Category Archives: Ministry Resource

2018 Music-Media Manifesto


Fact #1 – Kids love music & entertainment media. They are engaged in it a whopping 9 hours everyday. 19,500 hours between 7th and 12th grade. Get the data here.


Fact #2 
– To be effective in ministering to them, a youthworker must be aware of and know how to use Christian Music, Worship Music, Mainstream Music, Movies, and other forms of media.

 

Fact #3 – Youthworkers don’t have time or finances to stay on top of the fast-moving music & media world kids live in.


Fact #4 
interlínc/Youth Leaders Only is youth ministry’s most trusted low-cost resource used by over 30,000 youthworkers over the past 30 years.

Tether Yourself

The Enlightening Talk Parents Aren’t Having Can Keep Teens from a Damaging Drift

Many of the students in your youth ministry got a smartphone for Christmas. This article by Rachel Macy Stafford could be a huge benefit to the parents of the teenagers in your church – and make you look good in the process! Read this article, and then copy its URL (http://interlinc-online.com/blog/?p=3346) and send it to all of the parents of teenagers in your church or ministry.

“I’ll take your hand when thunder roars
And I’ll hold you close, I’ll stay the course
I promise you from up above
That we’ll take what comes, take what comes, l
ove.”
-Imagine Dragons, Walking the Wire

We bought my daughter a smartphone when we moved to a large metropolitan area three years ago. She was participating in a massive year-round swimming program where we knew no one. Her dad and I decided it would be best for her to have a phone to communicate with us.

Over the years, we’ve implemented all the recommended parental restrictions, safe-search settings, and online safety guidelines. We’ve had on-going talks about cyber dangers like online bullying, predators, pornography, sexting, and what to do in each situation. But despite these protections, I’ve felt an unexplainable uneasiness about teens and smartphone consumption. I’ve continued to read extensively on the subject, finding an increasing number of articles on teen suicide as they relate to online bullying and social media use.

But recently, the uneasiness I’ve been feeling came to an all-time high and spurred me into action – a preventative action I’d not taken before.

In one heartbreaking week, I was contacted by two friends from previous places our family has lived. Each family has a daughter in the same grade as mine. These vibrant young ladies with whom my daughter played Legos and shared towels during swim meets are now harming themselves, hating themselves, the light dimming from their spirits right in front of their parents’ eyes.

Right after learning of their struggles, I read a sobering article on Time.com about an outgoing young lady named Nina who shocked everyone with an attempted suicide. The particular details of her story gave me great pause:

“After her attempted suicide and during her stay at a rehabilitation facility, Nina and her therapist identified body image insecurity as the foundation of her woe. ‘I was spending a lot of time stalking models on Instagram, and I worried a lot about how I looked,’ says Nina, who is now 17. She’d stay up late in her bedroom, looking at social media on her phone, and poor sleep—coupled with an eating disorder—gradually snowballed until suicide felt like her only option. ‘I didn’t totally want to be gone,’ she says. ‘I just wanted help and didn’t know how else to get it.’

Nina’s mom, Christine Langton, has a degree in public health and works at a children’s hospital. Despite her professional background, she says she was ‘completely caught off guard’ by her daughter’s suicide attempt. ‘Nina was funny, athletic, smart, personable . . . depression was just not on my radar,’ she says.

In hindsight, Langton says she wishes she had done more to moderate her daughter’s smartphone use. ‘It didn’t occur to me not to let her have the phone in her room at night,’ she says. ‘I just wasn’t thinking about the impact of the phone on her self-esteem or self-image until after everything happened.’”

Nina sounded a lot like my highly driven, very lovable, athletically-gifted brown-eyed girl.

And for the first time in three years, I knew exactly what I needed to do about the uneasiness I’d been feeling about her smartphone consumption.

I walked straight out of my bedroom and into my fourteen-year-old daughter’s room. I felt my heart racing at the importance of the conversation we were about to have. I found her stretched out on her bed, homework splayed across the bed. She was scrolling Instagram, as teens often do.

I sat down and told her about the two mothers who’d reached out to me for help. My daughter’s face fell as I told her about her former playmate who discovered her looks had been rated on Instagram. The painful comments she read about herself caused her to harm herself until she bled. She expressed hating herself so much that she no longer wanted to live.

I then read aloud the eye-opening statistics from a study by Jean Twenge, author of iGen, found in the same article as Nina’s story:

“Using data collected between 2010 and 2015 from more than 500,000 adolescents nationwide, study found kids who spent three hours or more a day on smartphones or other electronic devices were 34% more likely to suffer at least one suicide-related outcome—including feeling hopeless or seriously considering suicide—than kids who used devices two hours a day or less. Among kids who used electronic devices five or more hours a day, 48% had at least one suicide-related outcome.”

