I grew up on late 80s and 90s worship music. My father was a worship leader and later pastor at a Vineyard which was cutting edge worship music in those decades. I remember those years fondly and here’s what I miss:
- Wind instruments – There are a lot of flute and saxophone players out of work in ministry. I mean there has to be a line around the block for those guys collecting worship band unemployment checks. I really do miss those soft flute intros and funky white boy sax solos that just took the songs to a whole new power pop level. I think it was every worship pastor’s holy dream to get Kenny G saved. Can you imagine how powerfully the spirit would have moved? Unfathomable.
- Streamers and Banners – At its peak churches were removing rows of chairs just to make room for this tornado of twirling silk. They should have been surrounded in caution tape cause they were dangerous. Those wooden dowels were like holy swords waiting to impale you or gouge your eye out in accordance with scripture. I dunno about you guys, but you give me a banner team and a hard core sax solo and that’s heaven on earth. I never could get a beat on the males who joined the banner wavers though…that always gave me cause for concern.
- Transparencies – Who can forget the giant glowing box sometimes strategically placed smack in the middle of the stage for the backup singers to operate. I honestly miss the feel and even smell of those transparencies, shuffling through the accordion folder to find the songs and get them all lined up. Was there ever a professional way of handling these? I certainly am familiar with the bad way, the blank transparency with dry-erase handwritten words and the operator who seems to always make the slide appear upside down no matter how many times you try to explain mirrors to them.
- Percussion – Rain sticks, triangles, cowbell, congas…what isn’t appropriate for a worship song? Even the rocks will cry out, and Lord knows we tried to see what beating a rock with different sized sticks would sound like. The big churches share in culpability for this pandemic, but the smaller churches took it to a new level. I mean really, who isn’t qualified to play percussion? As long as you have a heartbeat and 2 hands you can beat things with, you should be on stage right?
- Constant 3 part Harmonies – Picture with me if you will, vocal arrangements as a mixing board with sliders for each singer. Usually you’d think of these sliders moving up and down as the song progresses through the arrangement, layering nicely in parts, muted in others. Well back in the day this picture was more of a giant switch. Vocals are either all on or all off. Hey those words on the transparency aren’t for looking at, if you got a mic and there are words up, sang those things sister! Oh and you know your part, it’s the same harmony you do on every song, it’s easier that way and we also took the liberty of color coding the windscreens so you know which mic is yours.
I need some help, what’s this list missing?