I didn’t blog about it at the time, although I thought about it. But now it’s up on You Tube, so here goes. In 2006, New Years Eve fell on a Sunday, and the Church — in a laudable attempt to give the youth something to do that was consistent with the Sabbath — put on a huge New Year’s program at the Conference Center that was broadcast over the Church’s satellite system. The program contained the the standard sort of fare for such Major Mormon Events: large choirs — which now include a full orchestra — and sermons. All well and good. And then there was this number by Utah-based Mormon folk singer Peter Breinholt:
I thought it was surprising because I have always thought that the one, hard-core, non-negotiable rule in all Mormon meetings regardless of forum was “Thou Shalt Not Have Guitars.” Of course, this number may have been a one off event, allowed because of the odd dynamic created by the odd Sabbath-New-Year’s-Eve-Party-For-Youth-Fire-Side dynamic. On the other hand, as a law prof, I can’t help but think in terms of precedent. And here we have it: guitar music, in the Conference Center, in the presence of the prophet no less. In 2103, when some BYU student is doing a Master’s Thesis on the rise of pop-folk music in Mormon services, I suspect that this will be marked as the moment when the first cracks appeared in the old-aesthetic line against guitars in sacrament meeting.