A Glimpse Into The Mind Of The Songwriter

Since the big CD release party is approaching quickly, (P.S.: YOU'RE INVITED!)
I wanted to post the song lyrics and give you a glimpse into the mind of the songwriter (me!). I hope that sounds interesting. Next week, I'll start posting some specific thoughts about each song; today, I'm going to answer some frequently asked questions about my process as a songwriter and post all of the album lyrics below, so they'll all be in one convenient location for the future.

What other questions do you have about the songwriting process? Are you a songwriter/ lyricist too or do you just like to listen to great songs? Comment below and let me know!!

OK, so here are a few questions I often get:

Q: How do you come up with song ideas?

A: Lots of different places. Life is inspiration. I draw from my own struggles and triumphs, and what I've observed in the lives of friends, family, and complete strangers. I pick up great ideas in church sermons and prayers. A few of my songs make it pretty obvious that Scripture inspires me, though sometimes that works and sometimes it's too hard to make the music and the scripture work together and feel "current" to me. 

I love going to coffee houses and songwriter nights, and occasionally a bigger concert, and to my chagrin I often come home inspired and end up staying up until 2am hashing out a song idea because I can't sleep until I do. In this case, it's usually a groove or something I was expecting them to say in a song, but then they didn't go there... hey, at that point it's my original idea, and I'm not going to write it with a similar melody or anything like that. 

I've also started co-writing fairly recently, and that process is SO different - and inspiring in a totally different way. I may have to write a separate blog about co-writing sometime.

Q: Do you write the words or the music first?

A: I'm a flip-flopper on this one. Usually, there's a little piece of a melody that's been stuck in my head for a while, and I just keep humming it to myself over and over until suddenly, it has words that seem to me like they've always been there. In this case, it's usually "the hook" because that's typically the coolest part of the melody; and then I work it out from there.

Every now and then, I have words and melody that come together in the first place; when that happens, sometimes it's the hook, but it''s usually the second verse. Not the first verse - and, from what I've heard, many songwriters write the second verse first. I think the reason is because you get to say a lot more in the second verse, because there's a lot of groundwork to lay in the first verse, and the chorus is usually a more general statement that can change meaning or gain intensity with each repeat. 

Personally, I rarely write the chords first, because I'm a singer who plays guitar and not the other way around. If the melody is strong, the chords will fall into place. Occasionally, I'll alter the melody when I go to put chords to it because I find a chord progression that seems more interesting. The exception to this is when I'm inspired by a "groove" and just play around with it until words and melody come gushing out.

Q: I write, but I feel like my songs are dumb. Did you write bad songs at first?

A: I still write bad/ dumb songs. All. The. Time. IMHO (in my humble opinion, for those of you who may be acronym-challenged), the trick to writing well is this: WRITE!! I've written some really dumb songs that will never see the light of day. I've written a few songs (What I Would Do For You) that were God-inspired and came out pretty much finished. But a lot of my songs started with a good seed that took time to grow into something great. (*side note: I still have a hard time saying any of my songs are "great" - but we'll revisit that when I talk about The Lie next week)

Songwriting is both an art AND a craft. I do believe that some people are born songwriters, and yet they have to study to become truly great. Great songwriters write and re-write, and revisit, and re-write... 

OK, that's what I have to share right now. As promised, you'll find the album lyrics below.

What other questions or comments do you have?

Lyrics from the album "Lately" - releasing online 9/9/14:

1. For The Rainy Days
Yesterday’s troubles just won’t go away;
Clouds are hangin’ low, but they
can’t keep me down for long
Because yesterday doesn’t have a hold on me;
It can’t change what I believe
It can’t hold back my song
I want to say thank You for the rainy days,
Even when I kinda miss the sun…
A flower never grows if the sun is all it knows
- what is easy’s not enough -
I want to thank You for the rainy days
Well, today feels like one big mistake
Everything I do seems to come out wrong
But today, I find a smile on my face
Because I know that today
I’m right where I belong 
(repeat chorus)
There are times when I struggle to believe
that anything of worth could grow from such a tiny seed,
but the water’s what I need.
(repeat chorus)
2. This Is Grace
I know you’re carrying a load so heavy,
It feels like you’re gonna break.
There’s a plan and a purpose; your life will be worth it,
And you’ll get through today --           
This is grace. This is grace, whoa…oh, oh                 This is grace.
Even though you’ve fallen from the heights of heaven
There’s still room for you to come home
When you find forgiveness, try as you might to deserve it
you could never earn your way –
This is grace. This is grace, whoa…oh, oh                 This is grace.
This is grace, grace – God’s grace!
This is grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
This is grace, grace – God’s grace!
This is grace that is greater than where I’ve been.
3. Under The Shadow (Psalm 91)
God, You're my refuge;
a safe place to hide.
The darkness will come,
but You are my song in the night
And I'm not paralyzed by the fear
Although it still whispers in my ear
Though the flood washes over me,
I know You go with me,
And You're keeping me near
Under the shadow of Your wing
Here in Your presence, I find my peace.
I'm never letting You go, all of my life
I will trust You alone.
4. Rock Of Ages

