I first picked up a guitar when I was 15 years old. I remember the most basic of chords (G, C, D) feeling so awkward and foreign to my fingers. My wrist felt like it was tied up in knots after just 30 minutes of practicing bar chords. Now, with over ten years of playing guitar, I feel as if the instrument itself is a part of me, like an extension my arm. It’s so natural and comfortable to be strapped to my back. As soon as the tips of my fingers pluck the strings, my soul feels at home again.
Though the guitar is my home, my very first instrument was the drums. A basic four on the floor beat made me feel as slick as a seven-year-old could be. My aunt taught my brother, my cousin, and I how to play the basic beats to play to hymns in church. But, I must confess the drum skills have not lasted the other twenty years of my life. Although I did have a short run of both singing and playing drums at the same time while I was in high school. So, look out Phil Collins.
Through the years I’ve also dabbled with bass, acoustic guitar, piano, and vocals. I currently have the opportunity to lead worship and play live music with my church on a weekly basis. It's incredible! And to top it all off, I am currently in the process of writing music myself which is an exciting new venture.
In addition to my musicianship, I have listened to almost every style of music one can think of throughout the years.
Don’t believe me? Here are some songs currently on some of my Spotify Playlists:
“Lose Yourself to Dance” – Daft Punk
“What Hurts The Most” – Rascal Flatts
“Everlong” – Foo Fighters
“Can’t Hurry Love” – Phil Collins
“Ring of Fire” – Johnny Cash
“Think” – Aretha Franklin
“Good Vibrations” – Beach Boys
“Love on Top” – Beyoncé
“Get Down On It” – Kool & The Gang
“Something Worth Leaving Behind” – Lee Ann Womack
“Come Together” – The Beatles
“Magic” – Coldplay
“I Will Always Love You” – Whitney Houston
“With Or Without You” – U2
“Lose Yourself” – Eminem
“Larger Than Life” – Backstreet Boys
“Every Heart Beat” – Amy Grant
“Beauty Is Only Skin Deep” – The Temptations
“Thrive” - Switchfoot
“Heartbreak Hotel” – Elvis Presley
I believe music is a part of me, and it’s such a unique part of all of our lives. Music is a universal language. It’s powerful. It’s timeless. It has the ability to connect us to history, to cultures, to grand purposes beyond us, and to people we’ve never met. I feel like I know Aretha Franklin personally because she threw her own soul into her music. When I hear any song from the Beatles I am connected to an era that feels as if I was there though I never actually saw it for myself.
In many ways, music even helps us connect to our own self. It affects our mood. It awakens parts of our soul that we didn’t even know existed. It inspires us, comforts us, motivates us, cries with us, and rejoices with us.
With every new song I hear, I still find that there is still so far I have to grow and so much to observe in the wonderful world of music.
As I am now attempting to become a songwriter myself, I am examining songs in a new light. I love the shaping process that happens with a song. Every song starts as a blank canvas. With each layer of instrumentation and lyrical artistry, it becomes the master piece it was destined to be. There is wrestling words into place, discovering new melodies, and creating an arrangement that gives just the right feel. There is also a combination of both disciplined intentionality and unreserved, free-flowing idea streams.
I thought a fun way to grow in music appreciation and songwriting would be to examine some of my favorite songs with you. For the next several weeks I will observe one song at a time in detail and break down my thoughts about the artistry. The personal connection I have to these specific songs is simply that I have heard them hundreds of times and STILL love them. That’s an incredibly important factor to me because the best music should be consistently enjoyable and timeless.
As I share my musical tastes with you, I would also very much enjoy hearing what songs YOU love and why you love them. So for the love of music, CLICK THE PHOTO BELOW and tell me some of your favorite tunes.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.