I Can Hope

This is the sixth of several “song blogs” I’ll be doing to tell the stories behind the songs on “Protest Songs“. (You can listen or download for free or whatever you want to pay here.) This was a fun song to write sitting on the front porch of the Farm about 8 or 9 years ago.

 

Almost 10 years ago I wrote a song called “Hands, Feet, Heart & Soul” when I took a few days off at a favorite spot of our family called simply “the Farm”. I sat on the front porch swing and worked it all out. Some of you have heard or sung that, and some have heard that story.

What you don’t know is that I wrote another song at the exact same time. Maybe the least personal song I ever wrote, but I thought it was kinda fun. So here it is.

A lot of love songs written by Christians have a spiritual subtext, and that always annoys me, but… then again… this one does, too. So imagine that the jilted lover is God, and the one that is being sought is your soul… I normally hate that kind of cliché with a passion… but here it is anyway…

Silence (Rescue Me)

This is the fifth of several “song blogs” I’ll be doing to tell the stories behind the songs on “Protest Songs“. (You can listen or download for free or whatever you want to pay here.) This is the one song I have written that just totally always comes back to me.

 

This is my favorite song I’ve ever written, and it has been 25 years or more since I did it. The lyrics are inscrutable, I admit it, and I’ve tried 3 or 4 times to make them more accessible, but the original words still work best for me.

What is it about? I’m glad you asked. Not sure. I do know it’s about the desperate nature of a created thing to reach out to its creator. Beyond that, I’ll just let those ridiculous words speak for themselves.

It is, I think, the fourth time I’ve attempted to record this song and capture everything in the recording that I hear in it. I got closer this time, and maybe I’ll give it a rest now. I didn’t intend to record the song over and over again, but it just happened.

Goodbye

dad_grad_1940s_web

That is my father, I believe upon graduating high school in the mid-1940s.

This is the fourth of several “song blogs” I’ll be doing to tell the stories behind the songs on “Protest Songs“. (You can listen or download for free or whatever you want to pay here.) For this morning, this one is for all of us with aging parents.

 

Obviously, this song is intensely personal. My father is 87 as I write this, and his mind is slowing down due to some very normal aging and some dementia. I visited one time not too long ago, and for the whole first day I was there, I’m pretty sure he knew I was family, knew I was special to him, but had no idea what my name was. It was one of the great shocks of my life.

But… it was tempered by the fact that I knew I had taken advantage of the opportunities years before to tell him how precious he was to me, and by the knowledge that I have been mightily blessed in my life to have him as a father. I knew I had told him, and I’m pretty sure it stuck with him.

Tell your loved ones how precious they are. Today. Now. Seriously.

Vegas

This is the third of several “song blogs” I’ll be doing to tell the stories behind the songs on “Protest Songs“. (You can listen or download for free or whatever you want to pay here.) Today we’ll talk about that city built on greed out there in Nevada…

 

I have spent a week in Vegas on 3 different occasions, for work. I remember marveling at the surreal nature of what I think of as a colossal monument to sin and greed and avarice. And it seemed designed to numb you to it the longer you spent there. I remember a cab driver telling us that fairly often, a well-dressed businessman would get in his cab, hand him 10 or 20 bucks and say, “Will this get me to the airport? I came here with thousands of dollars in cash. This is all that’s left.” How sad.

I didn’t gamble while I was there, didn’t want to. Didn’t even pull the “free slot” at any of the casinos. Gambling is a bit of a hot button issue with me. But I’ll say this, if you’re not into the gambling and schtick entertainment in Vegas… it really has very very little to offer whatsoever.

If You Can’t

This is the second of several “song blogs” I’ll be doing to tell the stories behind the songs on “Protest Songs“. (You can listen or download for free or whatever you want to pay here.) Today we’ll talk about the first song and that little intro music I added just because I could…

The intro is simply an excuse to mess around with two-voice guitar on my Line 6 Helix and grab the listener’s ear for a few seconds. That’s only one guitar, the delays on the guitar have a bit of high octave added and the reverb has a whole bunch of schmaltz. If none of that makes any sense, you should have skipped this paragraph…

I remember one time getting up early to take some sunrise photos on a vacation and wondering how anybody could see all this wonder in the universe and not see the God behind it. These words came to me, and a LOT of years later, I finished the song. Honestly, I really like it, but I can’t even tell if it’s good, so skip it if you don’t.

I admit I’m not happy with how “preachy” this song came out, and tried to soften that tone, but it didn’t capture the way I felt on that particular morning in the Grand Tetons.

My Favorite Memory

This is the first of several “song blogs” I’ll be doing to tell the stories behind the songs on “Protest Songs“. (You can listen or download for free or whatever you want to pay here.) I’m going out of order because track 7 is the most important song on here, and it’s very timely, as my wife and my 30th Anniversary was just yesterday.

