Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson

Adorning the Dark by Andrew Peterson

Author:Andrew Peterson [Peterson, Andrew]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Christian, Non-fiction, Memoir
ISBN: 9781535949026
Google: MFixDwAAQBAJ
Amazon: 1535949023
Publisher: B&H Books
Published: 2019-10-15T06:00:00+00:00

– 10 –

Serving the Audience

Okay, I’ll give you either striven or raiment,” Ben told me with a chuckle and a well-deserved roll of the eyes, “You can’t have both.”

He’s produced several of my records, and I trust him. We were working on a song called “Hosanna.” The second verse opened with the line, “I have striven to remove this raiment, tried to hide every shimmering strand.”

In this instance I was more interested in showing off than in caring about the listener. I was geeking out about language, saying in essence, “Behold, listener, what fancy words I hath employed!” Now, there’s nothing wrong with using an unusual word in a song from time to time, and it’s actually quite nice to see someone work hard to make the rhymes interesting. But there comes a point when it’s distracting, and the listener (at best) stops thinking about the song and starts thinking about what a smart cookie the writer must be, or (at worst) doesn’t know the word and actually feels dumb. So I had to choose either striven or raiment. I went with, “I have struggled to remove this raiment,” mainly because raiment and angels in the next line had a nice slant rhyme. Thank you, Ben, for saving me from myself.

Always, always remember to love the listener. One of my pet peeves is when performers don’t accept applause. It’s a principle I learned back in the rock band I was in after high school. (More about that some other time.) The management drilled into our heads that after the last big note of each song we had to literally hold out our hands as if to say, “What did you think? Awesome, right?” We were like gymnasts at the Olympics, striking a pose at the end of a routine and waiting for the not-so-thunderous applause. And if the audience did actually enjoy the song, then we had to acknowledge it. It was, they taught us, a matter of gratitude. The people in the bleachers don’t have to be there, after all. They’re giving you money, but the more surprising thing is that they’re giving you their attention—which is an act of profound generosity in a culture that clamors for every second of our attention already. The very least you can do when they clap after your song is to smile, nod, and say thank you. Don’t, whatever you do, for the love of all that is sacred, just tune your guitar while they clap, or turn around and say something to the drummer without acknowledging the grace they’re giving you. Each applause is like a bouquet of flowers. Don’t be a jerk and toss them on the floor. Say thank you. Mean it.

And that leads me to another opinion, much less strongly held, and one I don’t strictly keep to. This is mostly for entertainers, but I think there’s a broader principle at work that applies to everyone: when you’re playing live, end the song in a way that signals to the audience that it is, in fact, over.


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