Thursday, June 16, 2011

the story of 'Living'

i have to be careful when i reminisce about college days - i can easily get lost in so many amazing memories and experiences, and before i know it i've been daydreaming for hours about all of the blessings from just a few years ago...

and by blessings, i mean people.  one of those blessings is Meg (Welsh) Cordes.  Meg is one of those thoroughly beautiful people who makes an immediate impact in your life when you meet her, and makes an immediate impact on a group of people when she is a part of it.  She was part of our team of worship leaders at the Campus Crusade for Christ ministry at CU, and she shared her gift of using sign language; this in addition to many other ways that she served her friends and the CU community through Cru, through being an RA, and through being a great friend. 

i had just started this crazy idea of writing songs for people getting married when Meg asked me if i would be willing to write one for her wedding.  Of course i said i would do my best - but in the back of my mind i had a hesitation - i didn't know her fiance at all!  I had not had the chance to meet Jason prior to their engagement, so i quickly realized that i was going to have to approach this song from Meg's perspective - and just to clarify, she is a girl and i am not - so i was in new songwriting territory at the time. 

here are the lyrics for 'Living' -

   I want to see love alive                                           
   In all the ways it’s described
   Love that’s stronger than death
   Love that covers our sin
   To see love alive
   As we lay down our lives
   In spite of all the words we try
   This love is more than what we say
   It’s alive

I’m safe when you hold me
Even if you don’t speak that you love me,
I know you do
Now you’re saying aloud you love me,
But your patience, your kindness,
your faithfulness show me you do
Our love is a picture
Of something much bigger than just the two of us

We’re speaking in terms of a love
that we haven’t really known yet, or had a chance to show
We’re speaking these words
that are given to us to pledge to each other
We’re placing this love on our fingers,
and writing it on our hearts

Now we’ll see love alive
In all the ways it’s described
Love through sickness and health
Love that covers our sin
We’ll see love alive
As we become one life
Before all of these witnesses today
This love is even more than what we say
It’s alive

i had a long phone conversation with Meg where i asked her about her now-husband, Jason, and i was able to draw some really great images out of the ways she described Jason, the way she felt about him, and the way she felt about marriage.  One of the things that she was most excited about was really being able to live out love in the context of their relationship, and that phrase stuck in my mind - seeing love alive in a relationship.  She also spoke of how Jason was already showing his love for her, not just talking about it. 

this song was written before i knew my wife well enough to craft a song for her voice (she was just my girlfriend then!), so i hope i pulled off the feminine perspective well, even though it's in a masculine voice :-)

if you've seen love alive in your relationships or marriage, feel free to leave a comment about it! 

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

marriage for life - the story of 'Call it Love'

my grandparents have been married over 60 years now... and we'll be celebrating my Gramama's 80th birthday party on Saturday.

in honor of her birthday, i decided i'd share the story behind the last track on WeddingSongs - Call it Love.

here are the lyrics, beautifully penned by my cousin Bethany Hamilton:

can a jewel be found to endure a lifetime, 
for longer than an endearing glance?
in a world so dazed by instant pleasure,
can such a treasure be just happenstance?

call it fate... call it chance... call it love

seedlings bloomed season after season
blossoming into a fine bouquet.
how did they know these would flourish
and in turn nourish a new array?

call it sun... call it rain... call it love
call it thrill... call it pain... call it love

none can claim it for his own, yet
neither can he disown the smallest moment

footprints smoothed by relentless tides
while troves of memories hold both smiles and tears
faces thirsty for the present
knowing well-spent was each ebbing year

call it deep... call it clear... call it love
call it faith... call it trust... call it love
call it them... call it us... call it love

I was so grateful that Bethany allowed me to help in the arrangement of this song, and that she allowed us to track it for this album.
Here's how the song came about:  the night before the 60th anniversary party, Bethany was hard at work, locked away in the bathroom of my grandparents' home where she could hum through melodies and have just enough silence to work through the song.  she wrote the entire thing that evening, and then asked me to arrive a little early to the party so i could learn the guitar parts and accompany her!
Bethany and I have never written or performed together, apart from a hymn at my church a few years back, and i am not a terribly accomplished guitarist, so i was a little overwhelmed at the complexity of the song Bethany had written.  She has her master's degree in vocal performance, and she specializes in jazz, so she knows her stuff - i was definitely the padawan to her Jedi mastery of songwriting that day.  Thankfully, she had dumbed it down enough for me to figure it out pretty quickly, and we pulled it off, performing the song after about 15minutes of rehearsal in another room of the restaurant where the party was happening.  fun times!
before Bethany went to study in Scotland, i asked her if we could track the vocals for the song - thankfully, we got everything we needed before she left NC, and from that point we could take our time working it out.  the more i thought about it, i realized that it would be fun to change this into a duet, and i knew for sure that i'd need help on guitars, so i began to take some liberties with the amazing piece that Bethany had written.
i tracked my vocals, then i invited the inimitable Rick Hinson into the studio to lay down some jazz riffs to accentuate what was happening in the song.  Bethany also wrote out a cello part, and of course my favorite cellist happens to be Melinda McKee.  after we tracked everything, the magic of the internet helped us share the mixes with Bethany until we arrived at a mix that everyone was happy with.  i'm so grateful that she is my cousin!

i feel like Bethany's song was a fitting one to end the album, because she captures the passage of time so well in her lyrics.  My grandparents have surely had their marital struggles, battles, arguments, etc.  They chose to commit to each other in the sight of God and witnesses over 60 years ago, however, and they have followed through on their commitment.  My grandmother loves my grandfather deeply, and i draw strength from that marriage as i consider my own wife (and the baby in her belly).

what has been the most inspiring marriage in your life?

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

catching up

 unfortunately, life has ways of catching up with me.

i have learned to love planning things out... but now, even if i've got something planned WAY in advance and i have a good idea how i'm going to take steps to get there, something usually happens to bring the rest of life's circumstances rushing in to crowd me out.

i had a pretty great vision for how i was going to progress this blog through the WeddingSongs album, telling each story in turn... but being a director for creative arts at a local church and a leader of music every Sunday requires a bit of time, and being a good husband (my first priority) requires a bit of time as well.

i'm definitely still learning how to balance all of this, and although life certainly caught me over the winter months, i'm going to press on and plan out how to keep the stories happening here, and keep the story happening in my family, as well.