Friday, December 12, 2014

NERF #1 - Worship of the 20th Century

Go to Andy's Extras for a little yuletide cheer

Ok, so what's NERF? NERF stands for 'Not Enough Room For', as in there's just not enough room for all the worship songs I wanted to discuss. Believe it or not, a list of the 100 best worship songs ever is just too limiting for me to work with. Since I didn't want this countdown to start at #200 (or #214), I decided that every so often during the countdown that I'd take a break from counting down songs and use the space to go over the worship songs, artists, and worship themes that didn't make the countdown.

It feels like every group of 10 songs seems like a good natural break. Oh, and in case you're wondering why I stopped at song #91 instead of song #90, it's because way down the road I didn't want to stop at song #10, but rather I wanted to stop at song #11, so that my next post could be "And now on to the top 10". A little insight into the mind of Andy. Sorry about that. Sorry, not sorry.

Before we get to the NERF theme, I ought to address those of you who came here thinking that the next song was going to be Come Now is the Time to Worship, so here goes: PSYCH!. Gotcha. I gotta throw in a little curve ball every now and then, just to keep it fresh. Plus, I've gotta do what I can to get the precious clicks on my site. Hey, that just gave me a great idea: From now on when I post an update, I'll just write 'Come to my blog to hear 2 dozen never heard before Jesus Culture songs - just discovered'. Eh, that would probably only work once.

The theme of this NERF is worship songs of the 20th century, and here's the VERY important reason that it needs to be included on the list. If you recall, I started in the youth ministry in 1999. As I mentioned in this post, StillTooLazyToLookItUp, I think that the year 1999 represents the starting point for the modern worship movement. I'm sure it has a little to do with that being the year I started, but it's hard to deny with stuff like Hungry, One Day, Sonicflood, etc, that that's where worship really took off.

You could survive on a desert island with just these 1999 CDs. Good luck finding an iPod jack, though.

In the summer of 1999, I had no worship music at all, but I knew I needed a bunch since I'd be expected to lead worship come that fall. I believe it was Ted (maybe Alan), who let me have all their stuff so that I could get the music I needed. I got a bunch of the songs I thought I might need and it ended up being 6 CDs worth. I still have those 6 original CDs, by the way (Andy, they don't need to hear that, move along. Voice in my head, is that you? Nope. Now go do what I said - go burn something).

Anyway, to make a long story longer, it was those 6 CDs that I started with.  And those 6 CDs contained most of the popular worship music that everyone was doing at the time. Those songs were sort of the 'what's what' of worship people had been doing in churches and youth camps for the better part of the 1990s. Everyone knows what I'm talking about here: You are My All in All, I Could Sing of Your Love Forever, We Want To See Jesus Lifted High, etc.

So, here's the question that I have to deal with when making the list: Do all of these pre-1999 songs get NERF'd, or do I NERF only some of them? And how do I decide which ones are NERF-worthy? (and, what kind of a mental genius do you have to be to invent a term like 'NERF', and then just a few short paragraphs later use NERF as a noun, an adjective, an acronym, AND a verb?)

ANDY RABBIT TRAIL - Enter at your own risk

You know, this talk of 1999 being the best year ever for worship got me thinking: What is the best year ever in the history of mankind? Is it 1492?, or 1776? How about year zero, when Jesus was born? Well, first of all we're gonna have to defer to Sam from Quantum Leap here (Nerd Alert!); because Sam could travel back in time and enter someone else's body, but he could ONLY travel back to a time during his lifetime. 

What that means is that, by executive order, I'm declaring that the GREATEST YEAR IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND can only include the years that I have been on the planet, so it's from 1964 to present. 1964 might be a good choice, since that was the year I was born plus it's when the Beatles came to America. But I'm going to have to eliminate that, since those two things comprise the extent of knowledge I have about 1964 (President Taft? Who knows?)

How about 2000? That was Y2K, and the year I started being in full swing in the youth ministry. It's also the year I met my wonderful kitty Bear, who's still with me; and the equally wonderful Chimchim, who went to kitty heaven in 2011. What about 1976? It gets positive points for being our nation's bicentennial, but negative points because I seem to recall there was a lot of Elton John on the radio. 

Ok, I've got it. The GREATEST YEAR IN THE HISTORY OF MANKIND is officially 1985. That year I had a great year at college, I was involved in everything, including dating the current Kutztown University Homecoming Queen (true fact, but don't worry, she dumped me a few months later when she got to know me better). It was also the year the Mets got Gary Carter, and it has that cool Bowling For Soup song. But the thing that makes 1985 the best year ever is that it produced the two greatest movies of all time - 'Back To The Future' and 'The Breakfast Club'. 

500 Andy Points to anyone who read all that, now where was I? Oh yea, I was trying to figure out how I determine which songs get left off the list because they don't seem to be 'modern worship'.

Let's take the song You are My All in All. Great song. Church classic. Youth Camp staple. Somewhere in America there's a 43 year old guy who went to a church camp once when he was 15, but now he's a twice-divorced, drugged out, God-hating, lover of pleasure/lover of self. Still, if he accidentally heard You are My All in All right now, he might cry like a little baby. Powerful song, is what I'm saying.

However, that song was written in 1991, and as such it doesn't really qualify as 'modern worship', based on the terms I set forth for this blog. Is that fair? Probably not, but these are the kinds of things I have to work around. Here's the crux: If I broaden my scope just a little, You are My All in All might make it into the top 10, but if I stick to the rules, it might not even be on my list. It's a real Sophie's Choice, to be sure. Yes, to be sure, it's an agonizing Sophie's Choice.

So, does that mean that none of these songs will be on the list. No, not at all. Some will, and some won't. Unfortunately, I can't give you a real good explanation as to why I consider a song 'modern worship'. For instance, to me, Lord I Lift Your Name on High seems to be like a church camp song that pre-dates modern worship. However, You're Worthy of My Praise seems to me to be a worship classic that has to be on a top 100 list. One was written in 1989, the other in 1991. So, I'm really just going on a feeling here, which, if you know me well, does NOT sit well with me. I like cold hard facts, not squishy feelings. Maybe when I re-do this list again in 2034, I'll have an exact cut-off date, but for now, it's just a gut feeling thingy.

And unfortunately, my 'feeling' on a song probably has a lot to do with the fact that I was introduced to modern worship in 1999. Had I started in the youth ministry 5 years earlier, it's likely that songs like Lord I Lift Your Name on High would be a huge part of my worship upbringing, and I couldn't leave them off the list. You, faithful readers (again, should that be plural?), are just going to have to live with it. Eh, you get what you pay for.

The video I'm using for this post is interesting. Originally, I thought I'd create a list of songs that came from the last century and talk about them, but then I got a great idea: Why not make a video with clips of a whole bunch of songs, kind of a 'Worship Through the Years' sort of thing. Of course I thought it would be real easy to do, but that was not the case.

However, despite by aversion to hard work, I did complete it. The video below has over 30 song clips on it, and I'm pretty sure it will play as sort of a walk down memory lane for many of you. (I've already focus group tested it, and it tested well). So, take a gander, gander-takers:

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