What Christian Authors & Speakers Can Learn from the Music World of the 1960s

The 1960s was a remarkable time for music.

The British invasion brought to the United States enduring bands like The Beatles, The Animals, The Rolling Stones, and The Who.

Then the California sound emerged with The Beach Boys, The Doors, Janis Joplin, and a host of other bands.

Other artists emerged quickly, namely, Cream (Eric Clapton), Led Zeppelin, and the inimitable Jimi Hendrix.

Then you had Bob Dylan who inspired many of these artists and vice versa.

What’s incredible to me about this time period is that virtually all of the above named musicians met each other, hung out together from time to time, listened to one another with adoration, and respected each other.

They would also play informally with one another at certain times. And even more encouraging, they inspired one another.

I’ve watched so many interviews with so many of these artists and marveled at how each of them would praise the others. Not just from afar, but because they took the time to get to know one another.

Each time, I’ve had two reactions.

One was awe. How incredible it was that these musicians, all playing for different bands and all enormously talented in their own right, respected each other and spoke well of each other in public.

Sure, I’m sure some struggled with hidden jealousy from time to time, but these artists paid attention to what their peers were doing. They gleaned from each other and they had a great deal of class to speak well of each other.

Some wrote songs based on the inspiration of others.

George Harrison once asked why Led Zeppelin didn’t write “love ballads.” In response, Jimmy Page wrote “The Rain Song.”

Dylan inspired John Lennon to write “Norwegian Wood” and “Nowhere Man” and many other songs.

Dylan moved to an electric sound in response to what the other musicians of the mid-60s were doing.

“Pet Sounds” by The Beach Boys inspired “Sgt. Pepper” by The Beatles.

And on and on.

They all pushed one another to create better work.

Their networking relationships created better music for the entire world.

My second reaction to all of this is a troubling question: “Why can’t those whom God is using on the Christian landscape today have these sorts of relationships?”

Why can’t speakers and authors who are turning the sod in the Christian world have places to hang out, dialogue, get to know one another and inspire each other?

Name your top 5 favorite authors . . . why aren’t they all spending time together, socially?

Why aren’t they learning from each other?

I’m voicing one of my dreams here.

As most of you know, I’ve collaborated with several authors on projects over the years and will continue to do so.

I’ve shared the conference platform with a number of other authors and speakers in various conferences over the years.

But I’m talking about something more focused, more intentional, and more substantial.

Something like what we saw happen among the greatest music artists in the 1960s. And those people weren’t even Jesus followers!

Perhaps this will always stay a dream. But I suppose it can’t hurt to articulate it.

Maybe one of you will put this post in the right hands to make something like this happen . . . somewhere, someday.

If it ever does, no matter how foundational, count me in.

Which speakers/authors would you like to see hanging out and inspiring one another?

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August

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Comments

  1. Sean says

    Frank, you left out one other major music force in the 60s: Motown, which had a particular impact on the Beatles (they wanted to hear Marvin Gaye instead of their own music when they came to America in 1964, and George Harrison, in an interview, specifically mentioned Gaye and the Miracles as one of the group’s favorites). Great points you made in your article, about an era we will probably never see repeated in music.

  2. says

    Hi Frank,
    An interesting article of which I agree throughout. In the ’60s, the musicians “lived” music, it fully consumed them and therefore all they talked about was music, all they did was music, it was a lifestyle – and they made a living out of it. It was their music that made them famous.
    Living for Christ is a lifestyle, but somehow in this world, I think some find it difficult to live a “live for Christ” lifestyle and make a living! Is it the “Living for Christ” or the books/ conference talks/ preaching that brings them to the publics attention?
    I also think what you are suggesting – which I like the sound of – is a form of disciple-ing, mentoring and encouragement like the “Paul, Timothy, Barnabas” relationship.
    Be blessed

    • says

      Thanks. What I’m speaking of is more networking, friendship, and mutual respect, encouragement, and inspiring.

      Those who live for Christ and have ministries produce content, whether via books, speaking, courses, etc.

      The same as those who lived for music produced content, whether live performances, albums, etc.

      The one is a byproduct of the other.

      What’s sad is that many of those who are giving the best and most value to the body of Christ via their ministries don’t know one another and don’t pay attention to what each other is doing. In that respect, we can learn a lot from the example of the musicians from the 1960s. They knew what the best talent was and they appreciated it in one another. Today, Christianity is so tribal and individualistic that this element is rarely seen.

  3. says

    Great post and observation Frank.
    I’d suggest that in the ’60 the musicians lived and breathed music, it was their life. Is this true of most Christian authors/ speakers/ bloggers? I have only come across a few who live and breath Christ and have time for anyone to chat “Christ” with them – sadly.
    Isn’t what you are suggesting a form of disciple-ing? (Mentor and encourager to each other)
    Be blessed

    • says

      Great point, James. I do think this is part of the problem. I wonder if this is also reflected in the fact that one particular well-known author on Taylor’s list has been greatly inspired by another author on his list, but he has never given credit to that author nor has he ever reach out to him. Even when others have encouraged it. This speaks volumes, I think.

      On your other question, I’m not talking about discipling. I’m speaking about networking and mutual inspiring.

  4. says

    It seems to me that this does happen in a way. There are a few big Christian conferences out there where you see a lot of the more popular authors, pastors and Christian leaders. I’m thinking of groups like The Gospel Coalition or Together For the Gospel.

    • Taylor says

      Caleb, I don’t believe this is what Frank is talking about. You’re describing conferences that are mostly tribal. GC only invites people who are part of their tribe. They wouldn’t invite most of the people on my list and they don’t invite most of the most influential Christian speakers right now.

      The list I gave is diverse like the musicians Frank mentioned. Plus speakers have little time to talk to each other at the best of conferences.

    • Mary B says

      I don’t think Frank is really talking about conferences. Those are mostly attended by large congregations. I think Frank is talking about these people hanging out, socializing, sharing, uplifting each other, etc., aside from the public view.

      Frank this is an excellent comparison, too bad the world at times seems to get it more,that we!

      Mary B

  5. says

    Wonderful comments! I can see how it could be difficult to “hang out” literally. In the case of Ann, she is a homeschool mom. I find it very encouraging as I read other blogs, to get an answer now and then and people are very caring and encouraging.

    And yes! Soon I will be hanging out with a group at the Wilderness Workshop in AK with Leslie Leyland Fields!

  6. Taylor James says

    Frank, this sings to my heart!!! I want to see this. My wife and I are in our 30s and we’d like to see these people hanging out and doing stuff together.

    Ann Voskamp
    Frank Viola
    Francis Chan
    DerWin Gray
    Greg Boyd
    Leonard Sweet
    Mary Demuth
    N.T. Wright

    If I knew of a place to make this happen I’d do it.

  7. says

    Frank, wow I love your comparison here. And yeah, wouldn’t that be amazing to see Christians hanging out together, sharing ideas and resources. It seems too many want their name to be on the marque rather than sharing an idea that someone else may develop. It would be great to have an occasion where Christians “hung out together from time to time, listened to one another with adoration, and respected each other.” Sounds like heaven to me.

    • says

      That’s a good point Dan! It does sound like heaven! I’m pretty sure that in heaven we won’t be worried about trying to get our name on the marque and that will make the fellowship all the more sweet!

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