Unanswerable Questions #2: Keith Green

Unanswerable Questions--an ongoing segment here at PostConsumer Reports where I ask questions to people of interest who will most likely never answer them, simply because I do not know them and probably never will. Still, the questions come and I have got to ask them somewhere. I have so many questions. So so many...

To my surprise, the last time I did this segment my questions actually got answered.  I posted a link to my blog onto Fernando Ortega's blog and he was gracious enough to go to that link and give some serious answers to my questions.

I do not foresee the same thing happening this time, because my questions are being posed to Keith Green, who has been dead for nearly 30 years now (July 29, 1982).  

My last post was specifically about Green and I have been listening to his music a lot in the past couple of weeks.  A number of questions have popped into my mind during that time--questions that will basically have to go unanswered.  What I am really curious about, that is, what I really want to know is what Green would be doing now with his ministry and music and if his views would have changed at all in the last 30 years.

So here is what I would ask him in 2012:

1. Let's get this out of the way first: Why is the song "My Eyes Are Dry" from the album No Compromise so short?  Why does it trail off just as the second chorus begins to kick in? Is there a longer version of the song that exists?

2. Out of all your songs which do you hope will endure in the Church?  Out of your singer-songwriter type songs which do you hope people will still be listening to in a hundred years and out of your worship songs which do you hope the Church will still be singing?

3. You are famous for giving your music away, as you saw it as a vehicle for communicating the Gospel.  Nowadays plenty of artists are giving their music away and added to that there's really nothing an artist can do to stop people from illegally downloading their music.  In 2012 would you still see your music only as a vehicle for the Gospel and would you still be giving it away?  In an age when music has been commodified into easily transferable digital information (that is, people do not really have to work to get it anymore) what does it mean to "give away" music?  On top of that, do you think it is acceptable for a Christian artist to charge for their work, especially if they see themselves less as ministers of the Gospel and more as artists trying to earn a living? Also, if your ministry were still around do you think it would be more focused on the music, more on the preaching, or an even mixture of the two? (BTW-I know Melody Green, Keith's wife, still has a vital ministry going with Last Days Ministries, but this is not what I am asking)

4. Do you think Christian artists can have different callings?  For example, does God call some artists to be evangelistic in their focus, others to comfort and/or challenge the Church, and others to create art that simply glorifies God by telling a good story or by being beautiful?

5. The message of your song "Jesus Commands Us to Go" is simply that as Christians we are all called to go out into the world and spread the good news of Jesus, and indeed you spent the last part of your life encouraging people to "go" somewhere other than America.  In 21st century America we basically live in a post-Christian society, or at least this is becoming the prevalent paradigm in our culture; I know this to be the case amongst most of the 20-40 year-olds I know.  Currently I am planting a church in my home town of Peoria, Illinois and even though it is a highly churched city from an outward viewpoint there are so many people here who have rejected the Church, the Christian faith, and Christ himself.  Have your thoughts on where Christians should "go" in terms of mission changed at all since you wrote that song?

6. Before you died you were working on some songs that would be part of a rock opera or concept album of sorts based on different Biblical parables and stories.  You completed "The Prodigal Son Suite" and "On the Road to Jericho" (about the Good Samaritan) but I am curious what other parables and stories you wanted to include in that work.

7. When was the recording of "The Prodigal Son Suite" and what was that recording session like?  Was all the orchestration recorded after your death or before?  Did you record the piano for it in one continuous take or did you piece together a bunch of takes?  When were all those posthumously released songs recorded?  Was your recording process to record a ton of songs for a record and then a bunch of songs did not get on it, which is why so many songs of yours have been released since you died?  And finally, did you compose the orchestration for your songs or was someone else in charge of that?  As an example I am thinking of a song like "The Victor" which has some complex orchestration in it, not just the strings but also the guitar.  Was the composition of all those parts up to you or was it a collaborative effort?

8. Every time I have heard you speak and in a number of your songs you use a lot of humor, sometimes bitingly satirical and sometimes rather zany and off-the-wall.  Even in some of your most serious or sad songs you will throw in something comical.  What role do you think humor can play in helping people to see truth and who has made you laugh in your life?  What were some of your favorite movies, TV shows, and comedians?

__________________________________________ Other Unanswerable Questions "Interviews":
Unanswerable Questions #1: Fernando Ortega
Unanswerable Questions #3a: Sufjan Stevens

Related Post:
PostHumous Record Review: "Easter Song" and Why Easter Always Makes Me Think of Keith Green


jason miller said...

I would be interested to know if he is as solidly Anti-Catholic as he was back in the day.

Alex said...

I can answer some of your questions as an enthusiast and hope you get this.
1: There are versions out there on Youtube, as well as on the 25th anniversary collection DVD.

3: I think Keith would be disappointed by many of today's artists as, for them, it's just a vehicle to earn a living, which leads to 4...

4: Which I can't answer

5: His vision changed during his lifetime. He realized that some people are just called to make an impact in their home church, but we still aren't just here to sit around.

6: Fascinating as I hadn't known this before

7: There was professionally written orchestration overlaid on the studio parts, which was usually just Keith on the piano, guitar, bass, and background vocals.

PostConsumer Reports said...

Alex, thanks for commenting and for your info and insights.


Carl Geisser said...

I believe the answer to #7 is that it was recorded at Camp dominion, a family camp near Bemidji MN I was attending that he sang at. I was 13 at the time, and remember seeing him worship the Lord having a huge impact on my life.