Sept. 28 Switchfoot
I’m thankful for a band.
Once upon a time (11 years ago), a new friend handed me a CD and said, “Listen to this. I think you’ll like it.” It was Switchfoot’s album “New Way to Be Human.” I had never heard anything like it. The lyrics were personal; the songs had variety of sound; the rock rocked and the ballads were beautiful. And though their words were solidly Christian, they didn’t sound like a Christian band. (That could be another post for another day, but a lot of Christian-labeled bands have a certain similar sound.)
One of the reasons I like Switchfoot is that they have successfully broken out of the Christian label and boldly taken their theology to the world. They live and perform in the public sphere, not just at churches or Christian music festivals. This invites heightened scrutiny of their lives and their music from all sides. I believe this is what Bob Briner was talking about in “Roaring Lambs” – he had a vision of Christians working in all sectors and producing excellent products for general consumption, instead of producing art, music, or writing only for each other.
If you listen to their lyrics, they don’t sound like rock stars. They’re not cooler than you. They speak to downtrodden people – people outside the circle of coolness. People who are brokenhearted, down on themselves, questioning God, trying to hold on. They’re not just playing guitar riffs to distract us from our daily struggles; they are hitting our deepest issues head-on.
It was a beautiful letdown when I crashed and burned. When I found myself alone, unknown and hurt. It was a beautiful letdown the day I knew that all the riches this world had to offer me would never do. In a world full of bitter pain, bitter doubts, I was trying so hard to fit in until I found out I don’t belong here.
This approach is intentional. Lead singer and songwriter Jon Foreman explains that “Switchfoot is a surfing term. We all love to surf and have been surfing all our lives so to us, the name made sense. To switch your feet means to take a new stance facing the opposite direction. It’s about change and movement, a different way of approaching life and music.”
Since I was captivated by “New Way to Be Human,” the band has gained two members and released six more albums. I associate each album with the time in my life when it came out, and in many cases, certain songs spoke directly to my situation.
I was working an incredibly tough summer job when “Gone” hit my CD player and encouraged me that this too would pass – and soon.
“Golden” hit in another phase of life when I had recently uprooted. I was struggling with deep questions and needed to know the struggle would be worth it.
She’s alone tonight with a bitter cup… she’s been staring down the demons who’ve been screaming she’s just another so-and-so… You’re a lonely soul in a land of broken hearts – but far from home is the perfect place to start. You are golden. You are golden, child. Don’t let go.
Listening to the first chords of their newest album, which came out yesterday, I was nearly giddy. The lyrics, once again, are killer, and I love hearing the new twists on their sound.
But even after all these years and all the songs, my favorite is still from their very first album. It’s called “Home,” and they’ve never played it at any of the four concerts I’ve been to. It sums up faith so well with this one line that has brought me comfort enough to fall asleep many nights: “All that’s in my head is in Your hands.”