Andrae Crouch is one of the greatest songwriters of the past fifty years. The music seems to just flow from his body. When he walks you expect to see a trail of dancing notes leaving a wake as he passes. Every day he sits at the piano creating new melodies, most of which are never written down, lost to a moment in time. For anyone else this would probably produce a panicked response, “Oh what was that song I was playing yesterday, I can’t remember it and it was so good, I’ll never have anything that good again.” And then we would spend the next several months in writer’s block trying to reproduce what we had done before, but never capturing it and also not able to move on to anything new.
With Andrae, the music flows like water from one of those faucets with the motion sensor. He just goes to the sink, or piano, waves his hands over the keys and the melodies come pouring out. Obviously his songs are not all instant classics, although some are, but others he works on and plays day after day making changes in the chords, melody and adding lyrics. What’s so amazing though is even his throw-away songs start from a higher place than where many songwriters finish.
Recently I was with a group of friends who used to hang out with Andrae when we all got together for an impromptu reunion at his house. Just like the old days Andrae sat at the piano and started played. Bill Maxwell, his former producer and drummer, decided to challenge Andrae. He said, “Andrae, write a new song on the spot like you used to do and make it a song about seeing Boyd again.” Boyd is of course me, Boyd Matson and not really much of a subject of inspiration for a song.
Andrae though about it for maybe five second and then started playing a new tune. He worked out a melody, seemingly without thinking, and then started with the lyrics, which were not the usual rhyming suspects. The man has still got it. His voice isn’t the powerful instrument it once was, but he is still a creative songwriting genius.
This video is that instant song, Andrae’s “Song 4 Boyd” as it was created in real time.