“I am worried,” I told my daughter truthfully. “And it my job to protect you,” I added.

My daughter assured me she had good friends, a sensible head on her shoulders, and would come to me if anything was wrong.


Your kids are involved in entertainment media 9 hours everyday. Let us keep you up on all the new Christian Music, Worship Music, and Mainstream Music.


At that point, it would have been easy and convenient to end the conversation, have faith everything would be ok, and walk out of the room. At that point, I could have decided to take back the phone her father and I let her borrow so she wouldn’t be exposed to damaging influences. Instead, I chose to enlighten her with information that will benefit her for the rest of her life, especially a prosperous, happy life.

This is what I said to my daughter in letter form. It is my hope that others will say these words to those they love. If our teens can learn to tether themselves, there is hope. Their lives are too valuable to let drift … their lives are too valuable to let fade away.

Tether Yourself: An Awareness Strategy to Keep You from Drifting from Your Best Life  

Dear one, it is natural to go through difficult periods where you don’t feel like yourself … when you question your worth … when your purpose is not clear. During those times, I want to use this information to give yourself an unfiltered view of your beautiful worth and your extraordinary potential.

First, you need to know what is happening to your brain while on your device. Social media is known for creating algorithms to capture and manipulate our consumption. The goal is to achieve the highest amount of engagement possible. (source) There is even a term for this in Silicon Valley: Brain Hacking. It is having a negative impact on our mental health – especially susceptible are teenagers. Here’s why:

The teen brain isn’t done forming and the part of the brain that manages impulse control, empathy, judgment, and the ability to plan ahead are not fully developed. This means you’re more likely to see disturbing online content or have troubling encounters; it means you’re more likely to become distracted from the important tasks at hand; it means you’re more likely to become addicted to your device than adults. When you are addicted, you will experience distraction, fatigue, or irritability when you’re not on your phone. Teens who excessively use their phone are more prone to disrupted sleep, restlessness, stress and fatigue.(source)

So let’s think about this in terms of your life:

Each time the phone notifies you, you stop what you are doing—whether it’s homework or a job you have to do. What might take you one hour to do, will take you several, and it won’t be completed as well. The inability to focus will reflect in your grades and impact the job opportunities you have as you grow. Spending quality time with friends and family will be impacted by the need to check the phone, making you believe what is most important is on your phone when it is really the person in front of you.

Each time you scroll, you are being influenced by what you see on the screen. Your thoughts and beliefs about what your body should look like or what your life should look like are being shaped. The hidden influence of the internet can create a poor self-image, unrealistic comparisons, and harmful judgements – and you won’t even know it is happening.

But here’s how you take back control:

Awareness … you see, awareness changes everything. Awareness is your weapon against the hidden influences and damaging behaviors. While you are online, your mind, your thoughts, your core values are drifting to wherever tech companies want you to go. The remedy is to limit the time you spend drifting in the online world and tether yourself to real life. 

Tether yourself
To real people, real conversations, and real scenery.

Tether yourself
To furry animals, interesting books, good music, the great outdoors.

Tether yourself
To spatulas, hammers, cameras, paintbrushes, and yoga mats.

When your worth is in question … when you feel lost and alone … when you feel sad and can’t explain why, tether yourself to real life. Tether yourself to real people. Tether yourself to real love. And I will help you set limits because I know teens feel pressure to be available 24/7. But you need and deserve time to be alone with your thoughts, doing things you enjoy, without constant pressure and interruptions from the outside world. 

As you practice these self-regulation skills that will benefit you for life, I vow to do the same. I am here to set an example of a well-rounded life and to help you navigate this challenging territory. You can always hold on to me.

I love you,

Mom


Go HERE to read more!

Parent Roundtable

Being A Parent In Music & Ministry

We were talking about the “Parents” theme of this issue of Youth Leaders Only, and the thought that youth leaders and musicians share some of the same, umm, “unique conditions” in which we ourselves are trying to be good parents. We wondered if we could get a conversation rolling between several of our Team interlínc youthworkers and Team interlínc artist-musicians about this subject. What you’re about to read is that virtual conversation. There are some deep insights here, and some smirks that are too good to miss. Read on!