               (I didn't write this one!)
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee;
Let the water and the blood From Thy wounded side which flowed,
Be of sin the double cure; Save from wrath and make me pure.
of sin the double cure; Save from wrath and make me pure.
Not the labors of my hands Can fulfill Thy law's commands;
Could my zeal no respite know,Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;Thou must save, and Thou alone.
All for sin could not atone;Thou must save, and Thou alone.
Nothing in my hand I bring, Simply to the cross I cling;
Naked, come to Thee for dress; Helpless, look to Thee for grace;
Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.
Foul, I to the fountain fly; Wash me, Savior, or I die.
While I draw this fleeting breath,When mine eyes shall close in death,
When I soar to worlds unknown, See Thee on Thy judgment throne,
Rock of Ages, cleft for me, Let me hide myself in Thee.
Rock of Ages, cleft for me,
Let me hide myself
in Thee.
5. The Lie
It’s the voice that whispers, ”you’re not good enough;”
The one refusing to believe you could be worthy of love
The one that looks around at all your friends and says you don’t deserve them,
And You believe it
 That voice will turn and say you’re better than your neighbor
Same old liar, just a different flavor
In our attempt to hide our weaknesses, we bite the hook and bury it
Line and sinker
It’s The Lie - don’t you know it’s The Lie?
Since the beginning of time the method’s been the same
Defeat and Divide, still we cling to The Lie
We don’t know anything better; we just surrender to The Lie

 It’s every fear you’ve ever heard, stuck on repeat
You’ve never really known them, but they make your knees weak
And if you’ll just stay where you are and never reach out to the world, then
The enemy’s succeeded
 (repeat chorus)

To The Lie - don’t you know it’s The Lie?
Since the beginning of time the method’s been the same
Defeat and Divide – What if we called it a lie?
If we knew something better, we wouldn’t surrender to The Lie.

 If there’s a hope hidden deep within Your soul;
The Farmer doesn’t plant a seed unless He wants to watch it grow…

6. Lately
I hold on to moments, they're like souvenirs;
Little jars of sand to prove that You've been here.
When I hold them in my hands,
Oh, how I long for You to speak to me again
But Lately - I haven't heard from You lately
I've heard it said and recognize it as the Truth
If You seem distant, You're not the one who moved
But Lately - I haven't heard from You lately
Most of my life, I live like it's about me
Although this contradicts what I say I believe
If I really want to watch You move,
How could I restrain the good I know to do?
Lately, I haven't seen Your hand lately
Since you called us out to be Your hands and feet
Should I be so convinced I'm not the one You need?
Lately – I haven’t seen your hand lately
When I see the need, I often turn the other cheek
As if that's how You'd ever treat the least of these
Unseeing eyes, complacent heart, playing pretend;
It's been my story, and I've come here to repent...
Lately - what have I offered You lately?
Do I need to let go of some things I have
So there'll be room enough for You in my grasp?
Lately - I haven't heard from You lately
Lately – I haven’t seen your hand lately
Lately – oh, lately…

7. The Truth Is
Like a flower on the wall,
in the shadows feeling so small
Tell me why you hide away;
Tell me why you’re so afraid
The truth is, it doesn’t have to be so hard.
The Truth knows exactly who you are.
When you give up the masquerade,
Step into the light; you can show your face
And you’ll find love -- The truth is enough
You say you want to be alone;
You never let anyone close
Tell me what you’re tryin’ to prove –
Tell me what have you got to lose?
(repeat chorus)
We all search for answers
we’re not sure we want to find:
Why on earth am I here?
What is the meaning of life?
And if I open up my heart, will it be alright?
(repeat chorus)
8. I Wait
For as long as you remember,
you’ve always been the strong one.
Your facade might fool my children,
but I hear your inner longing,
And I wait for you.
You feel like you’ve been discarded;
like you’ve always been alone,
As if you were never wanted,
My beloved, don’t you know?
I wait for you
I wait, and catch every tear that falls
I wait; I know your struggle isn’t small
Fall apart in my arms and find your rest
In the center of your brokenness
For so long you’ve resisted ;
you barricade the walls
As if I’ve come to break you
just to prove that I am strong
But I wait for you
If you let me I will shatter
and remove the hidden things
And replace them with the healing
that is only found in Me
But I wait for you
9. Behind The Noise
How did this become our obsession?
Remember when we weren’t always connected?
Why does it agonize us to be still and choose the silence?
Behind the noise
There is only one still, small voice
Not competing for attention
If we ever pause to listen,
What will we hear?
Will we find He’s always been near,
And we already have His affection?
You can miss a lifetime in a moment;
We tell ourselves we don’t already know this.
But when this day becomes your past,
Will you be satisfied if it becomes your last?
(repeat chorus & verse 1)
10. What I Would Do For You
I would take off my crown,
open the skies and come down to love you
I would lay down my life,
no sacrifice would be too much to save you
Like a lover pursuing His bride,
wouldn’t rest ‘til I made You mine
That's what I would do for You
I'd reject my own Son,
blame Him for everything You've done to hurt us
I would turn away,
I would hold back the angels I could send to save Him
Though He didn't deserve this pain,
I would send him to hell in your place
That's what I have done for you.
Hear me whisper your name,
calling you out from your shame to know Me
I will love you through men,
break through your defenses just to make you holy
I'm a Friend you know you can trust,
and you follow Me because
That's what I am doing in you.

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