<body><script type="text/javascript"> function setAttributeOnload(object, attribute, val) { if(window.addEventListener) { window.addEventListener('load', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }, false); } else { window.attachEvent('onload', function(){ object[attribute] = val; }); } } </script> <div id="navbar-iframe-container"></div> <script type="text/javascript" src="https://apis.google.com/js/plusone.js"></script> <script type="text/javascript"> gapi.load("gapi.iframes:gapi.iframes.style.bubble", function() { if (gapi.iframes && gapi.iframes.getContext) { gapi.iframes.getContext().openChild({ url: 'https://www.blogger.com/navbar.g?targetBlogID\x3d12585839\x26blogName\x3dthe+old+SHLOG+(moved+to+shaungroves.c...\x26publishMode\x3dPUBLISH_MODE_BLOGSPOT\x26navbarType\x3dBLACK\x26layoutType\x3dCLASSIC\x26searchRoot\x3dhttp://readshlog.blogspot.com/search\x26blogLocale\x3den_US\x26v\x3d2\x26homepageUrl\x3dhttp://readshlog.blogspot.com/\x26vt\x3d-6606949357892583233', where: document.getElementById("navbar-iframe-container"), id: "navbar-iframe" }); } }); </script>



My song writing is the collision of two influences:

1. Alternative rock music beginning with Nirvana and the rest of those long haired Seattle earth tone wearers with loud amps and not-so-great voices AND modern rockers/pop rockers like Weezer and Matchbox Twenty and new bands like Fountains of Wayne, Jimmy Eat World and All-American Rejects: People making passionate interesting (to me) and hooky often-distorted music with shallow or unintelligible or even pointless lyrics.

2. Singer songwriters like Fogerty, Fogelberg, Cat Stevens, Cash, Neil Diamond (I said it), <Barry Manilow (I said that too), Elton John (actually Bernie Taupin), Sting, Rich Mullins, Nichole Nordeman, Andrew Peterson and the like: People who have a way with words but sometimes - I said SOMETIMES - leave me bored musically.

My mission has been to mash the two together, to make concoctions from varying amounts of each. One of the greatest inspirations for this approach early on (high school for me) was Billy Joel's "We Didn't Start The Fire". Now, it's no rocker by today's standards but in a pre-grunge world it was edgy for the piano man. He crafted an interesting yet repetitive melody we could remember, edged it up a little with guitars and production gimmicks and a video with lots of fire in it and embedded a history lesson/sermon in the thing. Genius.

Where have all the entertaining and thought provoking collisions of creativity and content gone? (Christian music fans, I said "entertaining" and "creative" AND "content".) Who's doing this well in your opinion? Smart but not sleepy or acoustic. Modern but not insultingly stupid.

We Didn't Start The Fire
by Billy Joel

Harry Truman, Doris Day, Red China, Johnnie Ray
South Pacific, Walter Winchell, Joe DiMaggio 

Joe McCarthy, Richard Nixon, Studebaker, television
North Korea, South Korea, Marilyn Monroe

Rosenbergs, H-Bomb, Sugar Ray, Panmunjom
Brando, "The King and I",
and "The Catcher in the Rye"

Eisenhower, vaccine, England's
got a new queen 
Marciano, Liberace, Santayana

We didn't start the fire
It was always burning
Since the world's been turning
We didn't start the fire
No we didn't light it
But we tried to fight it

Josef Stalin, Malenkov, Nasser
and Prokofiev
Rockefeller, Campanella, Communist Bloc

Roy Cohn, Juan Peron, Toscanini, dacron
Dien Bien Phu
and "Rock Around the Clock" 

Einstein, James Dean, Brooklyn's got a winning team
Davy Crockett, "Peter Pan", Elvis Presley, Disneyland

Bardot, Budapest, Alabama, Khrushchev
Princess Grace, "Peyton Place",
trouble in the Suez 


Little Rock, Pasternak, Mickey Mantle, Kerouac
Sputnik, Chou En-Lai, "Bridge on the River Kwai"

Lebanon, Charles de Gaulle, California baseball
Starkweather, homicide,
children of thalidomide

