Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Songs: "Garden" (#6)

Listen to "Garden" or see the lyrics.

The melody and guitar picking came first for this song.  For a long time, I had also wanted to write lyrics about the creation story... the feel and the melody of this song seemed to lend themselves well to the creation theme, and slowly but surely a song started to form.

The creation story is one that I read and hear about over and over again, and suddenly I am numb to the beauty of what God did... that He created out of absolute nothingness a world full of life, beauty, companionship, love, sound, and color.  He created our sense of taste and touch and sight and smell.  He gave us food and light and dark and purpose and, most importantly, he gave us free access to himself.  He also gave Adam his wife, Eve.  I'm sure she was beautiful to behold for him, but she was also like his shield, his partner, and his home.

The bridge of this song shows how quickly the created order spiraled into disorder after what we call "the Fall."  Our relationship with God becomes especially distorted and we turn our backs on the one who formed and shaped the world around us, and who formed and shaped us.       

I hope you can hear the "but" at the beginning of the last chorus, because after the downward spiral of the bridge and the sense of distortion and disorder that wells up slowly through, it really is so important...

Hope you enjoy it! 

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Songs: "Let Me Be" (#5)

Listen to "Let Me Be" or see the lyrics.

Like "Dark" and "Free," this song came out of my time in Dallas.  I think I would be totally repetitive to tell you the story behind this song, since I've kind of already done that twice...  :)

But let me share at least this... this is one of my favorite songs to sing live (along with maybe "Next Year" - #13)!  It's comfortable and familiar and, even more important, I really get to feel it every time I sing it.  I get to feel that angst and darkness that I felt during that hard time in my life.  The song is kind of gritty and raw and dramatic, and I like that too.

Hope you guys are liking these posts!  It's good for me to think through where these songs came from, because they live and breathe on their own now and I sometimes forget the meaning and the context behind them...

Sing is now on iTunes!!!

Click here to check it out!

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Songs: "Dark" (#4)

Listen to "Dark" or see the lyrics.

I wrote this song just last year, but it looks back on our time in Dallas... my first year out of college, my first year working (and working really long hours), and my first year married.  It was - you guessed it - kind of a dark time for me.  

I actually have already written a bit about it already in this post on the song "Free".  The first line of the second verse - "I'm losing myself, that's how I feel" - really sums up that time.  I couldn't figure out who I was, because all of the things that I had put my identity in were definitely crumbling away.

And what was I left with?  Pretty much just a desperation for God to step in and rescue me from all these lies I was believing about my situation, even though I would probably fight Him when He did.

And that's what the prayer is all about at the end of the song... 

Sunday, November 8, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Songs: "Spring" (#3)

Listen to "Spring" or see the lyrics.

"Spring" started out as a joke song inspired by the long winters in New England that like to hang on - with white-knuckled ferocity - until April or sometimes even May. But a deeper meaning crept into the song as I wrote.

When April or May comes around, the desire for spring and sun and being outside grows in intensity for people who live in New England. I mean, we've been cooped up in our homes since December, it's been dark starting at 4:30 pm every night since November, and our friends from Texas are posting pics from the lake on their Facebook pages (or, is that just me?). Arrgh.

Ok, it's really not that bad - but I truly have this intense desire to be outside, to be warm, to wear shorts again when these "spring" months come around. When it finally does, I really enjoy and appreciate the sun and wearing shorts more than I ever did in Texas.

Sometimes winters come in spiritual form, and I think that I've been experiencing a bit of one for the last few years... the longing and desire for the sun to come out again and shine on my face is stronger now than it has been in a long time.  

It's still winter, but I can't wait for the spring.

Friday, November 6, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Songs: "Free" (#2)

Listen to "Free" or see the lyrics.

I started writing "Free" when we were living in East Asia in 2006-07. It has to do with that checklist we all seem to make, and I especially tend towards... 

The year before, when we had lived in Dallas, I had really struggled as I felt like all the things I had put my identity in - being able to write songs, being a nice person that people liked, being a strong Christian, being a good friend - were crumbling away. I felt like I was becoming the complete opposite. For one, I was a total stressball with work. I also felt like a terrible friend, I had no creativity to write, and I felt very far from God.

