Phreaky Phriday: Holy is the …

Holy Is the Lord

You know how, sometimes, you totally forget to take your guitar capo off between songs?

(ed: entered by Michael Lee on behalf of Sharolyn, who is scared of the internet)

** Updated Feb 10, 2007 **

Welcome to all of you who have linked in to this post. We’d love it if you stuck around for a little bit, and check the place out. It’s a multi-author blog, with a few main contributors, and about a half-dozen more who throws their $.02 in. If you want to know what the Addison Road blog is all about, you can read this post. Our front page has the latest posts. If you’re looking for something with more meat on it, let me suggest four posts: Why I Am Not Emergent, The Dementape Letters: One, 60 Months, An Open Letter to Music Pastors, and Soft Men.

Stick around – put your feet up! It’s a good place to hang out.

107 thoughts on “Phreaky Phriday: Holy is the …

  1. Sharolyn Post author

    That’s the musician version of my ngihtmare… the INTERNET!

    -entered by Sharolyn’s husband, transcribed from her typewriter


  2. Stick

    We had a simliar moment like this on Sunday… “where the heck is that key change in Shout To The Lord?” “Um, yeah, it was that one, not the next chorus.”

  3. Shane Norris

    Hey thanks!!! That was hilarious, but I know it happens more than we want to admit. Thanks for the laugh and I’m laughing with you, not at you.

  4. Ted

    OUCH! That was classic! :)

    The singer has a great voice, but where he leads, the band must (quickly) follow, even if it’s as far as a half step north or south of the intended key. Use those ears and eyes, people! One alert bandmember could have warned the others of the impending train wreck.

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  7. Matt Segawa

    That’s hilarious! I’m crying!
    Hey Mike, just thank God we are keyboard players and can play in any key without the aid of a transpose button or a capo device.


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  9. Adam

    This happened to me last week as I lead. One of the singers was kind enough to lean over and say “You forgot to put on the capo.” I wondered why everyone was having such a hard time singing such a familiar song! What was THEIR problem?!? *smile*

  10. Dennis Mitchell

    I started a country song off in a major concert down here in S. Texas with my son behind me to sing backup and kicked it off, “Well, I love her…..and I’m in the wrong key!!”. Forgot to put the capo on. No choice….stop, put it on, start over. Got a roaring laugh from the crowd.

  11. David

    That really was one of the funniest clips I have heard! I would have loved to seen his face when the band came in! Thanks for being so humble to post that.

  12. Jeff

    Man I’ve been there.
    Way to just press on.
    And I agree with the other guy,
    If the band had of been paying attention
    they could have turned a train wreck into
    a worship experience.
    No one would have ever known.


  13. andy

    This made me laugh so hard I cried! What do you imagine God doing in heaven?! I think he has a good sense of humor – he probably laughed too! Somtimes being falible has it’s downsides : )

  14. Dave

    I used to play praiseband lead trumpet, and I used to be jealous of those guys with the capos–they had it so easy when I had no choice but to play it in 6 sharps the hard way.
    This was WAY cool!!
    Just call it “horn player’s revenge!”

  15. Andrew Heath

    Kind of like the time that I was leading the song “All About You” and sang, “it’s all about me…” instead. That was a beast to transition out of.

  16. aly hawkins

    Phil – you just made me squirt gin and tonic out my nose.

    Since it doesn’t look like Michael is chiming in here, I’ll tell the fateful tale of The “Strange Fruit” Debacle.

    Our freshman year, there was an open mic night in the Cougar’s Den. (This was back in the coffee-houses-are-still-fresh days.) Mike and I decided a cool idea would be to do a short set of unfamiliar standards, and “Strange Fruit” was one that appealed to both of us (him because it’s a good song, and me because I was a protest nut in the making). Anyway, Mike used his trusty transposition button on his keyboard for whichever song preceded the Billie Holiday tune, and then forgot to switch it off. I had my chart, and the key said “G” and the notes where right there in front of me, so I say it in G…while he played the entire thing in Eb. The weirdest part is, no one seemed to notice.

    Mike suggested after that we change the name to “Stranger Fruit.”

    And that is the whole story.

  17. Chris

    Oh… my… GOSH!!! I seriously felt pain when that happened. Mostly cause I’ve done it too. Wrong chords, forgot the capo, broken strings, knocked myself out of tune, I’ve done it all. (Should have after 6 years, at least.) I’m just glad I started to learn the songs without the capo.

  18. Pingback: Cornerstone Worship Team » This has actually happened to me in the past

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  20. Neal


    The new questionaire for worship team “tryouts” at their church:

    Are you a Christian?

