Categories
A Song A Month

An End-Of-Year A Song A Month Binge!

Posts in my A Song A Month Series have been thin on the ground in recent times. A combination of pressure of work/life and a consequent lack of time to allow any kind of inspiration to ferment resulted in a lack of songs. Sorry good people of the internet. But lo, what tidings I bring of good news. Not one, not two, but three songs I offer to you on this final day of 2016. Showing therefore that I actually managed to complete a reasonable song every two months this year. Pete and I were also late recording the videos as he has been somewhat busy focusing on being a father for the first time to Alex. Congratulations to him and his wife Lilian. They are a beautiful family.

August’s offering (I actually did write it in August) is called Dance of Love. This is about the search that many of us undertake for meaning and purpose and how hard it is to find, often. The song pivots on the chorus, a kind of yearning offer of gift, verging on lament, from God, inviting me/us to join him in the ‘dance of love’. I love the idea of God dancing with us, especially as my dancing is pretty naff.

In September I wrote Crucify, a song which is quite confrontational. I hesitate to say controversial, as I doubt enough people will hear it to elevate it to such dizzy heights. It’s about challenging Christians to stop petty internal squabbles about things that only matter to Christians and get on instead with doing what we were called to do, shining the light of God into the world, standing out as people of faith. We do so by humility, rather than power, serving rather than being served, rejoicing in the right kind of weakness rather than seeking to make ourselves as strong or influential as possible.* I continue to be less and less convinced that God needs me to be influential or inspiring. I think his desire is that I am faithful and live in ways that just, merciful and humble.

In November, I wrote What You Do. Or should I say I finished What You Do. The verses of this song are from a song that my first band Freeslave, worked on way back in 2006. The song never saw the light of day, because the band finished. I’ve always liked the verses, but I felt like the rest of the song needed something a little different. One day last month I sat at the piano that you see in all these videos and it all flowed out. Here’s what flowed out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed these songs and the other tracks that have emerged this year. I’m pleased that I’ve started writing songs again and I’m looking forward to seeing what comes next. Perhaps a new recording from me in 2017….Stranger things have happened.

Thanks to Pete Thorn for all his help with these songs and videos this year. He’s one of the best friends any guy could ask for.

*in my opinion

Categories
A Song A Month

A Song A Month for Spring: See In the Dark

It’s been a couple of months in the writing (life happened) but, finally, here’s the next installment in my 2016 songwriting odyssey. ‘See in the Dark’ is another pretty serious song, this time about certainty, and the loss of it, and whether or not that’s ok. I wanted to write a song from the place of having lost certainty, resisting the temptation that can sometimes befall songwriters, especially Christians I think, for everything to resolve nice and neatly. It seems to me life isn’t really like that very often.

I’ll do my best to present a jolly, jaunty little summer number next time!

Without further ado, here’s the video. Hope you all enjoy. Thanks for watching.

Categories
A Song A Month

A Song A Month For February 2016: Light Has Come

I’m really pleased today to release the video blog for February’s A Song A Month, ‘Light Has Come’.

Most of you reading this will know that I’m a disabled person. I try not to bang on about it all the time, but being disabled is part of me, it’s not something I can easily avoid, and so instead I try and embrace it, without making a fuss.

Years ago now, I did a Disability Studies Masters by Distance Learning from the University of Leeds. One of the key people on the course, Colin Barnes, challenged me to write songs about my experience of disability. ‘We need more protest songs’, he said. I always fought shy of writing about disability, mostly because I didn’t feel I had the language to write about it well in a song. I haven’t wanted to be a protest songwriter. I’m no Martyn Joseph.

Over the last few years though, perhaps as I get older and some of the idealism of youth wears off, I’ve found myself finding the UK a harder and harder place to live as a disabled person. I personally am a very fortunate man. I have a family, a wife who I love and who loves me. I have a faith which sustains me, and I feel like I’m able to make a contribution to my community, and to society, in a variety of ways. The fact remains though that I am in physical pain of one sort or another all of every day (like a lot of people, a lot of whom have it worse than me) and more than this, mentally and emotionally, I face challenges and hurdles to overcome many times daily, because I use a wheelchair and am disabled. It’s hard to explain or quantify. It’s simply how it is. I hate being disabled. Much as I’m supposed to be well-adjusted to it all, I wish I wasn’t.

