Few artists have shaped the Christian music industry as significantly as David Crowder.
With his band, he blazed a trail for a new approach to worship. As an author, he has
shared his heart and challenged the rest of us. Today, as a solo artist, Crowder is once
again blazing a trail. His debut solo release, Neon Steeple, dropped May 27. And while we
could tell you all about it, it’s probably best to hear from David himself about the music,
his faith and his new normal. In his own words…
I was born half-Baptist (the East Texas,
King James-carrying, pipe organ, hymnalsinging,
Southern-type Baptist) and half-
Pentecostal (the Holy Ghost, jumpin’ and
shoutin’, hand-waving, prophesying, Southerntype
Pentecostal). Later, I was born again.
The son of an insurance salesman and a
social worker, fructifying in the piney woods
of Texarkana, I was as muddled as the name
of my town. We drove a light-blue Ford
Thunderbird; not the old, classic kind, but a
brand-new one that had a sticker on it. The
one with the electric windows and mirrors
and the headlamp covers that flipped open
when you turned on the headlights and an
in-dash eight-track player. My dad and mom
both used Aqua Net hair spray. He parted it
on the right side and always carried a comb.
She got permanents and had curlers that
heated up every Saturday night while we all
watched The Lawrence Welk Show
. The eight-tracks in rotation were Elvis, Willie
Nelson, Olivia Newton John and Bill Gaither.
Everything I’ve ever done musically can be
traced back to there — that Ford Thunderbird,
those sounds, the view out of those windows
and my brother punching me in the arm on
the way to Sunday morning church
That is all metaphor and all true
I didn’t mean to write and sing songs for a
living. Doesn’t seem like much of a thing to
get paid for. I’d guess the odds are about the
same as winning the lottery or getting struck
by lightning. Given my nepotistic hookup, my
assumption was that I would move back home
after college to sell insurance for my dad and
eventually take over the family practice. Who
doesn’t love a good actuary table?
And yet, one late October night, on an
apartment balcony in Waco, Texas, just off
of the Baylor University campus where I was
student, a friend spun yarns that fell on me like a blanket; and the course of my life was
altered. He was an itinerant pastor of a rural
church just outside of town.
“So, I get a call at two in the morning,” he
says. “It’s Carl Reeves on the phone, ‘Pastor.
We need you. You gotta get out here, now.’
And so I go. I get in my truck, and I go,” he
says. “It turns out Carl has a cow that has
taken sick, and he wants me to pray for it.
To get in the mud, put my hands on this cow
and pray for divine intervention on behalf of
this bovine beast… And so, there I am. In the
mud, chasing this cow around, trying to get my
hands on the thing long enough to spit out a
Right then, I was being rescued. I had left
the church, and this was the beginning of my
way back. As it goes with hypocrisy, judgment,
dogmatism, and all the rest of it that Jesus put
to death, it’s hard to see in yourself what you
readily see in others. And into my cynicism
and anger my friend began to dream aloud,
“What if church really was like family? What if
we pretended the ‘brother and sister, son and
daughter’ stuff was real? What if relationships
were thought to be rare and valuable things?
What if it was just a bunch of people who
loved each other and were simply trying
their best to follow this Jesus we read of in
Scripture? What if we pretended the ‘love your
neighbor as yourself’ thing was a better way
to live? What if we got in the mud for each
other at two in the morning? What if the cow
dies and it’s okay because we are there, in
it together? What if we pretended we are all
sinners? What if we pretended grace is real?
What if the word ‘pretend’ felt less powerful
than the word ‘believe’ because we did
actually believe? What if…”
In the year of our Lord, nineteen hundred
and ninety-five, we started a church. It was
my task to collect sounds and words that
would give expression to our communal
experience there in Waco, Texas; and a year
or so into our endeavor I began to write
original compositions, organic things with the stuff of our local soil in them. In the year two
thousand, at the dawn of a new millennium,
the devastation of Y2K upon us, with great
hope, The David Crowder*Band was formed.
We recorded six full-length albums reflecting
our colloquial journey as a community; and
we carried the songs of our journey back
and forth, as delicately as we could, across
the United States of America and around the
world. It was miraculous. To find myself in
such exotic locales as Tokyo, Japan, or Omaha,
Nebraska, standing on stage, the son of an
insurance salesman, discovering that these
little songs with Heart-Of-Texas roots had
gotten there before I had. It is amazing what
The Divine can do with a little tiny thing when
you stop pretending and start believing.
I was sitting in the front of a tour bus, in
the “jump seat,” right next to the driver,
watching the white lines of the interstate stop
reflecting the light of the headlamps and
start reflecting the light of the sunshine. You’d
find me there most mornings. It was the last
tour of The David Crowder*Band, and I had no
idea what was coming next. I just knew there
was a period, a full stop at the end of that
sentence. We were topping a hill while the
sun was breaking over treetops on a tiny West
Virginian coal town. It was cinematic. Quaint.
The dominant architectural feature, bathed in
sunlight, pointed to the sky determined and
defiant, was a steeple.
We don’t build churches like this anymore.
Now they look like office complexes. Now
we ensure there is approachability, a
commonality, a familiarity. Here, in the early
morning sunshine, I imagined a harder time,
where life and death lived closer together.
When a simple structure in the middle of a
town could point to something higher, more
transcendent, a thing coming that would make
it right. A thing so overt that it couldn’t be
When everything in earth is groaning,
“There must be something more,” there is an
answer—a monument to the dream of God, a thing unmistakable, sitting in the middle of
town. In that moment, topping a hill in rural
West Virginia, with new sunshine in the early
morning air, I knew I wasn’t done making
music; and I knew I wanted whatever I made
next to feel like that—a thing pointing up in
the middle of all this.
is a collection of songs and
sounds looking forward to the past and
counting the present as sacred. It is a longing
for belonging, a search for home. It is a
collection of choruses that believe that this is
not all there is. There is more. There must be.
It is the sound of the Appalachians and
Ibiza. Folk music and EDM. The music of the
People. Folktronica. Digital and Analog. The
Ones and Zeros and the Handshake. The Banjo
and the 808.
Neon is an inert noble gas that is obtained
from the distillation of liquid air, what we
breathe in and out to stay alive, just thicker.
You can drown in it. This is metaphor.
Neon, a stereotype, a thought that may be
adopted about specific types of individuals
or certain ways of doing things that may or
may not reflect reality. Its utilitarian function
is usually selling some product or way of life
that distracts a human from the thickness, the
weight, the heaviness of the here and now.
is both a critique and a hope.
The meta-narrative of Scripture is about
innocence lost. It is about displacement,
about things not being right and a search for
belonging and home and forgiveness and
reconciliation, the tension of death and life,
what it means to be alive. The story is not
about making bad people good; it is about
making dead people alive. The story sold is
What if we started believing?
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