    Do you feel God’s calling on your life to lead his people in worship?

    Can you transpose? All keys? Quickly?

  21. David Ringe

    I don’t know if this is worse or what happened to me once: the worship leader forgot to take his capo off and he started the song. The rest of the band heard the change before they started but of course, my in-ear’s cut out so I couldn’t hear anything and played the right key according to the chart, but was WAY off from the rest of the band.

  22. Pete

    ouch i had a similar experience when the bass player at my church tried to play keyboard and left the transposition on for God of Wonders. my brother and i came in and the whole thing fell apart! the bass/piano player was mortified and i felt terrible for him but it was really funny

  23. Jeff

    I love it! It has happened to me before, but for me it was having the transpose button left on in the keyboard. The song began with just me on the keyboard, then when the band came in it was disastrous, and no one budged from the keys they were in. It would not have been so bad if there weren’t 10,000 people there.

    Another time I was leading worship and decided to do the song “Great is the Lord” (MW Smith). I did it in the key of F instead of C for some reason…when I got to the chorus I was in the stratusphere vocally, but many were taking the lower octave. Voices were cracking all over the place, including mine. Not a good scene, especially since Michael W Smith was sitting on the front embarassing as I turn many shades of red. He shrugged his shoulders at me and grinned, like he was saying “I’m glad it’s you and not me up there.” After the first chorus, I quickly modulated to the key of C and everyone was relieved. Truly one of life’s most embarassing moments.

  24. Morphea

    Andrew, I don’t know why (well, I do, it’s damned funny) but every time I tried to tell my friends about the “All about me” story I couldn’t get it out from uncontrollable laughing. So the gist of it is I didn’t tell anybody successfully and laughed myself sick for an awfully long time.


  25. Stick

    Jeff, you’re my new hero. Number 1, for pulling out Great Is The Lord with MWS in the audience, and Number 2 for doing it in the wrong key, and Number 3 getting the knowing shrug from his MWSness. Classic.

  26. michael lee

    Jeff – I had a similar experience, except I stared “The Lion And The Lamb” a fourth lower than it was supposed to go. The vocalist just about killed me. Oh, also, it was for 8 people, not 10,000.

  27. Chad

    Excuse me Michael,

    The vocalists (yours truly included) rearranged the song on the fly. We made it all the way to the bridge before Jud finally called it. You folks need to realize that “The Lion and The Lamb” modulates from D in the first verse and chorus to Bb in the second to Eb in the bridge and finally to G for the last chorus. Someone who will remain nameless but whose name rhymes with Plaid Schmeisser wrote an absurdly over-wrought vocal arrangement… which was… revoiced on the fly.

    I distinctly remember Steve, the bass player, calling the changes over to Dan, the guitar player. Rosy didn’t seem to care, for some reason.

    It wasn’t a hobby even back when it was.

  28. Mike J

    That’s Awesome! but don’t feel too bad…I’ve done it before when I’ve been wrapped up in woship and not looking at my notes or key changes. The best thing to do when it happens and the band is not talented enough to figure it out and transpose on the fly…is just to stop….take the capo off and start over….no matter what you do the worship flow is disrupted but at least if you stop and start over the right way….at least the congregations ears won’t be bleeding when you’re done.

    -Mike J
    Worship Pastor

  29. Don

    Hurtin’ freakin’ WOW!!! I love it! It happens to the worst and best. Saw Amy Grants’ Christmas concert last year and she had to stop and start over once with one of the best bands you could assemble. She made a joke, we all laughed and she continued (mark of a true professional) People will inevitably respond the way you do in that situation. When I was healed of rejection years ago the embarrassement went with it so now I rest in the fact that Father doesn’t care I screwed up, I don’t care and don’t care if people care. Everyone on stage look at the drummer like it was him (they usually aren’t paying enough attention anyway to notice the stares), make a “joyful noise” joke and keep worshipping! Thank God for the web so we can all enjoy others mistakes.

  30. Mike L

    Wow. Been on both sides of that happening, and there is no graceful way out of it.

    I have to wonder at why the singer didn’t stop. Was he just so sure that everyone else was making the mistake? Obviously something went wrong and even the tone-deaf heard that!

    At this point the flow of worship was already broken, stopping for a restart would have been preferable than continuing on like that.

  31. jay jay

    how about this for a joke on your lead keyboard player………….going to church way early before any of the other musicians get there and transposing the lead keyboard to whatever key, and the whole band trying to figure out what key their in……..or even tuning the guitars, bass, and any other instruments, all different keys….now thats a laugh

  32. Melody

    Small world. My worship pastor in San Diego emailed our worship teams this link. Imagine my surprise to see so many names I recognize. Love to all you APU friends. I’m glad I don’t need a capo on my violin!

