Sunday morning in a church in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Some time around 1983.
The pastor preached a sermon called “Candles and Rockets”. The basic point of this parable was to explain that there are two kinds of people in the world: The candles were dependable. They provided warmth and light to guide though the darkness. Candles burned throughout the night, and were able to be counted on for as many times as they were needed. Candles had longevity, as opposed to the rocket.
The rocket’s sole purpose was to wait for the day when it’s fuse would be lit. It would reach the sky, and in one explosive moment, it would light the heavens in a glorious burst of color…and then it would be no more.
Rockets were worthless in the grand scheme of things…except in the eyes of one 17 year old kid, sitting way in the back. He was the guitarist for their outreach program to inner city kids. The pastor knew at that moment, that he had a rocket in his congregation.
The pastor meant well, but I guess he didn’t understand the nature of a rocket. Its seemed as if the next few weeks of sermons were dedicated as messages to me. Stories of men who put their own quest for glory above God and crashed and burned as a result. Actually started getting to me too.
Fact of the matter was, I was being brainwashed. Anyone that came to work for this pastor, would have instilled in them that this was God’s plan for the rest of their life. To stay in that church and work in their various programs for the community, preferably as volunteers. As the staff grew in Bushwick, housing was needed. Donations from all over the country helped him to buy up property at rock-bottom prices all over Bushwick. He went from pastor to landlord, raising non-member rents up, and becoming rich.
Oh wait. No one is supposed to know that. And I’m straying from the story.
Somewhere, subliminally, it was now in my head that my musical aspirations were to be fulfilled in Contemporary Christian Music. I despised CCM, not for their message, but for the bland talent & lack of originality. However, I thought it possible to begin there and make a name for myself. How hard could it be? Most of the artists I heard sucked!
1984 rolled around, I was out of high school, and deliberately took the crappiest jobs possible. I knew I wouldn’t be around long. On the down side, this usually left me broke. No problem, use the church’s state-of-the-art equipment to whip up a demo. Which was fine with them, as long as it’s CCM….I remade “Soldier of the Light” by Andrus, Blackwood & Co.
I also entered a program called “Young American Showcase”, another Chistian outreach program based in St. Petersburg, FL. The pastor was good friends with the people there. He offered, to “throw in a good word for me”, and was sad to see me go….
Young American Showcase claimed they never got my audition materials….hmmmmm.
I let a co-worker hear my demo of “Soldier of the Light”. It blew him away. Sure it was rough, but he saw the potential.
“You know, my next door neighbor is Billy Joel’s manager. How about we spring for a recording studio and re-record this…” he said…”Just one thing, you have to change the words, cause this christian shit wont sell anything.”
Well needless to say, my brainwashed mind was offended at his remark. I politely declined his offer…
…I kicked myself in the ass for years to come!
All songs Copyright ©1986,1989,1990,2002,2006 Eric Brooks.