Thursday, August 19, 2010

Humility in surprising places

Of all the Christian marks of grace, humility may be the most rare. We find it rarely in Christian circles, let alone in the secular world. Therefore, it struck me all the more when I recently came across a great example of self-effacing humility in the world of 80's rock and roll.
As a 12 year old kid in 1982, one of the songs I heard most that summer was Toto's smash hit 'Rosanna.' The album that spawned it, Toto IV, went on to take the grammy that year for best record. Without doubt, the guys in Toto raked in heavy cash in 1982. The accolades for 'Rosanna,' which peaked at #2 for 5 weeks, were replete.
So what does this have to do with humility? Fast-forward in time from 1982 to 2008. It was then that I noticed a drumming instruction video by Jeff Porcaro, the drummer and founder of Toto. In the video, Jeff explains and demonstrates the unusually complex rhythm he developed for 'Rosanna.' Here's where humility comes in: the rhythm of the song - to the technically uninitiated - is sufficiently masked and subdued that his brilliant drumming is never front and center in the song. In fact, in my relatively uneducated opinion, what Jeff Porcaro pulls off in 'Rosanna' is far more difficult than many elaborate drum solos which wow the crowds to thunderous applause. For 'Rosanna' Jeff Porcaro personally received little applause. What it did produce is an unusually rich song which is much more technically complex than one might imagine. For Jeff it was all about Toto and producing a great song by a great band. It wasn't about him and his percussive genius. That's humility. There's something there, I think, for us Christians to imitate.
You can see Jeff's drum lesson here.
You can listen to 'Rosanne' here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

An interesting note about Jeff Porcaro is that he played on a couple of albums recorded in the early 90's by the Christian rock group "Liason," founded and fronted by two brothers from Watford City, North Dakota. I own a couple of Liason albums and they are both excellent... especially with Porcaro's trademark drumming style keeping rhythm. If I recall correctly, Porcaro died suddenly of a heart attack in the mid-90's. I don't know whether or not he was a believer, but, being a Toto fan, I remember being quite impressed with the fact that these ND boys could persuade him to do studio work on their albums.

-Mike Milkey