Category Archives: music

The long farewell

I didn’t grow up a Glen Campbell fan.

My parents listened to a wide variety of music when I was growing up. Songs of the 70s. The Oak Ridge Boys. Gospel and Southern Gospel music. Some Simon and Garfunkel, a little Linda Rondstat, the Eagles.

But never Glen Campbell. And truth be told, even if you asked me today, I’d probably only be able to tick off his biggest hits, the ones everyone knows, like “Rhinestone Cowboy,” “Wichita Lineman,” and “Gentle on My Mind.”

But Campbell’s brutal honesty about his Alzheimer’s and his long farewell to his fans, well, it captured my heart. A songwriter and singer so talented, so beloved, so known who was willing to be that vulnerable and loved his fans so much he was willing to take the risk—I couldn’t get past that.

Here’s why.

On a cold, damp fall day about six years ago, sometime around Thanksgiving, I think, my dad and I unlocked the door to my grandmother’s empty house and quietly walked through the “back porch” sitting room, past the kitchen and dining room and into Grandma Ruby’s rarely used living room. The house was empty and beginning to take on the look of a long term yard sale as various members of the family worked to go through her belongings.

Grandma’s long farewell had begun years earlier when dementia began to rob her memories. We lost her in bits and pieces. I became a face she recognized and a name she knew, but the face and the name didn’t match anymore. She once told me when I visited, “I remember Mandy, but I don’t see her much anymore. But I love her.”

By the time her long farewell ended in early June of 2011, it was hard to know where in time Grandma lived in her memories. What I knew when she passed away was that she had made a forever mark on my heart. Grandma Ruby would always live in my memories, in my heart.

So that chilly afternoon, when my dad and I stood in her living room, the one with the picture window that faced the south, where the afternoon light would filter in, gilding the furniture and burnish the walls, we stood at the huge stereo console that now sits in my parents’ basement and flipped through the LPs housed inside. I’d recently gotten a record player and my dad wanted to see if any of his old Letterman LPs were still there (they were and I have a bunch of them). But I happened on several Glen Campbell albums and took them home with me.

My dad said they probably belonged to my grandma, so I took them, too. I wanted to hold in my hands and listen to something she had liked, to have a little piece of her at home with me. So that Glen Campbell Christmas album and By the Time I Get to Phoenix came to Nashville.

I listen to the Christmas album every year while decorating my tree. The first year, it was just to find out what it was like. The second was to remind me of her. With the third, it became a tradition.

Last night, when I heard that Glen Campbell’s own long farewell was over, it only seemed fitting to pull out one of the albums and take a listen.

So I listened, to the A and B-sides, with the blinds wide open and the afternoon sun filtering in, gilding the room.

 

And I remembered.

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You Will Find Me

As friends deal with the loss of a child and another friends awaits news about her grandpa’s failing health, this is the song that’s been on repeat in my brain.

A song I think we all need right now.

You Will Find Me (lyrics) by Andrew Ripp, Ben Rector, and Steve Moakler

When your souls weary
When you find doubt
When you can’t hear me
Lay your troubles down

In your dark moments
When your hearts weak
Bring yourself broken
You will find me

Who wrote the rain
Who wrote the sun in
Who called your name
Where are you running
I’m gonna be there near or far
I’m gonna meet you where you are
Who wrote your name
Who wrote the sun in

When you come thirsty
When the wells dry
When your souls dirty
I am by your side

When your faiths broken
When you can’t see
With my arms open
You will find me

Who wrote the rain
Who wrote the sun in
Who called your name
Where are you running
I’m gonna be there near or far
I’m gonna meet you where you are
Who wrote your name
Who wrote the sun in

You carried all my shame
When you called my name
I am not the same

Who wrote the rain
Who wrote the sun in
You called my name
I’m tired of running
I’m gonna be there near or far
I’m gonna meet you where you are
Who wrote your name
Who wrote the sun in

Well, that was awkward.

On Saturday night, my friend Buddy and I went to hear a guy Buddy has become pretty good friends with at a local listening room/restaurant. We’d been there several times before and even heard this particular friend play there before . . . but this time was different.

