Thursday, January 17, 2013

Story Unfolding, Track 2: Old Enough to Know

This is the second of 7 daily posts about the songs on my first solo EP, Story Unfolding. It will be for sale on Bandcamp starting January 27, 2013. Before the official release, you can listen to samples on Reverb Nation.

One of my favorite books of the Bible is Ecclesiastes. I'm fascinated by the teacher, who tries everything under the sun to find fulfillment and happiness: money, work, knowledge, pleasure, women. He goes to such lengths to find purpose, and yet it all leaves him empty. There's this beautiful passage right in the middle where it seems like he just stops. It's a hard cut to another scene. Suddenly he's standing in the house of God:

"Do not be quick with your mouth, 
   do not be hasty in your heart 
   to utter anything before God. 
God is in heaven 
   and you are on earth, 
   so let your words be few. 
As a dream comes when there are many cares, 
so the speech of a fool when there are many words. 
Much dreaming and many words are meaningless. Therefore stand in awe of God."

Ever feel like your life is just rambling? I do. There are times when each week feels like a skipping record, replaying the same 7 days over and over. Other times I'm not sure what  I should be doing with myself, or where I want to end up 5 or 10 or 20 years down the road.

And here's a guy who tried it all and suddenly runs into this epiphanic stop sign. As if God himself is pointing out what a fool he is being. All these words: useless. All the teacher's talk: silly dreams. All he really needs to do is stand in awe of God. Quit looking at everything under the sun, and just look to God!

I wrote the words to "Old Enough to Know" about 5 years ago. And it started with my own little rambling road. I still have a document on my computer that starts like this (I'm not even kidding):

"I don't know what to write for this song. 

"Is it about growing up? Is it about going into the world? Is it about serving the world? Is it about justice? Is it about peace? Is it about war? What's on my mind? 

"I'm tired. I want to get this song written, because it's been in my head and under my fingers since February or so. Plus, I think it'll round out a nice set of songs that I might be able to call an album."

I won't bore you with the whole thing, but it ends with this sentence:

"Write! God, what do You want this song to be about? What do you hear?"

And then I started typing the lyrics. About Ecclesiastes, and the ramblings of someone searching for meaning who is at the end of everything he could try, which eventually brings him back to God. I took a lot of phrases and ideas right out of Ecclesiastes.

A couple years ago I was at a songwriter's workshop led by Andrew Osenga. (There was a chance for each of us to play a song we had written and have it critiqued by the rest of the group, and I played this one. Andrew suggested I change up the melody in the verses a bit. It was too repetitive, and he suggested a theme and variation approach. Following that I toyed with changing the first line of the chorus and a few other phrases, and eventually landed where it is now. A few minor tweaks, but still very close to the original version that I wrote 5 years ago.

So a long rambling search for meaning leads to a long rambling songwriting process, which in turn leads to this long and rambling blog.

I believe the road home can sometimes be long and rambling. And when we get back there, He's still happy to see us.

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