A Song Called Home:The Hope Of A Childs Heart
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I just could not stop thinking about this song and before I knew it I was in the studio making a new version. It came out so well that I figured I might as well go ahead and make the whole second album! I am happy to present this song also because it is the companion song to Paul's Penny Lane about childhood. Strawberry Fields was a park that John played in when he was little and the song is his tribute to a happy time when he was small and life was simple. The slinky feeling of the music made me super happy. One day my Dad took me out to lunch at a pizza place called Shakey's and they had a jukebox with For You Blue on it.
This was probably so it was only a few years after the song came out. When I asked my Dad for a dime to play the song he said I couldn't have one because I had the record at home and could hear it for free. I think in the end that experience made the song even sweeter since every time I hear it I remember NOT being able to play it. Thanks DAD! RAIN I have always LOVED this song and the drone like sound of it and the sentiment which is that a rainy day is not a bad day at all and that we create these limitations for ourselves that require everything to be perfect in order to be happy.
I just wanted to lighten it up and make the content of the vocals come to the front. At its core this is a super simple song with a super simple message. Be happy because you are alive not because of your surroundings. In the beginning the Beatles played without a drummer for a bunch of their first gigs and because there were four guitars they sold the lack of a drummer with eh phrase "The rhythm's in the guitars! I decided to see how that theory would sound and just made this thing with only guitars save for the little Billy Preston style piano here and there and HORNS!
Interesting side note is that Billy Preston who played piano on this song on Let It Be also played with and socialized with the Beatles in when he was Little Richard's organist and played shows with the lads from Liverpool around the time when they wrote this song. It tells a vivid story too which is always a winning quality of a good song for me.
I can really SEE the story and atmosphere come to life in my head as I listen to it. So I indulged myself and put it on the album. I had to redo it a few times to get my voice near those high notes and ring out like Paul's does on the original song. But it was worth it. I got the broken baby keyboard to do the bass line here again and got a funny gnome from the garden to come in and play flute. Another example of getting a bit more energy and speed into the performance than the original to bring out the groove of the song.
What better sums up the Beatles contribution to our collective unconscious that their promotion of the concept of loving each other. I ramped up the country feel in this version just because I always heard it bubbling just under the surface and it was fun to bring it out a bit. This one did not make it onto the first record and I am glad it didn't because I added a bunch of bells and whistles to this new version. How do you do what you do? It seemed to be an easy choice for a record that is mostly for the parents since it is about the mother of all mothers!
It was fun to create the super angelic "see how they run" parts and use my super broke down old Kawai baby keyboard for the bass line. I sure do love a half busted cheapo keyboard. Strange that I have not written a Caspar Babypants song about a pig but I do sing about then as I bop around all day. SO this seemed like a great one to include. I loved replicating the end part with he crisp cellos too. This one was also recorded for the first album but got bumped so it is great to have the chance to get it out here. The lovely and talented Rachel Flotard helps out on vocals and does a great job with the harmonies.
I like this one for kids because it is repetitive and deals with opposites. A little bit of an opportunity to think about that stuff. Also the fat luscious chords are so fun to play and listen to. I have played this song live a bunch with my grown up band and originally thought I would do it pretty straight and strummy on a guitar but once I fired up that silly keyboard things just flowed and it all came together. I like turning a groovy song into a new wave binary thing. Plus it has the word "baby" in it so I HAD to do it! They sped them up to make him sound younger since he wrote this song when he was a teenager.
I hope that is how families will hear it when they listen to this version. I treated this one a bit like Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds with a clear plucky bass line and a descending clavinet line. I was trying to bring it out of it's drone like state and make it move a bit more. It is actually the first song that got me thinking about a Beatles cover album in the first place. I was warming up for a show at a library and I strummed an open D chord on my guitar and it sounded exactly like the beginning chord of this song.
That got my wheels turning and here we are several years later with two full albums of Beatles songs done! I like the contrast in this song between the flow chorus and the tight bouncy verses. A tiny bit of romantic love in this one but I will let it slide because the music is so good. Thanks to Rachel Flotard for the chorus vocals! I had to decipher individual notes and then find a way to assemble the important ones into chords on the 3 string guitar.