We arrived a few minutes after 8 p.m. for a show that was supposed to start at 8. Since basically nothing ever starts on time in Nashville, it wasn’t too big of a surprise that the people in the round hadn’t taken their places on the small stage set up at one end of the restaurant, which obviously used to be a house. Buddy and I found a table way in the back near the sound booth (which was really just a small sound board stuck in a corner) and enjoyed a few minutes conversation with our friend and his girlfriend.

Finally, it was time for the round to start and the guys went to check sound levels and tune up their guitars. The round started, but you wouldn’t now because virtually no one in the restaurant seemed to be paying attention. At a table to our left sat two middle-aged couples. One appeared to live here; the others were, I believe from what I couldn’t help but overhear, from Memphis. She was a teacher. His role in conversation seemed to be to agree a lot and request more wine when necessary. Through the first several songs (and there were LONG breaks in between) the out-of-towner lady talked at the top of her lungs about the school she worked at. I’m fairly sure her friends wanted to bring her out for an authentic Nashville writers round experience, but forgot to tell her that traditionally, that means you listen to the music and DON’T shout over it.

But apparently, someone forgot to tell most of the crowd. Everyone was chatting and talking between, during, and over songs. And that included some of the people in the round. One member of the round arrived late (after everyone else had already sung a couple of songs) and entered wearing her guitar. She burst in the front door and gave the entire place the rock-n-roll hand sign.

“She came in like she was the Queen of the Nile,” my friend Buddy said. I think we were all supposed to cheer or something, but since we didn’t know who she was, we just stared.

And people, of course, talked. Then, she went to the bathroom—yes, wearing her guitar—and the guys in the round kept waiting on her, chatting aimlessly, making inane jokes about her being in the bathroom. Finally, she emerged and the round restarted.

It was around this time that the leader of the round invited a guy up to sing a song. Mrs. Talky Talkerson from Memphis at the table next to us finally got interested, mostly because she thought he might be Eric Church. Of course, the only resemblance was dark hair, facial hair, and a baseball cap, but apparently that’s all it takes to be confused for Eric Church. At least it got her listening, though.

Then came the next piece of awkward: one of the guys in the round appeared to already be drunk. Actually every round I’ve ever seen him in this has appeared to be the case. At one point, during someone else’s song, he decided he had to take a bathroom break. Which meant walking past our table. Apparently, my face is familiar or something, because he stopped next to our table and asked it he could set his beer there while he went to the bathroom—which he asked while patting me on the shoulder and back. Finally, he came back, took his drink and patted my back some more.

By this time, the place had finally quieted down a little, but the vibe just felt weird, like no one was really there to hear the music and would rather talk and laugh than listen. The woman who had joined the round late started yelling in her mic about needing more guitar and more out of the amp when it was fairly obvious there wasn’t really much more the sound guy could do. This isn’t the Ryman, folks. Then, the drunken songwriter decided to go check out the soundboard and “fix” it, passing our friend’s girlfriend on the way there. He stopped to chat with her, and his penchant for touching girl’s backs was in full force. We were uncomfortable for her!

Finally, after a few disorganized rounds that took forever because of all the talking and sound issues, my friend and I left to go hear another friend across town.

I wanted to stop and tell Mrs. Talky Talkerson from Memphis that she had happened in to a very non-Nashville round and the next time she’s in town, I hope she takes in one at the Bluebird or the Listening Room next time, where the crowd is sure to appreciate the songwriters.

American Idol: And then there were seven

(Let’s just start with a note to the producers of Idol: STOP it with the intensely dramatic opening video packages full of crying contestants and people holding signs. It’s not like the Idol contestants are shipping off to Afghanistan! End rant)

This week, it’s the top 7 performing, and I’m VERY happy that Deandre won’t be performing tonight. Sorry, his style—and his falsetto—was never my favorite. Anyway, this week, they’ll be singing songs from 2010 until today, meaning any genre song released in those years.

This could be interesting. . .

