Posts tagged songwriting
Song Story - "I Want To Be Known" Is A Song Born In The Cold And Dark

When you hear the horns on I Want To Be Known, you'd never know the darkness it came from. Horns often herald something glorious, but I wasn't writing from a place of triumph or fanfare. I wrote this song from defeat. 

The melody found me in the mountains just outside of Canmore, Alberta. 

My wife and I escaped the city for our anniversary weekend. The air was crisp but warm enough for a winter walk. Snow fell like stars and–best of all–our Air BnB had a hot tub. 

I needed this break. 

I'd just learned that yet another job I'd been hoping for fell through. I was overqualified, which, to me, reads "you're a great fit somewhere, just not here." 

I felt like a misfit. Out of place. Adrift.

Read More
Sing me something I can feel, Dan Mangan

Monday night I find myself in the basement of El Cortez, a grotto-turned-speakeasy packed with fifty sweaty fans of Dan Mangan. We've all been tipped off to a secret show, starting at midnight, in one of the most intimate concert spaces I've been in. 

Mangan plays tune after tune that take me back to specific moments. The first time I heard 'Basket' and got a little teary and hit repeat. The times I've played 'Road Regrets' load to kick off a long vacation drive. There's barely room for Dan Mangan and a drummer with a stripped-down kit, and the sound shrieks feedback every so often, but we don't care. We surprise Mangan by turning his so-sad ode to senility into a rousing sing-along.  He says its the first time Basket has become a singalong and I believe him. 

When Mangan gets to 'Robots', his early hit and crowd favourite, he announces this one will be 'campfire style' and unplugs his guitar so he can walk into the centre of the crowd. Then he sings for us, and we sing for him.

"Robots need love too. They want to be loved by you. They want to be loved ..." 

"I've spent half of my life in the customer service line. Flaws in the design ..."

The words are sometimes silly, but something is happening beneath them that is deeply meaningful. Music is magic in times like these. 

Read More
Brand new song from the railroad tracks

A couple of weekends back I found myself listening to the bits of beauty friends had gathered during their time at an art and faith retreat in Calgary. I was retreating, too, so when I heard poet Stephen T Berg mention the "exquisite sorrow" of a "tritone train whistle", I recognized a song trying to be born. 

I played that song in my weekly Facebook Live set today - you can hear it at the 13:06 mark in the video below. I hope you like it, and more importantly, get a taste of that "exquisite sorrow".

Read More
Song Story: Wherever You Are

I wrote Wherever You Are (the first version, at least) around 2007 in the early days of a church I was helping plant. We were a group of hip zealous young people and world-wizened elders wanting to change the world. Or at least the Church. Or at least our selves. I think we succeeded in that last part.

I was confused, coming unmoored from the constraints of my fundamentalist evangelical upbringing. It felt like a drift and I wondered if I would be OK. How far could I wander and still come home? But then I thought heard a Voice call from somewhere out in the fog. 

Read More
Join me to learn a new vocabulary for the soul

Near the end of this month, I'll be embarking on yet another new adventure. I am co-leading an arts and faith retreat with Julie and Sam Drew at King's Fold Retreat Centre.

I've never been to King's Fold, but I hear it is gorgeous. Serene. Pristine. From the photos and video I've seen, I believe the rumours to be true. 

Read More