In the end I played what is really a D7 chord for the G chord in the song but it works. As I learned it I played it slowly since the chords were hard and mellow and it kind of got stuck like that. It works for me as a kind of slinky jazzy little thing with minimal instrumentation. So I thought this would be a good opportunity to do a high energy song in a subdued way.
I decided to bring out the lush vocal harmonies and keep the same exact groove just slow it way down. It works with the lyrics of the show being "near the end" and all that. I dig it. I hope you do too. I am super happy to have this recording included here because it makes me very sleepy indeed. Jen Wood brought a beautiful texture to this one. I love how it came out all floaty and misty and I hope it puts your little ones and you!
I had to learn the guitar solo parts one at a time in the original key and then transpose them to a different key and to the piano. It was like knitting a little sweater made of piano riffs! I called upon my childhood experience in a boys choir to make the giant vocal ending feel reverent and sweet. I decided not to add it in the end HA! Plus if you let the album repeat then it fades into the beginning bit of SGT. I did change the words though.
It was about a variety of things that a baby might need to deal with during the course of it's day like eating peas and taking a bath but when I changed all the imagery to be about the end of the day it felt better. Each show would be about a couple of specific animals and the idea was for me to improvise a song about each animal at the end of the episode.
We did a little pilot episode at the Woodland Park Zoo and one of the animals was a snowy owl. This some was the bit that I made up about the owl. I hope it does not encourage your kids to stay up all night! I think it is more about that desire than a suggestion to do so. It was an elderly man on stage singing a song all by himself with no musicians. His voice had a lonely quality that was sweet and haunting at the same time.
I tried to make this song occupy the same space but I got excited to put instruments on it so I made it about playing music so I could justify the added parts and music.
This one is dedicated to my late great Daddy. Musically I worked very hard on this one to make it move from part to part and not get monotonous. Lots of weaving guitar bits coming together here. Getting that lead vocal to sit right took a while. It was challenging but I love the results! No big story here. Just a sweet little turn of phrase that made me smile.
I do like the stop and start quality of the arrangement and that came about over time. That effect makes me sleepy. From time to time I would just improvise and try to push out a song. I was in my room and sang about the view from my window and that was it. That song sat around for 20 years unfinished then I read a book about the psychology of children's books and why some work and some don't.
In the book they talked about "Goodnight Moon" and why it was successful and the iconic, romantic relationship we humans have with the moon and how that fires children's imaginations. When that song floated back into my mind I focused on the idea that image of the moon is about fantastic distance and possibility for adventure and made the verses about the crazy things that you might do out there under the moon. He sent me some movies and testimonials and I was struck by one guy who told his story of loosing his family in the water.
So I changed the theme to be about fish and how they sleep under the water during storms and stay cozy despite the tempest above. I had a dream about her in which she was a big blue dragonfly in a twighlight swamp and I was going to visit her. When I told Kate about the dream and told her the song was called "Dragonfly Blue" she said that was so weird because the color of the paint on the walls of Christina's restaurant was called "dragonfly blue".
That coincidence made the song really come alive. Originally this was a little song called "My Dolphin Blue" that my daughter Josie wrote with her cousin Claire. But try as I might I could not make the dolphin imagery work for me. When the image of a blue dragonfly came along I rewrote the words and the song was born. So I made it about all the wee critters that live in the dirt hoping that thinking about them would make little brains tired. Hope it works! I ended up playing it that day at the show and a few years later here it is on an album.
Thanks for the inspiration Sara and Mary. I liked the melody and the phrasing but when I thought about is for a Caspar song I didn't want to have the word sick in there. On the recording you can hear Augie asking "Sick puppy?? Why is there a sick puppy?? No matter how sad it feels to be left alone to go to sleep you will feel better after a good nights sleep I promise. It was called "Close Your Eyes Little Sister" and I changed the title to be a bit more universal in case you don't have a sister. Originally it was written for my daughter Josie as a lullaby that I sang to her as she went to bed.