L = Lecrae Artist Atlanta, GA
ST = Steve Taylor Artist Nashville, TN
RB = Rick Bundschuh Youthworker/Pastor Kauai Christian Fellowship, Poipu, HI
JW = Jeremy White Youthworker/Pastor Valley Church, Vacaville, CA
TP = Todd Pearage Youthworker New Hanover UMC, Gilbertsville, PA
DR = Doug Ranck Youthworker Free Methodist Church, Santa Barbara, CA

Youth leaders and musicians don’t have normal “9-to-5” schedules. How do you work around your schedule in order to be a good dad to your kids?

L      It’s all about prioritizing and reverse-engineering. I treat my family as a priority over work and outside obligations, which then governs how my weeks and months are laid out on the calendar. I tour a lot less
than I could simply because I value the health of my family over whatever I might gain from doing more concerts. Some practical things I do in planning my weeks include consistently giving my wife a day off every week. My wife and my team know that the kids are my responsibility for that entire day, no matter what. I also commit to doing breakfast with my kids every morning, and devotionals with them every night when I’m home.

RB   I found that my weird schedule actually worked as an advantage when the kids were young. I was around a lot in the morning. And since my wife also worked, we juggled our schedule so that we seldom had daycare. When the kids got older, I would yank them out of school from time to time to go with me to a conference or speaking commitment. Oh, and I insisted that I would work from home rather than a church office.

Get the complete insightful and rollicking “Parent Roundtable” when you are a member of Youth Leaders Only. Our Access Membership costs less than a pizza each month!

ST   Early in the morning isn’t always my favorite time of day, but it’s the one time I know nothing else is going on. So I’ve always been the one to drive our now teenage daughter to school; for some reason it’s easier to talk when we’re both looking through the windshield than when we’re sitting across from each other having a “talk.” We also try to schedule weekly daddy/daughter nights that typically involve going out to eat—she’s more talkative when there’s food involved—and although I often work nights, there’s usually one or two free nights a week.

DR  When the kids were still at home my short answer was to “bend and flex.” If I had an evening away from home, then I had “down” time scheduled in the late afternoon or morning and tried my best to choose time when they were around too. Taking at least one day off a week is important too. Although the kids are out are of the home now, I still want to take care of my marriage in the same way.

What advice would you give to a youth leader or musician who’s about to become a parent?

ST       Having been both, I’d advise you to kiss life-as-you-know-it goodbye.
L          Parenting is a priority. God gives specific directions to parents and it’s a…

Get the complete insightful and rollicking “Parent Roundtable” when you are a member of Youth Leaders Only. Our Access Membership costs less than a pizza each month!

5 Ways to Pray for Las Vegas

Jeff Chaves is a YLO Member, a pastor who still works with students, and who “wrote YLO Bible studies back when YLO had cassettes!” He is the pastor of Northpointe Community Church in Las Vegas, Nevada. This article first appeared on OutreachMagazine.com.

Over the past few weeks, I was honored to talk with pastors in Houston and South Florida, and bring their stories to you. I was encouraged to hear about how the church has been coming together and being the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities in the wake of Hurricanes Harvey and Irma. I have used their examples in my own preaching and teaching.

I never imagined that my city would be the next to experience a tragedy.

I’m a pastor in Las Vegas. In fact, I graduated high school, got married, raised a family, was ordained and have served in a variety of ministries here. I woke up this morning to find text messages asking if I was awake and if I’d seen the news. I opened a news website on my phone and was devastated to find out what had taken place last night: hundreds injured and dozens killed. I was devastated. I’m still in shock and disbelief.

My first texts were to my grown sons who had been following the events. I praised God that they were not close to the tragedy. I then went on social media to see who else had been affected. Were there church family members present during the shooting? Other friends? What is the local media saying? The stream was so full, I was overwhelmed. I had to pray. With tears welling up, I prayed, “Lord, I don’t know what to pray, but help the people of my city!”

As the dust has settled this afternoon and I have heard many stories, I thought it would be helpful to put together some thoughts about how the church at large can help. This is nothing like the aftermath of the hurricanes. We are not going to need building supplies, but there are homes that are devastated today. The greatest way the church can be of service to Las Vegas is to pray.

1. Pray for those directly affected.
You can be certain that there are families out there who are going to hear that a loved one has been lost or injured. They will need the most support. They will need the Comforter to show up in their lives in ways that we may not understand.

I know that God is in control, and he alone can bring beauty from these ashes. For the families who are mourning, they may not be ready to hear that. Pray that God can turn hearts who may be asking “Why?” toward him. In the midst of tragedy, people have the tendency to either draw closer to him or push him away. Pray that this tragedy draws people to Jesus. Our city needs that!

2. Pray for our first responders.
Las Vegas has a top-tier group of police, fire and emergency responders. One of my best friends just retired from the police force and has become a pastor. In him, I see the face of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department. Like many of his peers, he was always professional and always vigilant. They have a tough job.