  33. Brandon Holbrook

    Same thing happens if you don’t notice the difference between a B and B flat… or if the keyboard player forgets to transpose the keyboard to the desire key. LOL! HAA HAA

  34. Sarah

    That was pretty much the most amazing thing ever! That’s why it’s the heart that counts, right? Anywho, it definitely makes me feel better…

  35. Len Jones

    I feel your pain – been there and done that – threw away the t-shirt. Blessings and thank you for sharing.

  36. Henry Wang

    My friend linked me to entry… and i just wanted to say…

    I’ve done that before… !!

    Its ok Jesus loves us even if we forget to take off the capo and other mistakes =)

  37. Ritchie Carbajal

    here’s a switch: i’m on keys and i’m handed a guitar chart that requires a capo. the worship leader who handed me the chart doesn’t know the difference and wonders why i’m playing in the wrong key. anyways, i get blamed for the train wreck.

  38. Pingback: shaeman » Blog Archive » Holy is the…..CRAP take that Capo off!

  39. John Westphall

    The same thing happened to me. I was playing guitar for the worship band and the top of the page had (capo 2) and we were playing in Em but I didn’t notice the (capo 2) was if you played in Dm. I started and the leader becan to sing and soon he gracefully turned and said,”let’s try another key”. I felt about . that small.

  40. michael lee

    Just FYI, Sharolyn, you hold the world record for most linked-in to post ever. Congrats! This still makes it to the top 10 most visit posts every single week.

  41. Bobby

    I saw this happen to Big Tent Revival once at a Harvest Crusade in San Diego… The singer had his capo on the wrong fret, so the band came in a half-step off. You could see the frantic looks even from the grandstands – but everybody locked in pretty quick – that was impressive (at the time). At least it was only in front of a couple dozen thousand people.

    And now, off to continue my mission of resurrecting ancient posts!

  42. Gino

    I suspect that when he got to “lift up our hands” he realized what was happening and was praying in his head “God help me!!!” but the real payoff is when the band comes in on “together we sing….” HLOL!!!!!!! I’m about ready to post this on my xanga.

  43. Gino

    I must also add that you can tell he’s straining his voice trying to get to those notes and you can tell it sounds higher in key before the band comes in.

  44. Joey Jones

    This is great! Thanks for sharing – this is the kind of stuff we normally bury in the archives somewhere and try to pretend never happened. Nice to see it isn’t just our church.

  45. Mike Radebaugh

    Where’s that third hand when you need it???? Fret not, for thou art not the only worship leader who has had this happen. How about the Sunday I asked the rythm guiarist to just strum the chord and I’ll begin singing. You guessed it. Didn’t take capo off. Screeeeeech. Backup. Start again. I even think God gets a chuckle out of this. He is the audience anyway. Keep praisin’ Him!!!

  46. Loren Wheaton

    Somebody break out the road flairs and call 911, there’s been a train wreck and it’s a BIG one too. Been there, done that and have the scars and the tee shirt to prove it. All you can do is break the mood, humbly have a good laugh and get right back into. That had to be the most hilarious, painful thing that I’ve ever heard. Sure was embarrasing.

  47. Loren Wheaton

    [quote comment="15866"]how about this for a joke on your lead keyboard player………….going to church way early before any of the other musicians get there and transposing the lead keyboard to whatever key, and the whole band trying to figure out what key their in……..or even tuning the guitars, bass, and any other instruments, all different keys….now thats a laugh[/quote]

    I seem to remember that “Stoning” is Biblical. That’s not funny.

  48. Becky

    I’ve kept the capo on – but at the first sour note, I stop and start again. It shows your congregation that you’re human too, and you’re just real people coming together (“together we sing…”) to worship the living God. The first time (yes, I’ve done it like 3 times) that I made that mistake, one of my team members told me later that she liked me even more now that she knew I wasn’t perfect! Take an embarrassing musical moment as an opportunity to break down the invisible wall between the stage and the congregation.

  49. Tim

    Wow, what a train wreck, I am thankful to be a keyboard player, although I can can kinda relate vocally.

  50. dave

    Our former senior pastor, a gifted guitar player in his own right, was leading some worship songs on a Sunday night, broke a string, looked up and said, “Anybody have a G-String?” A quirky smile came across his face and he turned crimson.