This thing has SO many chords in it that it is pretty fun to play on piano. He had another song about the moon as well supporting the romantic connection to little minds with the moon from the book mentioned above! I only remember the title and turned it into my own song. There is something interesting about this recording. There is another Caspar Babypants song that uses the exact same chords as "Sliver Moon" but is way more up beat.
Can you figure out which one it is? Contact me if you think you know. That happened because I liked the chords to this song but had too many slow songs so I turned it into a whole new song using the same chords. Later I found this original recording and it fit on this album so here it is. I got rid of the specific Christmas stuff and made it about being cozy inside as the cold world freezes outside and all you have to do is drift off in time. The original theme was about not being able to go to sleep on Christmas night.
Somehow it felt half baked and when I put that idea of shutting off your chattering mind in there it felt right! The long trippy outro part is one of my favorite moments on the album. It is hard to describe in words but that is the best way to talk about it. This is the longest Caspar Babypants song ever and it may work well to put it on repeat in a sleeping babies room on low volume and see if it lulls the little thing to sleep. I wanted to have a song that is not about anything specific to going to sleep but is about a universal energetic sensation that is an abstraction of losing consciousness and drifting off to dreamland.
Originally this came from hanging out with my fiend Dave's daughter Katherine in the early morning in Ohio just talking about the day starting up and what we might want to do. I had a guitar and started turning some of our conversation into a song and that was the seed. Then it got recorded and went through many changes and editing. The last part to be added was the beginning quote from a piece called "Morning" from the Peer Gynt Suite by Edvard Grieg.
I quoted him before in the song Skeletone. I love the HUGE ending on this song. I think that is the biggest moment on any Caspar Babypants album! Originally the worm gets stuck inside a soda straw but I didn't want soda pop anywhere near my song so I changed it to have the worm be lost in a huge pile of straw. I also gave it a bit of a gospel feel with good call and response opportunities. So sing along! I don't know if he forgot how to fly or if he is just an industrious little thing.
I had a blast recording this one and it came together really fast. It is a riff off of a traditional song called Red Bird that I heard Ledbelly play on an album one time. Years and years later I changed it to be about a band of creatures that plays under my bed because the other version was just too weird! I like that the band is not scary just really catchy. This was an EPIC effort to find a way to do this song that is fresh and true to it's roots. First of all I tried doing it the classic mellow way but the lyrics are so full of random images and "if this then this" that I found it to be very ineffective as a lullaby.
Also it was always about what Mama would give you. Where was the Papa? I tried doing it Chuck Berry style but it just sat there. I tried it with other singers. I tried it with new verses but the lyrics were always a bit materialistic with all the disappointment and BUYING things for the kid. That version has energy and swagger. I rewrote the lyrics to include both Mama and Papa and put it to the original higher energy feel and solved the puzzle. So naturally I thought it would be perfect for a Caspar Babypants reincarnation! I changed it to be about a mouse that makes a name for himself by learning how to grab the bait out of traps without getting trapped.
I wonder if he will ever get caught? They are grown up now but I still like to pretend that it is true so I turned that idea into this little song. I had wanted to write a song about this idea for a long time but had to wait for years for the right melody to present itself. I am glad I waited. I love this song. I was trying to capture the wonder of being alive in a song. It turned out to be too abstract so I gutted it and made it about this wee crab that I met on the beach on an island a little while ago. It seemed like it was having a bad day and wanted to get me but it was also an amazing creature with its intricate shell.
In the end you can listen to this song if you are feeling crabby and maybe it will cheer you up! One time I was doing a sort of hang out songwriting session at Camp Long in West Seattle and Daniel came and helped me come up with this song. I wrote two versions with totally different music because I was not sure how best to capture the fast and slow thing.
In the end this is a unique song because of the speed changes and the funny idea that your shoes would want to run around in the night without you! Thanks for the help Daniel!! I noticed that they go to sleep in the winter and look like they are going to never come back but when spring comes they uncurl and dance around in the wind.