There is nothing that could ever prepare an officer for a scene like this. We have friends whose daughter is a rookie officer and got called to the scene just a few months out of the academy. Pray that God will help her process what she’s seen. Pray the same for every officer, firefighter and paramedic. Pray for everyone who was there at the scene during the long night.

Pray for the hospital staff of Sunrise Hospital, University Medical Center and other medical centers in the Vegas Valley. No matter what they have been through on past nights, they have never had this many wounded. I am certain that they were and are overwhelmed. I picture all of the kind faces that I have encountered over the years in hospital emergency rooms.

3. Pray for others who were present.
We have church family members who stayed up late watching the news, wondering if their adult kids were safe. I know of two families who are holding each other a little closer today because they were able to escape the area unharmed. I am certain that those young people have seen way too much, as well.

Pray for all those who will never be able to erase the images of last night from their minds. We know someone who is a professional photographer. He went to the concert that night to capture some images of the country singers. He was there until daybreak and brought images of the tragedy to the world. Pray that this tragedy will draw him closer to God.

4. Pray for the Las Vegas community.
Las Vegas has a reputation around the world for what takes place in that relatively small section of the city. Most people do not think of the desert town that is home to more than a million people. My mother is a retired schoolteacher and heard many times, “There are schools in Las Vegas?” Yes, lots of them. Please pray for those kids who don’t feel safe today. Pray for the teachers, school counselors and staff who need to comfort those kids.

Very early this morning, I heard from our blood bank that the supplies were running low. It warmed my heart, later in the day, to see images of lines down the block for people to give blood. Pray that our city would come together to supply this and other great heart needs in this community.

5. Pray for our churches.
Another little-known fact: Las Vegas has a vibrant community of faith. I became a Christian while I was away in the army, and I returned to Vegas to find healthy, growing and outreaching churches. I am pleased to see my fellow pastors opening doors and arms to those in need. Pray that this horrible event brings people to a point of seeking God. Pray for churches who are opening their doors and arms to the hurting.

It was my pleasure to serve as the pastor of the Las Vegas Rescue Mission for more than 12 years. In that time, I got to know many pastors. I am seeing them gather their flocks tonight for prayer vigils. I am seeing encouragement coming from others who have left Las Vegas but still have a heart for the ministry here. Pray for our city’s pastors, myself included, to stand strong.

3 WAYS TO UNDERSTAND THE YOUTH CULTURE DIAGNOSTIC

By Mike Calhoun, The Summit Church, Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina

Culture is more than a grocery list of distinctives or a demographic study. People groups can have the power to change a society – and ultimately history – by virtue of their choices or preferences. I am referring to the sheer force that a group of people can have as a unit.

The power of culture demands that a youth leader be a “student of students.” Music genres, clothing styles, political agendas as well as movements are influenced by young people. It is imperative that we understand each generation and their distinctive cultural nuances. Being a student of the culture will provide insight into the generation, its influence and open strategic ministry opportunities.

Three Ways to Understand the Youth Culture Diagnostic:

  1. Realize some cultural nuances are causes rather than symptoms. We must restrain ourselves from too quickly making judgments based on behavior which is often purely symptomatic. Dr. David Ferguson, often reminds people to “look for the need behind the deed.”
  2.  Maximize the opportunity for communicating truth. Make no mistake – the foundation of our message is the Word of God for communicating the Gospel. However, the platform for communication grows exponentially when we understand the culture of our audience.
  3. Refuse to accept the social constructs imposed upon an unsuspecting generation. Did you ever wonder who determines what is “Hot” and what is not in “Youth Culture?” We think it is students but most of the time it is marketers. Often even the characteristics assigned to the generations are more conceived than perceived by those very same marketers.

Members of Youth Leaders Only get all kinds of music and media resources that help them stay on top of what’s cool in the youth culture. Join today!

Marketers do not wait around to discover what teens want…they just tell them. Focus groups determine what the next trend will be and then carefully crafted marketing campaigns are created. Marketers even name the generations and those names are often defining.

Bruno Mars’ “Versace on the Floor”

A Youthworker's Personal Thoughts

By Al Forsythe • Christ Prince of Peace Retreat Center • Knoxville, Tennessee

After watching the very lustful and sexualized video of Bruno Mars’ song “Versace on the Floor”, I needed to ask myself, “How is a Christian man expected to react?” My first thought goes to Romans 12:1-2.

“Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will.”

