There was a time when I was an expert on the music of Vineyard. I’m not talking about just knowing the hits…I had the records, knew the writers, got the magazines, the whole thing. And yes, I do occasionally get a magazine now and then from the fine folks at Vineyard music.
It’s been a long time since I’ve listened to any Vineyard stuff, but over the past couple of weeks, two of their recent releases have reminded me of what Vineyard does best. (My Foundation and I Love Your Presence)
I don’t love Vineyard songs the way I used to, but there’s still good stuff there. What’s been more impressive to me is how they consistently arrange their songs and albums. I’ve noticed a few “trademarks” that seem to be present in many Vineyard pieces.
I’m sure Vineyard records use overdubs, but the songs on the records mentioned above sound like only acoustic, electric, drums, bass and keys with a couple of vocals. And when I think back to the Vineyard albums of my youth, it seems the always had a more simple approach to arrangement. Records like this really stress the importance of able and tasteful guitarists and keyboard players.
So many “modern worship” songs are based on riffs. Very specific melodic hooks that give the song it’s identity. Vineyard songs have always identity, to be sure, but riffs aren’t that prominent. I’ve been amazed at how many of Vineyard’s strongest songs start with a very simple I-IV progression (or the like.) The role of sound texture seems to be elevated over over-the-top technique.
Oh, man, I forgot how long these Vineyard folks like to jam. These songs are long. Sadly, this turns some songs into the typical “7-11” format. In a few spots, the extended versions seem to capture the power of an extended worship tune in a live congregational setting, but lots of Vineyard tunes feel a chorus or two too long.
What’s your background with Vineyard?
Any other fanboys back in the day?
Do you still use Vineyard songs? Why or why not?
*Remind me to tell you my story of almost getting a song published by Vineyard.