You can tell a lot about a person by the music he or she grew up listening to.
As a young boy, I remember running many errands with my dad to our local recycling center. We drove in my late grandfather’s mid-80s red Chevy S-10. It had a manual transmission which my dad never stalled. While these trips were ideal traps for father-son talks, we would fill the gaps by listening to the radio.
Since these errands happened on Saturday mornings, we faithfully tuned in to our local NPR station. This was before the era of Wait Wait Don’t Tell Me and This American Life. We listened to the classic NPR shows: Whad’ya Know and Car Talk. I was crushed to hear of the passing of Car Talk host Tom Magliozzi last November. Everything I know about cars I learned from Car Talk — which, admittedly, isn’t much.
Some mornings, though, the humor of Click and Clack and Michael Feldman — who hosted Whad’ya Know — fell flat. Really flat. On those mornings Dad would pop in a cassette tape of one of his favorite musicians.
We wouldn’t sing. We wouldn’t talk. We would simply sit and listen with the windows rolled down, filling nature with what my dad called “good music.”
A lot of these memories blur together, like most of my youth, but I distinctly remember one tape getting more play than others:
Linda Ronstadt’s Greatest Hits
Oh, my word. Just listening to “Blue Bayou” takes me back to that horrible recycling center, chucking cardboard over those ridiculously high container walls, spilling watery milk all over my jacket as I reenacted Michael Jordan hitting The Shot. Somehow, some way, Linda always made the trip better.
It’s funny, though, how much I dislike country music now. Growing up in the heart of the Ozarks, country music was pervasive and all my friends listened to it (and still do). But I don’t. The twang just didn’t take root in my heart. I think I could listen to almost any other kind of music than country. Rap. Classical. Pop. Barbershop. Just not country.
I even have a soft spot for Christian music. While I don’t listen to it much anymore save the occasional worship songs, especially the ones created by our church, I grew up listening to it so there’s a fondness for some of it: Carman, Rich Mullins, DC Talk.
My first live concert was to go hear 4HIM. I say “hear” because I was stuck behind a very tall gentleman who must have owned every 4HIM album ever made. I remember him being very excited to be there, because his enthusiasm blocked my view most of the night. But the concert was nice to listen to. Tight harmonies, up-tempo beat, very predictable lyrics.
Thankfully (I guess depending on who you ask), Christian music has evolved from those days.
The Rock & Worship Roadshow 2015
Compassion International is in the middle of a 20+-city music tour called “The Rock & Worship Roadshow.” This weekend I’m on the road in Pittsburgh and Louisville with a variety of Christian music artists — MercyMe, Tedashii, Matt Maher, Crowder, Jamie Grace and a ton of others.
Tonight’s show in Pittsburgh was great. The music was rocking. The hooks were catchy. The lyrics were still kinda predictable. But it was good. And not in the way my dad described Linda Ronstadt. This was good music. The night was filled with crowds as varied as the music itself. I saw several generations well represented. And the message of the night was overwhelmingly positive. Shaun Groves’ storytelling is unrivaled. The entire crowd was attentive as he shared about the work of Compassion.
The tour has been a rousing success. The Roadshow is in its final stretch for this winter-spring run. If you get a chance to see it, go. Tickets are only $10 at the door and you won’t be disappointed. Not in the message. Not in the environment. And not in the music.
No matter what kind of music you grew up listening to.