I’ve had a task in mind and in progress for a few years now, I need to make new camp song books. It’s for a church camp where I participate several weekends out of the year as well as a full week during the summer.
I’d like the books to be usable by other groups if they want ’em, and have even thought about scrapping the book idea entirely and just using something to feed the projector that the camp has… but then you deal with the whole song being too much for a screen, and someone’s got to “flip pages”… could turn into a mess. I’ve also thought about putting them all on an easel… but I’ve amassed a collection of ridiculous proportions. Also, neither of these are practical at night around a campfire which is my favorite camp song setting.
There’s also the “what to include” trap. We have a book with a lot of songs that are (to me) traditional, I’d like to add some newer ones, and have even entertained the idea of writing some of my own. Some of the songs that I like, or that people want to sing, I really don’t have good chord progressions to back them up… and I need to get those. Some songs, I have 3 or 4 different chord progressions and they all sound off or terrible. I try to dumb it all down and change the key so I’m playing G, C, D, Am, & Em mostly. Some songs have the dreaded Bm. B, Bm, & Bm7, how I hate you. I’m not a great guitar player by any means, but if you can strum through some chord changes… you should be able to play anything in the book. Yeah, the songs can be corny or goofy, but I feel that it’s an important group fellowship dynamic to have that sing-along time. It’s also a memorable part of the whole camp experience.
There’s also the alternate lyrics/verses issue. People really take liberties with hymns, and it’s always been that way. With some songs, I have a plethora of verses. Some songs have alternate melodies or arrangements. Some songs have lines changed or have been lanced with inclusive language. (On a side issue, I know I’m UCC and on the whole it’s an incredibly liberal organization as far as Christian Churches go… but I don’t understand who’s so offended by gender-specific pronouns and why they need to change old hymns – Just write new ones and don’t mess with the words people have been singing for decades, or don’t sing the songs that you don’t like.)
I guess I generally like things to be more fluid than final, and I never have a “perfect” book idea in mind… but I need to get one done. Here are some ideas that I’ve had…
- A song book with a lo-fi companion CD of how exactly the songs go would be pretty cool. (Maybe even two tracks each, one w/ vocals, one w/o so you can campfire karaoke.)
- Mini 3-ring binders? Would make adding songs awesome… but could get costly, and perhaps it’d make it too easy for pages to fall out?
- Chord progressions, not just lyrics in the song books. Lots of campers and counselors can play… so having all of the song books be the “master” would be good.
- No page numbers. Just look for the title of the song. (We’re plagued by 2 or 3 different “editions” of the same song book with songs being on different pages and what-not.) Then again, a song book without an index would be ridiculous… maybe.
I’d appreciate the thoughts of any other camp song people, songwriters, guitar players, or any other musicians out there… or anyone who’s interested in becoming one.