It is the writer's privilege to help man endure by lifting his heart.
I figured it was about time for a Summer of Songs 2016 update, since I'm almost six weeks in, so here you go!
All in all, SOS2016 has been what I hoped it would be. The mere fact that I have had to stay accountable for this adventure has kept me pressing on through days when I think I should be tackling other things. That isn't to say that other responsibilities haven't crept in and caused me to shift gears occasionally because they have. I've had to cancel co-writes in order to take care of normal life stuff like car repairs, running kids, and dealing with the unexpected mini=crisis here and there. I've had to sacrifice some personal refueling time because I still have a business to run and that requires my attention. But all in all, the focus has been incredible helpful.
While many songs have been written or rewritten in this season, I have had to give just as much attention to the other aspects of a songwriter's life - producing, administration, marketing, etc. Those things aren't nearly as much fun for me, but they are a necessary part of what I do. As with any job, we sometimes have to slug it out through the yucky stuff in order to experience the joy of doing what we love. I've also been able to unleash a bunch of songs through a new VBS project and a couple of new musicals. I'll post links to some of that below.
Just for fun, here's a list of some of the songs that have been born, rewritten, demoed, or unleashed in the past six weeks:
Hand of God
For the Lovers Out There
Fade From You
The Safest Place to Be
Jesus is Better
All the Way Home
Rock His House
Location, Location, Location
What a Friend
Love is Changing Me
Streets I Never Went Down
Alive and Well
The Best Day of My Life
Another song will hopefully be born today as I head into the virtual writing room with a couple of regular co-writers. We will talk, dream, complain, encourage, hope, discuss, and hopefully create something that matters. I can't wait to add another song to the list.
When I look back on my songwriting journey, there is a pretty obvious point at which my writing began to take an upward turn in terms of my overall ability to communicate well through songs. For the first 20 years, I wrote for myself. As an artist, I was always working toward a new project so the songs I wrote were mostly written with that in mind.
At age 35, something changed. I was at a very different place in my life, with four kids, a business to help run, and a renewed passion to use my gifts well. I became a student of my craft and worked hard to become a good steward of the talent God had given me. I felt a new calling to help others communicate their own message and started writing toward those opportunities. I purposefully sought out people who could help me grow and started knocking on a whole lot of doors. In addition to all that, I also started something I really had never done before. I started rewriting. And I loved it.
There is something special that happens when you sit with a lyric or melody and start evaluating it at a deeper level. The song become a puzzle and the pieces need to be checked and double-checked to be certain they are in the right place. Sometimes you think you've got every piece where it should be, then you move to a new position and see things from a different angle and suddenly you get the feeling in your gut that it doesn't look and sound quite right. So you start shifting things around. Sometimes you take out pieces altogether, realizing they might be a better fit for a different puzzle. Other times you move pieces around only to decide you should have left them where they were. It can be tedious and frustrating, but when you finally see and hear the finished work and know that you have the pieces exactly where they should be, it is a beautiful sight. And sound. And feeling.
I am grateful to have co-writers who share the commitment to rewriting. They don't settle for an okay song when we could push ourselves for "WOW." If I'm being honest, there are moments when a c0-writer suggests a rewrite and I think "Ugh, that's work." And it is. But at the end of the day, I know it's the kind of work that's worth it. Because after we've done the work, the puzzle is more beautiful. The impact is greater. The song is better.
Maybe my business card should say SONG REWRITER instead of SONGWRITER. Hmmm.....