at all any more. Mixing FOH or playing guitar IS my corporate worship experience.

    Sometimes, if I close my eyes, ignore the music and listen to the congregation, it is beautifully uplifting. Each voice comes from it’s own place in the heart, just like each pair of hands playing the same melody can sound different.

    If I need to worship in song, I’ll get off by myself, put something on the headphones that I don’t have memorized, and soak it in. This week, the new Hillsong Cornerstone album has been nice for that, but after a while, I’ll know the words and start focusing on the guitar licks. Sheesh, I’m pathetic that way. The Glorious Unseen has been one of my favorite springboards for worship, too.

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