But I know full well that my life isn’t as hard as it is for a great many other people, whether they are disabled people, or whether they experience other things in life which marginalise them and make them part of minority groups they never asked to be in. I truly believe that, as people of social conscience, Christian or not, we are called to be prophetic, whether we’re off faith or not. I believe we’re called to stand and hold one another to account for how we treat each other, whether we are ‘successful’, functionally well, impaired, old, young, or anything else. It saddens me to sense a corporate, societal, hardening of heart towards people with disabilities. Perhaps I’m wrong, perhaps I’m entirely mistaken, but that’s my sense.

February’s A Song A Month is a humble offering, inviting us to see that there is a better way to live, a better way to treat one another, to treat ourselves. A Light Has Come.

Thanks once again to Pete Thorn for playing on this song, and his help with the video.

Download the lyrics to Light Has Come by clicking here

Categories
A Song A Month Uncategorized

Watch All Videos From A Song A Month Here

You can find all the videos from the A Song A Month Project in this playlist. It will be updated as each new video is uploaded. To skip to a particular month, click on the horizontal lines in the top left of the video player screen.

Enjoy!

Categories
A Song A Month

A Song A Month – January – Kingdom

The first song i my A Song A Month Project for 2016 is Kingdom. I wanted to start the year with an uptempo, joyful song. These don’t always come naturally to me! It’s about the Kingdom of God, based around a Taize chant, whose words are

The kingdom of God is justice and peace
And joy in the holy spirit
Come Lord and open in us
The gates of your kingdom

I’ve always found this chant quite affecting, as to me it boils down the essence of what some of the key elements of being a Christian are, to act justly, seek and love mercy and to live joyfully wherever possible.

Of course, the biggest thing about the Kingdom is that it is God’s not ours, but we are part of it, and he is building it with us. It’s here and now. As we sing praise, as we live seeking to follow the Way, we’re showing that there is a better way, a hope for now and a hope for the future. I’ve heard it said that the local church is the hope of the nation. I hope that singing this song might encourage some of us to lives of justice, peace and joy in the holy spirit as we show that hope to others.

Big thanks to Pete Thorn for playing percussion in the video and for his help with putting the video together.

Without further ado, watch the video below.

If you’re interested and would like to donwload the lyrics and chords to the song, you can do by clicking here

Categories
A Song A Month

A Song A Month – New Project For 2016

I’m excited to share with you today a new project from me for 2016. It’s called A Song A Month and it involves me writing….a song a month…and video blogging a demo of the song and the process of writing it. For more, here’s our special correspondent (that would be me) tiredly explaining more about it.

So here’s the plan:

I’ll write a song a month. I’ll video blog a live demo of that song, along with chatting through some of the process of how I wrote the song, some of the meaning behind the lyrics, why I made some of the musical choices I did, and so on.

Why A Song A Month?

In the past, writing songs was such an important part of my life barely a day would go by without me working on something new. You’ll know, if you’ve spent any time looking around this site that I made lots of albums and EPs, have been in several bands and have travelled all over the world playing, all of which I’m very thankful for. Ultimately though, what I love to do is write songs. Songs about anything, about what’s going on in life, about God, about injustice, about disability. It could be anything, but time was that not much would happen to me without me writing a song about it. Over the last couple of years as my priorities have shifted I’ve necessarily had less time to write, and I miss it. So, call it a new year’s resolution if you want to, but my plan for 2016 is to re-engage with writing songs, and see what happens.

What’s The Outcome? 

There’ll be a video blog once a month with me Elton Johnning-it through a new song and prattling away about the songs in a vein which might not entirely escape pretension. There might be a new EP, a new album or some other form of release, if I ever get round to it, but we’ll see. There definitely won’t be a tour. I barely make it up the hill these days.

How Can You Keep Up With This?

Watch the videos every month. Download the chord charts that hopefully will join them, and any other associated materials I think are relevant. Listen to the songs and share them. Encourage me to keep going. Suggest subjects for me to write about. These ideas are more fun shared than they are completed alone. Get stuck in in whatever way you want to. This could be a lot of fun!