Skylar “Didn’t You Know How Much I Love You” by Kellie Pickler
• Please, please, please outsing Kellie Pickler. Skylar, you are better than Kellie! (See, I said something nice about Skylar.)
• I’m not a fan of the lazy enunciation in the style of Lucinda Williams at the beginning of the song, but when Skylar got to the chorus, she owned it. Big vocals, a lot of emotion.
• I do think Skylar sometimes tries to do too much with her voice (in the form of pushes and runs) and there was a little run at the end I think she lost control of a little, but overall, great performance and 400 times better than Kellie Pickler.
• Big vocals; she connected emotionally; and she played the guitar and it didn’t hold her back. Good performance.But really, am I the only person who thinks Skylar is kind of shouty?

Colton “Love the Way You Lie”
• I am concerned about Colton’s song choice.
• I’m confused by Colton sometimes. One week he’s screaming and rocking; the next he’s singing a ballad at the piano. It’s good he has range.
• Vocals are right on, and Colton’s performance was really good. But I don’t know how to explain it, but I just didn’t connect with this song. IT was like it got all emotional but it didn’t touch me in any way. It went somewhere, but it never went as full-out broken and gritty as I wanted it to. Definitely good, but I’m not sure it was memorable enough.

And now for duet #1.
Elise and Phillip are going to sing Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know” as a duet. OK, this song is a revelation and this could be very UGLY. Actually, though, these two surprised me. Sure some parts were a hot mess, but they actually achieved harmony and sounded great together at other points. It is in no way better than the original, but since I had NO faith in these two, it was a pleasant surprise.

Jessica “Stuttering”
• Does ANYONE know this song? I surely don’t.
• I hate Jessica’s weird space-age shoulders on her top, but this performance—is really, really good. Yeah, I don’t think the song is anything special, but it did give Jessica to show off her voice. I feel like she has better control of her voice than Skylar and uses runs to greater effect.
• Really, I can’t find much wrong with this performance. Vocals were great, emotion was good, it was probably the best so far, but was it a memorable performance full of stage presence and personality? I’m not sure. I’m still not sold on Jessica as a star—what kind of music does she want to make? If it’s just ballads and wild runs and stuff, I won’t buy her album.

Joshua “Runaway, Baby”
• OK, I have a love/hate relationship with the beginning of this. Loved Joshua’s throwback look; hated the dancer gyrating behind him.
• I’m not usually a big Joshua fan, but this song was fun and Joshua knows how to work the stage and actually perform. I feel like everyone’s been a little bit boring tonight, then Joshua came out and took us on a little ride.
• Yeah, I think he screamed and shouted a bit too much, but that was just fun. And very, very memorable.

And now for Duet #2.
Colton and Skylar are singing “Don’t You Want to Stay?” by Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean. And are people really insinuating that Skylar and Colton are dating? For reals? That’s just. . . weird. Now for another tangent: I’m not a big Jason Aldean fan. I don’t think he sings that well, and I liked Colton’s vocals SO much better. Sometimes, their harmonies weren’t quite on, generally at the beginning of a section, but they’d quickly figure it out. Good job, kids!

Hollie “Perfect”
• I think Jimmy hits the nail on the head when he says that Hollie lacks a certain type of experience. Colton, Joshua, and several others know how to work the stage and exude star quality. Hollie gives off the air of a nice girl who can sing but isn’t sure of herself or that she deserves to be there.
• This song is a little boring. Like Colton’s song, I keep wanting it to go somewhere, to take me to a new level, but there’s just not much substance. Granted, those last few notes were amazing. But it was still kind of boring. Plus, when all of the judges comments involve complimenting Hollie’s outfit or look, it’s not a good sign. I think they just wrote her off.

Phillip Phillips “Get a Little More”
• OK, if you’ve read this blog long, you know I’m not Phillip’s biggest fan. But he’s growing on me each week, just because he’s so laid back and has a good sense of humor. He’s like a guy I’d actually enjoy hanging out with.
• I was concerned about this song choice—and it did take a bit for the song to really take off. But when it does, it’s fun. But don’t read that as me saying it’s perfect. Vocally, there are some not good parts, but Phillip seems to be having fun. It wasn’t awesome, but it was good. Phillip should be safe.

And now for the final group performance.
Joshua, Hollie, and Jessica sing “Stronger.” And this thing is all over the place. Hollie and Joshua are better harmonizing together than Jessica and Joshua, and then there’s just a diva scream off/ big note contest once they get into the chorus section. One of my friends described this as a “hot mess” on Twitter, and I’m pretty sure she hit the nail on the head.

