“That’s Good, But Let Me Help You Make It Better!”

My good friend Darrell Bledsoe, whose list of incredible accomplishments as a music producer, musician, choral director, songwriter, arranger (and the list could go on) is more than impressive, was my friend before he was the producer of my own four albums of music.

Early on in our really enjoyable journey together, as we were beginning work on the first album, Darrell smiled and said, “Curtis, I’ll have a lot of suggestions along the way in this project, but I’ll always bear in mind that this is your album, and you’ve got the final say. If we disagree, I will fully support your right to be wrong.”

Well, four albums later, we’ve never disagreed on much. If your feelings are easily hurt, you’d better not step into a recording booth expecting to produce anything of much quality. If you have a great producer, he’s a great one for a reason.

So if you’re singing into the studio microphone and the music in your headphones stops for the tenth—or twentieth—time, and the producer’s voice says, “That’s okay, but there’s a better ‘take’ in you. You’re singing about joy here, so let’s hear it with more joy!” Or “Stop! You’re pitchy on that phrase! One more time.” Or “No! You’re singing that on the beat; this is jazz, and right here you need to swing it!” Or “Let’s do this phrase again. More emphasis on this word. Remember the dotted quarter note here. Did you realize you’re not putting the “-ing” on the word in this verse, but you did in the last one? Do it again! But have fun with this, too! Your smile will show in the recording!”

Yeah. Be natural. Smile. And think of all of the above all at the same time.

Recording an album is the hardest, most fun work I’ve ever done. It takes so many folks working together to make the music you want to make—the beautiful kind that you’ll all be proud of. A good producer, one who knows how to get more out of you than you know to get out of yourself, is an incredible blessing. Darrell and I have had so much fun!

It was also fun when Darrell called me and said he was just putting the finishing touches on his autobiography, and he asked if I’d be willing to do the copy editing. Well, of course, I would! And I was grinning when I said, “Darrell, I’ll have a lot of suggestions along the way in this project, but I’ll always bear in mind that this is your book, and you’ve got the final say. If we disagree, I will fully support your right to be wrong.”

Ah, it was fun, too. And fun to work together.

To have someone in your corner who knows about notes and words and all the little tweaks that make good work excellent work is a blessing. But it’s true in all of life, isn’t it? I’ll bet names come up in your mind immediately. Teachers and mentors who cared not just about quality work but who cared enough about you to help you do better, be better, than you ever could have without their molding, shaping, and, yes, insistence: “Let’s do that again. That’s good; you can do better!”

What a wonderful picture George MacDonald paints of our God, our Father, our great Mentor, as MacDonald says, “God is easy to please, but hard to satisfy.”

I love that. God loves us, delights in us, and completely accepts us already. It’s vital that we know that. But we can also know that he loves us too much not to help us be better, more than we ever dreamed that we could be.

God is our Creator, our Father, our Author. And, yes, on so many levels, our Producer.

“Oh, you did well on that! But let’s try it again, and this time . . .

“I’m proud of you, my child. Let’s make some more music together!”

You’re invited to visit my website, and I hope you’ll take a look there at my new “Focus on Faith” Podcast. At the website, just click on “Podcast.” Blessings!

Copyright 2021 by Curtis K. Shelburne. Permission to copy without altering text or for monetary gain is hereby granted subject to inclusion of this copyright notice.

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