“All Things New”

After 55 plus years, the shadow cast by life is growing long (and seemingly longer every day). New is a word rarely if ever you apply to yourself.

July 2009 found me on the road in the Midwest with a few hours to myself. I ended up in a bookstore outlet where I discovered an excellent book by U2’s Bono about the plight of African orphans. The images and ideas presented were powerful and moving, inspiring me to write a song that pretty much came into the world fully formed.

A year or so later, my band was involved in a concert to benefit missions in Letsotho, Africa (the very same area captured so vividly in Bono’s book), and this new song was the central theme of the event.

Another year or so passes, and I am producing an EP for Birmingham artist Rebekah Gilbert, and this same song finds its way onto the project.

Time and distance grants perspective. It took stepping back from this song, to see and hear it through other eyes and different interpretations to discover it’s true nature.

What started life as a cry about the unseen, unwanted and abused in the world was revealed to be something more.

It’s not about orphans. It’s about me…

Look through those eyes
Walk in their shoes
How does it feel to be unwanted?
How does it feel to be abused?

Carry that weight
A heart of stone
How does it feel to be so hopeless?
How does it feel to be alone?

43 years ago today I was made new. Years have passed, and the shadows of life, loss, and lostness are still long. But in a season of reminders, for this moment I remember Grace and “All Things New.”

Then mercy comes calling
Grace brings good news
Love wraps its arms around you
And makes all things new…

Tabula Rasa

I am a slate scraped clean
Waiting on new words
I’ve been wandering for years
There’s no time left for dreaming

Now left behind and moving on
Live within the same sad song
My heart beats in the space between
These words will never mean a thing
It’s so cold in the silence

I am an empty page
Waiting on memory
Wondering for years
If there’s hope left in dreaming

The Rhythm in My Head

There’s a rhythm in my head
In my head, in my head
There’s a rhythm in my head
And it won’t go away

The tempo is persistent
The backbeat for my pain
It’s icy and insistent
Like this cold October rain
Inside the pressure’s building
Tight as the band around my arm
The numbers tell the story
And fear cries in alarm

There’s a rhythm in my head
In my head, in my head
There’s a rhythm in my head
And it won’t go away

The Last Time

It was only ten long years ago when I saw her last. We had just moved to the Nashville area, yet this weekend I was once again working in Birmingham (as I would for many years). I don’t even remember where and for whom I was playing. All I know is that Katrina was ravaging the Gulf and was making herself known even this far north and beyond. I was anxious to get back to the new house in Tennessee that would be home for the long decade to come.

She was ill, and had been for a while. My visits were becoming more infrequent despite my continued presence in the area. There was more than a share of guilt and fear that shadowed my heart, and my memories of hospitals and abandonment played out in my avoidance of those hurts and the frail, aging woman who seemingly embodied them.

It had been a long day, and night and Katrina’s storms were falling. I had promised to stop by on the way back, but still wrestled with myself as to find a way to circumvent the visit.

Love and loyalty and guilt won out over fear and hurt when I saw my mother for the last time.

All I remember was the watery gleam of her eyes in the flickering glow from the nearby television. She couldn’t speak, forcing me to mumble pleasantries and empty promises for my next visit. She opened her mouth and the words “I love you” crumbled from her lips. I replied in kind, kissed her dry as dust cheek, and left for my long drive.

It seemed that I rode Katrina’s coat tails on the way back, my car buffeted by wind and constant rain. My heart was heavy and my thoughts filled with images and memories of my mom.

While her spirit didn’t find release until the early part of March, my farewell was granted on a stormy night in August ten years gone.

Much has changed and much has been lost. While memory remains I embrace the moments that define a life, and learn the lessons of last times.


“Cross the River”

I cross the river
And I think of you
Memories haunt me
But you never do
The river is deep
This river wide
Wide as my longing
Deep as my pride

River flow on to the sea
River roll and set me free
River flow inside my soul
Wash the stains and make me whole

Falling…Broken

Back roads

Lyrics tell the story that many times we don’t want or even know how to tell. The first set came from a random phrase uttered by my son Cameron as we drove the back roads from Columbia to Thompsons Station.

Almost a year to the day, the second lyrics continue an unbroken narrative about brokenness.

“Falling Away”
August 28, 2014

The leaves are falling
First signs of winter
The pressures building
I start to splinter
My strength is falling away

No pearls in the making
Only spirit breaking
These words are lonely
My hands are shaking

So tired of hurting
Weary of calling
The leaves are falling
The leaves are falling
Until they all fall away…
“Broken”
August 22, 2015

Broken like the strings on my guitar
Wanderin’ like a man without a star
Broken as I am I won’t get far
I’m broken
I’m broken

Broken like the songs I used to sing
Wonderin’ how my pain is an offering
Broken by the breaking of everything
I’m broken
I’m broken…

A World Unbroken

Still standing

I am Job without the righteousness
Wandering from room to room
Remembering ten years gone
Moments of eternity, moments gone too soon
Overhead a roof that’s not my own
I dreamed of a world unbroken
Now I live with broken dreams
I’m waiting for an answer to my call
And longing for the solace of the fall

A Song of Ice & Fire

These days (weeks/months) I’ve been trying to write. But not just write, but to do so with candor and courage. And every single time, I’m finding myself either playing it safe, or editing out the dangerous parts. Cleaning it up or hiding behind metaphor to make it “universal.”

To write something less than truth means I’m either a coward or a liar. I’m not really sure which is worse…

Perhaps it’s both, really.

Jesus was right. Lukewarm lyrics or words or even a life makes you want to puke…

But in the dark hours of the night, and in the heat of the afternoon, thoughts roll out that alternately freeze the marrow or sear the soul, sometimes all at once. Icy clarity joins with fiery passion and the result are words/lyrics/poetry that must find some release…or else.

Hot or cold. Take your pick.

Metaphor still reigns, but the feelings are real. One day if I ever grow up, I’ll use big boy words to tell the story. For now, play the game with me one more time…

Do you wanna play a game?
How about pretend?
There’s no hurt, no pain
Just the illusion I maintain
And fear whispering the end is close at hand
So one day I’ll cross the river
Pay the ferryman his fee
I’ll collect my last belongings
The memories of me