Steve Taylor Comments On His Ministry

[Image: Steve Taylor Comments On His Ministry - Gospel Music Today, July/August/September 1987 Page 3 Thumbnail]
Page 3

[Image: Steve Taylor Comments On His Ministry - Gospel Music Today, July/August/September 1987 Page 33 Thumbnail]
Page 33

Gospel Music Today
July/August/September 1987
© 1987 Word Records Limited
Pages 3, 33

Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61:2)

Steve Taylor, teetering on the brink of 31, first happened in 1957 in the Imperial Valley's Brawley, California, 50 miles north of Mexico. "It was a real hot region," Steve summarizes. "But it grows a lot of food and has cockroaches the size of cats."

Opening his talk, Steve often puts his dad--a Baptist minister--into his monologue. A brother came along precisely one year and 11 minutes after Steve's birth. THen the Taylor family moved to Spring Valley, a San Diego suburb, with a new church for dad, and the family grew. "We never had a lot, but we never went without." It's a passing comment and the subject returns more directly to his dad.

"Apparently I look a lot like my dad." He often fortifies this statement with an anecdote. Steve had been away from Brawley 15 years when he returned for a concert with the Continental Singers. Six people recognized him as Rev. Taylor's son.

"My dad came from a real conservative background as a Plymouth Brethren, the son of missionaries--first to American Indians in Albuquerque, and then on to Colombia. But after five years in Central America, an insect bite claimed Grandpa Taylor's life and Grandma was left to raise the six kids single-handedly." Steve still stresses the awe he feels for his father.

"It is amazing to me that dad was able to remain free of legalism. We never felt dad was nuts-o or off-the-wall."

Steve praises his dad for being loving, consistent in his beliefs and effective as a preacher. "He would preach without notes. I don't know how he did it."

Just like his dad, Steve speaks up, all he can, for Christianity. There is a mission for him behind the music and satire.

"I want to get Christians thinking about such issues as a Christian point of view and Christian standards. In concerts, I want people to be challenged as to who the real Jesus was. Does Christianity merely make you happy or is there more to it?"

Steve has strong feelings on the cultural perceptions of Christianity in its evangelical form. "I think most pople get their image of Christianity from media, especially TV preachers," he says, "who preach doctrines like God is an American or Canadian and He wants us all to be rich and conservative. I think people characterize fundamentalists as right wing and conservative and tied into a whole national agenda, and I'm definitely not coming from that point of view."

Steve's albums reflect that last point. He shadows his religious references in sophisticated wit which avoids being bogged down in its cleverness.

"I get no thrill out of writing songs that don't say anything. I count first of all on my songs to make the statement I want to make. When I do a concert, I don't have to do a lot of talking because the songs will speak for themselves."

Heavily influenced by iconoclasts like The Clash and Elvis Costello, Steve's lyrical observations are at once satirical and profound, and he doesn't hesitate to slip prosaic knives into the putative sacred cows of modern evangelism. From his "I Manipulate:" "Does your soul crave center stage / Have you heard about the latest rage / Read your Bible by lightning flash / Get ordained by the thunder crash / Build a kingdom with a cattle prod / Tell the masses it's a message from God / Where the innocent congregate / I manipulate."

Steve feels there is a difference between ministry and entertainment, not so much now that you can't have both, but essentially that you should choose one or the other. The tool that he has chosen is music, so he wants to make his performances as good musically as possible and as entertaining as possible.

Along with how the Bible-thumping righteousness of TV evangelists is perceived by the public, Steve sees much of the content of contemporary Christian rock as being its own worst enemy.

"Both (the public and the media) have been led into the same dead end in that they tend to chracterize all Christian rock by a few bland Christian groups," he says, adding that as the genre matures, more artists are breaking away from the repetitive dogmatism that has marked much of the music.

He adds, "Christian rock is the only style of music that is rejected because of lyrical content. Some people toss it out for a lot of good reasons. Some of it is lousy, but there's a lot of it that's good, too."

Rather than strictly preaching the Gospel, Steve feels that Christian rock artists should address themselves more to issues viewed from a Christian vantage point a la U2 and Bruce Cockburn, who he says "is articulating a lot of the concerns that Christians should have."

Summing it all up, Steve concludes, "There is a lot of talk about the call we have as Christian musicians. I think we basically have the same call: to communicate the Gospel."

"Therefore, what I'm doing is no more profound than someone at work everyday in an office who communicates through what they do."

Editor's Note: Steve has spent much of this spring and early summer getting "Babylon, 1990" ready for fall release. Start looking forward to it.