I hadn’t planned on an extended blogging break, but these things happen. Sometimes life gets in the way. That, and far more often than not my being out like a light pretty much the moment I get home from the office. Not the office’s fault; I’m just old that way. Ah well.
Speaking of “ah well,” into said category goes any thoughts of making it to CPAC in any fashion this year, let alone as a blogger. Not in the budget; I’m obviously not into political blogging these days and the thought of running into the “look at me – I went to BlogBash – I’m IMPORTANT NOW!!!” crowd is far more than I care to contemplate. For some reason Jeremiah 12:1-2 comes to mind when contemplating these people. I’ll pursue the road less traveled, thanks. Namely, Cephas Hour, airing every Sunday at 11 AM and 11 PM Eastern on BlackLight Radio.
Speaking of such, thought a discussion of what goes into a show might be of interest to at least a few. So here goes.
More often than not I record the show the day before it airs; i.e. Saturday night. If I record the show during the week, usually I’ll put the music together one night and do the voice-overs the next. This is because from the time I open GarageBand, on which I record the show, until I finish it’s usually about three hours if I do everything in one sitting. Add in the time uploading the show to BlackLight Radio and updating the Cephas Hour page here, and it’s closer to five. Easier to do it in bits rather than be up all night, especially on a weeknight as for some strange reason my employer prefers me awake at my desk. Go figure.
While sometimes I make up the playlist as I’m recording the show, letting the first song chosen to a degree determine the remainder of the song selection so there’s a flow, my preferred method is writing out a playlist as this results in a much swifter recording session. In either case, the goal is the same: feature artists and songs I’ve loved over the years. Stylistically, while once in a while I’ll do a show heavily slanted toward a particular musical genre I prefer to mix it up a bit. Not in a jarring fashion, but a logical one. At least logical to me. I grew up listening to albums where the artist(s) would skip from style to style on each successive track, so I take a bit more liberty with the song progression than might make sense. But it makes sense to me. Lyrically, while I’ll occasionally match themes in successive songs it’s anything but a primary thought. Not that the lyrics aren’t important, but they’re either strong enough to stand by themselves without leaning on one another or they’re on a song that is not going to be played.
Another factor going into the playlist is whether I’ve played a particular artist recently, and if so how often. I don’t mind playing a favorite two or more weeks in a row, but I aim for playing as many different artists as possible from show to show. There was a good number of great artists and bands during the show’s time frame, which runs from the mid-1970s until the mid-1990s. They all deserve an audience. It’s my purpose to provide a platform on which they can have one.
Once every two or three months I’ll devote an entire show to a single artist, such as is the case with today’s (February 10) show which is all music by the Choir. These shows are admittedly easier to assemble, but in many cases force difficult decisions about what to include and what to leave out.
On shows where the selected songs finish before the hour is up, I play “Alma Mater (A Cappella)” by Crumbächer from Escape From the Fallen Planet (25th Anniversary Edition)!. I try to cram as many songs into each show as possible, so I usually have time for but a portion of this track.
I have no idea what artist and/or song I’ve played the most often; I don’t keep a record of what’s been played. I usually list the most recent show’s playlist during the week on its page here, although I have no set pattern as to when I update things. I should probably correct that. I do have all past shows available for either listening to online or downloading at the show’s page.
The music comes primarily from my existing collection. I do occasionally buy used CDs or, when available, digital downloads to fill in gaps. I prefer having the CD for sound quality purposes. There is a regrettably large number of albums yet to see the light of day on CD or digital, so I have a growing collection of rips from vinyl. That USB turntable has proved to be a sound investment.
Having said all that, time to outline why I do the show.
I freely admit I am a sentimentalist, but at the same time do not wish to live in the past or attempt to recreate the past. It’s fun listening to music from back when I was the young lion determined to set the Christian music world on its ear, steering it away from over-produced shlock and toward vital music of the street and clubs where the message of Jesus desperately needed to be proclaimed. As you will quickly notice should you peruse the music department of your nearest Christian bookstore, the final score in this battle reads Christian music industry 1, me zero. Certainly there is a far greater acceptance of rock as a legitimate vessel for ministry than back in the day. But in terms of what music is being released and promoted by what’s left of the record labels, things are as they ever were: a few nuggets buried amid the morass of Christianese ear candy.
I don’t do the show strictly as a reminder of how much good music there was once upon a time. I do hope people’s memory will be jogged, or perhaps they will be introduced to music of which they were previously unaware. From this, where the music is again available I hope they will buy it, thus creating a phenomenon seldom seen back in the day: artists getting paid what they are owed. However, this is but a portion of the whys behind the show.
There are two main reasons why I do Cephas Hour. The primary one is a call to those who knew this music back in the days of their youth. It is reaching out through it to them should they have, since it was part of their lives, weakened or abandoned the faith while dealing with the death, divorce and disillusionment that so often followed the days when they were on fire for Jesus and the answer was John 3:16 without needing to hear the question. It is a call saying that times change and lives change. But the same Christ they so loved back then is indeed the same Christ today, and will be the same Christ tomorrow and every tomorrow after that. You can’t be young again, but you can come Home again.
The second purpose follows this, with the addition that it speaks primarily to conservatives. If we believe what we say we believe about God and popular culture, namely the need to bring the former into the latter, we need to abandon the notion that politics alone will bring about change. Today’s political punditry is preaching to the choir while accepting a generous love donation from the congregation at its worst. Handwringing over the decadence of pop culture and entertainment accomplishes nothing. We need to break out of the echo chamber and begin making genuine impact in people’s lives by speaking to matters of importance. If in addition to believing what we say about God and popular culture we also believe what we say we believe about the redemptive, transformational power of Christ, it becomes apparent that addressing solely the political mind is woefully insufficient in terms of effecting change. Speaking to the heart and soul is infinitely more important. We must address the entire person. The Prince of Peace, and the people He died for, must trump politics if we are to truly address the need to influence popular culture.
There are thousands if not tens of thousands of conservative talk shows, blogs and whatnot. They have their place. However, even a cursory glance around shows their impact is at best limited. Meanwhile, there is only one Cephas Hour, playing music that fits in perfectly with its host: a regular station and its format of 1980s pop music. This is bringing the message to the people. This is great music about the Good News. This is standing unashamed for Christ in a forum that embraces, not hides from, the world. This matters.
And that’s the how and why of Cephas Hour.