Do I want to be a man of God? While this video at first seems to be a love song and comes across as sweet and charming, what it really is doing is objectifying women and encouraging lustful thoughts that lead to sinful destructive desires. As men of God we must put away all of the rationalizations justifying our lustful thoughts to excuse it: “I’m just a normal, red-blooded American man. My thoughts aren’t any worse than any other man’s. It’s not hurting anyone. Besides, I’m a good man.”

No – I am disobedient to God when I entertain lustful thoughts.

Who is Bruno Mars? What are his messages?

When we objectify women even in our thoughts, we continue the exploitation of women by people who, like Bruno Mars, mask this sin and say that it is a victimless situation. In reality, it plants the seed in women that they then have to act, dress, and look a certain way if they want men to really love them. Is this how you want your spouse to be viewed by other men? Do want your daughter to be looked at as an object by other men?

We cannot become vulnerable to lust. When we indulge in a particular sin, it makes us more vulnerable to temptation in that sin. For Christian men who have yielded to the sin of lust, we have to recognize that we will never become so strong that lust will just glance off us. Whenever we start thinking that we have finally conquered lust once and for all, we are in trouble. “Let him who thinks he stands take heed, lest he fall.” (1 Corinthians 10:12)

But being vulnerable to lust and yielding to it are not synonymous. We will never be free from the temptation, but we can be free from the sin. By constantly recognizing our weakness, we must be determined to trust in the Lord, who is our strength. “When I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:10)

Someone once said, “Be careful of your thoughts, they become words. Be careful of your words, they become actions. Be careful of your actions, they become habits. Be careful of your habits, they become character. Be careful of your character, for it becomes your destiny.” Lust must be conquered at the thought level. Unfortunately that is where our world takes us through music and images that mask themselves as something harmless and all about love. Let’s not be confused.

As Bruno Mars himself says “Don’t be confused by my smile, ’cause I ain’t ever been more for real, for real.”

Get over 150 Mainstream Artists’ Info and Discussion Guides

Getting New Music Into Your Kid’s Earbuds

Sharing Playlists Is Easy!

Remember the “CD Lending Library” and the  “Joyful Noise Room”?  We have always been about 3 major objectives:

  1. Make youthworkers aware of all the new music (and give you VIP access to the artists who create it)
  2. Give you tools to use that new music in your weekly group meetings
  3. Equip you with a system to get the music directly to the kids

That third objective led us to help you set up a lending library in your youth room. Remember kids would check out the CD and hopefully sometime bring it back!

It was a pain to maintain the system, but there was no other way.

Now there is an easy and IMMEDIATE way to share the new YLO music with your students..

Our fearless editor KennyMac will show you how and it will change your life!

5 Essentials To Start Your Youth Ministry Year

EARLY in the morning, like before the sun was up early – I was gathering my gear to go on a difficult nine-mile hike in the local mountains. “Let’s see. Water’s loaded into the pack? Check. Dog’s pack is loaded? Check. Hat? Check. iPhone? Check. Dog’s leash? I’ll get it on the way out. Okay, let’s go.”

I forgot the leash.

Even though I thought through what I needed to have, my sleep-deprived stupor made me forget something important. If I had remembered the leash as I was getting into my waiting friend’s truck, I would have run back inside the house and retrieved it. But, I didn’t realize my folly until we were at the trailhead.

The new school year is about to begin, and even though you may have left the house for your hike, there’s still time for you to run through a checklist of items that you need to have for your fall kick-off to be effective. Here are five items that I think you need to have for this start to the new ministry year. I’ve even been able to tie them to the five items on my list this morning!

1. Supporters In Place
Your supporters include, but aren’t limited to, your church leadership, the parents of your students, the people who you have regularly praying for the youth ministry (you DO have a group of those amazing people, right? And you communicate with them often, right?), and those people who are willing to help out “anytime you need anything.” The ability that you have to generate “support” for you and the youth ministry will determine the long-term success of your efforts. Your support group is the water in your pack. You can do a bunch of hiking without it, but you won’t be able to go very far. And, you won’t recover from a big effort as quickly or as well. So, build relationships with those who may not be directly involved with what you’re doing, but who want to support your efforts. Make sure those relationships stay near the top of your checklist.

2. Team In Place
Since youth ministry happens person-to-person, not program-to-person, you need a whole team of people to help make the person-to-person happen. Since you’re just one person, you can’t expect to have significant relationships with all of the kids in your ministry PLUS all the kids who show up to check things out. All kinds of people are needed to reach all kinds of kids, so recruit as many folks as you can who are willing to befriend, teach, befriend, cajole, console, befriend, encourage, and challenge teenagers. (Did I mention that they should befriend kids?) Your team of volunteers will help you carry the load, like my dog carries his water and food that I would otherwise have to pack.

