When I was young, or more to the point, when I was young and stupid, I heard the Jars of Clay album “Worlds Apart”. Not only did I hear it, but I tore it to shreds in my mind and in conversation, not due to the album art that some people found so offensive, but because of the lyrics that I deemed in my immaturity to be so darn unclear. And by “unclear” I didn’t mean that I didn’t get the point of most of them: I did. I just didn’t like the point they were making.
I remember being a huge advocate of music that proclaimed Christ. A noble goal, you think? Yes. I think it is, and there’s a lot of really great music that does just that, music that I listen to. But in my head, any musician worth his spiritual salt would sing only about spiritual themes. Amen. I supposed if I had been inventing instruments for them to play on, said instrument would play only three notes, Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Of course, now that I’m old and stupid, I can laugh over my youthful intellectual indiscretions. Right now, I’m listening to “Worlds Apart” and actually really enjoying it. I don’t terribly like the music, and it’s not half as well-produced and -structured as their most recent albums or their first, but it’s pleasant enough to run through every once in while.
I’m not going to go into why my perspective changed, or why I think Christian musicians should sing about things that don’t directly draw lines to God. Instead, I’d rather put it in personal terms. I simply hadn’t the context to appreciate these songs when I was young. Jars sing of complex things, and even though their efforts are sometimes a little cheesy (ever heard “Tea and Sympathy?), they paint a compelling picture by painting around the corners of what we’re normally thinking about. And though I really do think the metaphor in “Tea and Sympathy” is a little… overextended… I understand exactly where the narrator of that song is coming from. And I appreciate what he says now because I’m not a small blathering child anymore talking about things I don’t understand. Not that I have already attained, but I’ve gotten somewhere in the intervening time. And that somewhere understands those great songs by Derek Webb on Caedmon Call’s green and purple albums, the ones that talk about spending nights with friends talking about loneliness and straws that break camel’s backs and driving until hands stick to the steering wheel.
Dan (I want more musicians to write about food, because food is the best metaphor ever.)