Songwriting 1: Rhyming “Love” with “Above”

Have you ever created something, and then stood back and looked at it, and said, “this is good.”  And you felt a feeling of accomplishment and satisfaction in that moment?  Maybe it was the tile floor in the bathroom you remodeled.  Maybe it was a scrapbook page displaying your son’s Little League season.  Maybe it’s a flower garden you planted, a drawing you sketched, some software you coded.  Well, that feeling of satisfaction comes from the fact that God is the Creator, the Artist God, and we are made in God’s image.  God planted that feeling within us as one aspect of being made in his likeness—because He feels that same feeling of satisfaction when He creates as well (Genesis 1, Rev 4:11), and gave that feeling to us as a gift to humanity.

As a songwriter, I experience this when I write a really good lyric.  Which—if you are a songwriter, you undoubtedly know—is a very hard thing to do.  Every songwriter at one point inevitably rhymes “love” with “above,” and then learns not to do it, as well as a thousand other cliches.  And this is the songwriter’s unspoken secret: the song lyrics that so casually float out of our car stereos and iPods and kitchen boom boxes actually represent someone’s personal agony—some songwriter painfully crafted those lyrics from equal parts of heart, sweat, and a dog-eared songwriter’s rhyme book (our secret weapon).

As a little experiment, I asked a bunch of my songwriter friends to help me by sending me a particular lyric they had written that was particularly meaningful to them.  And I’m so happy that these extremely talented individuals humored me with a response. I encourage you to check out their links as well.

“The ancient prayers so crafted to both wound and soothe the soul”

Bob Kilpatrick, from “This Ritual” (Album: O Mercy!)
Bob’s response: “It came from an early morning prayer experience I had in an Anglican church in London. I wrote about it in detail in my book, The Art of Being You.”

“Make me a home for Your holiness”

Steve Puleo, from “ Home For Your Holiness” (Album: You Are)
Steve’s response: “The thought is being naturally supernatural.  Just being real, with Jesus being at home in me, and knowing Him better than I know myself.”

“Holy mouth of fire, opens like a bloom
Glowing brightest flame, all consuming fume
Holy ash falls down, blanketing us all

Statues grey and still, in rows wall to wall”

Jeremy Johnson, from “Holy” (Album: Form the Words)
Jeremy’s response: “Written as part of a series of verses imagining the moment of the saints being in God’s presence in heaven. Inspiration came out of a frustration with the typical human-centric definitions of heaven.”

“And in the solace I can hear the sound of footsteps dancing over me
And I hear my Father’s loving Song, It’s the sweetest melody
And He sings my victory, and He sings my hope
And I hang on to every word, tighter than a rescue rope”

Cate Morris, from “Solace” (Soon to be released)
Cate’s response: “A song about my quiet time with the Lord.”

“Thirsty souls cry out for more, Let it rain Lord let it pour
Upon the desert, on barren land
Water fall from heaven above, Raining down abundant love
I feel like drowning In Living Water”

Jim Heinze, from “A Drought In The Land” (Album: This I Know)
Jim’s response: “Written on a tour in England and realizing the need for Living Water in the nation.”

“You are the One who offered to suffer in my place
You are the One who offered to cover me with grace”

Michael Bahn, from “I Believe” (Album: Pure)
Michael’s response: “It’s meaningful because I feel such deep gratitude to Christ for taking my place, my punishment and pouring out overwhelming grace when I don’t deserve it.”

“I hear Your voice in a baby’s breath
I see Your smile in their eyes
So I’ll give this world my best blank stare
Cuz I know what I need to find”

John Voelz, from “That’s What I Have” (Album: John Voelz: Best of Then and Now)
John’s response: “It’s meaningful because it’s personal to me as a new grandfather (baby reference) and as a pastor watching our people fall in love with Jesus (the smile in their eyes).”

“Tiny hands on the bannister
A tiny leap from the stair to floor
Playing hide and seek with my memories
And wearing the smile that I once wore”

Rick Dupea, from “Perfect Design” (Unreleased)
Rick’s response: “A song about my toddler son reawakening memories of my happy childhood, and seeing the glory of God’s love passed down through healthy generations.”

“It’s the plan of God for repentant man
It’s an act of love we don’t understand
It’s the bailout, the rescue plan
Pulled out of Hell by the nail-scarred hand”

Jebby Motes, from “So Amazing” (Unreleased)
Jebby’s response: “It’s about God’s grace. I wrote it about six months or so ago.”

“Innocence lost, when it never had a chance
Life a song without a dance”

Heidi Crook, from “Be Her Daddy” (Unreleased)
Heidi’s response: “This song came from a prayer for a sweet friend, whose journey is still unfolding.”


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