Gary Daigle was just in New Orleans at the Johannes Hofinger Conference, a regional religious education conference. Part of the festivities there was a reunion concert by the Dameans. Four of them had met at Notre Dame Seminary in New Orleans, and I'm guessing that this concert would have been a concert commemorating their 40th anniversary, maybe even longer than that. Gary joined them, at then-Fr. Mike Balhoff's invitation, in the early 1980s when Gary was a high-school student in Gonzales, LA. Gary's keyboard skills added a new dimension to their music, and when Remember Your Love came out in 1978, their sound was changed for good. Having had the opportunity to play with these guys over the years, and also having been able to be a part of a couple of the St. Louis Jesuit reunion concerts, made me think back over the origins of my own musical development in the church.
|The Folksmen, in "A Mighty Wind"|
|St. Vincent's Seminary choir, c. 1966. Yours truly is the |
fuzzy-haired guy, center left. Photo courtesy of Ed Noriega
|The Kingston Trio|
As you can imagine, as the face of the liturgy began to change through those years, these influences began to seep into our liturgical music. The Cardinal Archbishop of Los Angeles at the time, Cardinal McIntyre, was not entirely friendly either to English in the liturgy nor to musical innovations. These came in a bit later, when Timothy Manning became the archbishop in 1968 or 69. But little by little, the influence of popular music made its way into the seminary music of the high school, and I certainly recall singing versions of "As Tears Go By" and the Beatles' "And I Love Her," with rewritten lyrics, at mass.
|The Dameans, L-R, Darryl Ducote, Mike Balhoff, |
Buddy Caesar, and Gary Ault
The church music sphere was not only influenced by the sound of these groups, but by the singer-songwriter ethos as well. I don't have any first-hand evidence, but I wouldn't be surprised to find out a similar line of influence between Joan Baez, Mimi Fariña, Mary Travers, and Judy Collins going through such women composers as Miriam Therese Winter and the Medical Mission Sisters and others among the less numerous women composers of the era. Of course, this is just one piece of the wide history of the development of liturgical music at the beginning of the post-conciliar era.
Later influences would move the sound of popular liturgical music away from the male-dominated guitar scene toward the mixed ensemble sound. One of the big reasons for this, I think, would be the popularity of the Broadway quasi-religious musicals like "Godspell," "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat," and "Jesus Christ Superstar," which featured women and men singing together and orchestral rock scores.
It is a great privilege to have been allowed to lead people in prayer through song. In the movie, the "mighty wind" was a sympathetic if vulgar metaphor for the earnest but occasionally vacuous music and performers of the folk era. Looking back over forty years of church music, I've seen (and made) a lot of wind, yes. I believe, however, that it has been in the service of a mightier Wind, a Spiritus, one that is eroding the structures of human greed and violence in order to renew the face of the earth. I hope we're on the right track. A lot of us have staked our lives on it.