Get Music & Media Resources for Back-to-School!

3. Big Events Identified
A youth ministry gains a lot of its reputation and momentum from the “Big Events” that it can pull off. The “GOOD TIME Event” in YLO89 is a good example of a Big Event. It generates tons of exposure, “brag factor” (what the kids talk about the next morning at school), and helps cement the youth ministry as an important part of the youth culture of that area. Think of Big Events as being paydays. You get an infusion of resources at each one that helps you continue on to the next. They are to youth ministry what a hat is to a hiker – they cap everything. (I know. It’s a stretch.)

The GOOD TIME Event is a great kick off special event — and it’s free!

4. Game Plan In Place
My iPhone tracks my hikes using a GPS app. I can see at any moment where I am, how fast I’m going, how far up I’ve climbed, how far I have to go – and see it all with the satellite imagery of the terrain I’m hiking. You need a similar view of your ministry. That’s your Game Plan. Set your teaching series, objectives, and other vital issues into place before you roll into your new year. Now, every year presents unique opportunities and challenges to a youth ministry. Maybe this year you have a huge influx of new freshmen, or you have a bumper crop of seniors. Maybe you’re really connected with the athletes this year instead of the musicians last year. You can’t use last year’s plan. So plan your programming, and your teaching series, to maximize the resources you have. You also need a degree of flexibility with your Game Plan. If something takes off unexpectedly, you need to be able to adjust – like when we decided to take a trail spur this morning instead of staying on the main trail. My iPhone showed me a possibility, and we adjusted our Game Plan to take advantage of it.

5. Budget Available
My dog, Tipper, is very well behaved. I have spent a ton of time (and money) training him. He comes when called, heels on command, and generally is a very well mannered dog. But, he’s big and black. And even though he has his own pack (which usually gets a lot of “Cute!” comments), a big black dog can spook some people. To keep him from going off in directions he shouldn’t, I bring a leash with me to use when other people with dogs are on the trail. Your budget should be like that leash. As long as you’re disciplined and well mannered, you won’t necessarily need the restrictions it brings. But, when tempted to go too far too fast, or engage in activities that might spook your church’s Treasurer, use a budget as a tool to control those urges.

I hope your new school year is AWESOME this year. I’m sure that these five items will help you make it even more effective!

History of the Summer of Love — 1967

Part 4, Rock & Roll

By Bill Petro • billpetro.com

It was fifty years ago today
Sgt. Pepper taught the band to play
They’ve been going in and out of style
But they’re guaranteed to raise a smile

It was indeed 50 years ago that The Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. No other album defined the soundtrack of the Summer of Love better than Sgt. Pepper. It captured the fantasy, psychedelics, love, and drugs of 1967. Especially with the last song “A Day In The Life” which urged “I’d love to turn you on.”

In 1967 I was on a school field trip to San Francisco. Directly across the street from Ghirardelli Square was a record store where I bought my copy of Sgt. Pepper. It felt almost scandalous to bring it home to my small town because “everyone knows it’s all about drugs,” or so people thought. I did now know it at the time but that was not entirely incorrect, as we’ll see.

Get all the thousands of interlinc music resources 24/7 when you join our Youth Leaders Only Service.

Recently the six-disc boxed set 50th Anniversary (Remix) Edition of Sgt. Pepper was released by Giles Martin, the son of the original Beatles’ producer Sir George Martin.

In this, the last article in the series on the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love, I’ll discuss the significance of Sgt. Pepper as it kicked off that iconic summer of sex, drugs, and rock & roll.

Departure
For the Beatles, Sgt Pepper was a departure on a couple of levels.

  • Studio: In 1966 the band stopped touring after their last performance in San Francisco’s Candlestick Park and had 10 months before Sgt. Pepper. Starting on November 24, 1966, they had the luxury of spending lots of time in the studio producing the album, finishing it on April 21, 1967. They could spend 4 days laying down “Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds” as Paul combined a number of presets to his Lowrey organ, including harpsichord, vibraharp, and music box. They spent 24 sessions and 700 hours recording and mixing the album.
  • Fantasy: The Beatles were able to pretend they were another band, less famous to be sure, who could feature the heroes of that fantasy band on the album cover. Paul recalls

I thought it would be nice to lose our identities, to submerge ourselves in the persona of a fake group… thought of ourselves as artists rather than just performers… Let’s develop alter egos.

Artist Peter Blake put together the album cover. His idea was that this fantasy band had just finished a concert in the park and their audience joined them afterward.