So I wrote this song for them. It feels like an old song but it came right out of my little brain. I am excited to write original songs that could sound like quotes from old tunes. I tracked the percussion for this song for a song I did for a Woody Guthrie tribute album and I loved the percussion so much that I put a bunch of music on it and expanded it and just out of nowhere started singing about puddles and mud and imagining all the chaos that happens when you step in a puddle.
Tread lightly next time you splash around on a rainy day kids! I rerecorded this one from scratch with a new part and new verses too. Jen Wood is back singing the lead vocal too just like the original. She has the perfect simple innocent little voice for this tune. It's just a simple bouncy number. Grab your baby and dance dance dance.
I also changed the animal that is living in the girls hat from a snake to a squirrel because after I recorded it I didn't like the sound of SNAKE and squirrel rhymes with girl. It is not often that a song in a dream turns out to be any good at all. Usually they are so nonsensical that even if I remember them they are too abstract.
I am super glad that this one worked out. Rachel Flotard came in and really concentrated on an amazing vocal performance. Her harmonies MAKE the song come to life. Thanks Rachel! That poor rain has no choice but to fall and we NEED it to fall. I used to love to go out in the rain when I was a kid and I still do. I always say there is no such thing as bad weather just bad clothes. Once when I was super little I was in the rain and I sang the old traditional version and it stopped raining immediately when I finished.
I guess I remembered that and it made me want to do a song that praises the rain a bit. He was the father of the mother of my kids and a great human being. Unfortunately he passed away. I used a term of endearment that his wife Jani used to call him for the title of this song. I wanted to remind all of us that lost him that he is still around in the stillness of a quiet morning if you get up early and just listen.
We all love you early bird.
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So I made up my own from scratch in the same feel as the one I heard but with all new chords and lyrics. I love the idea of a wee barnacle being scared in the night with the crashing waves and storms and al the other barnacles singing encouragement to hold on tight. So the lyrics are protesting going to sleep while the music will hopefully make you drowsy.
I wonder if it will work to actually make kids feel relaxed? Sing along then sleep along BYE BYE DAY My friend John Roderick has a young daughter named Marlo and one night as they were getting ready for bed they were standing at the window and it was quiet and the light was fading out and in the silence she said in a super cute and tiny voice "bye bye day".
He told me the story and I immediately could hear the song to go with that phrase. It changed a bit as I wrote it but mostly it is the moment of joy at hearing that story that is in the song. Hope it makes you go to bed and dream.
Best New Music — June 21,
To me this song says "get out and be in nature and feel the seasons change" and I thought it would be the perfect first song for the record. I sped up the original tempo and gave it an energizing feel so that you can move and groove to it. This is the only use of synthesizer on a Caspar Babypants record! The original is loose and ragged but I thought that the theme of being all together would be illustrated and supported by making the recording tight and very together. I was not going to do this one originally because it seemed obvious and over done, but when I found a way to make it my own it became one of my favorites.
Sing it. I used to put it on at full blast and run around the house naked refusing to take a bath! I figured out the secret of it Fysah sings the lead here and I chime in from time to time. She sounds soul-tastic! I certainly raided my own parents record collection for inspiration when I was a kid and found some amazing bits that still influence me. Plus this song is a call to get up and move to the beat so I like it near the beginning of the record to keep the dance party moving along.
And mother's usually know what is what! This good time little celebration thing gets a boost from Rachel Flotard on backing vocals doing the Yoko parts. The inspiration for this song came from an improvisation in India that The Beatles did for Mike Love from the Beach Boys on his birthday. It kind of stuck and turned into this song from there. With this song I noticed that the call and response at the end was always my favorite part. The song seemed to open up and get really fun at that point. So I took that dynamic and made it the whole focus of my version.
To take it a bit further and make it simple I took out almost all of the music to make the story and images really clear. Dust off your signing voice and join in! Rachel Flotard and Jen Wood are doing the responses. I love the family as a rag tag band of fun lovers feel to the lyrics and thought I would push the envelope on tempo and see how fast I could get this thing to move. I also cut it down by half almost to make it a quick burst of energy. Jen Wood plays the part of Molly and does a great job with the bubbly bouncy sing along attitude.
