I’m calling this series of postings “40 days with Rich” because my goal is to have 40 posts in the series, It could be more, it could be less. It will not be a daily series, maybe once or twice a week. And there may be other topics that I post on in between. In the end I Hope to have 40 posts about Rich, his music and his writings.
To say that Rich Mullins was unique would be a major understatement. In my 40 years of life, I’ve had occasion to see many Christian artists, and taken the time to meet a lot of them. Rich was one of them. While I can’t begin to tell you any details of the encounter, I don’t remember which tour it was, don’t know the year, can’t remember what was said, but there was something about him that sticks to this day.
There were few artists I looked forward to being able to see, at least during their active touring lifespans like Rich. His concerts were different. Today, most Christian music events, the artist or a speaker touring with them will talk about spiritual things during the concerts, but back in the mid and early 90s that wasn’t as common, and even today, they’re not as bold as Rich was. I remember he’d come out on stage in simple cloths, t-shirt, jeans, rarely saw him with shoes. It seemed strange at the time, and even today, with the highly polished look most acts went for. And that was part of the charm, he was just another guy. Now I’ve heard in the years since his passing, with the remembrances and such that he could, before the concert, be some what of a prima donna, getting frustrated when the sound wasn’t right, or he didn’t have enough of himself in the monitor, or the speakers, or whatever. I have no problem believing that was the case, but when it came down to it, in the concert, he was down-to-earth, open and transparent. It didn’t feel so much like a concert, as it was hanging out with a friend and his musician buddies who would break out in song.
The thing I remember most about Rich’s concerts was the ending. The most memorable instance was the tour for The World as Best as I can Remember It Vol 1. He closed the concert with the song ”I See You” As the band played and Rich lead the audience in the chorus, he simply walked off stage, while the band played on, and the audience worshiped, then one by one, the band left, leaving only the voices of the audience at the end. I don’t think most of us realized he had even left the stage.
It seems that was the way Rich preferred it. He wanted to record and perform his music, but he didn’t want the limelight, he didn’t want the prestige. In the mix of memories shared after his death, one DJ who considered Rich a friend, recounted how he was in Nashville for the Dove Awards. Rich was nominated, and was there. As the DJ was going through the food line, he looked at one of the servers, and Rich had relieved one of the servers, put on his Apron and was serving the guests. No one noticed, He suffered the Christian Celebrity status mainly because it gave him the platform to do what he wanted to do, which was point to Christ.
If you get the chance to go see Ragamuffin see it. But be aware, if all you know about Rich is his music, you’re in for a shock. Rich was no stranger to hard times, and the movie shows him at his worst, drunk, and struggling with fears of abandonment, as much as, if not more than it shows him singing/preaching. It’s in the brutal honest look at his failings and weaknesses that the Gospel sings out the loudest. It is these failings that made him so effective at touching people.::video YouTube id=’zkec8jE0hig’::