…well, we’ll get to what derek webb gives, but first, a few thoughts about a recent derek webb development.
it goes without saying to people who have read my blog for any time that i’m a huge fan of derek webb. if i had to list my top 5 artists, he would most definitely land in my top 2 or 3 minimum. webb transcends “christian music” and creates in a space that very few artists create. he’s part artist, part prophet, part activist and part provocateur. lyrically, webb is prophetic and initially hard to swallow, but musically, he’s inviting and beautiful.
one of my favorite things about webb is that he’s very accessible and transparent to fans. while more and more artists are becoming “closer” to their fans via social media, webb’s honesty in venues such as twitter hearken back to his honest and blunt lyrics. via twitter, over the last couple months, we’ve followed as he’s recorded his latest album, stockholm syndrome (which was actually inspiration for a blog post a couple months ago on the eikon blog. you can read it here). webb provided great news to his followers a couple weeks ago when he announced—just after completing recording—that the album would be out may 19. as anticipation grew, followers were then greeted by this tweet yesterday:
stockholm syndrome update: label trouble over content, complicating release plans. look for mass email next week w/update & our new plan.
well, over the next 24 hours, via twitter and webb’s email newsletter, more details—as mysterious as they may be—have surfaced. this morning, in said newsletter, subscribers received the following:
friends-i haven’t sent many personal emails to this email list but we’re in a situation that has gotten a little out of control and it’s time to fill you in. as some of you may know, i’ve been working for months on my new record, ’stockholm syndrome’, which i’ve recently finished and turned in to the record label. they’ve been very supportive over the years, but this time we didn’t get the response we expected. it seems i’ve finally found the line beyond which my label can support me, and apparently i’ve crossed it.i consider this my most important record and am adamant about all of you hearing it. we had originally hoped to have ’stockholm syndrome’ out this month (next week even), but at this point we’re not sure when the record will come out and in what form. the majority of the controversy is surrounding one song, which i consider to be among the most important songs on the record. so we’ve decided it’s an appropriate time to break the rules.but because of various legal/publishing issues we’re having to be rather careful with how we do what we’re going to do next. that’s really all i can say for now and i’ve probably said too much.we have a plan and we’re moving ahead, but we’re not sure what kind of trouble we might be getting into. we’ll let you know as soon as we know our next move-derek
so, a few answers, but still, plenty of mystery. so, what this amounts to is his record label—INO—doesn’t like the content of one of his songs. in a tweet today, webb further explained that the song in question (or maybe the entire album??) deals with “race and sexuality”. further, there’s plenty of fairly conclusive speculation that the specific song uses the word…wait for it…wait for it…shit. (gasp….)
while this is mere speculation, there’s a couple connecting points. first, people who saw him at a recent concert in nashville said he sang a new song with that word in it. second, and to complete my post title, recently webb registered the domain giveashit.org. 🙂 while webb, obviously, is never one to mince words, the discovery of that domain led to further speculation that was clarified in a piece written by bob smietana for sojourners magazine. in it, he writes the following:
Derek Webb wants to dig latrines for Jesus. And he’s looking for a few thousand friends to lend a hand. In a world where as many as 8,000 people die each day from waterborne diseases, he says, it’s the Christian thing to do. To get the word out about his latrine campaign, Webb, a Nashville-based Christian singer-songwriter who doesn’t mince words, is planning to launch a new Web site—www.giveashit.org. The name, he said, is meant to startle people into action.“The twin towers fall every day in Africa for lack of clean drinking water—7,500 or 8,000 people dying every day and the church does not appear to give a shit,” said Webb, echoing evangelist Tony Campolo’s provocative challenge to churches.That’s something Webb, who helped found the contemporary Christian band Caedmon’s Call before launching a solo career, is determined to change. And he doesn’t mind offending people in the process, if he can get their attention.“Part of my job is to take language and redeem it and to use it for good,” says Webb. “This is a great opportunity for me to use language creatively to stir people to action.”
[the tony campolo reference was a quote that i believe i’ve shared before on this blog: I have three things to say today. 1st: While you were sleeping last night 30,000 kids died of starvation or diseases related to malnutrition. 2nd: Most of you don’t give a shit. 3rd: What’s worse is that you are more upset with the fact that I said shit than the fact that 30,000 kids died last night.]
so, in keeping with his artistic role of prophetic and music provocateur, webb is asking you to give a shit by getting involved with clean water issues in africa. all this to say that while webb has certainly pushed musical boundaries with his label, he’s obviously found the line and crossed it.
so, he’s in the midst of finding alternative ways of getting out his music. he might be legally bound (as it sounds) to release it through INO records, but it also sounds like he’s got an alternative plan hatched. either way, this does nothing but stir up the anticipation and curiosity that much more.
in the meantime, i came across this video of him performing what is my favorite song by him, my enemies are men like me. it’s a beautiful and confronting song and is very appropriate for our current global political environment. enjoy.