What I love about this song is how the skiffle influence is still apparent in the feel and rhythm of the original. I thought I would bring that out by turning it into a bit of a hillbilly vibe. I think it works really well as an old mountain song don't you? I can just see the Beatles sitting around on the back porch of a busted old shack in the swamps.
I drive around in my old neighborhood every so often and soak in the atmosphere of my super happy childhood and can hear this song echoing around in the air. This song captures that feeling so well that it seemed like a natural fit for the album. It was extremely fun and even though it was a bit hard to replicate that French horn solo on the clavinet I finally nailed it!
Someone suggested I take a look at this song when I was choosing which to try and I did and it just worked so well. Thanks for the idea! I am not sure if Paul recorded this in a drop D tuning but it sure worked for me. A pretty faithful version but with a bit more energy. It is also hard to NOT do this one with the words "mother" and "son" in the title! This was the first song I recorded for the album over three years ago.
I wanted to contrast the verse and chorus by making the verse really sparse so the message of the song could come straight through. I chopped the song down to it's essential parts and kept it short and sweet and simple. It turns out that love IS all you need! Those mop tops were smart like that. The original is rocking and loud and obviously about the object of the singers affection and desire. I just made it musically innocent by sprinkling some Buddy Holly vibrations on it and the meaning changed to be literally about a child.
This was a fun chemistry experiment! AND I got to play my little harmonica. I was glad to sneak another early career Beatles song in to the mix as well. This is one of the obvious choices that I resisted at first again because it has been done many times, but found that once I broke it down to the basics and simplified the layers a bit it stared to feel more like a Caspar tune. Since I love songs that allow you to travel to places that normal life can't take you I had to include this ticket to the bottom of the sea!
The beginning part was really hard to figure out but I stuck with it all afternoon and finally got it! I started out with a crazy drum machine thing on a little cheap keyboard and built it up from there. In the end I got rid of the messy drum machine sounds and let the song breathe. The sentiment of unconditional love seems to make it a really good parent to child love song. Jen Wood helped out here with a sweet high harmony too. John's original lyrics were from an advertisement he saw that said "cry baby cry, make your mother BUY" but he changed it a bit. I did a pretty straight forward version of this song just because it felt really good to play it that way.
This one unfolds like a classic children's picture book and has that timeless nursery rhyme vibe to the images of kings and queens. I had to record this song twice from scratch because I had such a hard time getting the images to really pop out of the music. I tried it in the original key at first but it was too shrill for my taste so I lowered the pitch and changed the sound of the main instrument to be softer.
Finally the images began to come to life and I think the extra effort paid off. I used to sing this one along with the record over and over when I was a kid matching John Lennon's vocal inflections word for word. It completely transported me to another place and that sensation became very important in my own songwriting later on.
I found out later that John Lennon told their producer George Martin that he wanted to "smell the sawdust" from the floor of the circus tent when the recording played back. This was written about a circus poster that John found in an antique shop. Almost every word is from the poster! John loved to make lyrics out of found materials and I think that is very childlike.
I thought it would be great to change the main instrument away from that iconic guitar part so I figured out a very simple way to play it on piano. The trick is that you have to have a 10 note reach to do it! Luckily I can do that and have been able to since I was a kid. I never had a reason to use that skill until now though. I like the way playing it on piano makes it feel like a Bach piece and almost makes it a lullaby.
The choice of vibraphone and a light drum beat worked perfectly and I thought it made a lot of sense since it is about being all groggy and sleepy. I made it even MORE sleepy by adding space and removing the drums. A great pre-last-song-lullaby lullaby! Time for a nap now I must say that I get very sleepy every time I hear this recording so I think it will work well for your baby in the night time.
The last whispering bit was fun to do too. It took one take and I just nailed it. Then I fell off my chair and napped for hours. This song is a song of joy at having found Kate and also having found my voice as a songwriter. It started with Kate chirping the tune and words from the chorus from her studio and me overhearing her and finding a song in her little random chirps.
