Saturday, February 21, 2009

Inter-generational genre bending...

One of the truly fun things about our new band is that it is a mix of people of different ages: not a HUGE spread but still enough to give me a taste of inter-generational genre bending. And I LOVE that! To be sure, having a few classically trained singers is a hoot, too, as we periodically have to do that dance (or even wrestling match) about how a song FEELS versus how it might be SCORED! (I've learned that most of the time it is usually a both/and on this one because some scores just suck and some of my intuitive riffs just don't work either... but that's a subject for another blog!)

Take, for example, an up-coming gig we are working on: a Celtic collection of tunes that will morph into this year's Good Friday worship. Given the fact that we don't have a drummer - some hand drums but not a kick ass back beat rhythm section - I kept feeling/hearing the need to do U2's "Pride" in a different way from the CD. It needed to have more tension and build given our acoustic instruments... but it wasn't happening. Some of our singers, however, who grew up with the song and loved it as they've always known it resisted: why make it different?

That was a tough creative maze to find our way through because part of it was generational, part of it was training vs. improvisation and part of it had to do with finding a creative way of making something our own rather than playing it safe. Eventually we found a balance that built to a U2 climax... but I wasn't at all sure it was going to happen.

Two other songs come to mind: Belle and Sebastian's "We Rule the School." I would never have pulled this up but one the 30-something singers in the band heard the line, "do something pretty while you can..." and thought it worked. And she was right - which is one of the reasons I am so grateful to have her in the band - she brings the blessing of the inter-generational genre bending to my old rock and roll ears - and we're all the better for it.

Then there is the totally cool version of Coldplay's "Clocks" - which I don't pretend to understand at all - but in this version not only sounds like a meditation of the aching of our hearts for a place of safety (home) and healing, but also an invitation to join the search.

Being a part of a mostly acoustic rock band is a blessed challenge. Searching for genre bending tunes that speak to our spiritual/secular selves is a challenge, too, but more fun than ever with intergenerational music mates!

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