The Music Captured My Attention

Music has a way of capturing your attention and putting you in a mood. I guess that’s why the soundtrack of a movie is so important.

If you’ve ever watched a movie with no soundtrack and just the actors’ lines, you really feel like there is something missing.

The background music draws out the emotion in you that the scene is trying to create, whether it is tension or laughter or joy or sadness.

A scene with a car cruising down a beachside freeway will boost the emotions when the music is something like the first 20 seconds of Steppenwolf’s, “Born To Be Wild”.

You can instantly imagine yourself in the car, taking those curves, looking out at the waves crashing on the beach below you.

Well, the other day my wife, Lily, was watching the opening song for the country music awards.

I wasn’t watching but from the other side of the room I said, “That sounds like … like … like (it took me a while) Hootie.”

Then it came to me. It was a song by Hootie and the Blowfish and the lead singer – who is not Hootie but Darius Rucker – was featured in that all-star cast rendition of “Hold Your Hand”.

It was a fond memory and the song was so good it hooked me in.

I spend the next hour or so on YouTube listening to different renditions of that song and others by Darius Rucker’s band.

I can’t really explain it, but listening to that song highjacked my evening and got me in a mood to listen to more of the same.

That’s what songs do. They capture your emotions and reel you in so that you feel something you weren’t feeling just minutes before.

When you think about it, music has a great power.

When Lily and I went on our honeymoon, we drove to our destination at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, about a 16 hour drive away.

We had lots of time in the car and there were a few songs that really captured our attention. We can both still remember those songs today.

That was 32 years ago, yet when we hear those songs now we both look at each other, smile and remember that drive.

Music has such a profound impact on emotions that you can find it being used everywhere to put people in the right mood …  whether it is in an elevator, a department store, a commercial, your car, or even at the hockey arena.

A few years ago, I think the rink where I played hockey was experimenting on us. They pumped happy, easy-going music into the dressing rooms and the arena.

I think it was to see if it would calm us down and keep the altercations to a minimum.

I never did find out the results of that study … if it was one.

Music is around us most of our day; we are rarely without music in our lives. We wake to it, fall asleep with it and it is a soundtrack to our day.

Here’s the thing: God created music to move our emotions. And some of the time our emotions should be moved towards God. Don’t neglect ensuring that your emotions are stirred towards the God who loves you, cares for you and has given His precious Son, Jesus to die for you. Whether secular or spiritual, your music on a regular basis should draw you to give God glory and worship Him.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What song stirs up your emotions? Leave your comments below.

Why Cover Bands Never Get A Recording Contract

Right at the end of our vacation each year, Sauble Beach puts on a festival called Sandfest. It’s a weekend with activities for the whole family, right on the beach.

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There is a sandcastle building competition that brings in some professionals (I never knew there were pro sand events), and amateurs alike. Everyone gets a plot of sand and about eight hours to build something.

It’s pretty amazing and creative what some come up with.

There is also an antique car show involving a couple hundred old cars parked on the beach. They’re judged by officials and the crowds of people walking the rows of cars, taking pictures and oohing and awing at them.

Some of the cars I’ve seen don’t look like antiques to me – in fact, some of the models I drove when I was younger! … That’s when you realize that you’re an antique too, so you just keep quiet about it, say “nice car”, and move on.

There is always music that is a focal point of the weekend. They usually have bands Friday and Saturday.

They’ve had bands that are starting out and trying to get noticed, old bands that just do gigs on the weekends, but also some bands that were once well known and had songs on the radio.

But probably by far, most of the bands at Sandfest are cover bands – you know, bands that try to imitate a famous group from the past.

These cover bands, or imitations in some cases, look like the original band members, talk like them in between songs, mimic their mannerisms while singing, and, of course, try to sound like them vocally and musically.

I watched bands that dressed like the original band, but after that weren’t that close to the real group’s sound. Then there were those whose voices sounded pretty much like the original, but they weren’t dead on with the music. They just didn’t have it instrumentally.

The thing about cover bands is they try hard to look and sound like the real group, but there is something that isn’t quite right.

There is always something that is off. And where you notice it the most is how they carry themselves, how they conduct themselves onstage.

They are acting; they are not themselves, and just don’t come across as the real thing. The real group doesn’t act; they are just themselves, and not trying to be something they are not.