Elise “You and I”
• Who does Elise’s makeup? Can I talk to them? That lipstick? NO. NO. NO. Also, WHAT IS SHE WEARING?
• I don’t really know what to say about the performance. It was better than last week, but a lot of it was just singing the phrase “you and I” over and over. Vocals were good (not perfect, but that’s sort of what makes Elise interesting). She performed—or at least tried to. I think it was good, but I didn’t love it as much as the judges did.

In trouble:
Hollie, Elise, and Phillip may visit the bottom three this week. I think Hollie’s probably in trouble.

The best:
I’m not sure. No one really wowed me this week. If I had to give it to one contestant, I’d say Joshua. I think Skylar, Colton, and Joshua are completely safe.

American Idol: Songs of the 80s

When I read the theme of this week’s episode (songs of the 80s), I groaned inwardly. There’s so much that could happen. A lot of awesome possibilities. A lot of screaming hair band songs. So many possibilities for awfulness.

Plus, I was watching on DVR and knew from Twitter updates from friends that there was an “Islands in the Stream” duet coming up. I can’t wait to hear me some Dolly and Kenny duet goodness. (Or possibly awfulness. But it’s “Islands in the Stream” folks!)

But before we do anything, can we discuss J.Lo’s billowing gold lamé skirt? And Steven Tyler’s pants that he’s had since the 1980s?

Sorry, I was distracted by terrible fashion there for a minute. Anyway, we’re down to the top 8 and let’s get on with the show!

Deandre “I Like It” by Debarge
• I think there’s going to be falsetto all over the place. I might throw up.
• I just do not get why people like Deandre. His voice is weird. He does falsetto almost all the time. And if someone is saying “You send chills down my spine every time I look at you,” I don’t want him saying it in a voice higher than mine! Plus, he flops his curls more than Taylor Swift. And that’s saying something!
• Performance was OK, but nothing special. Vocals were Deandre all the way. But he still doesn’t do much for me.

Elise “I Want to Know What Love Is” by Foreigner
• Let me get on my soapbox for a moment: I love the song “Hallelujah” (the Jeff Buckley version), which Elise almost selected to sing this week. It’s a song that is known for it’s performance, for Buckley’s performance. And I’m not sure it’s the right song for Elise. Plus, this song has been sung (mostly badly) on Idol so many times, it should be removed from the song list. Picking Foreigner seems like a better idea.
• Beginning is rough and seems too low for her voice and like she doesn’t have control. She just wasn’t quite on pitch until the end.
• This arrangement just wasn’t right. Elise tries to make it more rock-y and gritty, but that’s hard to do over music that sounds like it involves synthesizers. Plus, what’s the point of the random useless choir?
• Elise suffered from bad song choice and a bad arrangement that did nothing to showcase the beautiful things her voice is capable of.

And now it’s time for “Islands in the Stream” by Colten and Skylar. Squeal!!!! This will be fun! Actually, I enjoyed this. Skylar’s nice when she’s not screaming and doing her best Reba impersonation.

Phillip “That’s All” by Genesis
• The rehearsal/mentoring session seemed scary. But he started off well. Phillip picks good songs for his voice. And I enjoyed his take on this song. He unprettified it a bit and put some grit into it.
• I sort of wish Phillip would perform without his guitar. He’s too stuck behind a mic stand.
• Liked the performance overall, but didn’t care for the way he ended the song. But it was definitely good, and he deserves to stick around here awhile. Good song choice. Good performance. But I’m still not completely sold on his voice. Yes, I still think he’s going to damage his vocal chords!

Then Hollie and Deandre sing “I’m So Excited.” Which makes me think of that episode of “Saved by the Bell.” And if you’re my age, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And then I decided to use the time to find the cord for my computer rather than watch or listen.

Joshua “If You Don’t Know Me By Now” by Simply Red
• Oh, I used to sing along to this song with so much feeling when I was a kid. I truly thought I knew all of what it was about. Oh, I love young Mandy. She makes me smile.
• Hey, the pointless choir is back! And Joshua came dressed in jacket that’s somehow a mixture between a Mr. Rogers cardigan and a smoking jacket. I don’t get it.
• OK. Joshua’s not my style. I think his performance is entertaining and even liked parts of it a lot. But mostly he screamed and disguised it as vocal runs. He’s definitely talented and deserves to stay on another week, but this did not move me as much as it did the judges.

