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Thursday, January 07, 2010

Old Songs, New Songs, You Know I've Had My Share

The other night on Twitter, I asked musicians, worship leaders, pastors, and whomever wanted to add anything, how they determine what songs to shelf for their church. When does a song feel old? How many times is too many times to sing a song?

The answers were great--(most were funny responses that were inside jokes about washed-up bands, churches, and such)--but many of them were helpful.

I didn't say what my own philosophy is, I simply asked the question. Most people (according to the survey) rely on gut check, feedback from their band and congregation, a sense of when a song feels "dated", how their church responds in the moment, and the sheer number of times they have done it(VH1 gives away an award each year entitled, "Your Song Kicked Ass but was Played Too Damn Much." Sometimes, that's just the case).

We rely on the same things to varying degrees. We track our songs on a spreadsheet so we don't overdo them, we drop them if they felt good at a listen but don't work live, we play them more when people love them and request them, etc. AND, we also believe the biblical idea of "sing a new song to the Lord" is more than just a suggestion so . . . we regularly bring on new songs and phase some out. Sometimes, songs are still "good" they just need to take a time out.

And, occasionally, one of the best things you can do at a church is bring back an oldie with some new spit polish and fresh arrangements. Familiarity and nostalgia can go a long way.

I like songs to go out like Seinfeld--on top, nothing wrong, just feels like it's time to end. Then, the song always has good memories attached and when we bring it back--if ever--it's like seeing an old friend.

A great add from friend Patrick Murphy was, "I want to say, forget relevance. Stop worrying about old and new." Patrick also added to remember the value of creating within your own group and not relying wholly on songs that are written by and/or sung by others (I'm embellishing a bit). I agree with Patrick in that I never think it's a good idea to abandon a song just because everyone else already did. It's never too late to pick up a song everyone else has been doing for a bit. Think about your own community. Just because Crowder wrote a new song doesn't mean you should do it, even if everyone else is. It may be wrong for you. There is value in singing the songs the church is singing worldwide but, it shouldn't be our only criteria for picking/playing/rotating/retiring songs. And, we highly value indigenous worship tunes.

I'm trying something fun this quarter at The Winds. I made a list of our "favorite" tunes over the last 6 years. The list was HUGE. I picked about 40+ off that list for this quarter (and threw in some favorite original tunes that our church loves). So, Westwinds will be taking a trip down memory lane for the next 3 months. The only songs that will be repeated in 3 months will be a fistful of songs we learned in the last 2 months so they stay fresh and we learn them well. No other songs will be repeated. It's like the Top 40 Countdown for Westwinds.

It was a hard task. Next quarter, we will hit another 25 or so. I thought you might want to see the list. They are in alphabetical order.

1. 1000 Hallelujahs—Mark Roach
2. All Around Me--Flyleaf
3. All We Need—Charlie Hall
4. Always Something—John Voelz
5. Anytime Lord—John Voelz
6. Beautiful One—Tim Hughes
7. Beautiful Wonderful—John Voelz
8. Bless the Lord—Among Thorns
9. Cannons—Phil Wickham
10. Chainbreaker—Charlie Hall
11. Count Me In--Leeland
12. Dress Us Up—John Mark McMillan
13. Eternal One—Robbie Seay
14. Everyone Under the Sun—Vickie Beeching
15. Everything--Lifehouse
16. From the Inside Out—Joel Houston
17. Glory of it All—David Crowder
18. God of This City—Chris Tomlin
19. Here is Our King—David Crowder
20. Hosanna—Paul Baloche/Brenton Brown
21. How Great is Our God—Chris Tomlin
22. I Will Lift My Eyes—Bebo Norman
23. I Will Not Forget You—Paul Baloche
24. I Will Overcome—Charlie Hall
25. I Will Rise—Chris Tomlin
26. Indescribable—Laura Story
27. Life Light Up—Christy Nockels
28. Love Has Come—John Voelz
29. Magnificent—U2
30. Mighty to Save—Reuban Morgan
31. More of You—John Voelz
32. My Reward—Paul Baloche
33. My Song—Bob Bullock
34. My Surrender—John Voelz
35. Nothing But the Blood—Matt Redman
36. Praise Him—David Crowder
37. OK--Mutemath
38. One Thing/Doxology—Charlie Hall
39. Remind Me—John Voelz
40. Rescue—Jared Anderson/Desperation Band
41. Shot of Love—John Voelz
42. Sing—John Voelz
43. Song of Hope—Robbie Seay
44. Sound of Melodies--Leeland
45. Take My Life—John Voelz
46. Take Us In—Vineyard
47. The Least I Can Do—Mark Roach
48. The One—Brian Chandler
49. This is How We Know—Matt Redman
50. Today is the Day—Lincoln Brewster
51. Whatever—John Voelz
52. Wonderful King—David Crowder
53. You Lifted Me Out—Chris Tomlin
54. Your Love Never Fails—Chris Quilala

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