Just a song about the joy of being connected to the one you love and creativity! How did that animal get that funny trait? I have been reading Darwin lately and thinking about evolution. Somehow it related to the Buddhist teaching where the first Buddha held up a flower without speaking.
Disciples faded away as time went on except for one who finally smiled. The revelation was that the flower implied a long chain of events and conditions to allow it to exist and contemplating that mystery is the flowers message. I wanted to push the music a bit and get it to be a bit more groovy and it ended up with this almost Andrews Sisters feel. One kid who is a friend of mine has made up dance moves to each verse but she is not sure what to do for the pig part!
I just decided to shake things up and use the same chords but turn up the energy and when I did the music made me think of a kangaroo jumping about. Then I imagined that the kangaroo was in a zoo and could not hop as freely as it wanted to. I gotta get that poor thing outta there. I started out making a version of "hush Little Baby" as a lullaby.
But the problem with that song as a lullaby is that the lyrics offer all sorts of confusing contingencies that did not feel relaxing to me. I found out later that the song started out as a more high energy work song. So I tried a fast version but I made it too fast and the lyrics buzzed by in a blur.
So I just took the very end of the verse and made an entirely new song out of it. It is so fun to chop chop chop songs up into bits! I love the 60s feel that I ended up with and Rachel's voice mixes with mine really well. Plus I added the do wop breakdown which was the missing puzzle piece I think.
I had to change a few lyrics from the old poem because they were a bit awkward to sing but I kept the feeling true to the original. She told me about the name and I wrote a song about this dysfunctional hotel. I found the old recording and suddenly an image of a rotten stump as the hotel popped into my head!
It was the perfect way to reimaging the old song. Mine was based on the demonstration song on a Casio VL-tone keyboard. It was like a fancy calculator with instrument sounds. The song had him saying "no it's not" to my "yes it is" and after reworking the lyrics considerably I had John into the studio to be the NO voice again. The first verse is an homage to my favorite comedian, Mitch Hedberg. He used to say that an escalator can not be broken You can sing this to your kids that don't want to get out of bed in the morning or afternoon!
I hope it does. I looked it up and found it to be available for interpretation and turned it into a song about how parents have to eventually say goodbye to these kids. Of course I couched the message in lyrics about slugs and flies and snails for good measure but the idea is that you parents have to be ready for these little things to be independent.
I love thinking about my kids out in the world standing on their own two feet! So Kate came in from gardening in the rain and sang "I'm too dirty to love!
Of course my song radar went nuts and I logged that melody she sang and the words into my brain. Later I was conversing with Steve Turner from the amazing Mudhoney and put out an invitation to collaborate on a song. He immediately replied with 3 music ideas one of which fit with Kate's proclamation as a verse.
A song was born. Steve came over to the shack and we tracked it and later I got Rachel Flotard to sing on it since I always heard a female voice on it. This might be my favorite song on the album because of how it came together and the result of all that collaboration. That influence is still there in my music and in what I listen to at home. This song is a sort of homage to her influence.
I incorporated two of my all time favorite pieces "Fossiles" by Camille St. Both of those pieces made me scared when I was a little guy so I decided to make a spooky song about a skeleton who plays his own bones like a xylophone. I added 3 new verses and made an unusual A - B - C arrangement. I was thinking of early rock and roll piano blues feelings when I tracked it. I hope it relaxes and grooves you! The story is about a love between a cricket king and a ladybug peasant and how they happen to meet one day and fall instantly in love. A classic fairy tale. FUZZ I had written a song for my grownup rock band way back in called "Fuzz" but it never made the cut.
I only took the idea of a wandering piece of fuzz from the original song and changed all the music and came up with this story of an unlikely friendship between me and a sweet little lint ball. In the end I gotta set her free but we had a great time while it lasted! I played around with the melody and came up with this variation where I imagine a little baby as a hobo wandering about. I researched hobos and found an amazing amount of information about the difference between hobos and tramps and bums. Hobos travel from town to town doing the work that no one else wants to do and they are very careful not to overstay their welcome and leave the town in good standing so that the next hobo will be welcomed and given work.
