Put down your pens

We don’t need anymore songs…. do we?

On my drive to the workshop this morning I was listening to an interview with John Mark McMillan that someone posted on a Facebook feed, and in it he paraphrased a quote from a Bob Dylan interview on songs and song writing. It struck me and stuck. It was still hanging in my head when i got home, so i decided i would try and find it, which proved trickier that i had thought, but i persisted, and found the transcript of the interview.

In it Dylan was being asked lots of questions about his songs, and other singer songwriters he respected etc, and in answer to one of these questions he replied with this quote.

“The world doesn’t need any more songs. They’ve got enough. They’ve got way too many. As a matter of fact, if nobody wrote any songs from this day on, the world ain’t gonna suffer for it. Nobody cares. There’s enough songs for people to listen to, if they want to listen to songs. For every man, woman and child on earth, they could be sent, probably, each of them, a hundred records, and never be repeated. There’s enough songs. Unless someone’s gonna come along with a pure heart and has something to say. That’s a different story”.

It was the last part of the quote that seemed to have grabbed me the most. Unless someone’s going to come along with a pure heart and has something to say….

I found myself wondering if this is an area that our churches need to face up to? Are we doing this songwriting thing justice? Do we really have something to say when we sit down to write, or are we just writing more songs for the sake of it? Do our churches have enough songs already? Are our songs just products to be consumed for a time and then replaced? Are we writing songs just so that people have something to sing, or are we writing songs because we have something to say?

Are we writing from the correct motivational stand point? Is our relationship with the Father informing and instructing us, or are our insecurities and worldly desires directing us?

I personally believe that there are not enough people writing songs because they truly have something to say.

The biggest battle that many worship leaders face is the need for affirmation from the world and a search for significance and fame, and this unfortunately is what I believe drives a lot of worship songs today.

There are plenty of songs out there floating about which sound great with all the band and all the pedals, but don’t really say much, and are found out in a small intimate setting. We already have a million and one songs about how great God is and how much He loves us, and rightly so, but is this because these are the easiest things for us to write about? Autopilot song writing? Do we need anymore? My answer would be yes, but only if the song is born out out of someone really wanting to write it because they have been caught up in just how great He is or how much He loves us. These seem to be the songs that really have impact anyway. You can always tell when a song has been written from experience, the passion in it translates across to the people engaging in it.

Don’t get me wrong, there will never be enough ways to write about how great our God is, and I’m not saying we necessarily even need to find new ways of saying it, but I am saying that we are doing ourselves, our churches, and our God a disservice if the songs we are writing are not born out of a pure heart that has been formed from an ongoing relationship with Him, pouring out what we really have to say about who He is, what He has done, who we are, and where we are. Not copying a formula that seems to work with ideas (as true as they are), that are not really our own.

So this is my call to arms… Lets write amazing songs, inspired by our walk with Jesus and motivated by nothing other than glorifying the One who is most worthy of all of our affection, adoration and praise. Let us pursue holiness again, laying down our insecurities before him, seeking forgiveness for where we have sought to glorify ourselves before God. Let’s get on our knees so that when we do write, we have something to say. Let’s put everything we can into making our songs the most passionate, truthful and life changing songs for people. Let’s not be lazy, and let’s not settle for anything other than writing the best songs we can bring Him.

You can pick up your pens again now……