An Epiphany While Mixing Songs

An Epiphany While Mixing Songs

(Written in August of 2016, while working on "Separate/Same")

This past week we spent some time in the studio working on our new album "Separate/Same". We are getting close to being finished, so at this point we are mostly mixing what has already been recorded. One of the songs that we finished this past week was a song that I wrote for our daughters called "Precious". The song is already deeply emotional to me for obvious reasons. In addition to the obvious reasons, all of our daughters will be featur...ed in this track on the album. Savannah will be playing saxophone and all of the other girls will be laughing, playing, cooing, and contributing other variations of cute sounds.

Swimming in this lovely sea of beauty and cuteness as we listened to the overall mix, Steve (the engineer) suddenly did the unthinkable... he began to mute all of the channels so that he could listen to the specific sound of one part at a time. In other words, all of the cute sounds suddenly disappeared. To make matters worse, the parts he was listening to one at a time were somewhat disturbing for me to hear. Though I had at one point recorded each vocal part individually, since that initial recording, I had always listened to these parts all together... never individually. The parts are essentially background vocals that swell dynamically in and out to create a sort of lullaby ambiance. Together, the parts combine in a choir of harmonies. Isolated, each part sounds disturbingly vulnerable. At first, I became intensely critical of my voice singing falsetto parts... parts that now sounded similar to sounds I imagine a suffering beached whale would make. It was almost enough to make me scrap all of these parts and start from scratch, but I reminded myself that the parts sounded good... together. So, the next phase was to ease off a bit and recognize that the vocal parts really didn't sound like suffering whales. They simply sounded... vulnerable.

And that was when the epiphany came crashing over me like a turbulent tide at sea. Honestly, the principle is very simple: isolated and alone, the parts sound vulnerable and it is easy to become critical; together, the parts create harmony and unite in a choir of beauty. Thus, the theme of the entire album was alive in metaphor before my very eyes... Separate/Same... When we isolate and individualize others, it is easy to become critical of their particular set of faults and imperfections. When we come together in unity, vulnerably combining all of our faults and weaknesses with all of our beauty and strength... individual imperfections seemingly dissipate as we create the gorgeous harmonies of Love.


We are all creative!  This is something I have been learning... or, perhaps, relearning. 
We are all creative!  Some of us have simply forgotten.  Even people who believe that we are created in the image of a Creator often forget that we are all creative.  Of course we are!  Look at all that we have made...
We make beautiful things:  We make babies.  We make music.  We make food.  We make love.  We make movies. We make peace.  We make art of all kinds. 
We also make horrible things:  We make war.  We make noise.  We make promises that we cannot keep.  We make messes. We make weapons. We make mistakes. 
Regardless of what we make, this truth remains:  We are all creative! 
Now, I am learning to embrace this truth more each day.  For several years, I have been experimenting with my own ability to make music.  At first, I simply made music by singing.  Then I started playing notes on a piano or a saxophone, or rhythms on a drum.  Then I learned how to read music.  Then I learned how to play songs "by ear" (listening to songs and playing/singing my rendition of what I have heard).  For years, I have made music by playing in bands with other musicians.  And for a few years I have experimented in what has felt like the most dangerous type of music making: writing songs. 
Yes, dangerous!  It takes so much bravery (at least for me) to lay your heart on the line and offer the world what lives inside.  It is dangerous for a fragile, wounded heart to risk offering the world something new.   Something that they may not like.  Something that they may reject or even criticize. 
Perhaps this is at least part of the reason that so many of us have forgotten that we are creative.  We are afraid to create something new, because the world may reject it. 
For me, the music inside of my heart has grown to a point that I can no longer keep it there.  Despite the risk, what is inside of me is there for a reason. I have come to see that I must make the music in my heart and offer it to this world, even if the world rejects and criticizes it.  And I have come to a point where I am learning to let go of the fear that keeps me from creating this art.  It is worth the risk if even one person is healed.  Even if the only person me.
So remember: we are all creative!  You are creative!!  Do not be afraid to be who you are... create.  Make beautiful things: make art, make peace, make food, make music, make poetry, etc.  Whatever you make, create with love!  Create with the hope that what we make matters!  Offer it to the world, and if the world rejects what you make and breaks your heart into pieces... take those broken pieces and pour them into more art.  And offer it again with the hope that your brokenness will help heal others who are broken.  Offer the world your brokenness with love, and that love may just heal you and this broken world.  This has been my experience, and continues to be my hope!
We are all creative!  So don't be afraid... choose to create, and choose to create with love, my friends!!
So much love to all of you!!!