They had their own language some of which I incorporated into the song and code of ethics. Just imagine that little baby out in the wild making it's way through the land. The original is about all the people that the singer panned for gold with back in the days of the rush and how they all met their demise. I kept a bit of the spooky feel by making the song about a cast of abandoned junky things that are scattered in the back yard of my home not me real home! In the same way that the original song recounts all the long gone gold seekers my version recounts all the old things in the yard and how they got there.
I was talking about songwriting with her and about how I might write a song about wishing to change shape. And weep. And stare at our ceilings in the dark hours. We pray and pray and place our shaky, hopeful confidence up on the altar before a loving and patient God who knows that come midnight, we will sneak in and frantically snatch it back. What you actually survived. What does the sound of surviving really sound like?
In real life? It is not the roar of warrior on a mountain top. It is not some chest thumping holler or victory lap. It is the tiniest shimmer of belief that even in the valley of the shadow of death, you are not walking, or falling, or crawling alone. When you set out on a journey, you are a certain person.
A Room Filled with Darkness
When you arrive, you are someone else. You started with a clean car and ended up with bug guts on the windshield and a couple of blinking indicator lights on the dashboard. You started with bicycle tires full of air and ended up with a banged up helmet and a lost water bottle. You bought the smartest, lightest, fastest running shoes, and you crossed your finish line, bare foot with ice packs and crutches. And it should. Anybody who has been really running a race and still has perfect hair at the end of it, took some shortcuts.
I come from a family, deeply committed to silence and optimism and revisionist history. We are wildly uncomfortable with some of the awkward branches on our family tree. We do not easily talk about regret or mistakes or pain. We are far more adept at whistling through those miles, shushing and whispering about the darker highways anyone has travelled, determined to protect ourselves and our pride and future speculation at family reunions.
I have always preferred to paint a prettier picture of my life, than the one that actually exists. Approaching these songs and myself a little more honestly, was both tricky and liberating. I am not the same girl. Not the same woman. Not the same daughter or mother or friend. Certainly not the same Christian. It all looks different a few miles down the road. But there is great strength and grace in looking back, and letting God show me how the journey has changed me. Any road worth travelling will always make us better, in the end, even if makes us more broken, first.
For anyone who has been on a faith journey for some time, walked the long road with Jesus, the peaks and valleys, the deep joy and deep sorrows, the confusion and questioning, the moments of certainty and gratitude, every mile, every bump, bruise and beautiful encounter… these songs are for you. For both of us. Taking spiritual inventory. In that moment, the looking back, it is easy for us to judge ourselves.
To look at certain decisions or beliefs or experiences and feel regret. Wishing that a certain chapter ended differently. Wishing I could re-write history. Rewind the tape. He interrupted with compassion and reassurance to tell me that all of it mattered. All of it…all the pain, the tears, every long night staring at the ceiling, the questions and struggle and confusion, brought me to this place, a place where I could finally be honest before God as I am, not as I wish I was. God reminded me that He uses everything. None of it is wasted as we journey closer to who we were meant to be and who God intends for us be.
These songs have given me permission, and I hope you too, to silence the voices of regret. To recognize that every part your journey, every broken place, have all been part of the story God is writing in your life. Lessons we had to learn. Tears that had to fall. Chapters that had to be written and then closed, to find ourselves in a bigger, more beautiful story. A lot of people work super hard to pull this off…the artists love connecting personally with fans and there are performances galore. Today, I was at my designated booth at my designated time to sign autographs.
Probably the most honest, too. There was a time, years ago, when I would have really looked forward to meeting fans, signing autographs, and taking pictures. I cringe remembering that girl, at times. I am making new music that I am really proud of out in July , God is carving out beautiful paths for me to lead in local ministry for the first time in years. Leading local worship. Mentoring younger writers…I feel so energized by the new doors the Lord is opening for me, in this season.
