During the summer of 1999 I spent my Sunday nights driving over to Santa Cruz to attend a worship gathering called “Graceland”. I had just finished my freshmen year at Pacific. The second half of that year marked the beginning of serious involvement with campus ministry (through InterVarsity) and for the first time in my life, on my own, I was really wrestling with Scripture and Jesus, and what they had to say about my future.
I was beginning to grow in an awareness of a number of things including: the reality that I did not want to do dentistry. also, something was happening, kind of underneath the surface, in the church and in my generation.
I had no language or way to really quantify any of those feelings, but something was stirring and it involved a new way to think about and approach the church.
On one of those nights at Graceland (the predecessor to Vintage Faith Church, led by Dan Kimball and Josh Fox) a strange-looking, skinny dude from Texas stood up to lead worship. He and the band he brought with him played “church music” but this was not like anything I’d ever heard or seen before. It was loud, it was loose, it was improvisational, and, and here’s the kicker, it sounded like the music I liked to listen to.
In other words, here was a band that I might go to bar or a club to watch play songs about girls instead leading me into the worship of a God I was beginning to surrender my life to. As much as I admired Josh Fox’s ability to lead worship, this was completely unlike anything I had ever seen or experienced before.
The David Crowder Band has gone on to accomplish many great things in the last 12 years, they’ve grown to epic proportions and their influence has been tremendous. So, I feel like they are the one thing where I can say “I was there before…”.
DCB has been with me ever since. Their first album “All I Can Say” was copied on a tape and passed around our IV worship team…that album contained a song “Make a Joyful Noise/I WIll Not Be Silent” that became an anthem of sorts for our community.
Their first “major album”, “Can You Hear Us,” became the soundtrack to a senior year filled with difficulties: the death of friends, breakups, fires in the dorms, graduating and saying some of my first big goodbyes. “Our Love is Loud” became the new anthem. Shortly after the dorm fire, I think it was a week later, someone heard about a free concert he was doing in Livermore for a college group there. 5 of us hopped in a car and we were off. Best show ever. Crowder gave me a hug afterwards when I explained some of the stuff going on back on campus.
“Illumination” is, in many ways, one of the inspirations for this blog. Every time I listen to that album I think of my first summer at Mount Hermon, driving to and from Monte Vista, and going to the only Passion event I’ve ever attended. I went because my good friend, Steve Comer, was running lights for the show. Crowder and Giglio talked about raising money to do a free show in Boston. They really wanted to go there because they had a passion (pun intended) for college students and there were 250,000 students in Boston. This was the first time I had ever heard anything about this and I remember thinking: “I need to go there.”
“A Collision” is still the best album front to back of all time, in my opinion. Musically it is a thematic master piece, and theologically it is up there with any of the best books I’ve ever read (I mean, read this). From that point on, Crowder’s been operating at a different level, not only from other worship leaders, but from other musicians, period. I could go on and on about this album. Bottom line: it is incredible, it’s as close to perfect as an album can be.
“Remedy” became the soundtrack for Durango, and I wore that cd out driving to Albuquerque and back.
“Church Music” is a genius concept album, and Amy and I enjoyed singing our lungs out in a New York club on that tour.
Back to the beginning. The first time I saw Crowder, some things were stirring inside of me that I had no language for…years later I can explain it all, I can see the conversations and the books and the lectures and the conferences that have helped provide context for all the change that has taken place in me, in the church, in culture.
But back in 1999 I had no idea about any of that. I only knew something needed to change…both in me and how we communicated Good News to those around us. Crowder absolutely tapped in to that stirring in my soul and opened it up so something new could come in and take root. His music gave expression to that stirring.
We’ve been inextricably intertwined ever since. And while it’s sad to see them go (and even though I’m sure there’s still more to come in one form or another), I feel nothing but gratitude for these guys.
So, thank you DCB. Thank you for making great music (and it really is great music, not just great worship music), for building cathedrals we could step in to, for leading us in worship.
In the end their own lyrics express the genius of what they did so well:
And I’m trying to make you sing//From inside where you believe
Like it’s something that you need//Like it means everything
And I’m trying to make you feel//That this is for real, that life is happening
That it means everything//I’m just trying to make you sing