Have We Abondoned Unique?


 Yesterday, legendary country singer Ray Price passed away. He was eighty-seven years old. Price had a number of hits, many of which were crossover songs that sold big on both country and pop charts. His voice was unique.

Reading articles about Price made me pause and wonder if we’ve abandoned “unique.” When you listen to old country music the landscape was populated with unique and different voices—Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, George Jones, Patsy Cline to name but a few that come to mind. These voices brought not just hit songs, but a variety of voice and style to the world.

Today’s country music seems to have lost the passion for unique. Most acts and singers sound the same. They grind away with similar songs. Strut the stage with the same act. It’s too bad.

Unfortunately abandoning unique is not restricted to country music. It seems like every art form from publishing to television is just churning out the same tired material. They seem to turn away from unique (i.e., take a risk) and just deliver sameness. They are copycats, not cats out on a hunt for unique, unusual and different.

Where are the Sam Phillips of this world? Would a record company turn down Elvis Presley today because he didn’t sound like Perry Como? How would the Beatles ever get a contract? Would Stephen King be published today with noting to compare his unique manuscript to?

It’s too bad. In our quest for individuality, we shrunk into a “me too” form of expression. Comp sales have replaced the “gut feeling” that drives unique and different.

I like Joy Kaut’s book, Matilda Moose Learns about Being Unique. At the end of the story she writes:

By the end of the day Matilda explained being unique to everyone in her class. Sarah had not been the only one tired of being like everybody else! Because Matilda had been brave in being unique, all of the animals in her class were able to show how they were unique too. Sarah started wearing her hair down and Dandy Raccoon wore a starry scarf. Even Josie Snail showed off her uniqueness by bringing milk and cookies for her dessert.

Matilda never walked home alone again. Matilda was glad everyone decided to be who God made them, and her friends were glad Matilda was brave enough to be unique even when no one else was.[1]

Let’s be challenged to be brave. Let’s look for the unique and not settle for the same tired things.

[1] Joy Kaut, Matilda Moose Leans about Being Unique, (Bloomington, IN, Westbow Press, 2013), 28–29


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