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The elephant in the (chat)room

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Being a personal view this is of course very like the elephant itself.

  • We were three vets, a linguist and an engineer. One vet became a psychologist, another vet left and a theologian joined.
  • We are now a web designer, a youth work consultant, a musician, a vet, a computer bod.
  • One of us smokes rollups, one smokes the occasional big cigar, one gave up 10 years ago. Some of us get drunk occasionally. Some of us have been known to dabble with substances.
  • In the last 30 years we have produced about a dozen children, suffered a couple of broken marriages and seen our parents aging and dying. We’ve experienced miscarriage, infant death and childlessness.
  • The eldest sons of two members both got married on the same day in September 2008.
  • None of us is obviously gay.
  • We’ve sung in choirs and church, played in rock and folk bands, jazz and funk bands, ceilidh and street bands, in theatre performances, on recordings for vinyl, cassette, CD and podcast.
  • Some of us no longer regard ourselves as Christians.

Caedmon was known as — for some people was probably defined as — a Christian Band. We met in the University Christian Union. Our main milieux were the CUs, church halls and Christian outreach events of mid-70s Scotland. We provided the bait for evangelistic rallies and were sometimes expected to ask people to give their lives to Jesus. Ken has already written about how we sometimes struggled with the rationale of writing songs in that context. Our songs tended to the allusive and allegorical rather than the direct and explicit. In fact we were slightly taken aback when the tracks we chose for the album only had one song that named Jesus, and that was the one we didn’t write. Even though we were all professing Christians we always represented a spread of belief and practice. Our church attendances ranged from the staunchly evangelical Charlotte Baptist Chapel to the High Anglican Old St Paul’s pausing at various other Places of Worship in between. We were never entirely comfortable with the expectations other people put on us. We were sometimes claimed as the CU band, which was very irking for some of us.

What’s it going to mean for us to make music together now? Will anyone still want to hear what we do even if we don’t share that same basis of faith any more? Who knows. But the experience of our audience of 30 years ago is probably much like ours. They’ll have travelled ways they didn’t expect. Some parts will have been blissful, others painful, others boring. Families will have been formed and broken. Parents, children and friends will have died or suffered illness, lived and enjoyed fulfilled lives. Faith will have grown strong or waned and become irrelevant.

If we can reflect where we are now and where we have been perhaps the music we produce can reflect that shared experience and perhaps people will recognise it. We can only try it and see.

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