The Crowd, The Critic, and The Muse
First off, this book does use some “profanity.” I say “profanity” in quotes because it’s not so much profane as words society deems profane. So, if you have a problem with a “worship guy” saying: pissed, ass, damn, bastard, or douche-y, I’d suggest this is not a book for you.
Now, for the book. The first thing I noticed was his writing style. It’s very conversational. Like, he goes on some slight asides and tangents as if he were actually talking to you. Which reminded me of my own writing style. But, the best part of the book is the interweaving of theology, personal stories, and, the theme of the book, ways to become a better creator.
A point Michael really wants to drive home is that EVERYTHING is creation. We should not consider any sort of artwork a lesser form of artwork than our own. Whether it be business management or painting, all creation is creation. Another big point is that a lot of creation is disingenuous (he tells a humorous story about a lass named “Becky,” which I’ll talk about later.) and that we should earn to be honest with ourselves and make music to feed our muse, as opposed to the crowd or the critic (Hey! That’s the name of the book!).
My favorite part is how Michael tells a story about his life and very ingeniously connects it to a point he wants to make. The one that comes to mind immediately is the “Two Inches” story, which I’m not giving away, so you’ll just have to get the book and read it yourself. Anyway, Becky…
“Becky” is the name that the CCM industry gives to their demographic. A middle-aged soccer mom in a mini-van that wants some wholesome music for her kids to listen to on their way to practices/games. Michael also tells a story about his frustration of an artist he worked with shooting down his ideas because he didn’t think “Becky” would like them. Again, get the book and read it.
This book was a book I couldn’t put down. It was absolutely fantastic. It really makes you open your mind in a witty, humorous way. He relates theses HUGE, yet simple, ideas to the reader on a very human level that gives you insights into not only his psyche, but his philosophies. I give it 10 stars out of 5.
A Creation Liturgy
Another great piece from the Gungors. It features a song from “All I Need is Here,” The Michael Gungor Band’s first CD. It also features two hymns, and spoken word poet, Amena Brown.
While none of these songs are new, they sound fresh and new to your ears because they’re such a raw live mix. No dubbing or anything. It starts with “You Are the Beauty” and very bluegrass-ish tune that’s most likely inspired by Michael’s admitted man-crush, Chris Thile. The song starts as a very upbeat, foot stompin’ hoedown song, but evolves into an insanely virtuosic instrumental. Now, at this point, you’re wondering how the CD can get better… Well, it does.
Following the amazingness of “You Are the Beauty” is a huge jam version of “Heaven” featuring fantastic guitar solos and an organ solo from John Arndt. The song is an awesome display of the talent in that band. I’ll skip straight to some of the surprise songs on the CD.
“This is My Father’s World” is an old hymn. On the CD, it’s performed beautifully by Lisa Gungor. It starts off soft with just her and a guitar, but eventually builds into the full band, before once again backing off. I’ve never heard the hymn before, but I’d say Gungor did a great job of upholding the integrity of the song, while still adding some Gungorosity (that’s a word now) to it.
The next treat is “Spotless” from the aforementioned MGB album. This song is absolutely gorgeous. You would never know that it’s from a 5 year old album. It tells the story of Jesus the Christ’s giving of His perfect and “spotless” life for us. You really have to hear it to understand it. Words can’t do it justice.
The final surprise is “Doxology.” If you’re a Gungor fan like me, you’re thinking “I love that piece. He really jams on that.” But, no. It’s the hymn! Not the instrumental. Don’t be put off by that, though. It’s a great way to end a great album. The whole crowd singing along, and Michael’s parting words: “Grace and peace be with you” is a perfect way to leave us. I also give this a 10 stars out of five.
All-in-all, I highly recommend both items. Both fantastically artistic and contemplative. Thanks for reading my review!
Grace and peace be with you…