George picked Indian gurus Babaji and Paramahansa Yogananda, John picked Albert Stubbins, Aldous Huxley, Stuart Sutcliffe and others, Paul picked William Burroughs, Marlon Brando, Fred Astaire, Stockhausen and others, and Peter Blake chose W.C. Fields, Tony Curtis, Shirley Temple and others. The crowd of icons was chosen. It took a letter from the Beatles to persuade actress Mae West to let her picture be used on the “Sgt. Pepper’s” album cover. At first, West refused, saying,

What would I be doing in a lonely hearts club?

Double-A side Record
MonkeesThe Beatles had fallen off the top of the charts in the U.S. The Monkees were now the “mop top” group that had climbed to the top. The Beatles recorded two songs as the first two of three songs done at the same time as Sgt. Pepper, but Beatles manager Brian Epstein decided to release them as a single ahead of the album; “Penny Lane” and “Strawberry Fields Forever” were nostalgic tunes about their youth in Liverpool. I’ve visited these sites and have written about them previously. Both songs were enormous hits. I recall the Ed Sullivan show featured a “video” of the band doing the songs. It seemed somewhat disappointing, as we were used to seeing the Beatles live on his show 3 years earlier, as I’ve written about before. They just missed achieving the #1 spot on the charts behind Engelbert Humperdinck’s “Please Release Me.”

Beach Boys
In the U.S. the Beach Boys had released the Pet Sounds concept album. The Beatles admitted that they were inspired by it. Paul said in 1980

That was the album that flipped me. The music invention on that album was, like, ‘Wow!’

There was a mutual admiration between the two groups. John said:

“Sgt. Pepper is called the first concept album, but it doesn’t go anywhere. All my contributions to the album have absolutely nothing to do with this idea of Sgt. Pepper and his band, but it works, because we said it worked, and that’s how the album appeared. But it was not put together as it sounds, except for Sgt. Pepper introducing Billy Shears and the so-called reprise. Every other song could have been on any other album.”

Get all the thousands of interlinc music resources 24/7 when you join our Youth Leaders Only Service.

With A Little Help From My Friends
Because John had injured a finger on a piano at this time, the song he and Paul wrote for Ringo was called “Bad Finger Boogie,” thought the name was changed before release to “With A Little Help From My Friends.” Two years later, the British rock band Badfinger took their name from that song and recorded for the Beatles’ Apple label. Two of their songs were by the Beatles. “Come and Get It” was written and produced by Paul and “Day After Day” was produced by George.

Lucy In The Sky With DiamondsLucy In The Skies With Diamonds

John Lennon insists that in 1967 his three-year-old son Julian had made a drawing of one of his classmates, Lucy O’Donnell. When his father asked him what it was Julian said:

 

“It’s Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds.”

John continued to insist this for years. People didn’t buy it, the LSD in the name of the song and the psychedelic images argued against it. Even Paul had referred to it as one of the drug songs on the album. John said he was inspired by the surrealism of the “Wool And Water” chapter of Lewis Carroll’s Through The Looking Glass where Alice floats down a river in a rowing boat by the Queen who has changed into a sheep. (By the way, Carroll floated down a river with a little girl at Christ Church College, Oxford. You can find the Sheep Shop there too.) “Plasticine ties” came from The Goon Show on TV.

A Day In The Life
Initially, the song was about a news story John had read regarding the automobile accident of Tara Browne, a young aristocratic elite who was the great-grandson of the brewer Edward Cecil Guinness. Then it was spliced together with an unfinished song Paul had written about his school days. With words like “smoke,” “dream,” and “turn-ons” the track was banned from radio play in many countries.

Hence, it became the quintessential drug song of the Summer of Love.

A Splendid Time Is Guaranteed For All
Was Sgt. Pepper successful? Less than 2 weeks after it was released in the U.S. it was a certified gold record. It debuted on Billboard Magazine at number 8 on the album chart, the next week it was #1 displacing the Monkees’ album. It topped the charts for 15 straight weeks and remained in the top 5 until January of the next year. It sold 11 million copies in the U.S, 32 million worldwide. It won 4 Grammy awards.

All You Need Is LoveIf all that wasn’t enough, to top it all off at the height of the Summer of Love, on June 25, 1967, the Beatles released the anthem of flower power with their song “All You Need Is Love” broadcast live on TV in 25 countries to over 400 million viewers. The single was included in the U.S. version of the album Magical Mystery Tour, and in the animated movie Yellow Submarine.

Even Johnny Rivers’ December 1967 hit “Summer Rain” repeats the line “… everybody kept on playing Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band.

