The Archives

 

John Barber

I Want to Be a Clone: How Steve Taylor Helped Me Find Myself

There’s no doubt that the Rabbit Room is full of my people, but I haven’t always known who my people were.

The first time I found my people, I was in eighth grade. I didn’t know they were my people at first, I just knew I’d finally found human beings who said out loud the things I was thinking. Looking back now, I can see that those people were more important than I ever realized back then.

In the back of the room where our church youth group met, there was a smaller room. And in that smaller room, the arcane was made real. It was my wardrobe, but inside, instead of fur coats, I found a soundboard and lighting controls. Instead of snowy woods, I found the buttons that controlled everything—the music, the microphones, the lights. The characters who occupied that room were like deities to me because they knew what the buttons did when you pushed them and because they got to choose which music played as everyone else walked into the larger room. These guys would fit so well in the Rabbit Room. One that sticks out to me was Chip, one of the adult leaders. Chip was fond of dressing in knee-high leather boots and a kilt, and he would sometimes have a Highlander sword slung on his back. For a 13-year-old, these things make an impression. In that tiny room, guys like Chip introduced me to bands like The Seventy-Sevens, and singers like Mark Heard and Steve Taylor.

For a kid who grew up exclusively on Contemporary Christian Music with a little bit of the oldies station for good measure, I wasn’t used to this. In the late ’80s and early ’90s, when names like Michael W. Smith and Sandi Patty ruled the Southern Baptist music dial, I had no idea this other musical world existed. Oh, I knew there were bands like Petra—Christian music’s answer to Bon Jovi—but I wasn’t allowed to listen to them. That was too “hard.” But mostly, I needed music that asked difficult questions: “What about social justice?” “What if I’m not sure about what I believe?” “What about sin?” I’m thankful for the CCM artists that filled my cassette rack back then. They gave me a vocabulary for my faith. But I really needed to move past musical Christianity 101 and look toward something that would help me know how to live; something to convince me that I wasn’t alone.

RR Interview: Rebecca Reynolds

Ron Block’s new album, Walking Song, released two weeks ago, and although it has Ron’s mug on the cover, there’s another person that’s responsible for the lyrical content inside. Rebecca Reynolds, long-time Rabbit Roomer, joined up with Ron to co-write most of the songs on the album. I spoke to her about what it was like to participate in a collaborative artistic endeavor like Walking Song.

You began this journey simply by reading The Rabbit Room and contributing to the discussion once in a while. In fact, you weren’t even aware of who Ron Block was at the beginning. How exactly did a sometime Rabbit Room commenter end up writing lyrics for a big-time album?