Buddy Holly, "Ben-Hur", space monkey, Mafia
hula hoops, Castro, Edsel
is a no go

U2, Syngman Rhee, payola
and Kennedy
Chubby Checker, "Psycho", Belgians in the Congo 


Hemingway, Eichmann, "Stranger in a Strange Land" 
Dylan, Berlin, Bay of Pigs Invasion 

"Lawrence of Arabia", British Beatlemania
Ole Miss, John Glenn, Liston beats Patterson

Pope Paul, Malcolm X, British politician sex 
JFK, blown away, what else do I have to say


Birth control, Ho Chi Minh, Richard Nixon,
back again
Moonshot, Woodstock, Watergate, punk rock 
Begin, Reagan, Palestine, terror on the airline
Ayatollolah's in Iran, Russians in Afghanistan

  "Wheel of Fortune" , Sally Ride, heavy metal, suicide
  Foreign debts, homeless vets, AIDS, Crack, Bernie Goetz 
Hypodermics on the shores, China's under martial law
Rock and Roller Cola Wars, I can't take it anymore


We didn't start the fire
But when we are gone
Will it still burn on, and on, and on, and on...

On a related note, Jars of Clay - masters of this approach in my opinion - are officially out of their record deal after the forthcoming CD "Good Monsters" releases and plan to make music independently. There's a lot of that going around eh?


Anonymous Stephen said...

"We Didn't Start the Fire" is one of my favorite Billy Joel songs. I think it's almost impossible not sing along to, at least the chorus. Once I get it in my head it's usually stuck there for the rest of the day.

Very interesting that Jars is now independent. Did you know Caedmon's Call is also independent? Caedmon's and Jars were both with Essential Records.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Re-he-eally? Didn't know that? Osenga? You been holding out or did I just miss this detail on your blog.

I smell the "LET FREEDOM SING" tour being born - with Jars, Caedmon's and, let's see, what solo low-maintenace guy could open for them?

No, not Andrew Peterson. Someone who would sell fewer CDs at the merch table and therefore cut into the headliners' purses less. I'm just thinking about my rock start friends is all.

Here to serve...and play fifteen minutes as your opener as well as drive the production truck.


Anonymous Stephen said...

Here's a link to Caedmon's announcement...

And you're not far off on the name. Cliff wants to call their next tour ‘The Emancipation Tour’.

Anonymous J. Botter said...

I think it's outstanding that more and more artists from the CCM scene are going indie. I've known for a few years that Caedmon's likely wouldn't do another record deal after the one with Essential expired, but it's a shocker that Jars is doing the same thing. I guess it makes sense, though, since they will still do very well even without the label support. Very few artists are at that point, but it's good to see the ones that ARE there taking advantage of it.

By the way, I would pay $50 to see Caedmons, Jars and you do a show.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Emancipation Tour...Didn't Prince do that? Seriously. I think he did.

$50??? Wow, that means my cut is...oh, yea I'm the opener.

Blogger Brody Harper said...

I think I may pay more, (unless I could get in free). Seriously though, Jars has continued to make amazing lyrical and musical brilliance. Caedmon's ain't too shabby either. That is a circle that would be worth getting involved in.

Anyone know if they (any of them) need a low priced, tour manager that plays mediocre guitar??

Blogger Kathryn said...

interesting post! Mash away, Mr. Groves. . concoct. . sounds "Mad Scientist" in a good way though! I'm not a good person to ask about who i think does this well in Christian circles. . but I think some of the most interesting acts 'out there' are the ones who have diverse interests and influences. There are really interesting artists who dig into all kinds of stuff and mash it all together: Beck, Beatles, Chicago, Jane Sibbery, Esthero, Paul Simon, Madonna, Outkast, Queen, B.E.P., Alicia Keys, Prince.

I tend to love the 'storytellers' when it comes to lyrics. . Springsteen, Dylan, Paul Simon, EJ/Bernie Taupin (i was a huge fan) Van Morrison. .

Blogger Max Power said...

David Crowder's kinda paving the way (in my opinion) along with Jon Foreman of Switchfoot in the Christian arena. How can you not bring up U2? Ben Harper's interesting but not accessible enough... Springsteen's obvios, along with Marvin Gaye back in the day and Coldplay today (too mainstream - I know). Kanye's leading the pack in hip-hop and if she hadn't gone off the deep end, I'm sure we'd be holding up Lauryn Hill as a role model of melody and content.

