John Lodge, bass player and one of the front men of the Moody Blues, recorded a new album this year. The album is his first solo effort since the 1970s and was released within months of his 70th birthday.
Asked about his thoughts behind the making of the album, Lodge commented “obviously you need songs. But you need a way… the right way for you to record the album.” He explained that with this work he was returning to the way the Moodies developed albums “like in the early days… as a band… all creating together…”
In the ‘early days’ the Moody Blues were famous for arranging songs not so much in a studio (with the musicians on one side of a glass wall and a producer in a control room on the other side) as around a coffee table. In fact the coffee table in the Moodies’ offices became legendary among fans, an iconic representation of how the band members worked together.
The coffee table was lost to history around the time the Moodies took a break from recording in the late 1970s, and fans have often commented that the band’s sound – and musical teamwork – was never quite the same afterward. Later works were good, yes… but they never quite felt like the same band; they felt more like collections of solo and duet efforts.
Lodge continued his recent interview by saying he wanted to “get out of a control-room situation and back into a creative mold where you can be creative with other people…”
Where it comes to the Church: Juxtapose this with comments like “Why should I bother going to church on Sunday mornings? I can worship God just as well rafting down a river and being one with nature.”
Yes – and a musician can create and record music without a band too. Many do. All it takes to make an album these days is one musician with a recording studio and a bunch of electronics. Everything else – instruments, drums, backing vocals – can be synthesized.
But something important is lost in the process: the creative gifts and talents of others. Nothing can replace what happens when band members bounce ideas off each other, play in response to each other, even get on each others’ nerves and then work to resolve differences.
Juxtapose Lodge’s comments also with people who say “what the church needs is programs that appeal to young people” (or whatever the target demographic of the day might be).
Top-down leadership leaves little room for inspiration, just as control-room recording leaves less room for musical teamwork. Where it comes to the church, the One in charge is not sitting in a glass booth. God works within hearts, and the institution needs to find ways to teach, support and inspire Holy-Spirit-directed creativity and collaboration.
So I submit for your consideration: the Body of Christ works a lot like a band. We need each other. We need to inspire each other, challenge each other, build together. And we need to learn how to be guided by God’s Spirit in working together.
The word “symphony” is a combination of two Greek words meaning to “sound together”. We can’t sound together alone.