Tuesday, February 17, 2009


Earlier this year (early January, in fact) I had dug up some old CCM albums and was listening to them again for the first time in a few years. Among other things, I wrote this:

Considering Lily, the band, is one of my guilty pleasures from the 90s and also one of my great disappointments. This pair of sisters made a folky album as Serene and Pearl and, when that didn’t work out commercially for them, they rocked it up a bit and formed the band Considering Lily. Their self-titled album is dorky and obvious with mundane images and lightweight tunes. But I liked it and there was something about its quirkiness that caught me back then. The reason that this band was such a disappointment for me is that, for their second album, one of the sisters quit and the newly reformed Considering Lily released an album that was not really at all like their first one. They got more normal and lost their charm. After that they never released another album. While this first one was a lot of fun my patience for the pedestrian writing and playing on this album isn't what it used to be. After two listens it ended up getting deleted from my itunes.

Over this past weekend I received this comment on that post: “Ouch. Serves me right for "Google"ing Considering Lily trying to find some audio clips of "The Pieces Fit" to link in an email.”

The comment came from Jeanette. Clicking on her blogger profile revealed nothing. But I seemed to remember that the woman who was added to the new Considering Lily was named Jeanette. I did some quick googling and I was right – Jeanette Herdman.

I have to admit that my heart fell when I read her note. It was not my intention to hurt her or anyone with my musings about those albums and I felt bad that she had read it and had been hurt by it – even if only a little. I went back and reread what I had written to make sure I hadn’t been especially mean – and I don’t think I was. But it reminded me that music that I review doesn’t just happen – it’s made by people.

I have read some reviews and critiques of my recent book (Helping Our Children Grow in Faith – quick, go order it and read it and then say nice things about it) and, while they’ve been mostly positive there have been a couple of comments that were lukewarm or critical. As I read them I know that it goes with the territory - something that I'm sure Jeanette knows too. In fact – I was quite nervous about that before the book came out. Once you put a book out there you are opening yourself up to people reading it and saying “this guy’s crazy and what’s more he can’t write.” I’m also a musician and I know that reviews can be rough. And, truth be told, when I occasionally write in a particularly snarky manner with humor I get good comments from people who think I’m really smart and witty and clever in the way I put down whatever it was that I was reviewing. That positive reinforcement encourages people to be mean in reviews.

But I also know that I enjoy writing and reading reviews of music and other things and that I will read, watch and listen to things that I just don’t like. Should I not write about them?

I think I will continue to write about them BUT Jeanette’s note reminded me to do it with a spirit of humility and to speak the truth (or at least my opinions) in love. And, Jeanette, thanks for your note and for reminding me of the faces behind the art. I’ll go back and listen to The Pieces Fit again – who knows maybe I’ll now hear things that I didn’t hear all those years ago.

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