Friday, August 28, 2009

The Glories of Vinyl

(image by carloseduardo22/photobucket)

A while back my 20-something son found a used turntable in pretty good shape on the Internet. He had no idea how delighted I was to receive it. It was a heartfelt gift from new school son to his old school dad. All it needed was a pre-amp and a stylus.

I finally pulled together the pieces, and I’ve been in 33-1/3 rpm – long playing heaven for three days now:

  • Andrae Crouch and the Disciples – Live in London.
  • Deodato’s “2001.”
  • Miles Davis.
  • Keith Green’s “He’ll Take Care of the Rest” (simply amazing).
  • Charles Mingus (my little home theater subwoofer couldn’t reproduce his bass playing. First more cowbell. Now MORE BASS!).
  • Billy Cobham (fastest drummer ever).
  • Stevie Wonder’s Music of My Mind (1972, after emancipation from Motown).
  • KRS-One (thoughtful rapper).
  • Kool & the Gang (one bad jazz combo, far beyond their disco hits).
My younger son watched the ritual – remove the sleeve from the jacket, slide the disc out, blow off dust, place gently on the turntable, raise the tonearm with the damping lever, move the cartridge head over the edge of the disc, lower the damping lever, watch and listen as the needle settles into the groove, beginning its trek toward the spindle.

He said, “yeah, that’s just like putting on a CD and hitting the play button. Simple, I get it.”

“No, you don’t,” I retorted. “It’s more work! It’s more manual, see?” He didn’t. Nor did he realize I’d be back in 18 minutes, bowing before my newly-activated audio component. Turning over the disc for 18 more minutes of vintage musical joy is not a chore. It’s devotion.

I won't get all religious on you. I'm a peacemaker in the analog-digital wars (can't we all get along?). But there is something so refreshingly organic about the clicks and pops that I put there from too-much-love.

(Uh-oh. More fusion. Weather Report. Chick Corea. Stanley Clarke. Mahavishnu Orchestra. I may never leave my living room.)

Back when my last turntable was working, we had a Bible study at our house. I got to talking about the blues and one of the guys seemed interested. When we were finished with the study, I broke out the Jay McShann and "Cleanhead" Vinson. My guests looked us strangely, and when the music started, they got scared, I think, and left the room.

(Oh wait. The Hawkins Family. Trend-setting gospel. Did you know faith preacher Kenneth Copeland sings like a bluesy Frank Sinatra? Steve Taylor. Daniel Amos. Rez Band. Underground. Serious Christian rockers. Yes, I have a Stryper LP.)

So, you all are invited. When I was a drinker, I didn’t like to drink alone. I don’t like my music alone either. The family’s keeping their distance for now, as I re-enter the world of My Music. But you’re welcome to visit.

(What’s that over there? Seven of my Hendrix records survived the last purge! What to do!?!)

Saturday, August 8, 2009

On Leadership

My world has been rocked again by a profound experience, the Willow Creek Leadership Summit . Beyond a short movie with a Bono interview (What! He couldn’t fly to Chicago for the afternoon?) and taped interview with Tony Blair, the in-person guests were top-to-bottom... top-notch.

Seriously, my head hurts a day later. My heart is broken in new places, and within hours of leaving, I was called on for a new, significant short-term leadership opportunity. Bill Hybels was spot-on: "God wants to do great things in our day."

A few more quotes:
“I don’t think anybody’s coming to church today looking for a mild dose of God.”
- Bill Hybels

“The trouble with organized religion is not the religion. It’s the organization.”
- Gary Hamel, Management Innovation Lab (MLab)

NYC’s Redeemer Presbyterian pastor Tim Keller taught the parable of the prodigal son, with some surprising conclusions: “There are two ways around God, rebellion (the younger brother) and religion (the older brother).”

Jessica Jackley, co-founded, the online microfinance website doing $100,000 per day in small business loans around the world. She described how both her mission and organization prosper from the creativity of staff and volunteers. “Co-creation requires less control, a flat structure (not much hierarchy) and open information (lots of idea sharing).”

“Against all odds, God shines the brightest.”
- Harvey Carey, pastor of Citadel of Faith Covenant Church , inner city Detroit

Harried pastors and leaders, busy adjusting to tight economic conditions, were encouraged by Dave Gibbons, pastor of Newsong Church, Irvine, CA, to put people first. “The best programming is life on life.”

“When you look at Africa, I want you to paint a new picture. See us as consumers, markets, financial partners, a place of opportunity.”
-Andrew Rugasira, founder of Good African Coffee

“What’s your cause? Does it move you to tears? Can it?”
- Wess Stafford, Compassion International

“Leadership is no longer ordering others. Today it is persuading others, influencing them toward common goals.”
- David Gergen, Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, advisor to four U.S. presidents

“Focus on the bright spots. Replicate what’s working.”
- Chip and Dan Heath, authors

“It’s hard. There’s always resistance to the journey of equality.”
- Bono

Tony Blair’s charge to church, business and NGO leaders: “Leadership is a blessing. It is a gift to others. It is worthwhile. It is your duty.”