Anonymous laura said...

DOWNHERE!!!! Maybe their subjects are common but their songs present them in a new way and they're backed up with amazing music!


Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I agree: Downhere. (Dude sings like Freddy Mercury too so that helps.)

I don't agree: Crowder. Love what he does. But lyrically simple for my taste. But yet, I dig it. Simple works for the complex music he makes.


Blogger Jeremy Botter said...

I think Crowder's simplicity is intended due to his role as a worship leader. There's an ever-widening gap between the music of, say, Tomlin and the music that Crowder makes. Tomlin writes instant classics that are memorable on the first listen, but both his music and lyrics are overtly simple. This is not to say it's a bad thing, and in fact I do the same thing when writing worship material. But Crowder's always been a bit different in terms of the music he makes, and I think he truly HAS to keep things simple if he wants to keep putting songs out there for the mainstream church to sing.

Just my opinion, of course.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

I agree. Simple isn't bad. But a thesaurus isn't either.

Anonymous sharibrown said...

"Tomlin writes instant classics that are memorable on the first listen," Jeremy botter

And ends up with songs like "Party". Just kidding, I know he was forced to write that song and still regrets it to this day.

Crowders A Collision tells a story, and invites us all along, with songs like Come and Listen. He meets a massive group of people there and encourages them to grow.

Listeners just won't stand for mediocre music anymore. I love the indie projects and will support them to the end. One of my favorites is little known, The Rest of Us and their lead guys project Miguel Caraballos. Also loving summer festivals, heard some great music yesterday in Clay Center KS.

Thanks for setting bar higher, loving your music Shaun.

Anonymous keith said...

Sorry, I like acoustic better, and I think Randall Goodgame does it best. The Everybodyfields are also great story tellers and musicians.

Blogger Amy said...

Kathryn...I love Jane Siberry. It's always beyond fun to find someone else who does!! When I was a Boy is one of my all-time favorite cds.

Do you think Tomlin's music will stand the test of time? IMHO, truly great worship music will go beyond "God is great" and give us something a little more to hold onto...I enjoy his songs, don't get me wrong, but if a song doesn't dig a little deeper into the character of God, it's quite easily fogotten. just my thoughts on that. I enjoy a lot of crowder's music too, but sometimes the lyrics leave me thinking..."what?"

Blogger JOEY_MCFARLAND said...

I gotta throw my two cents in here! You hit a nerve. I love the artists you mentioned above, I mean who doesn't? (Even secretly everybody sings by heart Barry and Neil's tunes). I agree with you about, "Where did it all go?" I think artists are afraid of the risk that is involved in being so original and out there and the risk of failure that is increased when being so honest with the art of making music like that. As for who's doing that now? Well they are few and far between. Imogen Heap is this way right now! Actively pushing the envelope of what is expected in music.

In Christian music the music that Five Cent Stand is doing is arguably so far away from the copy cat norm that it demands respect and attention. I know they are my friends, but as an artist, and as a prrofessional musician who lives and breaths the artists you mentioned, Seth's music is revolutionary as well as true to the roots that the great writers have been founded upon. The greatest music written becomes a soundtrack to our lives. Even without the stigma of "Christian" music the music God has brought out of Seth stands on it's own. Five Cent Stand's music is going to soar soon you just watch. ;)

Blogger Sara Edwards said...

I recently read a blog where the author was admitting that she'd been "tricked" into listening to a "Jesus channel" on her radio because the song that was playing as she scanned the dial was entertaining to her. (It was Kirk Franklin.) The implication, of course, is that she EXPECTS Christian music to be boring. I don't think she's the only one.

To answer your question: I've always thought Jennifer Knapp did a good job at doing all those things.

Blogger Dave Haupert said...

Gotta agree with the Jennifer Knapp nod- she is still my fav Christian artist and she has not put out any _new_ material in years.

re: Crowder, some of his songs wax poetic in lyrical content (love 'Oh Praise Him' for that). Yes, choruses repeat a small amount of words over and over, but I think his recipe is to write challenging lyrics with a simple refrain.

