In the style of Alan Moore, a guy who probably wouldn’t appreciate it
It’s 2003 and I’m feeling a mixture of pride and anxiety. I’m looking at boxes and boxes of brand new Graceworks albums that, deep down, I know will never be sold.
It’s 1999 and I’m being taught how to put together a promo pack. I’m learning the importance of having a marketable “story,” even if you have to bend the truth a little. I’m learning to write about my music in the third person, as if I am a publicist and not myself writing about myself. Which is what I am.
It’s 1992 and Kurt Cobain is telling MTV News that he’s just waiting for the dinosaurs to die. He is criticizing his contemporaries for turning into “careerists.” He is on the cover of Rolling Stone wearing a homemade T-shirt that says “Corporate Music Magazines Still Suck.” He has the biggest album in the world. He believes everything he is saying.
It’s 2002 and Graceworks is playing for a music industry performance coach named Tom Jackson. He is telling us that we don’t have anything special. He is saying this in front of every fellow musician we know.
It’s 1984 and I’m hearing the Beatles for the first time. I am listening to “Eight Days A Week.” I am smiling. I know what music is, now.
It’s 2003 and Steph is in Nashville at a Christian Music Industry conference. They are listening to “Still, I Believe in You.” They are telling her that, though her music is both interesting and inspiring, it is not simple enough for the typical Christian music listener. They are cynically identifying this typical listener by the name “Becky.” They are telling Steph that she doesn’t have the “Artist’s Look” to make it in the Christian music industry.
It’s 2003, around the same time period, and people are telling Steph a few times a month that she looks like Alanis Morrissette.
It’s 2002 and Tom Jackson is telling Graceworks that “audiences are stupid.” He says this with a smirk. The room laughs. It occurs to me that we are his audience, right now.
It’s 1979 and Keith Green doesn’t want to work in the Christian Music Industry anymore. He’s probably the biggest Christian musician of his era, but he now feels a deep, penetrating conviction that it is morally wrong to sell the gospel. He is negotiating a release from Sparrow Records. He is taking out a mortgage on his house to pay for his new album “So You Wanna Go Back To Egypt?”
It’s around 33 A.D. and Jesus Christ is enraged. He grabs a whip and, in an unprecedented show of red-eyed passion, chases the money-changers out of his Father’s temple.
It’s 2002 and Tom Jackson is telling us that the fastest growing segment in Christian music is the burgeoning “Praise and Worship Music Industry.”
It’s 1980 and Keith Green long ago adopted the personal motto “No Compromise.” He is making copies of “So You Wanna Go Back to Egypt?” available at concerts and through the mail for the price tag of “whatever you can afford.” He and his wife are pressing copies of the record at their home. 210,000 units of the album go out free of charge.
It’s 1995 and I’m in biology class writing a note to my first garage band, the Broken Fans, about how we can distribute our music free of charge via a local dial-up BBS. The note is met with derision because there is no way to make money with this scheme.
It’s 2002 and Tom Jackson is telling us to treat record companies merely as advertising and distribution centers. He is saying “only 10 or 12” artists in the Christian Music Industry actually make money from their records. He is telling us that the way everyone makes money is from live performances – something that has little to do with the record company.
It’s 1999 and Steph is feeling a mixture of pride and anxiety. She is looking at boxes and boxes of brand new “A Faith Explained” albums that, deep down, she knows will never be sold.
It’s 1995 and radio playlists are full of Nirvana copycat acts. Kurt Cobain isn’t talking about waiting for the dinosaurs to die anymore. He is climbing over the wall of a rehab center. He is escaping.
It’s 1969 and Apple Corps is an unmitigated financial disaster.
It’s 2003 and Graceworks is working on the third version of its promo pack. It takes a lot of effort, creativity and money. It looks nice but doesn’t actually lead to any gigs.
It’s 1982 and Keith Green is getting on a plane. He is looking out over his home for the last time. He is only 28 years old.
It’s 1995 and Kurt Cobain has just been discovered dead in his home in Seattle. I’m 16 years old. I’m crying. I’m wearing a Nirvana t-shirt. I’m playing “Polly” on my acoustic guitar. I’m feeling inspired to write. Kurt Cobain was only 27 years old.
It’s 2005 and I’m turning 27 years old. I’m realizing that it is far too late for me to ever become a rock star. I am despairing. It was the only thing I ever wanted.
It is 1949 and T.S. Eliot is writing “Half the harm that is done in this world is due to people who want to feel important. They don’t mean to do harm — but the harm does not interest them, or they do not see it, or they justify it, because they are absorbed in the endless struggle to think well of themselves.”
Keith Green once said. “The only music minister to whom the Lord will say, ‘Well done, thy good and faithful servant,’ is the one whose life proves what their lyrics are saying, and to whom music is the least important part of their life. Glorifying the only worthy One has to be a minister’s most important goal!”
I have no idea if Steph or I could ever live up to that standard. I can’t imagine an existence where music is the least important part of my life – though I understand the value of that. I have no idea if Keith would have understood Graceworks’ music at all. I’m not even sure if I understand his music, to be honest. But I think I understand his ministry. In our own way, Steph and I aspire to fulfill the same goals he set out. We want our music to be a blessing. We want to deflect glory back to the Source. We’re willing to dismantle everything in pursuit of that. To break the jar.
It’s 2006 – The Year of the Butterfly. Stephanie and I aren’t waiting for the dinosaurs to die. We are recentering ourselves. We are making music again.
It’s 2007 and we are talking to Dolf about a new Graceworks project.
It’s 2008 and we are recording and refining our new album, “The Year of the Butterfly.”
It’s 2009 and we are making the new album available for free. Forever. Where it goes from here, who knows?
I hope you are moved by it.
Kris Wright – April 6, 2009