For those that know me well, you know that I like music. I think that music a special gift from God. There is little in this world that can move people so deeply and powerfully as music can. You don’t have to even know the language or understand the words to be moved to the core. Music changes everything. Imagine the scene of a favorite movie without the musical score behind it! When the preview for Star Wars: The Force Awakens came out, I cried just hearing the familiar tune.
Throughout my life, I have found myself attached to different artists at different times. Each have had a profound impact on my life, usually for better than worse. As I’ve grown in maturity in Christ, many of these men and women have comforted and counseled my heart at different stages of my life. One of the most profound impacts has been caused by the music of Caedmon’s Call.
As a 18 year old college student, I remember the first time I heard Caedmon’s Call, it was walking in a room at The Master’s College, hearing the cries of Derek Webb in “I Just Don’t Want Coffee”. It was a sound that I hadn’t heard before, but I loved it. I immediately connected with him and Caedmon’s Call. Immediately, I listened to everything of theirs that I could. I looked forward to new music, to see what they would sing about, what they would challenge me on, and what songs by Derek Webb I would connect to.
I can still connect specific songs to specific times in my life. It seemed like Derek Webb and I were connected some how. He would sing of “wondering if I have ‘The Gift’ that everyone speaks so highly of”, referring to singleness. When he sang that, I was struggling with it. When he sang of missing his home town, I was there, too. When he sang of being moved to repentance, I was there.
When God did bring a wonderful woman into my life, we dated (albeit for a short time) at a long distance. Our song would be “Somewhere North” where Derek sang of being so far from the one he loved. I listened to that song over and over and over again, being moved so powerfully every time.
Then Derek got married to his love and I got married to my love. He sang songs about how their love was better than wine, about wanting to marry her all over again. I related so powerfully! I still think of those songs and how they are beautiful descriptions of my love for my wife. I loved Derek Webb and couldn’t wait for anything that he would release.
As time went on, he began to release music that started to concern me. His songs seemed to reflect less on the power of Christ. It made waves when he cursed in a song. He seemed to relish the increasing role of the Christian rebel. He started going places I couldn’t follow, places I didn’t think reflected a Biblical grounding. Then I just stopped buying his music. And the relationship was functionally over.
It didn’t necessarily surprise me when the news came out that he and his wife were splitting and getting a divorce because of his infidelity. It didn’t surprise me, but it hurt. It hurt in a way that sounds foolish and childish. It hurt because when things happened in Derek Webb’s life, they seemed to happen in mind. My concern wasn’t that I would go through the same experience, but that he had become something I just didn’t admire.
Until recently, I have still had him on my Facebook feed. I haven’t bought any of his music recently, knowing that the integrity I admired was gone. And as time has gone by, his posts have proven to be less and less about Christ and more and more about being different, standing against ‘Evangelical Christianity’ or the status quo, whatever that means. I realized, Derek Webb doesn’t make me excited about God’s grace anymore.
Recently, it has become chic for his followers to mock people like me. People who have seen the direction he has gone and say they don’t like what he’s become. You’ll occasionally see someone say how they miss the old Derek Webb, and he’ll admit he has changed, but for the good in his mind. He said something to the effect of “no one should be who they were ten years ago.” This is true, but as a Christian, I would hope it would look more like Christ and less like the world, not the other way around.
So it is, that I have decided to say goodbye. I still have old music of his, but even that seems affected by the direction things have gone. Sadly, I can’t listen to them the same way. I don’t say these things thinking anyone would really care, but more as a cathartic way to say goodbye to a friend I never knew. A way to say goodbye to an influence that pushed me and guided me through difficult years. I’ve thought about writing him directly, but I don’t think that would be productive, so this will have to do.