When a gift is given that you neither consciously desired nor openly requested, what is it for?
Some of you may remember that I was a musician once. For a few years as a young adult writing songs was the passion of my life. Every spare moment was used for writing and recording songs. That changed when Anne Marie and I began our family and I transitioned, out of necessity, to quieter forms of writing. There was some grieving over that, but I followed where it led and eventually found some writing gigs, and even some writing gigs that paid a little bit.
I honestly didn’t think I would ever be making music again, but I am. I wrote and recorded a full album in 2000 and then did demos of many songs in the following years. My last batch of demos were recorded in 2007 and then a few more trickled out in 2011. So it’s been a while. Last year I figured it was long enough and the verdict was sure, so I sold some vintage gear, thinking I was done with my music making ways.
Then late last year I decided I would organize and read through the personal journals I have kept since 2000. There are about 30 journals filled with my thoughts on life and theology and my attempts at poetry. I also found a lot of song lyrics that I had never put to melody and this seemed to spark something in me. Melodies came for these lyrics. I paired those melodies with these unused words and with the wisdom that comes with age, I modified, edited and overall strengthened these lyrics and made them into new songs.
I can see in my journals that after 2002, when Madeleine was born, the writing is less lyrical and far more intellectual. So after 2007 or so there wasn’t much in the way of unused lyrics to put melodies to. I wondered if that would be the end of a brief foray into songwriting. It turns out that was just the practice phase, just the warm up. For the last seven or eight months songs, completely new songs, have been showing up regularly. This hasn’t been the case in at least ten years, probably closer to twelve years. But here I am, knocking out one new song after another. There are twelve that are complete and ready for production and a bunch of others that are incomplete but have potential.
Now, this has put a real kink in the plans I had at the beginning of 2018. The plan was to pursue a Masters degree in theology over the next few years. I was already taking steps to put that plan in motion as this gift of writing songs was being given back to me. And that is really how I see it and how I hold it. What is God’s purpose in putting this back into my hands? I admit that I’m baffled by it. When a gift is given that you neither consciously desired nor openly requested, what is it for?
It’s possible that this is given to me just for my personal benefit. The process of capturing the moment of inspiration and bringing a song into existence are moments of great intuition and great catharsis. It is definitely my favourite part of the process, although I do enjoy the art of studio work as well. The catharsis is much needed. I have a lot to process about the last five years – actually, the last decade of my life. When you hear these songs and read the lyrics you will hear a lot of pain processing.
I took a staycation this week to properly demo some of the songs and so I’ve been in my study/recording room the last few days. And just like old times, as I get into the creative flow, more new songs are showing up. This is the way it’s always been for me when I’m in this mode.
Am I going to stay in this mode? I honestly don’t know. What am I supposed to do with these songs? Just write them? Write and record? Write and record and perform?
In case you are one of those people who didn’t even know that I did music, here is some to listen to: