Looking back on rock music before The Beatles it was single driven, with simple musical structures, and not much substance in the lyrics. Case in point, the ever popular song, "How Much Is That Doggy In The Window,"... 'nuff said. The year 1964 changed everything thing, as The Beatles crashed the shores of America and introduced themselves with the performance on The Ed Sullivan Show. In the years to come The Beatles would progress as a band and release music that was album driven, complex, and thought provoking. Even today The Beatles continue to remain timeless as their remastered music catalog tops the charts once again.
Looking back on worship music, before U2 it was single driven, with simple musical structures, and not much substance in the lyrics. Case in point, the ever repetitive, "Lord I Lift Your Name On High,"... 'nuff said. The year 1987 changed everything, not overnight, but with a powerful and long lasting ripple. It was started with one album that would become the canvas for modern worship music as we know of today. With the release of Joshua Tree, U2 would cement themselves as one of the most popular bands of the 1980's and today. The influence was huge as U2 would mix raw emotion, spiritual metaphors, and a guitar sounds that were iconic and beautiful. There are three songs off of Joshua Tree that would be a color palette for worship music today, the soaring "Where The Streets Have No Name", the introspective "I Still Haven't Found What Im Looking For", and the epic "With or Without You".
When I think of some of the most popular worship songs today, the influence ripples back to U2. The soaring "I Am Free", by Jon Egan of Desperation Band has a similar structure to "Where The Streets Have No Name". The structure of quiet verses that build into climatic choruses, coupled with an echoing guitar sound made famous by The Edge, really make this song soar. The rhythmic and introspective "Mighty To Save", by Hillsong has traces of "I Still Haven't Found What Im Looking For", all over it. The lyric by Rueben Morgan of Hillsong, "Everyone needs compassion everyone needs forgiveness," so honest and true, mirrors Bono's lyric "You broke thorns and loosed the chains, carried the cross and all my shame." It is as if the song "Mighty to Save" answers Bono's lament in "I Still Haven't Found What Im Looking For". The worship song that continues to top the charts is Chris Tomlin's "How Great Is Our God", a song that is as epic in message and composition as U2's "With or Without You". When you think of Chris Tomlin you think of "How Great is Our God", and when you think of U2 you think of "With or Without You". It is no accident that all three of these artists Chris Tomlin, Hillsong, and Desperation Band are at the forefront of what modern day worship music is today.
The Beatles changed Rock music and U2 changed worship music. Bono was right when he said, "It's time to take you to church," as "I Still Haven't Found What Im Looking For", began to play to 80,000 people at Fedex Field, he didn't just take us to church, he changed church.