Today in the Northwest University Chapel, I watched men in their 70s completely capture the attention of college students in their teens and twenties. The Couriers, a Gospel Group still made up of three original members from 1955, sang music from a long-outdated genre to a crowd that has surely had very little exposure to their style. The result was a standing ovation in two consecutive chapel services. I was amazed and delighted!
I first heard the Courier’s signature song, “The Statue of Liberty,” when I was a teenager in youth camp in Alabama. I remember tears streaming down my face as I exulted in the glory of being an American (“I’m so proud to be called an American, to be named with the Brave and the Free; I will honor our flag and our trust in God, and the Statue of Liberty.”) Then the tears flowed thicker when the song turns to what Jesus did “on lonely Golgotha.” Maybe I didn’t fully understand the song at age 13 or 14, but I love the way it nails what it means to be an American, then turns and nails that to the Cross. Jesus trumps all nationality and ideology!
After watching those three genial gentlemen enthrall and entertain our students, I reflected a little on the question of how their music continues to communicate across generations. How can oldies remain goodies? Here are the secrets:
1. Young people like older people who like young people. Once you have given up on them, they’re done with you. Once you stop being able to appreciate their creativity, they lose interest in yours.
2. Oldies remain goodies when they are able to be completely genuine. Young people can spot a phony from miles away. They recognize phony faces on television and know the voice of a tele-phony from the moment their cell rings. Young people like authenticity.
3. The anointing never grows old. People who love God and are full of God’s Spirit will always have young people around them. Speaking in tongues is not nearly so good an evidence of God’s Spirit as speaking in love, and where’s God’s Spirit is present, God’s love flows like the oil over Aaron’s head and beard. How good and pleasant it is!
The Couriers continue to reach young people because they like them, the believe in them, they show them who they are instead of hiding behind a plastic façade, and they walk in the anointing of God. That’s how oldies remain goodies. When old men dream dreams, they ought to dream of remaining goodies, no matter how old they grow.