In my recent blog, “My Amazing Wife,” I told how Holly wrote lyrics without ever attempting to.
For me, it’s both puzzling and inspiring. It’s puzzling to be a songwriter who came to Nashville to learn the craft and pursue it professionally, then to marry someone with no experience or interest in the music business, but that didn’t stop her from writing beautiful lyrics.
And it’s inspiring, because the beauty of the lyrics that she comes up with shows that Holly’s in touch with something real and valuable. Something eternal.
It was an appropriate accident: a way for me to find creative opportunities completely outside my own paradigm, and completely apart from that crazy game called “the music business.”
DEEPER TRUTH ABOUT ART
Art is an opening into ourselves. It gives us a way of seeing ourselves, and seeing the world, that didn’t exist before we encountered that particular work of art.
Lyrics are a form of art. They work with music, and songs can be written by teams - collaborators who handle the two areas of words and music separately, allowing them to fit together as one thing.
Some great songs have been written by individuals who handle both words and music. “White Christmas,” by Irving Berlin, or “Blowin’ In The Wind,” by Bob Dylan, or “Fire and Rain” by James Taylor are great songs, and great examples of lyrics and melody organically joined into one seamless unit, because each one came from one person’s imagination.
Holly is not a songwriter, and doesn’t even think about it. And yet, she is sensitive enough to pay attention when inspiration strikes. The way she puts it is that she writes what comes to her, simply transcribing the words that show up in her imagination.
It’s essentially a spiritual experience.
Basically God has given Holly words to write, and God has given me the talent to recognize them as words I want to write music for. And, as should be obvious but is worth mentioning, God put Holly and me together as husband and wife. That makes our collaborating not only convenient but very beneficial to our own faith and spiritual growth.
A NEW SONG
In the fall of 2017, Holly received a set of lyrics this way, wrote them down, and presented them to me. It was called “I’ll Leave The Moon On For You.”
I loved the inventive way the word “moon” replaced “light” in the common phrase “I’ll leave a light on for you.” Right away, there’s a shift in perspective, a playful game comparing the moon to something as small and domestic as a table lamp. The rest of the words are straight forward, sincere, romantic declarations of love.
And yet, there’s something underneath it all that implies a love that’s more serious than any romantic love. The line “All I have is exactly what you need,” for example, is a pretty dramatic thing to say. It almost sounds supernatural.
Then there’s the mysterious reference to “Until the world is done with you….” What can that mean? How many love songs refer to the beloved’s adventures in “the world?” or suggest that such adventures are troublesome? and that the end of those troubles will be a blessing? There’s a very large perspective implied in these lines.
It all started to make sense when Holly told me that the underlying idea behind the lyrics is the story of the prodigal son.
One of the most famous stories in the Bible tells of a father whose younger son leaves home to sow his wild oats, then ultimately hits bottom and, realizing his mistake, returns home, where the father greets him with open arms and a huge party. The older brother is jealous and complains, but the father tells him “Everything I have is yours, but your brother was dead, and now he’s alive. Let’s celebrate!”
It’s a family reunion, a homecoming, and a perfect illustration of the redemptive love of the Father, who is patient with all our wanderings, and loves us even when we depart from Him. And He is happy to see us, all our mistakes forgiven, when we return, realizing that we are better off back home with Him.
A JAZZY TUNE
As a songwriter, I was excited to recognize “I’ll leave the moon on for you” as a fresh and inventive phrase. I was happy to take the lyrics and find a suitable melody. It turned into a very intimate, laid back, jazzy love song.
In a way, it feels like my melody was inspired by the same Spirit that led Holly to write the words. I recognize it as mine, and yet it’s not like anything else I’ve written.
All of which adds up to an appreciation for God, who gave me the talent to write and perform and love music, and Who gave me Holly, and Who gave her lyrics that that became this special song.
“I’ll leave the moon on for you” sounds like something God would say, since He’s the Creator who put the moon in the sky.
MY FAVORITE COLLABORATOR
But since the Father in the prodigal son story shows us His love, it also makes sense that a love song - which could be between a man and a woman - shares the same passion and commitment that makes marriage such a profound example of love. It’s the way God designed us - husband and wife, lyricist and composer.
The recent blog about “My Amazing Wife” tells of how Bilateral Music came to be, and continues to draw attention. Last month, she and I were both featured as guests on the monthly live concert by River of Calm, her talking about EMDR therapy, and me playing several songs from the Bilateral Music albums.
During that concert, we met Gus Laux, the sound man who engineered the audio for the show. Gus and I talked about the unusual context of performing Bilateral Music live, and shared our appreciation of his former employer Don Williams. A few days later, Gus forwarded me an invitation to an open house featuring some artwork on display created by his wife Anna. The house, on 33rd Ave., is part of the newly developed neighborhood called Sylvan Heights, comprised of about a hundred modern rectangular homes with a great view of downtown. I wasn’t in the market for a new house, but I happened to have the time available, so I accepted the invitation.
And that night, October 24th, happened to be the full moon. And I happened to arrive at the house in time to go up on the roof to view the downtown skyline just as the moon was coming up. It was a cold night, and not a comfortable time to stay up on that roof, but the view of the moon was spectacular, and I caught it on my cell phone.
I had to use the zoom feature, which results in a fuzzy quality to the buildings in the distance, but the overall effect is still fine. And that’s the picture that became the perfect image for the new song.
So I’m grateful for the song, for my wife, for the “accidental” chance to catch a photo of the full moon rising over Nashville, and for God, who is the most abundant Creator.
Bloggin’ Bryan 22november2018