One Good Song at a Time

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It seems like Jared and I both have large projects going on at the moment, although his is much more focused and will probably be done sooner. I am, over the next year, working on writing an album of worship music. I want to write it this year and record it next year. 

This really isn't like a pissing contest between Jared and I, like we both have to do something to prove ourselves. On the contrary; I feel artistically satisfied when I write good music and Jared feels whole while writing and convincing people to his point of view on freedom.

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the kind of music I want to write for this church, the kind of music I want to put my name on and Jesus' name on. 

I just read a book about the band Wilco called "Learning How to Die". Reading this book has greatly impacted and encouraged me in ways I wasn't expecting at all. I thought it would just be a good read about a band.

Here is what is so cool about Jeff Tweedy (the heart of Wilco) as he wrote record after record: he was never satisfied to do the same thing twice and he was never satisfied doing what was expected. He has this drive that constantly pushes him to challenge peoples perceptions of what kind of music he should make. 

He broke from expectations and all kinds of critically acclaimed records.

How would this apply to what I do, to the music I write? This question has been on my mind since I put the book down a few weeks ago.

The short answer is this: I want to write the kind of music that I like, the kind of music that I would want to hear, the kind of music that after listening to it I would instantly think to myself, "We need to do this at our church." Maybe it will end up being a little different than some other stuff out there. I hope it will be. I don't really care about writing a record that sells a bunch of copies or gets my name or Next Level's name out there. I just want to write a record that I am proud of. I want to write a record that will help the people of my church take the Next Step in their relationship with God in their everyday lives.

And to me, that means writing music that doesn't sound like Casting Crowns or Jeremy Camp or whoever you hear on Christian radio. I figure if I just let go and stop trying to write songs that fit into a mold, my influences will come through and that should be enough to make this record sound different than a lot of things out there. I want this thing to be a mix of the sounds of Third Eye Blind, Coldplay, Rogue Wave, Augustana, Counting Crows, Foo Fighters, Jars of Clay, Keane, Ryan Adams, Stars, and whoever else I feel like drawing on. And you know what? If I let go and let the music write itself, it's gonna happen like that. 

Already, in the first song I've written since reading the book, I feel a sense of freedom, a sense that there is something different that is going to happen now because I don't want to write music that goes every way you think it should and sounds like it belongs on 91.9... 

All that to say, I think this is going to be a great journey. Whenever I get overwhelmed or think I'll never fill an album with good music, I repeat my new motto to myself: You can only write one good song at a time.

1 comment:

Jared Kirk said...

For Real. I think you jinxed me.