The 1997 version of me would be confused right about now.
If you had seen me at any point in early 1997, I was driving my pickup truck with the windows down, singing at the top of my lungs.”I remember running through the wet grass! Falling a step behind! Both of us never tiring! DESPERATELY WANTING!” Better Than Ezra was not just my favorite band. They were The Greatest Band in the History of the World. And their single “Desperately Wanting” encapsulated everything I loved about the band, nay, everything I loved about music, in 4 minutes 37 seconds of sheer bliss*.
If I wasn’t listening to it, I was evangelizing it. If one of my bandmates was listening to their Discman at the airport, I would shake my finger at them in that “tisk, tisk” kind of way, hand them my copy of “Friction, Baby” and tell them to cue up track 8**.
If you had asked me in 1997 what I’d be into in 2015, I would have been pretty sure that Better Than Ezra fit into the equation somewhere. But the 2015 version of me couldn’t tell you what they’ve been up to since they had that “Lifetime” song a couple years back. Oh wait, what? That was 10 years ago. So It’s been a decade since I’ve kept up with The Greatest Band in the History of the World.
Moving on, I did a post yesterday about naysayers and the idea of Bless Your Heart. Yes, I am here because I followed God’s path for me and didn’t listen to naysayers. But here’s the thing. I have been on the other side. Many, many, times.
1) I have a friend named Alex. Stephanie went to high school with his wife, and they remain close friends. We were staying at their house in the fall of 2002. We didn’t see much of Alex that weekend because he was working on a movie. I thought it was cool, but didn’t really think anything about it. Then he put the movie out and they played it in a bunch of Georgia theaters. A couple years later, he put out another film called Facing the Giants. Perhaps you’ve heard of it.
2) I went to high school with two sisters named Chanda and Christa. A few years back, a friend of mine and Stephanie’s gave us a little elf that the sisters had made. The idea was that the elf would move around your house every night leading up to Christmas. Kids would see this and make the connection that the elf was checking in with Santa while they were asleep. I thought it was a neat idea, but didn’t think any more about it. Of course, that would be the Elf on the Shelf. Yup. That little elf was a float in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade last year.
3) Around the time we were recording our first worship album, a friend of ours gave us a demo of a song. I thought it was pleasant enough, but I didn’t really get it. I was adamant that we record another song instead. You’ve never heard of the other song we recorded, but I’m pretty sure you’ve heard of “God of Wonders”. At our studio we have a plaque commemorating that song being played in OUTER SPACE.
So if I tell a story about naysayers, it is only fair to point out that I’ve been one too.
But the thing is, I don’t even think “naysayer” is the right term here, or even fair.
Yes, there are the true naysayers – those trolls who see somebody trying to do something good and start throwing lawn darts at them. I’m not talking about that. Ignore them.
And I’m not talking about those well intentioned friends and family members who might have your best interest at heart or they might be reading your situation out of their playbook and making it harder for you both. That’s a tough one and probably a topic for another post.
I’m talking about a third category. The rest of us. You see, I liked all those things I mentioned above. I thought they were pretty good ideas. I just missed them. Why? I think it’s a question of time and space.
Back to Better Than Ezra. I kept up with those guys. Then Wilco came along, and now I gotta remember to buy the new Wilco album along with anything Better Than Ezra puts out and let’s don’t forget R.E.M. – I LOVED those guys in high school. And what about Oasis? What a great band – I liked them better than Blur but if you really like Britpop you better check out Kula Shaker. It’s hard being a music snob, but I sure tried. Every time something new came out, it got a little harder to keep up with it all. But I somehow managed.
I kept up the music snob thing right up until October 27, 2003. The next morning, my baby girl was born. When I made room in my heart and life for her, I had to give some other things up. One of those was keeping up with the newest, hippest music.
Also, at some point around that time, the radio dial in our car got turned to the country station and we forgot to change it back to the hip alternative channel (they still have that, right?). One day I heard a song by Kenny Chesney called “There Goes My Life” and it flat out KILLED ME. I have been on a constant quest ever since for those story songs that just tear you up. Unfortunately, they’ve been playing all this Florida Georgia mess so I’ll just have to wait a while longer…
But what does that have to do with the Elf on the Shelf and “God of Wonders” and the Facing the Giants guys? I wasn’t naysaying. I really wasn’t – I genuinely liked those things, and thought they were good ideas. I was just busy and distracted. It’s called Being a Dad.
I bristle when people claim that people are all jaded and bitter and don’t give new things a chance. I disagree. People love new things. Every year at the Oscars we embrace a new movie nobody’s heard of because it’s great. Bands like For King and Country come along and win everybody over. They just have to kick up some dust and get people’s attention. Because we’re all just busy and distracted. And tired. Because we’ve got these kids to get to school every morning.
Or maybe it’s just me. I just don’t have time to keep up with the latest and the greatest. And I don’t have the mental space to do it anyway.
You have a band or a blog and you want me to check it out. Here’s my $0.02. If you have something you want to do and you’re good at it, do it. Don’t listen to the naysayers. In fact, don’t listen to anyone. Well, listen to people in your field who know what they’re talking about. Listen to your friends and family if you’ve held their feet to the fire and know they genuinely want the best for you and not themselves. Other than that, don’t listen to anyone.
But keep it up – maybe one of these days you’ll kick up enough dust that busy and distracted people like me will notice it. Maybe you will come up with the next “God of Wonders” or “Facing the Giants” or Elf on the Shelf. Or maybe you won’t. But I guarantee that your life will be richer because you kept at it.
Or who knows? Maybe in 20 years somebody will write a blog post about how awesome you were and wonder whatever happened to you.
* Truth be told, “Desperately Wanting” was my second favorite song from that year. The first would be “Lovefool” by The Cardigans. But I didn’t need to own that record. They played that song everywhere. On the radio, at the grocery store, while you were waiting for food at Wendy’s, in the waiting room at the oil change place, you get the idea…
** Hey kids – they used to have these things called CD’s. It involved this round disc thingy. Kind of like a vinyl album but smaller. You would play it in a DiscMan. They sounded great but they skipped a lot and- never mind.