Welcome to the first post of Worship Wars!
I like to imagine the story that goes along with the picture to the left going a little something like this:
Bob Ross walks into his studio and flips on the normally subdued lighting, only to be blasted back in time by intense rock-star quality stage lights. He grabs the nearest keytar and lifts his hands in rage. “Where are my happy little trees?!” he bellows.
Then he wakes up sweating in bed, only to realize it was just a dream.
Bob Ross was the highlight of my childhood. That is possibly why any white man with an afro is a little closer to my heart. Perhaps this is the reason that David Crowder has, for a long time, been one of my favorite worship leaders.
David Crowder has shown, through the years, an increasing willingness to experiment and try new things in music (that was redundant). His style is a good blending of artistic, creative, funky, weird stuff with more normal, singable CCM-inspired worship music.
You know how every worship band follows the Chris Tomlin formula? Well David Crowder has that in just the right amounts. He’s normal enough to be recognizable and approachable, but artsy and innovative enough to be interesting.
I’m not gonna spend a ton of time going into details of David Crowder’s life, because you can go to his websites for all you want of that. I wanna tell you what I like about his music.
David Crowder’s songs are rooted. They’re earthy. In more ways than one. He brings in images of the universe and natural world freely, drawing connections between where you are now and what God did in Creation thousands of years ago. I think this is cool. Check out songs like “Everything Glorious,” “Open Skies,” or “Did You See the Stars Tonight?” for a taste of this. Much of modern worship music seems so separate from the reality we live in, but Crowder really tries to keep it rooted there.
Another element of this “rootedness” is that Crowder draws on old songs many of us would have written off years ago. It’s because of Crowder that I started even giving hymns a chance. He can take an old hymn and make it amazing and new. Check out “O, For a Thousand Tongues to Sing,” “All Creatures,” or “I Saw the Light” for examples.
Or how ’bout his willingness to make songs that sound dark and bluesy? Check out “Deliver Me,” “Be Lifted or Hope Rising,” or “Soon I Will Be Done with the Troubles of This World” for some songs that are anything but the light and fluffy worship you may be used to. It’s the worship Jeremiah was singing at the bottom of the well, or Charlton Heston was singing while stomping mud next to the Hebrews.
Crowder seems unwilling to just do what everybody else is doing. I’m not saying all his songs are phenomenal, but most of them are at least a little different. Besides, what other worship leader you know would cover a Sufjan Stevens song on a worship album (“O God Where are You Now?” on A Collision).
Which brings me to my next point. If you haven’t listened to the entire A Collision album from start to finish, you need to sit down and do it tonight before you fall asleep. This album is groundbreaking, bringing the worship album forward from a collection of disparate worship songs to a united whole built out of very divergent songs. It’s sheer brilliance how the songs all work together.
For successfully merging the gap between indie art and CCM worship, David Crowder deserves your attention. Here are two of his songs that I think demonstrate his uniquness as a worship leader:
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