Though this recording was completed in the summer of 2009, the seeds for most of these songs were planted a decade or so earlier. There were several others I considered & even began recording, but they just weren't happening like I wanted...
So why "Songs for the 2nd World"? Well, I've always had a comfortable life-style here in the US - quite a leap from 3rd-world, poverty-stricken areas like parts of Haiti, Africa, Asia, etc. But if we're moving from 1st to 2nd world status, then let's be thankful for the good run we've had! Not to make excuses for complacency or mediocrity, but no one but the Lord Jesus Himself gets to be 1st place forevermore! Snapple says they're happy to be in 3rd place (behind Coke & Pepsi)! God bless 'em for that!
... Let us learn to hold our gifts from God in gently cupped hands, not tightly clenched fists.
Now a bit about the songs: All but 3 were written solely by me. Those collaborations include one with a 4th grader from Granberry Elementary School ("The Ladder"), one with a fellow San Antonio youth worker ("Safe in Your Arms") and one with a 70-something-year-old friend/fan/songwriter I met while playing at a Mexican restaurant in Madison, AL in '04 or '05 ("Where the Honeysuckles Grow"). I haven't done much collaborating before, but these songs had a special quality & freshness that resonated with me - & made me want to take them farther, higher.
Other songs may be obvious as to the inspiration: "Quiet & Still" came while flipping though radio stations, unable to find anything worth listening to (I'd just bought my Honda Insight Hybrid, March '05 - the sound system wasn't very good - it had a cassette player & radio, and the speakers were shot!), then realizing that just driving in awed silence and humble awareness of our Creator was really much better anyway!
"Tully's Song" was conceived while we lived in Valley Head, AL & I drove once a week to La Scala Italian restaurant in Rome, GA to play & sing. One night, after coming home from a late-nite gig, my son toddled over to me & "threw his arms around my knees" - and my heart has been full to over-flowing with Abba-daddy love ever since.
"I Never Thought" also started in Valley Head, is a reflection on the night Tully was born in San Antonio after my wife's nearly 17-hour labor. I imagine either George Michael or Art Garfunkel singing it with a jazz quartet (maybe a tenor sax solo) backing him up.
"Another Day Like This" was an experiment with the simplest song form (verses, no chorus) set with an interesting chord progression & melody. All the chords are major (with a few 7ths), and the verse is 5 lines of varying length, though it stays in 4/4 time. I remember working the chords out on the piano in the original sanctuary (now the youth room) of Good Shepherd Church in Madison. Was the line "If I spent forever pregnating everyone ..." a humorous attempt to draw attention ... or to vent sexual frustration ... or a bit of both? Hmmmm ......... that's more than enough about that.
"Be Real in me" was actually supposed to be sung by a girl in my little San Antonio youth group named Christine ... I forgot her last name, but she had a beautiful voice. She moved away before I finished the song, and she probably has no idea about that unless she remembers me as her Youth Minister at Colonial Hills UMC and is reading this now! As I worked the song out, it became a cry of my heart to be increasingly more genuine in my faith - to not settle, compromise or give in to the world's way of focusing more on appearance than substance. It's a prayer to always try to be intentionally honest, sincere and transparent.
"Meet Me at the Edge" was the theme for a Youth week at Christ Church in Birmingham, AL. It was the 90's, and their youth leader Lawton Higgs suggested I write a song with this title. I did, & I taught it to their youth praise band, and we played/sung it every night during that week before each session. I hope someone from that youth group remembers something from that week. If so, please re-introduce yourself & let me know!
"I Don't Care" is a slightly funny, slightly mellow-dramatic country romance song about love and home improvement. I wrote it for my wife who is often changing things about the house. Like many guys, I just say, "If you like it, I like it, Baby!" But sometimes she wants me to have a definite opinion - and usually she wants my opinion to match up with hers - so after almost 17 years, I think I'm starting to learn how to pretend to care & line up my preferences for paint color, etc. with hers. ... I pitched this song to Lone Star 3 or 4 times but they didn't respond.
"Starting Over with You" was written for my wife. The day I asked her to marry me I took an old guitar into the woods of Nature's Classroom in Mentone, AL, hid it (in its case of course) and planned a nature hike with her. When we "stumbled" upon the guitar, I told her I'd planted it here for this moment, and that this song expresses some unique emotions that I felt only for her and no one else. Then I sang & played it for her in the woods, and popped the question. Months later I performed it again at our wedding in Valley Head.
"Hope for the Day" was written for 3 guys in my San Antonio youth group: Blas Moreno, Chip Mullins, and Dylan Payne. They had formed a hard-rock, metal band but had very few places to play - so I wrote this song & rehearsed with them & invited them to do it at our church coffee house. That version was a little rougher & rawer than this one, but the song itself is exactly the way we did it then in 1997. I dedicate this to the memory of Dylan Payne (1982-2003)
Other musicians involved in this project were: Karla Keiser (vocals on Singanew song, Tully’s Song, Hope for the Day and Safe in Your Arms), Cristina Lynn (vocals on Singanew Song, Quiet & Still, and Meet me at the Edge), Brent Morgan (vocals on Hope for the Day), Kerry Kennard (drum programming on Meet me at the Edge), Tim Gibbs (drums on Another Day Like This, and engineering/mixing/mastering entire project), Kristi Condrey (violin on The Ladder), Sally Coffee Bryan (viola on The Ladder), Sarah Fredericks (cello on The Ladder), and Erin Collins Robertson (flute on My Life … Your Heart)
Thanks for listening, and God bless!