Jessica “How Will I Know” by Whitney Houston
• I think Jessica has talent, but I’ve been on the fence about her. This song choice was so good! You shouldn’t pick a Whitney song unless you can really sing it, and she can!
• I do think she could have changed it up a little more from the original, though. And there’s a place toward the end when she hit a low note and her vibrato was loud and proud—and ugly.
• Good performance. Nice vocals. Definitely shouldn’t get voted off this week.

And now Phillip and Elise do “Stop Dragging My Heart Around.” Somehow both of them are dressed in outfits that make them look bigger than they are. And their harmonies just aren’t there for large portions of their duet parts. Definitely not my favorite duet. It’s just two people screaming back and forth at each other. And fast forward.

Hollie “What a Feeling” from the movie Flashdance
• I wasn’t crazy about the beginning. Too much vibrato and she pushed/forced her voice too much. But she looks pretty. The beginning was in a weird place for her voice. Just kind of a grating place in her voice and she kept pushing out notes that hurt my ears a little.
• After she got to the chorus/end, she really sang it well, but it did take awhile to get there. I’m not convinced is was an absolutely wonderful song choice, but she’s good.

Oh dear. Another duet. Joshua and Jessica doing a soul song that I fast forwarded through. Sorry, it was a long day and I was tired.

Colton “Time After Time”
• Oh, Colton is wearing skinny jeans and an unnecessary scarf. Hee! (If you have no idea why that makes me laugh, please see this: http://www.jonacuff.com/stuffchristianslike/2011/09/sclq-christian-hipster-how-to/)
• Otherwise, I generally liked this performance. He knows how to play to a crowd and work the stage. And his vocals were pretty much spot on, except a few times when I felt like he was a bit flat on “time after time.” The ending got a little repetitive, then he threw some stuff in there—long notes, changing up the rhythm—it wasn’t perfect, but it wasn’t bad either.
• Good performance, good vocals, good job.

Skylar “Wing Beneath My Wings” by Bette Midler
• Ah, dear. The cheesiest song of the 80s. That I LOVED in the 80s.
• Hate how they’ve styled Skylar tonight. She’s a teen; let’s let her look like one!
• Boring beginning with her just standing behind a mic, but at least she mostly just sang without putting on her Reba “country” voice.
• I say this every week, but it’s true: I want to like Skylar, but I don’t. This was just boring and a tiny bit shouty. She should definitely stay through this week, but my reaction overall is simply, meh.

In trouble this week:
I think Deandre and Elise and likely Elise will go home. Skylar will probably be in the bottom 3 also.

Safe:
Colton, Phillip, and Jessica

A melody is a memory.

On Tuesday night, my friend, Buddy, and I headed out to hear Tin Pan South round. If you don’t know what Tin Pan South is, it’s basically a celebration of songwriters that happens at various venues all over Nashville. If you’ve ever been or are familiar with the Bluebird Cafe concept, it’s just like that. Writers are grouped into rounds and present original songs.

Whereas I might have once gravitated more toward concerts, writers rounds are what draw me in now. They’re somehow just more honest and true. On Tuesday night, we had gone to see one of Buddy’s friends perform, but I came away with a new respect for all of the writers in the round. One of them had performed a song recently cut by Eric Church (“Springsteen”) and days later I’m still mulling over a lyric from that song that just won’t go away.

Funny how a melody sounds just like a memory.

Isn’t that true? It is for me.

My memories are the melodies of my parents singing gospel songs at the piano as I fell asleep on Saturday nights as a little girl.

There’s a memory of my dad, singing with his eyes closed, and my mom at the piano in the church I grew up in that comes to mind every time I hear the old, old song “Beaulah Land.”

I remember the little girl standing in the bleachers in a hot gym at a country church camp thinking “El Shaddai” was the most beautiful song she’d ever heard. A little girl who said yes to Jesus a few days later.

Any mention of “I Think We’re Alone Now” reminds me of third grade, and a bunch of little girls who thought they were so grown up and knew what love really was gathered around the cassette player on rainy recesses singing along with all our hearts.

Lisa Loeb’s “Stay (I Missed You)” reminds me of me and my best friend Dawn sitting in the backseat of my mom’s GMC Jimmy singing along at the top of our lungs, even if we didn’t understand completely what the song was about.

“Follow Me” by John Denver makes me think of my mom and our conversations about when she and my dad were dating.

“Blessed Be Your Name” reminds me of the hot summer days when we knew my grandma’s stroke would be her last.

“It Is Well with My Soul” makes me think of a beloved saintly woman named Helen Cox who taught me by example what it meant to walk by faith, even if I didn’t know it at the time.

Listening to Rich Mullins’ “Calling Out Your Name” brings to mind open windows and the wind in my hair as I sailed down the roads between the cotton fields on my way to my parents’ house, intent on beating the setting sun and the rain front.

Indeed, a melody sounds like a memory. May the music continue!

The night in which Mandy and Buddy attempt the impossible.

Sometimes, you just need a night off. A night without work to do at home, housework, places to be, expectations, and everything else. Because sometimes—you guys *may* not know this (wink)—I try to carry around the weight of the world on my own.

Earlier this week, my let’s-go-hear-some-local-musicians-play-and-I-don’t-wanna-go-alone-buddy Buddy texted me with a plan for Wednesday night. A plan that involved dinner at a place on Broadway where a friend was playing, dropping in on a showcase another local artist acquaintance was playing, then ending the night watching two other local favorites sing in Hillsboro Village.

To put it simply: 3 venues, 4 singers we wanted to see, 1 car, 2 friends, about $20.

We started by checking out Steven Clawson at the Cadillac Ranch where he plays often. 5-8 p.m. STRAIGHT! He does original tunes and covers, including “Hotel California” and Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire.”

Check out Steven:

Then, we ran/walked past the Ryman where I kept shouting “Look for a Mumford!” in hopes of somehow getting tickets to the show since Ticketmaster pretty much shut down our attempt when tickets went on sale. (Presales shouldn’t sell nearly all the tickets and people looking for 3 tickets together should be able to find them! Off my soapbox now.) Actually, walking up Broadway on our way back to the car last night felt a little like a scene from a movie. So many tourist people out at the honky tonks on Broadway and it felt so little like the “real” Nashville I know and love.

Next, we dashed over to hear our friend Charlie Worsham do a 5 song set. Granted, this was the first time in Nashville history that something actually started on time, so we got there after he’d started singing his first song, but oh well! Charlie sounded great, had a rocking band, and seems poised to take over country music at some point in the near future. What a talent!

Just for you, a little of Charlie’s “Trouble Is”

Then, after Charlie’s set was over, we headed over to hear Buddy’s friend John Martin do a few songs before Korby Lenker took the stage with his friend Brandon Godman as their bluegrassy side project, the Gentlemen Strangers. It was a fun night full of great music that made me smile, including Korby’s “My Little Life” and some beautiful guitar and fiddle action, especially on the song that ended with a beautiful rendition of “Shenandoah,” a song that makes me cry. (But then, I cry a lot.) Check them out:

A good night with a good friend. Sometimes, you just need that. 🙂

The old, old story

I love to tell the story of unseen things above, of Jesus and his glory, of Jesus and his love. I love to tell the story, because I know ’tis true; it satisfies my longings as nothing else can do.

I love to tell the story, ’twill be my theme in glory, to tell the old, old story of Jesus and his love.

It’s an old, old song, the lyrics written in 1866. It’s a song I grew up singing, and it’s the song that crept in to my mind yesterday as I stood in the choir loft and sang a new song, “You Alone Can Rescue.”

Who, oh Lord, could save themselves,
Their own soul could heal?
Our shame was deeper than the sea
Your grace is deeper still

You came down to find us, led us out of death

ou, oh Lord, have made a way
The great divide You heal
For when our hearts were far away
Your love went further still
Yes, your love goes further still

As I sang those lyrics, I was overwhelmed again by the gospel. Because these days, I realize how often I need to hear the gospel. I need to sing of the Savior. I need to acknowledge the deepness of my sin and shame. I need to acknowledge my need. I need to proclaim that God has made away, that love covers a multitude of sins, that when my heart was (and sometimes still is) far away, God makes a way. I need the power of the gospel in my daily life. I need to know I’m loved. I need to know that God brings life from death. I need to understand that God keeps His promises. I need to know that there is hope and purpose and a plan.

