When Zac plays me a demo of one of his basement studio productions, the musical influence is obvious: The songwriting is very Ben Folds, the production is very Phil Spector, and the arrangement is very Queen. The overall vibe has a very heavy Brian Wilson/Beach Boys feel. He’s an old musical soul. As I write this, he’s sitting across the way from me, listening to an instrumental track he recorded earlier this week. I imagine he’s working out lyrics in his head, but I’m not sure exactly what’s running through that headphone-hugged head of his. Hold on — let me ask him and I’ll tell you.
Turns out he was listening to Paul McCartney — “Bluebird” (a Wings song). He’s partial to McCartney’s Wings phase. “But yeah, I have a few lyrics I’m working on…” he stares into the middle distance for a moment, then the headphones go back on. As is often the case, he’s looking at nothing and hearing everything. I’m curious about what he’ll come up with next. He said something about a Christmas album, and I can only hope he’s going to do a cover of Mariah Carey’s “All I Want for Christmas is You.”
I suppose I should be careful about what I write about Zac. After all, everything you put on the internet is out there forever. But I want to tell you at least a little bit about him. He’s a fascinating kid. All my kids are, and for various reasons, but Zac is like nobody else I know. They say that if everyone is special, no one is special, but I disagree: everyone is special. Ol’ Fred Rogers sang it to me when I was a kid, and maybe you too.
One thing I really appreciate about Zac is his confidence. At the wee age of 13, he has his life pretty much set. His insight and wit are spot on. He knows he doesn’t want to have kids, since a touring musician can’t be a good dad. Yet he’s good with kids, even though as a younger child, he didn’t like babies. Watching him with his 5 year old brother, I’m always impressed by his ability to meet Cam where he’s at and have fun at a mutual level. If you ask Zac, he’ll be too busy touring the country to raise a family. I have to admire his wisdom in seeing it that way.
When I was 13, I knew God was calling me into ministry. I was confident in that, even though I took a slight detour in my senior year of high school, when I signed on to become an electrical apprentice. As I was putting pen to contract paper, everything inside me said “this isn’t right.” That level of confidence that comes from a sense of calling is a gift. Zac knows what he wants to do and, as if pen to paper in his own mind, he has already signed up to be a musician.
He said something that scared me a few weeks ago: “What do you think would happen if I became a pastor? I’m not saying I’ll become one, but it seems interesting.” I told him it’s a high calling, and he’d better be REAL sure about it. My earnestness in conveying the joy and difficulties of ministry was certainly sincere on my part. Time will tell if it solidifies. I’d be proud to have a son in ministry, though I never want him to feel pressure from me. Plumbers make more money and don’t work on Sundays unless they want to. Of course, both plumbers and pastors deal with people’s crap in a discrete manner. Both make the world a better place. Both are ministry.
Such a funny kid, too. He’s got a subtle sense of humor that comes out like a dry monologue, causing some of his jokes to make people wonder if he’s kidding. I’m partly to blame for that. Hopefully Britt will help him be more mainstream in his construction and delivery. She definitely helps in Zac learning how to keep his room clean, style his hair, clip his nails, and wear clothes that match. All deficits on my part, though I can certainly teach him to quantize, compress, and mix down audio. Kids need both parents.
I love being a dad. Zac’s a good son. My life is better because of him, and I believe the world will benefit from his Zac-ness, too. He promises to let me tour with him when he’s out on the road. Might even have me as his opening act, which will be a conglomeration of old youth group songs and Coldplay hits.