The journey of artistry is a hard one, I don't care what your medium is. You get this fire in your spirit that just drives you into creating this thing you were created for, this art, this worship, and the bigger that fire burns in you, the smaller you feel in a world of people who have already "made it," people who are already living the journey that you're just starting on.
I've been blessed in my artistry to have another passion kindling nearby and that has been the passion of my worship minister, songwriter, and friend - Terry Waggoner. Terry and I don't sit around every week talking artistry or worship or anything like that, although we probably could, but just knowing that he's been out there taking these first steps, too, has been a comfort in a world that seems so much bigger than even Terry and I put together.
And now that world has exploded as my buddy Terry finally (yes, FINALLY!) released his first EP last month - Fringes.
Here's what I love about Fringes: it's kind of a good mix of everything. You have these songs that kind of define your life for a period, this genre that speaks to you for a season, and then all of a sudden, you're itching for something more or something different, at least, because whatever had your heart has kind of moved on. With Fringes, it feels like there's a song for every season, something generous for every heart that you could bring into this worship.
There's a song about rain. A simple soundtrack, but if it happens to be raining outside, you understand what it's like, this thing called rain and Terry doesn't say it's holy but it sounds holy all the same. And if it doesn't happen to be raining, it still sounds holy and you get this sense of washing in your heart that's hard to ignore.
There is a mix of worship that is me-centered and God-centered. You know because sometimes, you want to bring your heart to God and just say, Lord, this is all I've got and this is all I am and I am empty and I am not enough and I am thirsty, but it's all I've got for you and so there's the chance in Fringes to bring this heart before God as Terry invites us not to listen, but to worship, with lyrics like, "In my weakness, you are here. In my failing, you forgive. I am running to You, God." But the music doesn't make you feel like you're running; it makes you feel like you're falling in surrender and then there's this beautiful chorus where you know God has answered.
On the flip side is the incredible worship that is God-centered in "You are Love." This is an invitation, too, but for the heart that is singing, the heart that is praising. And the congregation that has gathered to worship. It doesn't matter if you're hearing this song in the crowded auditorium on a Sunday morning or in the quiet of your office by your lonesome, you raise a hand and don't think twice about it. "All Creation sings Your praise" - and you feel like a part of Creation. You feel like a part of this beautiful, majestic thing that praises the Lord. It's a little more upbeat than the other tracks, but it works for this song, and it doesn't overshadow the gentle invitation with a bunch of noise.
Kind of the anomaly in all of this is the title track - Fringes - which is included as both a "plugged" version and an acoustic track. (I am a sucker for acoustic tracks. I think you really get a sense of an artist when there's nothing between his instrument and his audience.) It is...I guess what you would call the unexpected track on the release. Every CD has that one that you can't decide whether you like it or don't like or exactly what. It's the song that doesn't really hit your heart but instead just kind of nudges it and makes you dive into this thing that you weren't expecting maybe to dive into this afternoon, but here you are and you go with it. The integrity of this song is easy to miss if you're not willing to put the work into it but when you give it your heart for a minute, it's got you. I first heard Fringes in a park on a late summer night and honestly? It was forgettable. (Sorry, Terry.) I didn't have the energy that night to invest in it. This week, as I listened to the EP again and again in preparation for saying something about it, can I tell you? I woke up in the middle of the night singing Chris Rice and transitioning into Fringes, complete with this awesome internal-music-video playing in my head. This song's got me.
Terry makes authenticity seem effortless. As an artist, I know how painful it is to pour yourself into the work of your heart and how it's so easy to come off contrived or contorted or a whole myriad of other things. I'm honestly jealous of the way Terry makes it seem so easy, although I know that behind the curtain, it's not so simple as it seems. When you listen to the EP, you get the sense that he's just at worship and someone happened to be there to pick it up. When you watch his video interview about the project, you get the same sense. That this is just Terry being Terry...and it's awesome that he would share his gift with us (finally) and release the work of his passion and not let the agony of the artistry and the questions of committing to putting something out there get in the way of the very real invitation in this release that you just come to worship. Whatever your heart.
Fringes is a passionate, agonized, tender, inviting set of worship that maybe a few, yeah, you'd find in your church on Sunday morning and some that are better suited to an evening in the park or a night by the bonfire, but you find every single one of them in your heart.
You can download Fringes from Amazon or iTunes. Support this guy in what he is doing because he has an incredible gift for this, and God's people are better off for having him share it with us. That said, let me also say this - I am privy to some of his yet unreleased works and feel kind of gypped that a few in particular weren't on this release, but one day, they will be. (Please?)
By federal regulations, I am required to tell you that yes, I know Terry but that I was not compensated in any way (or bribed) for this post. I am doing this of my own good will and volition (and because more of my friends like him than like me, according to Facebook (Terry Waggoner [Musician] vs. Aidan Rogers [Author], so maybe his popularity will rub off a little) and I even forked over the dough for my own copy of Fringes. So basically, I got nothing for this...and if I had, I would have given it back. It's good.