One thing I’ve heard and is associated with manic depressive disorder is creativity and an artistic outlook on life. Some would say that’s why I’m an Apple guy instead of pc, but that’s a whole other issue. I love art & find myself loving it more and more as I grow, particularly in the last 3 years or so. I think it started when I went to the National Art Gallery in DC. And movies and acting have interested me over time, too. It’s no wonder that so many celebrities in these artsy industries are so associate with bipolar and sadly many lose their lives as a result.
Music was something I didn’t get into until 1996, my senior year in high school and frosh year of college. I loved Nirvana to Boys to Men to Counting Crows – somewhat melancholy groups. I had no clue that there were Christian singers that sung about God in a current way. I thought all Christian music was hymns.
When the band worship music push began in the mid-nineties I was enthralled with it. I picked up a guitar in 1996 and began self-teaching. Jesus Freak by DC Talk was my Gateway and Jars of Clay became my inspiration, followed by Caedmon’s Call, OC Supertones, SonicFlood, Steven Curtis Chapman, David Crowder Band U2, tobyMac, Jeremy Camp, Hillsong and more. Our love of music was something Sherry and I were drawn together with and still love. While my music taste has shifted all over the place, one band in particular has touched Sherry and my life like no other: Switchfoot.
Having seen them in concert twice before 2002 and then traveling to SoCal together on our last pre-kid hurrah, we have been so blessed by Switchfoot – everything from their sound to their lyrics. I got an iTunes gift card for my birthday this year and bought the pre-release of their most recent album, Vice Verses. I’ve listened to it all the way through probably close to 75 times since September (once again this morning). Sherry said in October that it was my soundtrack. I couldn’t agree more. In my discovery I am almost convinced that Jon Foreman, the lead singer and writer, wrestles with some form of bipolar disorder because no one can write like he does without “getting” what I, and many others, experience. He himself has said in interviews when folks respond to the darkness in his music that his challenges are personal. Good for him! But I think I know a taste.
This last album demands I break down the most relating songs in my life, almost exposit them, so that I can share my mind and heart in what I experience. While it might not make sense, I’ve been meaning to do it for 3 months and hope it will bless and challenge others in a unique way.
While not in your face slamming Jesus down your throat, Switchfoot’s artistic approach is powerful. At one time I was disappointed with artists who called themselves “Christians who write and play music” instead of “Christian musicians,” I get it now. Dan Haseltine or someone else from Jars of Clay once said that some Christian musicians write songs that sing about Jesus, almost billboard and bumper-sticker-like. Others sing about life and in that, you can’t not see God’s hand working, but you also hear and see the genuineness of someone trying to live life as a Christian, but not necessarily doing it right, feeling what they “should” or living the perfect life. I personally prefer genuineness and art at times (c.f. U2, Caedmon’s Call, Jars of Clay & Switchfoot), but I’m clearly also a fan of worship music to and about God as seen by some of my inspirations.
The album I bought of Vice Verses also included a live rendition of Hello Hurricane. Oh how they connect. And when I hear and think on them, I am blessed by their relevancy to my world. Sure, teens and tatted up adults and rockers are in to this stuff, but so are pastors, teachers, dads, moms and even my 5 year old girls (this morning they were singing “I am the war inside…”).
Oh what hope I’ve found in these words and songs . . . see the next entries for why . . .