 

This is the most personal song I’ve ever written, and it’s the whole reason I stuck all the other songs on here for you. I have a favorite memory. It’s of my then-girlfriend soon-to-be-fiancée’s smile as we were walking one day. I’ve always loved, and still adore, my wife’s smile, the way her eyes smile along with the rest of her face. It slays me every time, and immediately takes me back to that moment.

So yesterday afternoon, just before I activated the web site, I brought my guitar into the living room, sat down and said, “I have a present for you”. I think she liked it.

Wesley Covenant Prayer

Not too long ago I wrote a contemporary wording with music of John Wesley’s covenant prayer. Here it is… for free or whatever you want to pay.

Here’s the recording at this link.

Here’s a link to a lead sheet and chord chart if you want to use this in your church.

And here are the lyrics if you’re interested.

Wesley Covenant Prayer

Chorus:
I don’t belong to me, I belong to you
I belong to you
My life is not my own, it belongs to you
It belongs to you

Verse 1:
Have me do what you want
Put me with whoever you want
Put me to work, or set me aside
Let me be exalted for you
Let me be humbled for you
Fill me up or empty me out

Verse 2:
Grant me everything in you
Or take it all away for you
Give me joy, or fill my heart with tears
Because everything I have
I surrender it to you
Let me serve you, with a humble heart

Bridge:
Glorious God, Blessed One
Creator, redeemer, sustainer and Lord
Let this promise I make
Reach from earth to the heavens
You are mine, and Jesus, I am yours

©2016 Peter J. Hamm, based on John Wesley’s Covenant Prayer.
If you use this in your church, please contact me to let me know. Thank you.

Gorilla Experts Unite

So now we’re all gorilla experts.

Gorilla

Gorilla Smiling… (or is he…?)

It reminds me of a story. Years ago I took a class from a guy who’s hobby was tigers. No… real tigers. He had found a couple guys who were taking care of a pair of tigers that were part of a US Government program to breed more “docile” tigers. The program was over and the tigers were due to be euthanized unless they could find a home. This guy who told me this story evidently was made of money (I have no idea where it came from). So he offered to pay for the upkeep of the tigers for the rest of his life and pay these guys’ salaries… if… these guys would teach him all about tigers.

It took years for him to get to the point where he could get near the tigers, but one day, he was allowed in the cage with them finally. But… he knew the danger. These tigers would never be tame-able, domesticate-able or friendly. They learned to act friendly, but if anybody in that cage (very large open pen actually) ever turned their back to the tigers, it was over. In seconds. And these were docile tigers.

So one day right after the Siegfried and Roy incident, somebody reported on the news that the tiger that hurt Roy was actually trying to protect him because he loved him. “NONSENSE!” Not one to call and complain about news stories, my friend this time couldn’t stand still. He called the HQ of the news channel and somehow got through to somebody in charge to explain that they don’t understand tigers and to stop making stuff up. The news channel issued a retraction almost immediately.

All that to say…

You and I don’t know about gorillas. Stop saying he was protecting the child.

The parents weren’t bad parents. It was a crazy day and it could have happened to you. And it might have. And I hope it never happens again.

The guy who pulled the trigger made the right call. a 400 pound male gorilla is an immediate and dangerous threat to the child between his legs at that moment, and there was no other alternative. With his training and knowledge of the situation, under that much stress, most of us would have done exactly the same thing, and I fear the rest of us would have watched that boy die.

I’m thankful that he pulled the trigger. That boy is alive because of it.

We can all stop second-guessing now. The internet has made us all experts? Let’s just agree that no, it hasn’t…

Standing Up for My Beliefs

My friend Tony was having a discussion today about how “Christians like to lust after this persecution complex.” And I had this thought as someone pointed out that movies along these lines (like the “God’s Not Dead” films) inspire them to stand up for their beliefs.

What beliefs, though?

 
If “standing taller for my beliefs” means fighting for or demonstrating in support of those who choose bigotry over love… if that’s “standing for my beliefs”, I don’t think Jesus would be part of those demonstrations and has little in common with those people. (Especially the ones where people hold signs that include words like “hate”.)
Too often, Christians who make news are more concerned about their right to own devices designed to kill other people or being allowed by law to refuse to bake a cake, or perhaps even to deny service to someone that is different enough from them that they fear them… than they are concerned with feeding the poor, clothing the naked… all the stuff that Matthew 25 talks about, the stuff that Jesus seemed concerned about when he walked the earth.
So…
 
If “standing for my beliefs” means being an advocate for the poor and downtrodden and disenfranchised, that seems like God’s character revealed in the one who ate with sinners and died with thieves. I know ordinary people that take a lot of time out of their lives to do practical things to help those poor all over the world. I think Jesus would hang around with those people… and he’d die with them.

But he wouldn’t “fight” I don’t think… with anyone…