But today I warned you about real talk I sat there at that autograph booth and felt…old. And maybe slightly uncool and irrelevant. Weighing more than I want to weigh. I battled all morning not to allow myself to spin into this self esteem spiral. But truth? Feeling a little small in spirit today, because I let ego sit in the drivers seat. I should know better.
About halfway through the autograph line I met a big, tattooed, burly guy named Michael and his lovely wife Darla. I signed their stuff. Took the picture. And then he tells me that they run a non profit ministry that speaks to kids all over the country about sexual abuse. About finding a courageous voice if they themselves, are victims.
Immediately I feel small tears sting my eyes. Then he tells me about a certain girl who was molested by her stepdad from age , and that it was my song that helped her finally find her own shaky voice and tell someone. He was just convicted and is serving 7 years. A song did that. God used a song to stop her abuse and help her healing begin. I needed to hear this. Certain songs have utterly changed my life over the years, in just the right moment.
Something unlocks. Spirit shifts. And today I was reminded again that is why I do what I do, and what an astonishingly sweet privilege it is. Unattached if it ever fades. Easier said than done, let me tell you. And it was timely. Yanked me firmly out of my slow descent into insecurity and self loathing. Halted my orbit around Planet Nichole. As I child, I recognized that musical things came easily, so I sang a lot.
Played my piano, constantly. I knew intuitively what to do with electric mixers and spatulas, coloring pencils or a needle and thread. I have always been a creator. Most of my childhood memories are washed in these warm watercolors. Women are so prone to nurture and protect. Moms are never the first ones to push us out on a branch and let our legs shake uncontrollably. His list always includes far away, wonderful places. I say. I want you to fly and dream and explore …at the local community college. I want you to STAY. Go allllll the way up to the tree at the end of the street.
Pedal hard and then make a big wide turn and ride back to me. Go out on that court and play defense like we practice in the driveway every night. Stop apologizing. Go hard. Go tell the coach tomorrow that basketball is not really your thing. You want to go to Los Angeles to try and pursue a music career instead of using the college degree I just paid for?
The broken marriage is not going to survive? Go gather up those pieces and bring that shattered heart over here, this minute. Or ties. How relieved I am to know you have my back, always. That I can lean hard into your quiet strength. I know whose heart I can trust. Dig out old photographs.
Tell him why they are your favorites. And sure, give him a new apron for the grill, but stand out there in the heat with him and tell him who you are because of who he is. For booking and management inquiries: The Chandy Group cgillespie chandygroup. Sorry, no shows currently.
Click RSVP below to be notified when new tour dates are announced. No Longer Listen- are you breathing just a little, and calling it a life? I think the same could be said of my spiritual life. Straight into the wind, maybe get hurt. I thought living safe meant living stronger. No longer.
Old Folks at Home
Stepping out of the safe shadows and letting love shape me. Slow Down I bought a house last year. Write all you can, in the wet cement. And David knew a thing or two about running. Why do we imagine we are any different?
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Dear Me… When I was in high school, I had a teacher who asked us to write a letter to our future selves in ten years. What would it feel like, now, to write a letter to my younger self, instead? But I wanted to tell her much more than that. How about you? What would you tell your younger self? But now is all you really have. And all you really need. It is, so often, a small and lonely whisper into the darkness.
Just a whisper in the dark. This is the sound of surviving. Thoughts from the road Thoughts from the road. That is my tree and I am an apple, not falling far from it. Every Mile Mattered For anyone who has been on a faith journey for some time, walked the long road with Jesus, the peaks and valleys, the deep joy and deep sorrows, the confusion and questioning, the moments of certainty and gratitude, every mile, every bump, bruise and beautiful encounter… these songs are for you.
It all mattered. Every single mile. Thank you for that, Michael and Darla. Thank you, Lord. All of my favorite little girl memories spent with my Dad, involve a little failure. My Dad was the one who always coaxed me into a world of risk. Learning to ride a bike. Trying out for the basketball team. The trying of the awkward things.