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?