As much as Chris Tomlin gets comments about simple lyrics, his are somewhat similar to Crowders when you think about it- simple refrains everyone can sing, but lyrically more interesting verses.

But indeed none of these are storytellers. You have to give Andrew Peterson, Chris Rice, etc the nod for that. In that case, though I have to agree with SG- the best writers are not the best musicians, and it would be great to get a combo of both. Why is it that in the Christian Music scene, we don't find many cases where a great musician uses songs written by a great writer. As you mentioned Elton John and Bernie Taupin, that's a great example of a good combination!

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Michael W. Smith with Wayne Kirkpatrick. That was a great combo once upon a time.

MMy perspective on Crowder is skewed, I have to confess. I knew him in college and sang along - or tried to - to his early unrecorded stuff. It was less sing-along...but also a lot less commercial. It's hard to let people make music that's different from your first encounter with them isn't it?

Five Cent Stand...from what I've heard, reminds me of Postal Service a little bit.


Blogger euphrony said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

Blogger euphrony said...

A few of the names mentioned I would go along with readily: Jennifer Knapp, Rich Mullins, Jars of Clay, Downhere (I think he looks a little like Freddy Mercury, too). I would add a few like Plumb (more hit or miss than always dead-on with content and catchiness), Burlap to Cashmere, and Sara Groves (so I like a good folksy/acoustic sound and her lyrics are so compelling and real). Fernando Ortega has some great music, but I admit it makes me a little drowsy.

As to the Tomlin’s and Crowder’s, I do not have a problem with them or their music. We all love to have a good, anthemic song to sing along with at the top of our lungs. What I have a problem with is the way stations and the industry promote these safe songs to the extent of drowning out the deeper, edgier, more creative stuff. This, of course, is not limited to the Christian industry but is across the board in music. I would disagree with sharibrown that listeners will not stand for mediocre music: if that were true, then the top forty stations would sound very different. What I do have a problem with is “Christian music” that somehow seems to leave out Christ from the storyline. Lyrically ambiguous music does not serve the kingdom nearly as well as some people think.

Independent artists. They are popping up everywhere among the formerly labeled artists. I wonder if that is not where Jennifer Knapp is trying to head as she has let Gotee repackage the songs from three albums into multiple greatest hits and live albums, trying to cover her contract for seven. (This, of course, is just a suspicion. She could simply have been exhausted from doing 200+ shows a year.) I like what Sara Groves has done, with an “equal risk, equal reward” contract, where she funds here own albums and owns all the music, using the label more as a distributor than anything else. Shaun, I know you read this article (http://www.newreleasetuesday.com/wordpress/?p=46) because you commented on it.

Blogger euphrony said...

Oh, yeah. I also like Matt Brouwer. Another guy who got feed up and left his label.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Last I heard Knapster was in Australia. Headed there after our tour together. It's called burnout. It's what you get when you tour non-stop for four years. I don't think we'll hear from her again...not in the Christian music scene anyway.

Nobody knows what "serves the kingdom". Instead of saying something doesn't maybe we should simply say it doesn't serve it the way I'd like it too. I'm guilt of this as well. Outside concerts screaming Jesus at people who pass by doesn't seem to serve much of a purpose to me, and it's definitely not the most effective ministry these days, but I can't say ti does nothing. It just doesn't do what I want it to do if, I'm honest. Is that just me?

I agree that if people were sick of safe, labels would stop making safe. Truth is that a certain kind of person is a Christian in America. Evangelical Christianity attracts certain personality types. It tends to draw safe people - laggards, marketers call them - the last to adopt new technology, the least likely to innovate or push the boundaries of any medium. This isn't true of ALL of us but many, maybe even most of us. Christian music attracts these laggards for the most part: people who want safe. Why do you think it's marketed that way? It's what the audience wants.

SO in the end the laggard listens to CCM radio and supports the establishment while the other 97% of Christians in America (many non-evangelicals or folks who don't know what that term even means or care to) and non-Christian music lovers (many who would call themselves "spiritual" and would therefore not mind a discussion about our faith) are grumbling for different or at the very least ready for it.

