When I first started writing guitar-based music of faith in the late 1960s, there was a lot of opposition from the church. Guitars were from the pit of hell, rock and roll was the devil’s music, even the back beat was evil. Elvis had broken new ground, but in the adult culture, the music he forged was all about sex, drugs and rock and roll, meaning rock and roll was all about sex and drugs.
If people in Christian churches in the 60s could see what worship was going to look like in the twenty-first century, they would not have believed it. Guitars, drums, lighting, fog, pyrotechnics — heck, church has turned into a nightclub act, or so they would have thought. But rock and roll also included folk music (Peter, Paul & Mary, the New Christy Minstrels, The Kingston Trio, even early Bob Dylan), and songs that were primarily about civil rights, the anti-war movement, peace, love, and questions about life and human existence. Fine … but not in church.
The first time I was invited to sing a song in a Sunday morning worship service, there was a couple visiting that day who inquired about me and without my asking, started sending me a monthly contribution to encourage me in my musical ministry. They saw what the music was going to mean to my generation. They were nearing retirement age, but that didn’t matter, they were young at heart and they got my heart. They understood what I was trying to do.
Later I met them and they became good friends and mentors to me in many ways. They pretty much took me under their wing. They provided a place for me to stay while recording in Los Angeles. Fed me lots of meals. It was a bit of a drive from their home in Redlands to L.A. studios, but Horton let me borrow his 1957 white Thunderbird — the same model with the port hole used in American Graffiti. They were the youngest “old” people I knew. They were a huge encouragement when most people their age were of the belief that my music could never be used of God. In the budding of my career, they gave me wings.
Who gave you wings? Stay tuned: we’re going to give you the opportunity to honor those people in your life.