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Oct 27, 2011: Song Stories
1. “can You hear me“: This is based on some guitar chords I used to play when I’d warm up when playing in drop-D tuning with Phil, my brother who plays bass, and Hugh Talman, my dear friend who plays drums, some years ago. I started adding lyrics and a chorus, but never have I actually written this down on paper, although Phil, Hugh and I played it quite a number of times. And now that I’ve recorded it, I’m keeping it that way, never written down. Lyrically, it’s a call and response. The verses are meant to be us… encouraging each other that Christ is always in the middle of our suffering, and the choruses are our cry to God, in our desperate hour, saying “can You even hear me”, because, let’s face it. Sometimes we’re not so sure… It’s kind of a 21st century lament psalm. btw, He does hear.
2.”the door / always“: Imagine the door that the father of the prodigal son is waiting by in Jesus’ story of the faithful and vigilant father. I had a dream shortly after Charles came to live with us that he grew up and turned out absolutely nothing like I hoped he would, and nothing like God is, I’m sure, envisioning that he could. I realized, even in that vivid dream, that there was no way I could not love him still, no way I could love him any less, no way I could do otherwise, and I almost understood God’s heart to us as his adopted children.. I thought of that father waiting by the door every day for his son to come home, and I came up with the melody and all of the words for this song in my head in a few minutes drive to work one day. Some songs take years to write, others take just a moment of inspiration, and I find there is rarely anything in-between.
3. “God our help“: One year for Memorial Day I was flipping through the hymnal wondering what hymns that weren’t patriotic anthems were traditionally sung on Memorial Day. This one stuck out at me, a long time favorite. I decided to add a chorus to it and I like the way it came out. There’s some really cool synth-ey sounding stuff all over this song, but I promise you, it’s actually all guitars. (That’s true of a lot of the ambient sound effect synth stuff you hear all over this album.) Hymns are awesome, and sometimes we just have to play them a little differently to remember that they were actually just worship songs when they were written.
4. “we need You“: Here I decided to “one-up” a hymn. One of the greats is “I Need Thee Every Hour”. Nothing wrong with it, but I decided I’d rather it was WE need you. And I think “every second” says it even more. So I ripped off the thoughts from the hymn and tweaked them quite a bit. I figure if you’re going to steal, steal from the best. I think a lot of folks discount the hymns today for a few reasons. First, there’s a lot that aren’t really that great, or don’t seem that great today at any rate and second, because they think that maybe those guys weren’t in touch with the same kind of life that we are. Well, they were. This hymn was a prime example. Check out Ashley Cleveland’s recording of it sometime (with Steve Winwood). There’s a lot of nutty ambient guitar stuff at the end. I just wanted to see if I could get my guitars and stuff to express need the way the song did. I hope I succeeded.
5. “for the love of God“: I wrote this song for a sermon series at my old church, and I just didn’t like it. Voila, about 7 months later, I listened again and… guess what… I liked it. I was either right the first time or the second. In any case, I wrote three times as many lyrics as I needed, and stripped out the weak ones, and I like where it lands. Not only do we yearn for the love of God in our lives… we also come for the love of God to the world. Subtle little twist, I hope it comes across.
The last four songs on the album are a “suite”. They were written to flow together… they’re all in the same key and tempo, but flow up and down in energy. I’d love it if you’d listen to them together if you could. One builds on the one before. The suite is bookended with an instrumental telling of “I Surrender All”, one of the truly great hymns. True worship of the Father is all about surrender. Romans 12:1-2 gives us this, and I’ve worked the idea of surrender through all of these songs to some extent, but especially the last four.
6. “surrender part i: 51:15“: one of the verses that begins many Christians’ morning prayers (those of us who use formal prayers) is Psalm 51:15. Amid David’s crying out for God’s forgiveness, he says “Lord, open my lips and my mouth shall declare your praise.” I always wanted to put this to music, and in fact will probably expand on this simple chorus in the near future with a “whole song”. For now, it serves as an intro to what is to come, because I think it’s a great way to start a prayer (it is in fact how I start my morning prayers every day.)