SO, yes, there are some in that 97% who hate CCM music for it's safeness but they aren't the audience so who cares? Labels don't. Stations don't. Lifeway sure doesn't. But they will if someone can sell a lot of music to that 97%. WHen Switchfoot "crossed over" CCM radio started caring about them. Same thing with Mercy Me who had at least two failed CCM singles before I Can Only Imagine blew up. Same thing with POD who played for small CCM festival crowds until making it big via MTV. When you tap the 97% "market" the CCM industry rallies to support. This is good. But the CCM crowd won't take the initiative on their own to make music for the 97%. Too risky.

But as Seth Godin would say, "Safe is risky." As "they" support safe and the occasional successful risk taker missionary to the 97% more and more folks are buying independent and buying on-line. Even more are refusing to listen to CCM music of any kind.

Safe is made because safe sells to the market "they" know they can reach: the laggards. What we have to figure out how to do is get music and books and film and art to the anti-laggard - the innovators in the Church who see some value in what we make. First we have to put value in what we make. If we make something with evident value, and if we get that to the innovators and if the innovators spread the word then radio and labels will have to change and we'll have less safe music. But, man, if that isn't the biggest mountain of IFs you'll ever climb.

And if everyone makes what isn't safe - which will never happen - it won't be risky any more. Risky and safe are like art: moving targets pushed around and redefined daily by the majority and minority. Once we all do something it's no longer art or risky is it? So this desire for "better" will always exist. I tend to think God put that there don't you? A little unquenchable thirst for importance that we'll always have.

Man, that's one random comment. But it's my blog. I can ramble if I want to right?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think you copped that CD from me back in the day Shaun.... like "downeaster alexa" too


Blogger euphrony said...

I think I hit a nerve. Sorry if I caused undue pain in your fingertips as they flew across the keyboard to type that ramble. But, as you say, it’s your blog and this is why we read it: to know and share with you and others.

Laggards are 3%, eh? I never really thought of it this way, as I would consider many of the people I see around me on Sunday morning's to be in or around that position. (I would say Sunday night and Wednesday night, too, but I don't see them then.) Maybe I'm too quick to dismiss or too critical of the ambiguous lyrics. I just know what I have heard from people who are ticked off when they have heard a song on an AC station, go buy the album, and then find the Jesus message in the other songs. They act as I would, because no one likes the bait and switch. Mercy Me is, it seems, a fairly unique example of a crossover that was unabashedly about Christ (maybe I'm missing a few). Sixpence None the Richer probably only lasted as long as they did because of a few crossover hits. CCM never really embraced them.

Appropriateness of the message and the delivery method for the message is always challenging. If only we all hit it perfect, like Paul on Mars Hill. A great example from when I was at Texas A&M: one year at Bonfire there was a guy walking through the crowd of 50,000, with his wife and kids, all holding signs and screaming at us that we were all going to hell. Not something I would consider an appropriate method or message for what is essentially a huge pep rally. But then, I know a man who starts up conversations with strangers by asking where they would go if they died today (a nicer phrasing of the same message as the guy at Bonfire). He says it turns away a lot of people, but he also has consistently baptized 4-5 people a year because of his personal evangelism. How many of us can say the same?

Yeah, I always want something better. We are easily bored people; compared to God we are all severely ADHD - no attention, running around like a chicken with its head cut off trying to do who knows what. Hopefully we will always have those, in music and elsewhere, that search for something better and challenge us to find that something better in God. You're doing a good job of that, Shaun.

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

No, no, no. Let me clarify. MOST or MANY of Evangelical Americans are laggards. We're the last to change and adopt "new."

Out of ALL "born again" Christians in America, only 3% are supposedly listening to Christian music. (I don't know how much listening one has to do to be in that stat.)

The 3% is known. The exact number of laggards or their percentage of Evangelicals in America is not. My guess is, MOST of us Christians, based on my travels and my own life and upbringing, are laggards. I know I was attracted to Christinity in part because it made me feel safe. Does that desire for safety also account for us wanting to play it safe in all things? Dunno. What do you think.

Example: The electronic keyboard was consumer affordable and ubiquitous by at least 1980 right? But when did your church get one? Now, when did the independent bar band get one?

