Hopefully, friends reading the title of this blog will pipe up and say, “You’re not old. At sixty-nine, you have many good years left.” I hope they’re right.
But my outlook on music has changed a lot since I started learning to play guitar during the “folk fad” of the 1960s. After moving away from Norfolk, Virginia, where I belonged to a trio, and becoming a soloist, I continued to take music seriously. Even more seriously than before.
I recall telling someone that I wanted to transfer from my junior college to West Virginia University because traditional folk expert Dr. Patrick Gainer–how many people’s names can you still recall fifty years later?–taught there. But I wanted to major in music.
I didn’t. Go to WVU or major in music. Instead, I majored in English at Frostburg State.
I’d written my first song as a theme song for the trio in Norfolk and I wrote a few more songs in the ensuing years. Folk was on its way out–or at least it was being replaced by “folk rock,” something I wasn’t interested in trying. So what was I to write and perform?
As a Christian, that question wasn’t hard to answer. I would write Christian songs and use them whenever and wherever I could. Over the years I’ve had opportunities to sing in prisons, nursing homes, migrant camps, and even churches. My own church and other churches as well.
I also wrote half a dozen or so musical dramas, four of which were performed one or more times.
Throughout the first twenty or thirty years of my song writing, I had several goals. I was realistic enough to know I would never become a popular, well-known Christian singer myself, but I very badly wanted some of my songs to get published and–who knows?–maybe some popular, well-known Christian singer would use one or more of them.
Do you remember the first Christian youth musical Good News? It was written and compiled by Bob Oldenburg and began an explosion of other youth musicals. I met Bob at the conference center where I was working one summer and actually got to do a couple of songs on closed circuit TV for the youth one week. Bob asked me to send him a copy of that music. He was getting ready to work on his second musical and thought he might be able to use one of my songs.
Unfortunately he wasn’t able to. That was just one of many disappointments in trying to get my songs into the hands of someone who saw their value and would make good use of them.
Years later, I chanced to correspond with someone who had a good publishing friend in Nashville. He had me send a CD–okay, I admit it, it was a cassette tape back then–and he forwarded it to his friend. Nothing came of it. Not even useful feedback. Or any kind of feedback at all.
I kept writing and singing wherever I could. I recorded many of my songs at home and gave cassette tapes to friends I thought were non-Christians. The funny things is I had a Jewish friend in Australia who shared those tapes with her American boss. No telling who ended up listening to some of my music.
In 1991 I went on my first mission trip, and I’ve been on numerous other trips since then–to Australia, England, Wales, Romania, and Nicaragua. And I’ve been able to use my music there.
Now I’m pretty much limited to two musical outlets: Singing in our church’s nursing home ministry. I have to give those old folks credit. They love my songs! The other is the youngest children’s choir at church. Their director periodically teaches them one of my songs and I play guitar for them to sing with in church.
I also post many of my recordings on my website, RogerBruner.com.
But what is my ultimate goal? Other than pleasing God, Who I believe is the biggest fan of my songs.
Don’t laugh. Not where I can hear you, anyhow. I would love to have one song–I’m not greedy; one will do–published in the Baptist hymnbook. Or some other hymnbook or collection of songs that are going to be around for a while.
Like many other songs in collections like those, it might not get noticed by a large number of people, but at least it would be “out there” where God could lead the people He wants to use my song to find it.
That way it will become part of the legacy I leave behind.
What about you? Have you pursued a goal that’s slipped further and further away? Have you altered your goal and changed the way you’ve gone about pursuing it? How about sharing in a comment?
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