There is a sense of authenticity that the real group has that a cover band can never manufacture.

Even when they are able to get so close to the original, they are not being themselves. They are pretending to be something, someone they are not. And everyone knows it.

Here’s the thing: We must be very careful that we are not merely imitating a real Christian – looking like one, acting like one, even talking like one, but just performing to please an audience who expects to see and hear a certain presentation. The only way to be  sure you are the real thing is to look inside yourself. Are you interacting with God, applying the things He says to your life, then living that out for everyone to see? If so, you are authentic, and people can tell. If not, you’re “covering” the Christian life and no matter how good you get at it, you’ll just be a cover band, and you’ll never make it with the true audience, God Himself.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: In what part of your life do you find it easier to imitate than be real? Leave your comment below.

The Blues is Still Kickin’

The Limestone City Blues Fest was on this weekend and my wife, Lily, and I decided to take it in. I like the “blues” so I was looking forward to hearing some music that sounded like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Albert King or Colin James.

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There was an open-air concert right on Princess Street and when we got within a few blocks, we could hear the guitar man wailing away. We didn’t really need to pay the admission fee; we could hear the music fine from the other side of the barricade. But it’s only up close that you get to feel the music, so we paid.

As we entered onto the blocked off street, we ran into one of our son’s friends. He was eating on the patio of a restaurant in the “hub”. We had a short chat and then moved on to get close to the music.

As we left Gibby, that was the last time I saw someone under 25 for the rest of the night. Actually, it was the last time I saw someone under 65!  We passed into a time warp and everyone you looked at was old, and from a bygone era.

I don’t mean just middle aged – we were the young people in the crowd! I gazed over everyone sitting in their lawn chairs in front of the stage, and it was a sea of white hair. I couldn’t believe it.  Where were all the younger blues fans?

The band leader was just givin’ it on his guitar and these people were soaking it up. I think they probably had their hearing aides turned down and all they really heard was a muffled sound.

Hey, some of them probably turned off their pacemakers because the kick drum was so heavy you felt it inside you, like it was replacing your heartbeat.

It was funny to see all those old folks (some with canes), all happy like they just got out of a nursing home for the night. I checked, but there wasn’t any one of the seniors from my church at the event. And I couldn’t imagine any of them being there, or at least staying for more than two minutes.

The band we saw was called “Papa Chubby” and it was a very descriptive name for the leader of the group. He sat and played his guitar for most of the set, but it wasn’t like his show lacked energy!

The old folks were into it, too; they were moving. One guy reminded me of the bobble head figurines, only he was a whole body bobble head, standing there jiggling.

People were tapping their canes and even formed something of a weak resemblance to a mosh pit at the front of the stage.

We checked out just before it ended. We left the concert area to go grab some gelato on Front Street. And there we were, transported back to present-day Kingston!

Here’s the thing: Just like the “Blues” isn’t music for just an older generation, God is not the God of a past generation. And like anyone can enjoy listening to the Blues, Christ came to reconcile all generations to God. You are never too old or young to believe in God.

That’s Life!

Paul

Question: What have you stereotyped as being for another generation? Leave your comment below.

Is Christmas Early This Year, Or Is It Me?

I’m having a late start to the Christmas season this year.  I’m not sure why, but in some people’s minds that makes me the grinch.  My associate sure thinks so.  When he told me he’s been listening to Christmas music for the last few weeks, I kind of shuddered at the thought.  That’s when he said, “You’re the Grinch!” and screwed up his face to look like him … all he was missing was green coloured skin and the picture would have been complete!

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I don’t think anyone’s ever compared me to the Grinch before – and I don’t think it’s a fitting description of me!  I check my heart rate every day and it beats the same.  There’s no way my heart has grown smaller, and I’ve never dreamt about those “Who’s down in Whoville”.

My mood started on November 26th, Thanksgiving Day in the US.  For us in Canada, it was just another work day; we had our Thanksgiving early in October.

I was in my car with my radio tuned to my regular rock station.  There was a Christmas song playing.  I didn’t think too much of it until the next song was also a Christmas song.  That’s when the announcer said they were only going to play Christmas music until Christmas Day.

