Not Yelling Cut

There’s a famous story that goes along with the 1954 film On the Waterfront. In one of the scenes, Eva Marie Saint drops her glove. And unscripted and completely in character, Marlon Brando picks up the glove, and proceeds to try it on while performing his lines, giving a much-needed insight into his the femininity and tenderness his character is trying to hide away in order to survive in the life he’s chosen. (See? All those guys we made fun of in junior high because they acted gay and listened to Alanis’ ‘You Oughta Know’ with such anguished looks on their faces so that all the girls would come running and giggle with because they were ‘sensitive’? Ya. They were right.) And the director of that film, Elia Kazan , when asked how he had come up with such a powerful and intimate scene replied, ‘All I did was have the presence of mind not to yell ‘Cut’.’

(Marlon Brando is the best actor in film history. Nope. That’s it. He was. And if you don’t want to take my word for it, just ask me again. Huh. That sounded funnier in my head.)

And the exact same thing happened to me at church yesterday. (See, I like to use phrases like ‘the exact same thing happened to me’ when it’s referring to myself and movie stars. Keeps me warm on those long nights when I lie in bed wondering how in the world Orlando Bloom can make more money than me.) We were practicing a song in which we normally do the classic worship build. Overdone, but effective. And our drummer comes in with this really cool ‘no cymbals’ beat. Not even hi-hat. But not a toms jungle beat either. Very different. And I’m like, ‘Alright, cool.’ But as we go into the bridge, and the song is supposed to take off, both he and the bass player stay on the backdrop and don’t build. And me, in my infinite musical genius, of course caught right on and did the same, right? Ya. Nope. I just ploughed right on through with the build I had started to play, like a complete hack. But it worked (in complete spite of my giving the band an unadvertised glance into my regrettable punk rawk roots.) Almost like what techno or cityscape music does…the feel of it, not the sound. (No, we’re not like, a clubbin’ church.) The vocals and melodic instruments almost started to pull away from the basis of the song that the drums and bass we’re laying down.

And it inadvertently sounded awesome. I realized this……but not immediately. In my head I was like, ‘Oh great. How are people going to be able to worship without the classic worship build? It’s impossible! Now we gotta re-do the song after I finish this up so the vocals can get the harmonies down. Great’ And then when we ended, I was like, ‘Wait a second. That was awesome!’ And I turned and looked at the drummer with the ‘What did you do?’ look on my face. And he just smiled, like, ‘Dude, it’s me. What do you expect?’ hehe

(My roots. The infamous punk rock mosh pit. So fun. So incredibly awkward. Hey, what else are you gonna do with all that pubescent angst? Let’s run into each other! Weird. I’ve got this strange urge right now to go do it again. Mosh pits rule. And that one kid looks like he’s going to eat me.)

And I would totally love to take credit for the arrangement. But in the end, all I did was to have the presence of mind (it took me awhile, but I finally got it!) to not yell ‘Cut’. It was all the band. I was the one hacking away with the stupid smile on my face, totally not getting the musicianship of the band. And I think that’s something that we as worship leaders, music directors, band directors, guitarists, musicians, vocalists, whatever, do all too often. We all get the little picture in our heads of how the song should go, and we don’t recognize sometimes the incredible musicianship, ideas, and genius of the players around us. Now, granted, sometimes those ideas do suck and we’ve gotta nix them. But many times, maybe the ideas are what’s really going to take the song to the next level, and we just cease to notice them because we’re too caught up with ourselves. And everyone is…that’s not some crazy new revelation. But it is a quick reminder to take a step back every once in a while, and listen to what the ideas of the other musicians are doing to the song. Because sometimes they just might be moving a song from the ‘classic worship build’ we’ve played on this song for 5 years to, ‘Whoa. Wait. What just happened?!’ Just take maybe 5 more seconds to take it all in before yelling ‘Cut’.

(Oh, and by the way, if anyone can help me sleep better at night by letting me know how Orlando Bloom makes more money than I do, I’m all for it! hehe)


14 thoughts on “Not Yelling Cut

  1. I’m lucky to be serving on a worship team that:

    a.) Gets together and practices a couple of days before the coming Sunday,

    b.) Is made up of some extremely talented individuals who,

    c.) Like to step outside of the box on occasion.

    God Is Good

  2. The exact same thing happened to me (well, not really, I just wanted to join in the use of that particular phrase) one time a couple of months back. The band and the youth mission team was at a church we had been to a year earlier, updating them on how the mission went. We did a little worship set before, the mission team leader told about how it went, and we went back up for some ministry time. We were doing Let It Rain and we flowed quite well like that song always manages to bring out in us. We had been really intense and we just came down, nearing the end of ministry time. I was on bass and when we went to the Em, I stayed there. Everyone was flowing really well, apparently, because we all stayed on the Em even though we hadn’t rehearsed that, and we’d never done it before. I started pedaling the open E and was doing a simple-ish riff on my higher strings.

