Quotes: John Fischer
Issue #33, October-November 1976
John Fischer is a musician's musician. He sings, writes, and performs, accompanying himself on both the guitar and piano (not at the same time, however).
A recording artist for Light Records, he has produced five albums of his own songs and has written one musical ("The New Covenant") with another on the way. Besides his own musical endeavors, he is helping to develop new talent that he himself has discovered, and has begun his own record label, Asian Records, to give this new talent some exposure.
ON GOSPEL MUSIC AND POSSIBILITIES: ITS PURPOSE
"The purpose of gospel music is to teach Christians, evangelize the world and glorify God. . .what I would really like to see happen in gospel music is the possibility for a person who is a Christian and talented to be free to develop his talent and expression to its fullest creativity."
ON THE CHRISTIAN RECORDING ARTIST . . . IS THE ARTIST LIMITED TO GOSPEL MUSIC OR CAN HE OR SHE BE IN THE SECULAR ARENA?
"He has to be true to his own conscience and there are certain ethical decisions he has to make along the way. But he doesn't have to be recording for Word to be a Christian artist. Not at all. The only questions I have are: can it be done and is it practical? Can a person get to the secular arena without sacrificing too much along the way? And by the time he gets there, has he lost everything that he had of the message to begin with?
"I don't think I am the guy to make it. I think I am familiar enough with my calling and what I really desire to do with music and I don't think that what I am doing is marketable secularly. I'm too into very clear presentations of the Word through music and I just don't think the world is too excited about that. I can write lower key songs, and I do. They just flow out. But I really feel that my gift is teaching and that is what I am called to do. So I will do that and I will spend my time with my music in that area because that is really where my heart is. But there are other guys that I think have stuff that is a lot more palatable to the world and I can get behind them just as strongly as if I would do it myself."
ON THE SHALLOWNESS OF MANY GOSPEL SONGS:
"I'm really concerned about that. I think the problem is that gospel music is predominantly experience-oriented. It seems to get stuck in that one level of 'what God has done for me He can do for you too.' You've got to go back to the 15th and16th centuries to realize what we've lost. The old writers had it. They declared not only the Glory of God, but went into the detail of His character. His kindness, His love, His graciousness, His faithfulness. And they wrote songs about a life of faith. What it means to trust Him. I think somehow we've placed experience over expositional truth."
ON THE MANIPULATIVE POSSIBILITIES OF MUSIC:
"Music isn't necessarily manipulative. Maybe I'm reacting to the word 'manipulation,' but I think of manipulative as being a negative word. Music does have an effect on the listener. It can quiet you. It can excite you. There is a certain amount of music that is manipulative. But that doesn't necessarily have to be negative. It can be used in a proper way."
ON GOSPEL HEROES AND SUPERSTARS:
"Because of human nature, it's inevitable. There is no way that I can control the way people are going to respond to me. It's not my area anyway. The only thing I can control is my own life and relationship to the Lord. Because people are in many stages of growth and maturity, they are going to respond in many different ways. And some kind of level of hero worship really seems to be inevitable. I think the real question is how the artist deals with it. Whether he feeds on it. Whether he actually hides behind that barrier that is created between him and the people. Or whether he can somehow seek to break through that and be as real and open as he possibly can. I try to break through that as much as I can. But I don't think it's good at all. I don't welcome it. I don't want it. I don't like it."
ON THE PRICE TAGS THAT ACCOMPANY CHRISTIAN TALENT TODAY:
"I think that people are waking up and realizing that if we are going to have such a thing as a Christian artist who is expressing his faith in a quality way, then it has to be a full-time thing and he needs to make a living. People are realizing that and are willing to pay to help the artist. What can happen and what maybe happening now is that the pendulum has swung too far. The artists because of their new-found freedom maybe charging more exorbitantly than they really need to. But that's up to each man to decide. As far as the church itself being a center for concerts, I hope it's transitional. Most of my concerts are a paid type of thing. It's billed as a Christian concert and many are held outside of the church. They're sponsored by a number of churches or one person or five men in a city who got together and wanted to do it. They take it on as a business enterprise. That seems to be a very valid expression to me.
"The things that I'm involved in that are actually church functions, I put in a whole different category. I don't go through a booking agent and I work finances in a totally different way. But if I know it's a concert and it's being promoted and admission charged, then that to me is a different arena. It's a business enterprise. And it needs to be handled that way."