I was in 4th or 5th grade when I received my first Sony Walkman. Remember those? It opened a whole new world for me; no longer was it necessary to call my favorite radio station to request my favorite song. I could carry those tunes around in my backpack! Of course, having a handful of tapes in my backpack made a lot of noise. The logical next step was to use my Dad’s tape recorder to transfer all of my favorite songs onto just one tape. And thus, the mixtape was born.
I became a pro at making mixtapes. I created Weird Al’s greatest hits before it existed. If there was a song my parents wouldn’t let me listen to, I would borrow the tape from a friend and just like that, it was on one of my tapes. One of my friends, David, had similar taste in music and an entrepreneurial spirit. We aspired to make millions selling our favorite mixtapes…
But I digress. After all music became available digitally, my practice of creating mixtapes and playlists faded away. Until, a few years ago, another friend of mine inspired me to make a “Summer Mixtape Playlist.” Each summer since then I’ve put together a playlist which provides a sound track for the season. It includes some of my favorite songs and artists, as well as new music I’m curious about. This has been a meaningful practice for me, and here are a few of items that are regularly cycling through:
Hillsong Church has set the bar and led the way for contemporary worship music for the past 20 years. From “Shout to the Lord” to “Oceans” and now “What a Beautiful Name” they have written songs to give new generations in the church a voice. This month (June 2017) they released a new album, Wonder. This one sounds different to me, and I like it a lot. While Hillsong does a lot of music production and electronic sounds (which may not be accessible in all our churches), most of their songs are also available on YouTube with a more scaled down approach. Want to know what worship sounds like for many in the younger generations? Check out Hillsong.
The Moth Podcast
I love podcasts and audio-books. Mostly I listen to books about church and leadership. This summer, however, I’m changing it up a bit. Rather than consume lots of heavy content, I’m trying to balance learning with inspiration. The Moth is a community of storytellers. They host regular events with storytelling competitions. The podcast features broadcasts of many of the best stories and competition winners. Want to hear masterful storytellers engage real audiences with real stories? Check out the Moth.
Eric Drew, Center of It All
In May I released a full-length album of contemporary worship music from a Wesleyan perspective. Now, don’t judge, but I’ve been listening to my music as well. Partly, I just can’t believe I have a CD out! But also, I really like how it sounds. I worked to balance contemporary sounding music with some of our rich liturgical tradition; you can hear songs including a call to worship, prayer of confession and assurance of pardon, prayer litany, sending forth and more. Plus, all proceeds from the music go toward GNJ Missions and further creative worship projects. And if you listen and like some of the music, I’m giving away all of the sheet music, for free, here.
If you want to check out my full summer mixtape playlist, you can listen to it here.
What are you listening to this summer? What soundtrack are you using in this season? How does music speak to your soul and set the mood where you are?