I immediately turned to another station and haven’t tuned back in since.  It just seemed way too early to be listening to old rock stars like Bruce Springsteen sing “Merry Christmas Baby” or the Beach Boys harmonizing their “Little Saint Nick” tune.

It’s not that I cringe when I hear Christmas music or see things like Christmas lights on other houses.  … Mind you, my wife had been reminding me that Christmas was only a few weeks away and I still hadn’t put up the lights on our house.  Okay, so I was a little late with that.  (I finally did put them up on the weekend.)  I figure it’s saved us a few dollars on our electricity bill and that’s not a bad thing.

There are reasons why I’m late with the lights.  That job used to be something I did with my daughter.  Every year we would try to pick the coldest day possible and then we would go out together and put up the lights.  Well, she’s been out west for the last six Christmases – abandoned me – so, I don’t have her help.  My son, well, he has yet to be inspired to pick up the yearly task with his dear old dad.  You can see why I’m a little tardy with the lights.

And though I’ve been working on Christmas themed messages for two weeks at work, I still haven’t got into the Christmas mood.  Even all the decorations at church haven’t seemed to penetrate my emotions.

You know, now that I think of it, maybe I AM the Grinch, or am having grinch-like symptoms.  I wonder if I caught it from someone or whether I’m just run down and the virus found me?  Maybe it’s none of that; maybe it’s that we don’t have snow, the grass is still green and it’s +10C (50F) out today and raining!

Here’s the thing:  We have made Christmas into a season, a feeling.  We have built it up into this amazing time of good cheer.  There’s nothing at all wrong with that, but if all that replaces our appreciation of Jesus’ birth and worship of Him, that’s when we miss the point.  … I’m still looking forward to Christmas dinner!

Until Next Time!

Pastor Paul

Question:  What distracts you from the real celebration of Christmas?  Leave your comment before.

I like Nostalgia Night … Once in a While

When I think of my ability to remember things, sometimes I find it amazing!  Sure, there are lots of things I don’t remember, like each week when the garbage has to go out … I still need a reminder for that.  Sometimes I need more that one reminder.  If you’re driving by my house at midnight on Tuesday (or, is it Wednesday?), it’s possible that you might see me putting the garbage out to the curb.

When you think of it though, on so many things our ability to recall is astounding.  Take phone numbers, for instance.  Some people can remember not only their own phone number, but they know all their relatives’ phone numbers and many of their friends’ numbers as well.  My wife Lily is like that; she’s my personal yellow pages if I need to call someone in our family.

The other day I was flicking channels on the TV and PBS had a special on the Ed Sullivan show.  (If you’ve never heard of that show, it was an entertainment show that ran from 1948-1971.)  This particular PBS special featured musical acts from the 60’s, so I tuned in.

It was great to see some of the bands perform from way back.  But what struck Lily was that I knew the words to many of the songs.  At one point she said, “You were 11 when that song was out and you know every word!”  I thought about it later, and I don’t even know how I learned the words.  They just got stuck in my memory.

Lily didn’t stay too long.  So there I was, alone, singing away with the likes of Herman’s Hermits, The Beatles, Jerry and Pacemakers, Lulu, and yes, even Tom Jones.  I was asked to shut the basement door as if that would create a sound barrier to my singing, that apparently got louder and louder as I got more into it.  What Lily was really hoping for was the “cone of silence” from “Get Smart” (another 60’s TV show).  When I came upstairs later, Lily had an ice pack on her neck.  She said that her neck had been bad for weeks, but I’m wondering if maybe my singing finished it off.

I did enjoy myself though.  I could even remember guitar solos, drum beats – I sang them too.  For about an hour my memory was digging deep, bringing song after song to the front of my mind.  I guess I overtaxed it though, because I couldn’t remember where I put the remote when it was over.

Here is the thing:  God says that when He forgives us, our sins are gone, taken away “as far as the east is from the west”.  So when we have confessed our sins to Him, and then still feel guilty for them, it’s not God punishing us, or needling us with those sins.  It’s our own excellent memory that keeps them coming back!  What we need to do is be a little more selective with what we remember when it comes to our past sins.  We need to treat our past sins more like taking out the garbage or remembering where we put the remote control.

Until Next Time!

Pastor Paul

Question: How do you prevent your past from plaguing you with guilt?