I’m Stuck!!

True confessions time – I’m stuck.  Yes, “writer’s block” apparently happens to songwriters.  I’ve got two or three “works in progress” but cannot seem to make any forward progress.

What’s worse is the fact that I have a very vague idea where at least one of them needs to go.  There’s the rough idea wandering around the edge of my thoughts but nothing concrete.

And I’ve discovered by experience that trying to force something is useless.  I just get more stuck.  Kind of like when you get your car stuck and you hit the gas harder and only succeeding in digging the tires in deeper.

So here I sit.  Trying to create some creative “forward momentum” and I’m just spinning my metaphorical tires.

*sigh*

 

Remember – Editing is Allowed!

This won’t be terribly long or profound.

Something creative keeps wiggling around in my head trying to get itself out.  I’m certain that this “something” is musical in nature.  Been toying with some lyric phrases/lines that seem like they might be able to go somewhere.  But the going is slow. . . really slow. . . like, I’ve seen sloths move faster than my creative process is moving right now.

So I keep toying with/crafting/testing lyrical possibilities . . . no clue what’s gonna happen in the end but sometimes I learn more from the process than the actual product!

Stay tuned . . . something new may be in the works!

Unbreakable Connection

My earliest memories of church revolve around music.

– My mother’s alto voice on one side of me while dad sang bass in the other ear.

– My mom’s finger tracking the verses of hymns she knew by heart just so my eyes could follow along and learn how to read a hymnal by myself.  Once I got the lyrics figured out, her finger would track her voice part until I understood how the notation worked.

– Watching adult choir practices as a child (and I wasn’t even in school yet).

– The high school – or maybe they were in college? – kids at Emmanuel Baptist Church in Farmington, New Mexico, performing “He Lived the Good Life” in the “old” sanctuary.

– The powerful stories in cantatas like “The Apostle” or “Fabric of Freedom”.  My parents were not only a part of these performances at church; they also bought the albums so we could listen at home.  As a child, I didn’t fully understand the finer details involved in the stories but their impact and power were easily felt!

On the flip side, my earliest memories of music involved expressions of faith, both from the singer and the listener.

– “Because He Lives” always made my mother tear up.  It still does.

– Our record player got plenty of use and our home was frequently filled with faith-based music – Andrea Crouch and the Disciples, The Gaither Trio, The Goodman Family, the Imperials, the Peterson Sisters and more.

– I remember one Sunday, when I was in elementary school, my grandmother closed her eyes during the “special music” portion of the service.  She had the most contented smile on her face and I asked her later why she had closed her eyes while someone was singing.  I’ll never forget her answer – “I was just enjoying the way that the lyrics touched my heart.”

One of my favorite memories of being in a church is sitting in the sanctuary of Emmanuel Baptist Church (the new sanctuary this time, with the beautiful rose window in the balcony that made the platform look so colorful when the sun hit it just right!) and watching the adult choir rehearse.  There was child care provided for those in the choir who needed it.  But I begged my mom to let me sit in and listen.  I’m ever so grateful that she did.

What struck me the most was that they didn’t just sing through each song once and call it good.  They went back and corrected mistakes.  Choir members asked questions or wanted to review certain challenging sections.  As a child – who had started piano lessons at the age of 4 1/2 – I knew even then, when I was too young to articulate it, that they were striving to be well-prepared.  It was important to them that they give the very best performance they were capable of.  Their performance was an expression of their relationship with their Savior.  Nothing but their personal best would do.

This heritage combined with my own experiences playing piano, playing in the band, and singing in various choirs has led to one simple reality – the most authentic expression of my faith is found in music that is done to the very best of my ability.  With a legacy like mine, would you expect anything else?

In Your Eyes – The Story Behind the Song

If you’ve read some of my other stories, you know that I rarely (almost never) sit down and say, “Today, I will write a song.”  The song “In Your Eyes” is an exception.  My sister commented that she thought it would be great if I wrote an original song for the wedding she hoped she would soon be planning.  I was still struggling with the idea that I was writing faith-based songs.  A love song?!  That was a whole new territory I wasn’t sure I wanted to delve into.

Then I got the “brilliant” idea to write a song for my husband.  The year was 2001.  We were living in Grand Rapids, Michigan and he was working for UPS at the time.  A promotion took him to Columbus, Ohio, for a couple weeks of training.  He got to come home the weekend between but he was in Columbus Monday through Friday for two consecutive weeks.  This trip just happened to occur right around Valentine’s Day so I decided the song would be his gift.

Once it was written, I realized I had inadvertently fulfilled my sister’s request with one condition – it was really “Jim’s song” so he had to say yes.  I knew he would – he and I met when said sister was only 8 years old so he really thinks of her more as a sister than a sister-in-law –  but I wanted him to know that the song was intended originally for him and I wouldn’t be tossing it out to brides on a whim.

It’s first audience was just him, in the front room of our home.  That might have been one of the most nerve-wracking performances of my life!  But thankfully he loved the song and two years later, when my baby sister got married, I shared that song as a part of their wedding.   It’s been performed a couple of other times since then for special couples.  But it will always be “his song”.

“In your eyes there is joy and there is laughter
A hope for happily ever after
And love’s unending song.”

Song of Solomon 8:6

Place me like a seal over your heart,
    like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death,
    its jealousy[a] unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire,
    like a mighty flame.[b]
Many waters cannot quench love;
    rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give
    all the wealth of one’s house for love,
    it[c] would be utterly scorned.