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Charlie Peacock: What If?

  • Charlie Peacock CCM Magazine
  • Published Oct 19, 2004
Charlie Peacock:  What If?

When I was 15 years old, Rick Gibson, a young deejay on my hometown Top 40 station (KOBO/Yuba City, CA) took me for a drive in his El Camino and played Todd Rundgren’s “Something/Anything” for me. The Camino was fitted with JBL speakers (a big deal at the time). Wow! Having heard Todd’s masterpiece at earth-shaking volume and seen the cover photograph of him at work in his living room studio, I was eager to experience my own version of the rock & roll studio life. Rick, a drummer and novice recording engineer, offered to help me realize the dream.

A few weeks later he drove me to an unkempt ranch-style home hidden within a peach orchard — the “band house” of a local rock group named Whitefire. Rick was already set to track Whitefire and kindly squeezed me in for an all-night recording session of my own. This would be my first studio experience. A decade later, the band’s drummer, Mark Proctor, would become a founding member of the legendary Christian rock group the 77s (a band I would later produce).

Ironically, 18 years after the fateful drive in Rick’s El Camino, I met Todd Rundgren backstage at the War Memorial Auditorium in Nashville. My friend Larry Tagg introduced me as the co-writer of a song Todd had produced for Larry’s band (Bourgeois Tagg) a few years earlier. “Oh yeah, a big hit,” said Todd, raising his eyebrows to emphasize the sarcasm. Coming from a one-time musical hero, this hurt a little but not too much, considering that Todd had just come offstage dressed as a giant condom. (Don’t ask!)

This is the way it goes when you trace the trajectory of an artist’s life. You look at the stories. In the stories you find the glory and the shame — and the absolute lack of neutrality in human choices. The old saying “one thing leads to another” still holds true. In the early 1980s a rock group from England called The Fixx had a big hit with this idea. “One Thing Leads to Another” went to No. 4 on the U.S. pop charts. Somehow, in the grand scheme of things, this led to my touring with The Fixx as their opening act. One thing leads to another, indeed.

Stories like these and their unpredictable connections are more than random cosmic accidents. They are nothing short of the flow of history itself. Every human has two primary, active roles that can be easily named. One is giving, the other receiving. When wellness is present in a person’s life, you give with joy and receive with gratitude. Gratitude leads to generosity, and the good cycle of giving continues. You can see how it would be better to give than to receive. Giving is a necessary first choice.

Look at the story of Rick. He asked the question, “What if? What if I give this kid a ride home? What if I give him Todd Rundgren’s record — see what he thinks of it? What if I give my talent and resources to help this kid get a couple of his songs recorded?”

Yes, what if? And one thing does lead to another. Giving leads to receiving leads to giving. Do it enough, and it becomes a way of living. I have a sense that this is really the business that I’m in — giving, connecting, dreaming, praying. If you’re not in this business, I invite you to partner. There’s a whole worldwide tribe of people involved and eager to receive you.

Recently I read an article in a Dallas newspaper about a young, new  band made up of 14 and 15 year olds. I sent them an e-mail and asked to hear some music. Knowing of my work with Switchfoot, they e-mailed me back pretty quickly saying a CD was on its way. I really, really enjoyed it and let them know. An hour later, a mother of one of the boys called to say that she and another mom were in Nashville for a funeral. They wondered, could they come out and meet me? It was a wonderful visit. Two days later we received a gift from the band and their families, a beautiful basket of goodies and a lovely leather-bound guest book for the Art House.

Perhaps some day we will read a story about this young band in this very magazine. Remember, one thing leads to another. So ask, “What if?” Give, connect, dream, pray. There are no neutral choices in the story of God, people and place.

Art House

Stories of good art-making involve community. Artists don’t grow in a void. This being true, who are you encouraging to grow as an artist? What help are you giving to the development of young people and the arts? Every follower of Jesus ought to be working to make this a more beautiful, interesting and God-honoring world. The arts have a unique role in this good work. Give careful consideration to your ways. Don’t forget to dream well for the world. This will mean becoming a person who takes “What if?” very seriously. Give your time, talent and resources away. The world and the art you inherit will never be better than the collective, human vision for it. Do your part.

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Charlie Peacock is an artist, producer, author and teacher. Both his album, "Full Circle: A Celebration of Songs and Friends" (Sparrow), and his book, "New Way to Be Human" (WaterBrook), released this year.

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