  51. Tom

    For anyone interested, that is the popular Christian recording star C.R., (I will only give his initials to avoid any further…

  52. michael lee

    Dude, I have no clue who that even might be referring to. Chad? Wanna spin up the ole’ CCM Superpowers and tell us who CR might be?

    Credence (Clearwater) Revival?
    Cris tRomlin?
    Cindy laupeR?

  53. Nick

    I like the music theory talk from the keyboardists. Little do you know, generic guitar-strumming worship leaders don’t deal in theory. They deal in “where do we put our capo?”…Slap on a capo and strum E2, A2, and B2 as hard as they can….and boom-You have an instant rock star. You know, leading worship will really ruin your guitar playing!

    Back on subject, mistakes happen. Probably should have stopped and started over in the right key.

  54. nick

    Yikes! I didn’t mean that to sound so harsh. Should have proofread before posting. I loved the sound clip. It’s been good for a laugh every day for about a week now. Thanks for posting it!

  55. Morphea

    OK, I agree to a degree (hey, that rhymes) and don’t really think you sounded that harsh, either, but I know some guitarists on this blog that may tear you a new one with that “slap on a capo, instant rock star” talk.

    Maybe not. Corey?


  56. josh

    totally the band’s fault. i’ve been on both sides of these situations, usually as a band member, and you’ve got to keep your ears open. there’s no excuse for being out of key for more than a bar or two.

    i know the worship leader in the clip very well, and i can say that he’s used to working with professional musicians who would notice that he was in the wrong key before they came in.

    as a side note, this song was released to the internet without his permission. in fact, he didn’t even know the recording existed until someone grabbed him and said “hey, you gotta hear this!” totally not cool on the church’s part for sending it out as a joke behind his back.

    so for those of you thanking the author of the blog for his humility, its not him in the recording. he’s just passing on a small-time, sub-culture meme that is probably more hurtful and embarassing than he intends it to be.

  57. Sharolyn Post author

    When I posted this, I was a very (completely?) inexperienced blogger. I would make a different choice today. I got it as an e-mail forward, and I guess I felt like I was forwarding it. The post took off, and I felt horrible. So please accept a sincere apology from your sister in Christ. Mike, you can delete the whole thing.

  58. Stick

    I dunno… it certainly wasn’t posted with the intention of “embarrasing” or hurting the artist. I’ve been a musician all my life, and have things like that happen all the time…

    For example, today (Good Friday service) I’m sitting on stage at the piano (which is directly behind the pastor’s podium). The pastor is praying in the midst of a lovely communion service, and guess who’s cell phone goes off… and it’s my wife, so the ringer is set to a blasting hip big band track. Needless to say, this hasn’t happened to me before, and likely won’t happen again, because now I’ll think to turn it off.

    And I’m sure this artist in this clip is much more careful about where his capo is.

    Anyway, point being, the post is meant to spread a little fun… it’s one of those “laughing WITH him” occasions, I hope. We’ve ALL been there, and will probably be there again…he’s just the one that managed to have it recorded at the time. Shoot, I’m doing 3 am services on Easter… it’ll probably be me doing something silly at least once! It won’t be my cell phone though! HA!

  59. michael lee

    Man, I just don’t want to meet the guy who has something like this happen to him and CAN’T laugh about it. I have no patience for people who take themselves that seriously.

    Also, I’ve posted this on several other sites (including Todd’s huge Monday Morning Insights blog that keeps linking to it), but this is NOT anyone associated with this site. We are not a church, we do not have a worship team, this is not us poking fun at ourselves.

    This is us laughing at an anonymous clip of a worship leader, frankly, because most of us lead worship and we’ve all done things equally dumb ourselves. And we laughed then, too

  60. Chad

    [quote comment="70776"]

    as a side note, this song was released to the internet without his permission. in fact, he didn’t even know the recording existed until someone grabbed him and said “hey, you gotta hear this!” totally not cool on the church’s part for sending it out as a joke behind his back.

    so for those of you thanking the author of the blog for his humility, its not him in the recording. he’s just passing on a small-time, sub-culture meme that is probably more hurtful and embarassing than he intends it to be.[/quote]

    Just saw this…

    Josh, if you ever read this, just know that we have nothing but love and affection for the victim of this musical indescretion.

  61. Nick

    This is the post that got me hooked on the Addison Road experience. Something happened Wednesday that I feel like I need to share.

    I felt like I was a little critical of this guitar player as well as painting all worship leader-guitar players in one brush stroke. Well, I think my comment caught up with me.

    Wednesday night, I left my capo on the 3rd fret, and when my bass player looked at me puzzled, I yelled out “it’s in B” but I was playing in C. Luckily, she caught on, but not before I led the group in a song- that should have been sung in A- in C. You know that feeling when nobody is singing because it’s too high? Not to mention, it was too high for me…but I bulldozed through it.

