Staying awake to the world


My father sat in on an L.A. studio session in 1970 during the recording of my second album, “Have You Seen Jesus My Lord?”. He was not there because he liked the music (he didn’t), he was there for me, and I appreciated that, though it would have been a lot more fun had he been engaged in some way with what was really happening that day. Unfortunately he just sat there in the control room looking overwhelmed and somewhat annoyed by the high volumes in the room, while my songs were coming to life right before his very eyes and ears.

It meant nothing to him that this collection of long-haired studio musicians he was watching out on the studio floor were some of the best rock musicians in the world. It meant nothing to him that the keyboard player at this session was the same one who created and performed the famous piano opening to “Bridge Over Troubled Water,” by Simon and Garfunkel, or that the pedal steel guitar player played on my favorite album of all time by Judy Collins, it only mattered that I was his son and he was there to support me, but that’s as far as it went. And even though he was a highly musical person (lead a dance band in college, and directed the choir in our church for decades), he made no attempt to crossover to the music of my generation.

He knew nothing of the explosion of creativity in popular music that occurred in the ‘60s and ‘70s. Never asked what groups or solo artists I liked so he could get familiar with the music and see its influence on mine. The rock music, even the more gentle folk rock music like James Taylor, never interested him and became a barrier he never sought to overcome. Chalk it up to another generation, and go home and drop a recording of his beloved Norman Luboff Choir on the turntable. That was the way it was; and that was the way it was supposed to be. One generation over here and another over there. 

I’m thinking about this, now that I am on the other side of the fence and asking myself, “Am I doing the same thing as my dad?” Well with music, I’m not doing too badly. Not with Chandler playing his music as we drive around in the car and take long trips from time to time. I have a struggle with rap, but I try to hang in there and once in a while, I get it. But I’ll tell you where I am way behind with Chandler’s generation, and where I’m tempted to not do anything about it, is in the digital world and the internet. I haven’t even gotten Facebook and Twitter down, much less Instagram, Tik Tok, Discord, Clubhouse, Vimeo, WhatsApp, and on and on it goes. I just went to a website that lists “101 social networking sites you should know about in 2021.” You mean there’s more than Facebook and Twitter?

There’s a huge temptation just to joke about it and let this go, but that would be just like my dad sitting stone-faced in a recording studio. We boomers are immigrants in a country settled by millennials and Gen-zers who have been interacting digitally since they came out of the womb. It’s all second nature to them; they don’t even have to think about it. They know how to move around freely in this world; we have much to learn, but if we want to communicate and care about their generation, we have no choice. If we keep speaking only to each other we will just slowly fade into the sunset of irrelevancy. But if we have a passion for the gospel of welcome and spreading the news of grace turned outward to the world we will leave behind, we must learn to speak the language. That’s all there is to it.

This entry was posted in discipleship, diversity, gospel of welcome, grace turned outward, Millennials, Transformation Generation and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Staying awake to the world

  1. Scott says:

    Have You Seen Jesus My Lord is easily one of my favorite songs! Just wanted you to know that.

  2. You are to be commended for keeping up with the music. If anything, that’s even harder to do with today’s on-demand music, where you can curate and walk around with your own 2000-song playlist in your pocket, and you never have to listen to a song you don’t like. When you and I were Christopher’s age, the only way to discover music was to hear it on the radio, which meant that, at least occasionally, you had to hear stuff that didn’t necessarily fall in your personal top-40.

  3. “If future generations are to remember us with gratitude rather than contempt, we must leave them a glimpse of the world as it was in the beginning, not just after we got through with it.”
    ~ President Lyndon B. Johnson upon his signing of The Wilderness Act, Sept. 1964

    I know this is going out on a limb but I ran across the above quote after reading today’s Catch and made a “love connection” so to speak!
    Despite what one feels about LBJ or the politics behind The Wilderness Act, a bridge between generations was being formed even before generational differences were being addressed.

    If I’m interpreting John and his radio guests correctly, our younger citizens of today are yearning for the openness, acceptance, the caring, the beauty, and simplicity that we seemed to enjoy in our youth (which we may not have recognized we possessed at the time).
    We, too, yearned for a world different and more innocent than that which we were living in back then, a simpler time that we believed our parents had but which they denied us.
    They most likely desired the same when they were our age, also.
    As well as their parents before them.
    And their parents before them, etc…

    That struggle will continue through each successive generation but if we can place ourselves in each others shoes, and if each generation can steer clear from being curmudgeonly and close-minded, perhaps the 2020’s will be the decade looked back upon when bridges of inclusion were successfully completed and love, real love, real peace, and real joy prevailed.

    Be a blessing. Be blessed.
    Be of good will. Be cheerful.
    Be courageous. Be encouraged.

    Shalom, Peace my friends…

  4. psonkowsky says:

    There is indeed a dizzying amount and variety of social media. I’m comfortable enough with some of it (Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and the like), yet the amount of unfamiliar territory seems never-ending. I believe even the “digital natives” don’t keep up with all of it. For example, my Millennial son has a very active presence on Facebook, but my Generation Z son didn’t even get on it — “Facebook is for old people”, he insists.

    I’ll never truly keep up with the cool kids, but my current projects include trying to get familiar with Discord and Reddit. Maybe it will help me keep in touch with my younger son. That’s my excuse anyway. 😀

  5. John A Fagliano says:

    It’s all about the message. A good message can break down barriers. My father was pretty much the same as yours. He was from the generation that just didn’t get Rock n’ Roll. I’ll never forget how surprised I was when he overheard a popular song that was playing on the radio I was listening to. After it was over he told me really liked that song. It was “I Will Survive” by Gloria Gaynor. Now, it’s not like my father liked fast paced disco music or R&B vocals. He HATED those things. This song was different because he heard the message. He liked the story of transformation from broken hearted to strong and confident. He heard the lyrics.

    I can relate to what you said about ” a struggle with rap”. I would go so far as to say I don’t struggle at all, I just hate it! But, as with my dad, there always is an exception. I heard the song below many years ago but it’s message struck me. I didn’t forget. Even thought it’s old now, I’ll share it. If the number is views it’s gotten in 12 years and the recent comments are any indication, I’m not alone. This songs message is remembered by many. And it still speaks today.

  6. Toni Petrella says:

    Mr Fisher thanks for making those points. I also have trouble with rap and some of the music now not always like it but, once in a while I hear something that I do like. If I close the mind I would miss that. One area we can all feel the best about is coming to Jesus no matter personal likes or dislikes because that says it all then, now, and forever.

  7. David K says:

    I think I’m your dad….2021

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.