Matt R. is still to this day simply the greatest guitarist I’ve ever known. I look back on the years we spent together in a praise band and wonder how in the world that ever happened. He could make that Fender guitar produce the most beautiful cacophony of awesome your ears could ever hope to withstand. And there I was standing beside him every week with my one-trick-rhythm and power chords.
The disparity in our musical talent was only highlighted by the differences in our personality. He had the musical makings to be a legendary guitarist, and a humble spirit that you just had to see to believe; whereas, I was a cocky showboat with almost no talent to speak of.
I still remember when he produced his first album how excited we all were for him. And it was pretty much incredible. I copied it over to my hard drive years ago and every once-in-a-while I still bust it out to show young musicians I meet. The mix of the speed metal electric craziness and unbelievably complicated classical acoustic flair are rare, and magical.
The height of that album for me was “Pling Pling.” It is a song that highlights Matt’s insane melodical craftsmanship. The coolest part is a real standout moment during the refrain when he would reach above the saddle of the guitar neck and strum twice just below the tuning keys… “Pling Pling.”
What strikes me, still after all these years, is that his total mastery of his instrument allowed him to wield rarely harnessed aspects of the guitar to make beautiful music. But this mastery wasn’t something he just decided to do one day because it sounded cool, it was the culmination of thousands of hours of extreme discipline, dedication, and learning. Matt did more than play the guitar, Matt made music.
Sometimes I wonder if you and I are trying to just play at being Christian. I wonder what would happen if we poured ourselves into it with the kind of supreme devotion a master musician has to his instrument? Would we continue to be just a bunch of noise those around us are trying to filter out? Or, would we begin to offer something so completely beautiful, authentic, and majestic to behold that everyone had to stop and take note?! I for one am tired of being another source of noise. I say it’s time to make music. Pling. Pling.