    I wish I had a recording to post.

  62. Mike

    [quote comment="13335"]What did Mike and Aly do to “Strange Fruit”?[/quote]

    “Strange Fruit” by Billy Holliday?

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  65. Jeff Myers

    I think the best part about that is…I think anyone who’s ever played with a worship band for long enough has probably been a part of a moment like that. As hilarious as that was…I can already think of about ten times something like that has happened to our band. Awesome!

  66. JC

    If I didn’t say it before (been a while since I’ve been on or seen/heard this post re-posted)…I can’t listen to this song any more without waiting for that crash to happen. They played this song in church the other day, and I just smiled and cringed as the worship team approached that part of the song. Can’t get it out of my head. Please warn me before you post any more of these so I can choose/not choose to have the song mishap locked away in the musical part of my brain forever. I can’t remember my anniversary, but I can remember stuff like this forever. JC

  67. Pingback: Holy is the…WHAT WAS THAT?!? « Duane Collicott

  68. Bobby

    I play with several different worship bands on various occasions and I have this problem when doing a worship set with my own band… I can’t remember what key we usually play the song in. I mean, we might do it in A, or D, or E, or G. I just don’t remember. So I guess. Usually coming out of a prayer, I start playing tastefully and quietly.

    I think I’m about 3 for 5 in guessing the wrong key. And when I say wrong, I don’t mean, wrong for the band or wrong for the singer. A couple times it has been the wrong key for humans. I’m glad our singer is a good sport, and we don’t take ourselves too seriously to admit a mistake and reboot. I feel like that approach is less distracting than trying to bluster through an obvious mishap. .

  69. Pingback: Capo Issues…Again « Nathan Wright

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  71. Andre Lai

    Ouch. My ribs hurt from laughing so much.

    I have done this before though. The other one is totally blanking out on the lyrics of a worship, while my vocals was supposed to carry the song. Blank stares and confused looks all around. My youth band still gives me a hard time about it.

  72. Chad

    Part 2 of my Ongoing Quest to Stimulate more Conversation:

    I think this is the new best way to do this song.

  73. Phil McCarthy

    Hey at least the drummer stayed in key!
    But there again, I’ve been there. I usually stop and say let’s retune the guitarist shall we?


  74. brian

    @josh – Josh, you’re kidding, right? It was the band’s fault? The band was being unprofessional? He’s used to working with “professional musicians”?

    I would expect the worship leader to stop, apologize & laugh it off, re-establish the mood, and start over again.

    A “small-time sub-culture meme?” Could you be any more condescending? Lighten up :)

  75. Samuel Gatlyn

    What I don’t get is…. After two…four measures in, why does the band continue? I love the tenacity that keeps the bass player thinking that if he keeps playing eventually the chords will somehow line up and key in. ;)

  76. Jimmy

    That was epic. There is grace when stuff like this happens. I would say however, if you are a worship leader that leads on a guitar, you should really work on not relying on a capo. Take the time to learn and become fluent with your playing. It will help with your confidence while leading out. Also, unless your using an open strum tunning, your guitar won’t sound so tinny and thin. Just a thought. : -)

  77. Sharolyn Post author

    I’ve wondered about that (the ethics of capo), not being a guitarist.

    We had a moment like this yesterday, but thankfully at sound check. The chart was written in A flat, but half of the band had forgotten we decided at rehearsal we would take in in A. The drummer clicked four beats, followed by harmonic chaos.

    It reminded me of when I was a kid, and I poured myself apple juice. Turns out it was white wine. My parents had a good laugh, and that is the day I learned what wine is. Nothing can prepare you for that moment of total confusion.

  78. michael

    There’s a legit musical reason for it – there may be 6 ways to voice a Bb chord, but they all involve lots of fretted strings. Open strings with a capo sound different, and resonate longer.

    Yes, some people use it to avoid learning their instrument, but it is a legit tool. It’s not like the “transpose” key on a keyboard, where it’s strictly to avoid actual musicianship.

  79. A-Tay

    Can we rather talk about how amazing and entertaining this is rather than the ethics of capo use?!? Does anyone recall where the video is posted?

  80. Paul

    Many times a capo is used just to get a different sound and feel to a song; to raise or lower a song key to the main singers vocal range; to flavor a song when you have more than one guitar; etc. Just like alternate tunings, use of a capo is a vital essential to a guitarist and their instrument. (try a split capo with alternate tunings for a fun learning experience!)

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