Checklist FAIL, right?

"Free" is about the truths that made me realize how false the checklist really is.


Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Songs: Thank You (#1)

Listen to "Thank You" or see the lyrics.

The first song on the CD, "Thank You," is what I call a shower song.  Why?  Because I started humming this melody in the shower and the song was mostly written about 30 minutes later!  That's always fun.

This song is about how meaning truly has infused everything.  From the flowers to the bees to the mountains to the ocean - the seemingly insignificant things in nature as well as the majestic things that we often feel dwarfed by.  He has infused our relationships with meaning, and every person we see walking around has meaning and purpose, dignity and beauty.      

But it's not meant to be a happy-go-lucky song about how everything is beautiful and meaningful.  There is an obvious need for redemption because, as beautiful as things are, things are also broken.  We are also broken.  That's what the second verse is about.

But both the second verse and the bridge look ahead.  There is a redemption coming.  Like the moon reflects the light of the sun, we see reflections and shadows of beauty and light and meaning now.  But later, when full redemption comes, we'll be able to see the sun itself - burning in all its brightness.

And for that, we are thankful.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

The Meaning Behind the Songs: Sing

To celebrate the release of Sing, I'm going to do a little "series" on this blog about the meaning behind each of the 13 songs on the new album.  I love it when I go to a concert and the musician gives me just a little insight... Why did he or she write it, under what circumstances, what's the heart of the song, etc.?  I hope you guys feel the same way!

For Part 1 of the 13 part series, I want to talk about why the album is called Sing in the first place.  The title track is #9, but "sing" has been a theme that has been coming up quite a bit for me in these past few years as I've been writing and struggling with what it means to be a "musician" and a "singer-songwriter".  I noticed that the word "sing" came up quite a bit in my songs as well - you might notice it too as you listen!


About a year ago, I was on a retreat in New Hampshire, thinking and praying about music and what to do with all of these songs that kept coming.  

What was I supposed to do with this music thing?  Was I doing enough?  Was I making too much of it or too little?  Am I supposed to go and try to be a rock star, or am I supposed to give up altogether?  Am I terrible but no one is telling me?   

An image of a huge choir came to my mind.  In this picture, I am just one of hundreds of singers in the choir.  We are all singing different harmonies, and even different melodies, but we are singing the same Song.  As I sing, I wonder to myself, "Am I loud enough?" and "Shouldn't I have a solo or something?" and "What if I stopped singing - would anyone notice?  Do I make a difference?  Can anyone even hear me?"

God answers these questions for me by answering just that last question... He says "I can hear you. You are singing for me.  It doesn't matter if anyone else can hear you or if you have a solo or how good you are. Just sing."

And so I do.

Monday, November 2, 2009

It's here!

I am really excited to let you know that Sing, my new CD, is now available!  I worked really hard on it this summer, and it finally arrived in its completed form on Friday! 

How can you listen?
For the next week, you can listen to the new album in full between and  I've also posted the lyrics on my website!

Where can you buy it?
From now until January 1, 2010, Sing will be for sale for just $10 through the online store at or you can buy it directly from me.  You'll also be able to buy the new album on iTunes, Amazon, and other online stores in about a month, so stay tuned!

Come out to celebrate!
I'll be having a CD release party Monday, November 9th at the Gulu Gulu Cafe in Salem, MA.  Mark it on your calendar!  The show will start at 8 PM with Kathryn O'Leary Baldanza and Annie Hard opening, and it's going to be really fun.  I'm really looking forward to this night and hope to see you!  If you can't make the release party, I have another concert on Friday, November 13!
I'm also planning/hoping to have a CD release party in Houston, TX on Saturday, December 19.  Time and location TBD, but I'll let you know when I know!

Please spread the word...      
If you like what you hear, consider spreading the word!  Facebook, tweet, blog a review, forward this e-mail... obviously, I'd love for you to share this information and it would be a huge support to me.

Thanks for all of your support!  Let me know what you think!