7. “surrender part ii: surrender“: This is the song. If you only “get” what I’m trying to communicate on one song that I have ever written or ever write, I hope you get this one. “My life is not my own.” It’s that simple. Worship in churches in the 21st century has been marked by wars and fights over music, carpet color, sanctuary layout, volume, and other things that are really not very important in the long run. I hope for some of us in the future that worship is marked by an attitude of surrender, of giving all that we’ve been given back to God in humble submission, and considering everything rubbish compared with knowing Christ. This whole song, and the others that go with it in the “surrender suite”, are marked by these verses from Romans.
8. “surrender part iii: You are the One“: This whole “suite” thing started when I finished writing the song before it and realized I wasn’t out of ideas. So, I added these verses and chorus (and then of course go back and sing the chorus from “surrender”. I wanted to lift up the thing that is often lost in our 21st century “me centered” worship (no offense intended, but often it seems that way): The fact is that our lives and our worship (in surrender) should be entirely about the uniqueness of our incredible Creator, the One that we are looking for, searching for, long for and serving.
I hope you appreciate how the very final chord of this song becomes the very first chord of the next… That is always fun…
9. “surrender part iv: even when You seem so far away“: This song is where I’ve been living for a while. It’s no secret to many, if not all of you, who might read this that 2011 has been a tough year. Well the years just before that, as I struggled with the way I was growing very much apart from the congregation in which I worked, and with the struggle of our incredibly difficult adoption journey, have made me really latch onto some of the darker parts of Scripture, especially the lament Psalms. This is my “lament psalm”. It’s based on words from Psalm 6 to start with, but reminds us all that even in those times when God seems totally distant and maybe even non-existent, we still get the chance to surrender, in spite of our circumstances. This is my favorite song on the collection, and my favorite of my compositions I’ve written in years.
I hope you enjoy it all!
Oct 16, 2011
“surrender” is HERE… NOW… download only… for a really great price… I hope you like it. You want it? It’s very affordable (although you can name your price and pay more if you REALLY like it). Just click right here to purchase. Or you can listen for free! You can buy individual songs for US $0.69 or the whole collection of 9 songs for only $4.79 (it’s like getting two of the songs free!)
One thought! The last four songs are a “suite”. If you can, I hope you listen to them together.
Oct 1, 2011
Finishing up new art for “surrender”. You can see some of it in the new page look for the blog, but here’s the cover, I think. You can still listen to “can You hear me” for FREE! Just click here. I’d love to know what you think (unless you don’t like it, of course… Keep that to yourself. ;-P)
Sep 27, 2011
You asked for it. You got it. Listen to the first song off of “surrender” for FREE! Just click here. Let me know what you think, if you would take a moment. Thanks!
Sep 26, 2011
Songs… all… done… I have no more tracking to do, no more mixing or mastering tweaks (I hope).
Mastering… I might have a final master now! Still have to listen more. It takes me a lot of time to do this, to be honest. 3 years writing and recording. Most of you have haven’t heard most of these songs, and I haven’t recycled any old material. There’s loads of guitars and introspection. Meanwhile, if you’d like to hear a song… for absolutely free… one is coming soon… but only if you clap your hands and say “I believe in Peter Pan.” No, actually… comment below, say “I wanna hear a song!” And I will give, yes give, you one. (update, you can listen to all the songs for free at the link above.)
Two people have heard it, my son and my mixing/mastering “sounding board”. According to him, this is, in fact, my best work. I like it. I hope you will, too. I hope it makes you feel that God is just a little bit closer to you than you thought.
Sep 11, 2011
Yes… watch this space.
I have a new collection of songs coming real soon.
Here’s the deal. When I made beyond tracing out, I made it, to be honest, to make other people (the listener) happy. And I like it. Really I do… And a lot of people who got it liked it. I thank you for that.
But it’s been three years… (This is good, the last time I did this, it took about 5 or 6 years to finish. That’s too long. I’m going to do this more often from now on.)
This time, I made a collection of songs I wanted to listen to. And I recorded it in a way that I would like to listen to in my car. And a very tiny number of people have heard some of it and guess what…
…they think it’s good, and I hope you will, too. I’m finishing up some last final touches and messing with the song order, but I think it’ll be done in a matter of days or weeks.
Not sure about distribution, probably digital only this time, and I’ll burn CDs for anybody who wants them (I think it sounds a lot better on CD, but that’s me…). Watch this space for news… and for a free track or two, coming soon!