As many of you know, I have two names. There is the name you know me by, Teo Bishop; a name which I chose for myself several years back, and one that I took as my legal name last year. There is also the name which I’ve performed under for most of my life, Matt Morris.
I wrote the following post on my Matt Morris fan page a few days before New Year’s:
This year, I got to write with Sarah McLachlan, Greyson Chance, Michael Franti, Joe King, & a whole host of amazing producers. Mary J. Blige cut one of my songs, and so did Cher.
All in all, I’d say that makes for a pretty good year of songwriting.
But being in [Ryan] Tedder’s studio did something to me. There was a moment today when I could see myself writing and recording for *me* again. It was the first time that’s happened in while.
I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions in any strict sense. But I do think that music – my music – may end up playing a more central role in my life in 2013.
This was a revelation. I’m going to do music in 2013, I realized.
Honestly, just writing these words makes my stomach knot up a bit.
Making music was all I did for the longest time. All of my 20’s were devoted to it. Only in the past few years have I allowed myself to explore another creative avenue, blogging, and that has led to wonderful growth and exploration in my personal life.
For one, I managed to get the Solitary Druid Fellowship up and running, and that project is moving forward wonderfully. I’m writing liturgies, crafting prayers and devotionals (which will be up on the site very soon), and I’m living out the kind of ministry that I wrote about so long ago:
Fire, in my imagination, resides primarily in the heart.
Ministry, as I understand it, is the act of nurturing that fire, both in yourself and in others. One who ministers is one who keeps the fire burning, or who teaches others the skills needed for this internal fire tending.
This blog has also been a commitment to my spiritual growth. Bishop In The Grove started out in 2010 as the blog of a student, and it continues to be that on a much bigger scale. Now my religious tradition, my life experience, and my readership are my teachers.
These spiritual projects mean so much to me, and I see them continuing to grow and evolve throughout 2013.
But music? How will making music – my music – fit into that picture? Should it be a “spiritual project” as well?
I’m not totally sure how to answer that question.
Someone suggested I make “Pagan music.” I tried that last year, and I’m not sure it’s the right way for me to go. I never felt right about making “Christian music” when I was a Christian, after all. I think it’s because I think of music, when it’s done well, as a vehicle for uniting people. It’s bigger than any one tradition, any one religion. And (pointing to my own proclivity for Universalism), I respond to music that approches something true about the human condition.
The music I make, or perhaps the music I’d like to make, is music that can be listened to by people of many different backgrounds. I’d like to write – to sing – beyond the boundaries of my current identity, my chosen tradition. I’d like to be bigger than I think I’m capable, and by doing so expand the reach of the sound into new, unexpected corners of the world.
(I haven’t thought these kinds of thoughts in a long time.)
I’m also thinking that I’d like to have my music be simpler than it’s been in the past. I’d like to make it accessible, and beautiful. I’d like it to be singable, and memorable. I’d like to write songs that I enjoy singing, that are comfortable and also challenging.
And, I should probably find a way to incorporate this music making into my daily practice. (Hmm… *twirls mustache*)
I’ve learned a lot about my readership over the past few years, but we haven’t talked much about music. Perhaps that should change.
As I look at being Matt Morris again, I wonder:
What does music mean to you? How is it a part of your life? Are you a connoisseur, or an occasional listener? Do you create music yourself, or have you always wanted to?
Is music a part of your spiritual practice? If so, how?
Tell me —
How do you do music?