I wouldn’t want to say “retractions”, but maybe a couple of clarifications:
1) My rant may not suggest it, but I have no problem with somebody reading theological/philosophical non-fiction. In fact, I think it’s probably good for you in helping you reflect on your own life and your own beliefs. What I get annoyed about is when that is ALL it seems a person will read/think about/discuss. This seems WAY out of balance. Jeff made some particularly clear comments on this subject. He probably even said what I meant to say better than I actually did. So, check that out.
2) I read t-rev’s comment a couple of days ago, and I’m being too lazy to go back and re-read it to comment on some things he said specifically, but here’s some responses that I remember:
Yes, writing “worship music” (and I’m referring to the most simplistic definition of this) is and should be much more concrete in its terminology and “craft” if you will. Consequently, I’m not sure that you can have really “good art” in a worship song. I wrestle with this. And it opens a huge can of worms in terms of “good art” vs. “bad art”, but I don’t really want to go there.
When I was younger, I was told the the highest aspiration or highest purpose of the art of songwriting would be writing praise and worship songs. I have all kinds of problems with this statement now, and I’m not sure if I really bought it to begin with. And I don’t really want to go there right now, either. (I’m tired and lazy.)
My point here is that Mockingbird was NOT a Praise & Worship record. If it were, I would be evaluating it by a different set of criteria. I would say its purpose was to be an “artistic” statement and in that regard, I believe it failed horribly. I would contend that it was definitely a statement, but feebly artistic if at all. And again, I say that even though I agreed with most of what he had to say. I just think that if he’s going to say it in the way he did (lacking poetry/nuance/etc.), he should write a brochure or booklet or something instead of a record.
I felt the same way a couple of years ago about Allanis Morrissette. (spelling?) I had read in an interview that she’d decided that she didn’t talk or think in meter or rhyming, so she decided that her songs didn’t need to either. I’m sorry but that’s not really songwriting to me. I’d call it writing that you sing. And if it’s just writing, why don’t you just write for somebody to read.
I realize that my ideas of songwriting are not the same as others’. Some want more structure and more craft than I do. Some want less. I’m ok with that. I’m just saying that Mockingbird does not fit my definition of good songwriting craft and/or art.
P.S. Thanks for commenting. I really didn’t know if anybody looked at this anymore.
November 4, 2007 at 3:32 am
In response to THAT (and we’re back on Derek Webb now), I think Mockingbird WAS pretty decent protest record.
Whereas She Must and Shall Go Free was a pretty decent Christian record (actually I don’t know that I’ve ever heard it in its entirety, so I don’t know that I can say that, but I do like that Wedding Dress song in a ‘too bad this’ll never make it on KLRC’ sort of way).
In any case, I think you CAN have good art and bad art (I’m not about to prove it right here and now–I’m way too lazy, too). But I also think there’s a specturm…have I ranted about this to you before?
I think it’s a triangle shaped specturm, with its points being art, entertainment and utilitarianism. Art is about challenging people to see the truth (Truth?). Entertainment is obvious and needs no explanation. Utilitarianism is things that could be art or entertainment that were made for purpose that is neither. Musically, worship songs and jingles fall into this category.
None of these things are bad. And there aren’t any hard and fast lines between the three–it’s spectrum.
What’s annoying to me is when something that’s one thing masquerades as another. This is why I hate musicals: they’re entertainment masquerading as art. Christian music is just as bad: utilitarianism and entertainment masquerading as art.
Mockingbird was pretty utilitarian. I think that’s ok, but it doesn’t make it good art.
November 5, 2007 at 4:35 am
I think this may be why I don’t blog very much. Those that comment on my blogs do better commenting than I do blogging.
All that to say: No, I’ve not heard your triangular spectrum of art, entertainment, and utilitarian (in my personal philosophy of art I would call this pragmatism, but you say tomato…) before. But, I think I like it a lot.
And another point you made points to why I have such a problem with Mockingbird: So many people herald it as a great “artistic” statement, but it seems to me too pragmatic for that.
I’ve been thinking about this spectrum triangle since friday. Did you come up with this on your own?