I need the old, old story because I know it’s true, because it truly fills my longings as nothing else can do.

A song in my heart

Sometimes, I find myself humming a tune and don’t even know I’m doing it.

Sometimes, I’m not even doing it out loud. I’ll just be brushing my teeth, drying my hair, or some other daily task and realize there’s music in my brain, then figure out what it is.

Then there are the days I wake up singing a song, rising out of bed with the lyrics and tune fully intact, as if I’d been singing them all night long in my dreams. And who knows, maybe I have.

But it’s those songs that I tend to pay attention to, the ones that pop into my brain out of the blue at a moment when I needed to hear that lyric or understand something. I don’t think those moments are accidents, but rather a little nudge from the Holy Spirit to pay attention to something.

And lately, there have been two songs on repeat in my brain: “You Will Find Me” by Andrew Ripp and “Psalm 46” by Jenny and Tyler. Let me explain:

“You Will Find Me” is from Andrew Ripp’s She Remains the Same album. I ran across the song after I bought the album on iTunes after a night when he wowed me with his performance at a Lightning 100 Sunday Night show. (I’ve actually written about this song before.) In a time of my life when so many things have felt out-of-control and confusing, when I felt tired, broken, and faithless, this song has kind of become a theme song of sorts. It’s popped into my mind as I’ve read emails at work, when I was upset, or was the song my heart was singing this morning when the alarm went off. He (Jesus) will find me. I am not alone. He has called my name, and I am not the same. He is in control. All lessons I need to hear again and again.

The other song that’s been haunting me, popping into my brain at the strangest time, like during the middle of a tornado watch at 1 a.m. as I sat in my safe place with a dog with Frankenstein stitches down the side of her face shaking on my lap, is “Psalm 46.” It’s by Jenny and Tyler, a husband and wife duo from Nashville I heard several months ago at the Bluebird as part of a Music City Unsigned show. I liked the song then, but after I downloaded a few of their songs from their album Faint Not, it’s the one I’ve played over and over. In the middle of literal and metaphorical storms, it’s been a good reminder that God knows what He’s doing, that He is faithful, and that above all, I can trust Him, even when life feels like it’s falling apart at the seams and even when I don’t understand His plan at all. Hallelujah, He is with me.

“And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” —Matthew 28:20

A reminder in song form

On Sunday night, I headed out to a Music Unsigned Christmas show here in town with a few friends. Truth be told, I was kind of tired and sort of wanted to just go home and go to bed. But I’d given my word and paid $10 to go, so off I went.

We were to listen to Jeffrey James, one of my most recent local favorites, but during the show, Andrew Ripp took the stage, and when he opened his mouth and sang “Joy to the World” in a way that reflected Jesus truly was the source of his joy, I became an instant fan. That night, I downloaded Andrew’s Christmas album and his last full length album, She Remains the Same. On that album, I found the song “You Will Find Me,” which appears to be written just for me at this moment. Thank goodness God is a pursuing kind of God.

You Will Find Me (lyrics) by Andrew Ripp, Ben Rector, and Steve Moakler

When your souls weary
When you find doubt
When you can’t hear me
Lay your troubles down

In your dark moments
When your hearts weak
Bring yourself broken
You will find me

Who wrote the rain
Who wrote the sun in
Who called your name
Where are you running
I’m gonna be there near or far
I’m gonna meet you where you are
Who wrote your name
Who wrote the sun in

When you come thirsty
When the wells dry
When your souls dirty
I am by your side

When your faiths broken
When you can’t see
With my arms open
You will find me

Who wrote the rain
Who wrote the sun in
Who called your name
Where are you running
I’m gonna be there near or far
I’m gonna meet you where you are
Who wrote your name
Who wrote the sun in

You carried all my shame
When you called my name
I am not the same

Who wrote the rain
Who wrote the sun in
You called my name
I’m tired of running
I’m gonna be there near or far
I’m gonna meet you where you are
Who wrote your name
Who wrote the sun in