    The riff flowed in and out of being minor and major and it was the most awesome, weirdest thing we’ve done in worship. There was no resolution, and it was perfect.

  3. i love those “magical” unscripted moments like this! we would have this in rehearsal every once in a while. not much during worship time, but boy, how i wish we do! our worship leader is kinda strict with the prototypical arrangements. anyhow, good stuff!

  4. Orlando who? Oh, the guy from the pirates movie. Sorry I don’t notice guys much. :-) I don’t where to begin with the “flowing worship” idea, where the band just kind of “ad libs.”

    But I should experiment. Quite often on rehearsal night it’s just my guitar and the keyboard. What are your vocalists doing while this is going on?

  5. James–thanks, brother. (Except, it was all our drummer, not me. hehe)

    Mark–Amen. (To the God is good for blessing you with good musicians; not to the Orlando part. 😉 )

    Colty–awesome stuff! Would that happen to be ‘Let it Rain’ by Newsboys? I love that song! Old school, but great!

    Jamianne–lol You are awesome, Sweetheart! I do think you may be a bit biased, though. 😉 Love you!

    Rhoy–totally! Those moments are fantastic. :)

    Randy–lol Great comment on the ‘guys’ thing! Ya, experimentation can be good. It also helps all the musicians get more comfortable playing together, and then get closer and closer to knowing where everyone’s going musically. And the vocalists are singing right along with us. I try to split the time evenly between band and vocalists…but I’m sure I’m still too heavy with the band time. hehe

  6. God is shit. you’re a fool to believe in a magical being. You’re also completely arrogant to believe a magical being who is watching the world has time to watch and protect you. a tiny insignificant spec compared to the earth.

  7. Hey Sean,

    Well, first off, welcome to Guitar for Worship! Actually, there’s a good many people who frequent this blog who also don’t believe in God. And I’m cool with that. I mean, I’m pretty open about my belief in God, so if you don’t believe the same way I do, you will have to sift through some ‘religious’ stuff to get to the guitar stuff. So, you’re totally welcome here, even though, judging by your comment, this may not exactly by your cup ‘o tea. 😉 But if you’re cool with the sifting, you might find some guitar stuff here you dig. And you might not. Who knows. :)

    As for your comment, I think the Christian belief is a little less arrogant than it might appear at first. First off, we do belief that God extends the courtesy of ‘watching and protecting’ to everyone, not just those who belief in Him. And secondly, we believe that it’s not so much that God watches over us because we’re so awesome; on the contrary, we do believe ourselves to be small, insignificant specs…but that God loves us anyway, having nothing to do with us whatsoever. So, in essence, it’s actually really, really humbling to believe that a God who created the world is actually so loving that He’d love all the insignificant specs of dust on the earth.

    Just a thought. Obviously, you’re free not to believe that. lol Just thought I’d give a little insight into what I believe Christianity is trying to say.

    Once again, I do appreciate your comment, and hope you’re able to find some stuff you’re into on this sight. If you do continue to post however, I would request that just as a common courtesy out of basic human decency, that you please refrain from personal insults towards any religion or belief system. Just as I wouldn’t go over to a Muslim site and use American profanity regarding Allah. You’re more than welcome to express your opinion; I embrace the opportunity to learn from different viewpoints. But we’ll be able to better each other as people and get our points across a lot more quickly, by using mutual respect.

    Other than that, thanks for commenting, and hope your day is swell.


  8. Well said Karl. Many people seem to think that if you profess to be a Christian, you’re essentially saying “I’m perfect.” Far from it. One of the best ways I heard it explained is that one Christian is like ” a beggar, telling other beggars where he found bread.”

    As far as “magical” things. One of the most magical things is believing that all of this (universe ) started on it’s own.

  9. Randy, I do agree. Christianity tends to look like that from the outside sometimes, unfortunately because over the years, we Christians have really embraced wanting to look perfect, unfortunately. hehe Do you ever think God could do a much better job on His own, without us? lol :)

    As for the ‘magical’ thing, I agree that if you feel the need to have a belief about how the world was started (and I think almost every human being does), it’s probably going to take a faith of some kind; because no one was there. To believe God did it, that it was accidental, that some other ‘being’ did it, that aliens did it, that reality is an allusion and we don’t exist…lol…no one took pictures when it happened. :)

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