SONG #1: “THERE IS A RIVER”
Today marks the beginning of my journey toward writing, demoing, and releasing fifty songs in one year. I figure I’m already one-fiftieth of the way there. It’s pretty much downhill from here, right?
Here’s the first one, called “There Is a River” and based off Psalm 46.
Come and remember the works of the Lord / Stand in His presence, speechless and poor / Be still and know that He is God / Be still and know He is our shelter and our guard
There is a river filled with joy / In the city of our Lord / It can’t be shaken or destroyed / And He will reign forevermore
Even if mountains crumbled to dust / Even if oceans swallowed the earth / Be still and know that He is God / Be still and know He is our shelter and our guard
There’s no other hiding place / No other King to end all wars / There’s no shelter like our God / The nations tremble at His voice
Why I wrote it:
There’s a strange tension in Psalm 46 between beautiful imagery (rivers of joy, mountains falling into the sea, and all that), a deep fear of God as cosmic ruler, and the confidence that God will one day make all things right. I hoped to capture some of that without interfering with too much of the evocative imagery. I liked the idea of people being able to sing this psalm as straight as possible, so most of the lyrics are verbatim from one translation or another.
The Beatles (always), Sufjan Stevens, Iron & Wine, maybe Rivers & Robot’s “White As Snow” which has been a repeat a lot for me recently.
I wrote the song on a banjo, and translated it to guitar later. Which goes to show that sometimes picking up a new instrument can enhance the creative experience. But because I didn’t have a banjo lying around when I demo’d it, I used a baritone ukulele tuned like a banjo instead.
This was also one of the quickest songs I’ve ever written. I usually work for weeks (or months…or years) on songs. This one came out in one 90-minute sitting.
Here’s to forty-nine more!
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