History of the Summer of Love — 1967

PART 3, DRUGS

By Bill Petro • billpetro.com

When I was a Resident Assistant at Berkeley in the early ’70s a local police officer I knew gave me a tour down Telegraph Avenue. He told me:

“All the major drug deals on the West Coast go down within a two block stretch of Telegraph Avenue. The dealers and streetpeople are what’s left of the flower children.”

All this was within blocks of the nearby University of California campus. To say that drugs were rampant at Berkeley is an understatement: as an RA, I was called upon to take students who were too high on marijuana or LSD down to the Student Health Center. My saddest duty was checking out the room of a student who had committed suicide. On his wall were comic-strip blotters of LSD.

Berkeley, the counterpart foci of Haight-Ashbury, on the ellipse of the San Francisco Bay, reflected the tone and mood of the Summer of Love. In this third article on this period from 50 years ago, I discuss the drugs topic of sex, drugs, and rock & roll. Berkeley was the West Coast hub of drugs, as Boston was the East Coast hub. Drugs were shipped into Vallejo, a port town 30 minutes north of Berkeley. Michael Crichton popularized the Berkeley drug trade in his 1970 novel — written under the pseudonym Michael Douglas along with his 19-year old brother Douglas — called Dealing: Or the Berkely-to-Boston Forty-Brick Lost-Bag Blues.

Get all the thousands of interlinc music resources 24/7 when you join our Youth Leaders Only Service.

POPULARITY
The two most popular drugs of the Summer of Love were cannabis and LSD.

Reefer MadnessCannabis was known as marijuana, weed, pot, dope, blow, or reefer, and was typically smoked in a bong or hookah pipe, or as a “joint” cigarette, sometimes called a “doobie.” Weed was readily available in Northern California where it was and remains to this day, a major cash crop, even before recent legalization. Cannabis is a psychoactive drug, it’s main ingredient delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol or THC, is responsible for binding to receptors in the brain to affect the “high.”

LSD, by comparison, is a synthetic drug, originally formulated in a Swiss lab in 1938 from a fungus chemical. The German name is Lyserg-Säure-Diäthylamid, but in English, the full name is dextro-lysergic acid diethylamide tartrate 25.

LSDLSD is a psychedelic drug known for its profound psychological effects including anxiety, paranoia, delusions, and hallucinations. In 1975 it was learned that the CIA had been experimenting with LSD in the ’50s, often without the knowledge of the subjects. One of those subjects, Ken Kesey, later became an advocate for the drug and wrote One Flew Over the Cookoo’s Nest in 1960, about a psychiatric hospital. Kesey spent time with Tom Wolfe who wrote The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test.

LSD was popularized in books, movies, and music. The Haight-Ashbury based band Grateful Dead was often associated with LSD due to their popular song (Keep) Truckin,’ which was about their hotel room being raided for drugs while they were on tour in New Orleans… “Busted, down on Bourbon Street.” And when the Grateful Dead performed at the Greek Theater in Berkeley, their tie-dyed fans came out of the woodwork.

Ironically, it was in 1967 that LSD was made illegal to manufacture, buy, possess, process, or distribute without a license from the Drug Enforcement Administration. It remains a Schedule 1 drug to this day.

Get all the thousands of interlinc music resources 24/7 when you join our Youth Leaders Only Service.

LSD guru and promoter Timothy Leary claimed that his motto”Turn on, tune in, drop out” was inspired by philosopher Marshall McLuhan who had urged him to invent a catchy slogan, and as an example, McLuhan offered a jingle: “Lysergic acid hits the spot / Forty billion neurons, that’s a lot.”

THE BEATLES’ INFLUENCE
BeatlesIn their younger years, The Beatles had not used much in the way of illicit drugs, except Benzadrine, Preludin, and amphetamines especially while doing long gigs in Hamburg. The Beatles claim that it was Bob Dylan who initially and fully “turned them on” to marijuana. They were using it non-medicinally when they made Help! in 1965 and it was featured in a number of their songs: “She’s A Woman,” “Got to Get You Into My Life,” (an ode to pot, claimed Paul McCartney) and “With A Little Help From My Friends.” At different times John Lennon, George Harrison, and Paul McCartney were arrested for drug possession.

Their dentist turned them on to LSD in his flat. This influenced the song “Day Tripper,” and “Tomorrow Never Knows” from the album Revolver. If Revolver was their LSD album, Rubber Soul, as Lennon said, was the band’s “pot album.” Their drug references were sometimes subtle, sometimes overt, sometimes difficult to deny, as I’ll discuss in my next article on rock & roll. Needless to say, The Beatles use of, and songs about drugs led a generation to follow.