This was funny to me. You said, " If only we all hit it perfect, like Paul on Mars Hill." Read the whole chapter (ACTS 17?). Mars Hill was a failure compared with Paul's other attempts at evangelism. The smart guys he was trying to connect with said, basically, "What the heck is he talking about? Is he drunk?"

That passage gets use to say we should be "relevant" AND by others to say such an approach is futile because relationships build the Church. The truth of course is there is not one approach for Paul's building of the Church and there won't be for us. There is no one way to do it.

Fingers need a break. Be back later in the day.

Blogger euphrony said...

Maybe I need to read posts more than once (or twice) to make sure I understand what is written before I respond. I think I see what you were saying, now, after the third or fourth reading.

I know that Mars Hill was not a success, but I have always had a different view of such things from most people I know. Paul did the right thing, but the hard-hearted, self-confident Greeks thought they knew better and dismissed him and his message. Not a great result, but I think that Paul did and said what he needed to at that moment. I guess I'm in the relevant crowd in using this passage. I think also of Moses before Pharaoh: perfect message (exactly what God told him to say) but not a good result until the tenth time.

There is no one way to present the gospel and build the church. I do seem to come back to Paul, who said he came to lay a foundation and plant a seed (1 Corinthians 1:13-17 and 3:5-15) and not to do other things. Paul knew his place, knew what he was called to do, and simply did it. He left the other tasks to someone else whom God has gifted to do such a thing, and focused on his own gift for laying a foundation. If we want to find the best ways to build the kingdom, we ought to do likewise and find our own gifts and work in them. An old friend of mine, who has spent most of his life as a missionary in the Philippines, once told me that the growth of the church was very slow there. He told me that this was because the missionaries who were there, for the most part, should not have been there: they were not gifted in missionary work and it showed. They were there, though, because they saw the need for people to do the work and those who were gifted to do this mission work did not step up.

Blogger Amy said...

Interesting about the growth of the church in the Phillipines, since it's one of my denominations "success" stories (they have withdrawn and the national church is completely in charge)

I guess I like safe. I don't adopt new technology easily because it's expensive. Ha.

Oh and I still don't think Tomlin's verses are complex. Sometimes, I'm not even sure the ideas all go together. (for example, I call 'holy is the lord" the aerobics song..."we stand and lift up our hands, for the joy of the Lord is our strength, we bow down and worship Him now." that's a lot of movement!)

Blogger Kathryn said...

Amy!!! Yes, a Sibbery fan!!!! WHEN I WAS A BOY is my all time favourite!!!! I've absolutely worn this one out. Its . . . what is it?! haunting, gorgeous, loving, pleading. . .

Blogger holyteach said...

Switchfoot. Derek Webb. Rockers and songwriters. Just my 2¢

Blogger Shaun Groves said...

Yep. Would you call Derek a "rocker" though? I haven't heard his new stuff but the She Must And Shall Be Free record wasn't rock if I recall correctly. But, yea, great lyrics and definitely not singer-songwriter sounding music.

I'd put a lot of no longer existing bands/artists in this category too. Like Chasing Furies and Wes Cunningham, The Normals. Maybe it's time for a strategy change (yikes).

Andrew Osenga's in this camp too. Definitely. Who else?

Anonymous sharibrown said...



This conversation has bugged me for days. I don't know what Max has in mind but I am looking forward to it, and I have to agree with Beaujon in the CT piece.

Anonymous richard said...

i'd throw cool hand luke in there too. great lyrics and beautiful music, imo.

Anonymous jimmy c. said...

Just checked out some of these people. I really like Dereck W. Intersting voice musically and lyrically. That Five Cent Stand has some pretty catchy tunes as well. I don't know about that Postal Service comparison though. The Chris Tomlin stuff is a little touchy-feely for my taste but that's just me.

Thanks for the suggestions.

Love your blog!!

Blogger marianne said...

This post stayed with me. I felt less guilty about feeling so drawn to "non-Christian" music because of how great it can sound after reading this.

But, then I discovered Charlie Dodrill thanks to Nancy Tyler - he's pretty interesting if you ask me. When he does that Dave Matthews sounding thing I'd say there is definitely entertainment mixed in with the creativity and content. In my opinion.


Post a Comment

Links to this post:

Create a Link

<< Home