Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Song Story: 'Every Reason Why'

I know, I know... you're wondering why I have a song on my new EP that has the same title as my last CD.  Well, here's the answer:  The CD project Every Reason Why actually got it's title from a lyric in the song 'You Are'...  

     "You are every question's answer  | You are every reason why..."

As you can see, this blog also got it's title from the same line. Anyway, as I was writing the song 'Every Reason Why' I guess those words just came out as they're part of my thought process now, you know?  I've certainly recycled key thoughts and phrases, particularly the ones I find at least mildly unique, over the years and this one just made sense to me.  I admit, I kinda tried to find a workaround since I had titled the last record with the phrase, but nothing else seemed to make as much sense, so eventually I just embraced the quirky reality of having a song that appeared to be named after a former record.

In terms of the song itself, this one was an interesting journey.  I think I wrote the chorus first, but not the one you've heard.  I wrote this fist-pumping, repetitious, shouty chorus about how 'we are the lost and broken' and only because of Jesus are we not--anyway, I think I heard like seven other Christian tunes and one secular tune that sounded just like it.  Which of course, either means I've got my finger on the pulse of the ever-changing industry... or I totally stole it without knowing it.  Either way, it wasn't flying with me, so I dumped it and started the chorus over once I had written the verses.  Another 'we' song, I really wanted to write a congregational proclamation, if you will, about a gathering of imperfect people vulnerably celebrating the only One who's perfect.  The American church so easily seems to become a lofty gathering of better-than-thems who seemingly thank God for being so much so.  I think the heart of true worship is built on the foundation of a constant humility.  I believe that as we become more and more like Him, we are more and more aware of the reality that we could never do so by our own strength or intentions. So the verses just admit that we are who we are and we're willing to accept that, striving to take steps closer to God... and that Jesus is da man, if you will.  Highly vernacular, we sing,

     "Jesus, it's all You."

The pre-chorus and chorus are simple and straight-forward, declaring that Jesus is the reason we're here, and more importantly, the reason we'll eventually be there with Him.

     "Well aware that we could not have found a way along our own paths | to secure a forever spent with You... | it's Your life, it's Your love, it's Your cross, it's Your blood..."

My hope is that when congregations decide to sing this song, they find it incredibly welcoming and disarming.  That we could sing it unified in our humanity, and more importantly, unified in our faith that Jesus overcame and is the ONLY reason--EVERY reason--we can call ourselves saved.

Ok... now for the songwriter stuff:  I hope some of you songwriters are actually reading this stuff and trying to get fellow songwriters involved in the conversation.  I'd love to hear your thoughts, experiences, feedback, etc.  Anyway, the most noticeable oddity about this song--particularly for a worship tune--is the phrasing in the verses.  The first three lines of each verse are really almost in 6/8 the way they're phrased, and yet they're being sung over a straight four-on-the-floor groove.  I really pushed some boundaries on this one, but tried to land on something unique and still singable.  Odd rhythm juxtaposed with the same melodic phrase repeating in threes helps make that happen.  The theory-geek term for this is 'hemiola' and it's all over this record, so this isn't the last time you'll hear me refer to it.  That said, any time I do something like this--especially to this extent--in a worship tune, I try to keep other elements more straight-forward so as to avoid sacrificing it's functionality as a corporate worship tune. As a result, the pre and the chorus are super straight-forward melodically and the chord phrases sorta evens back out, too.  I love the sweet little snare/hat fill that my drummer threw in the middle of verse 2, by the way.  Super fun.  The other fun liberty I took on this one was at the very end, when I threw half the verse chord changes out the window, straightened 'em out, and then used a colorful (M7 add 13) flat 6 as the penultimate chord (Lauren, you owe me three bucks) which I thought was kind of a fun way to end this one.

Again, let me know your thoughts... more fun as a conversation! 'Holy Lord' will be up next in a few days!

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