SO FAR

SO FAR :: LINER NOTES

SO FAR is my compilation album released in  2012.  It includes 13 tracks from my last three solo albums, dating back to 2001.  Please let me know if you’d like to get one.  Also, each of the tracks is available individually on iTunes or as complete CDs on cdbaby.com.

One of the things I used to love to do (back in the days when they still made long play vinyl albums) is read the liner notes to a new album to find out what the artist was thinking or what inspired them.  But that was then and this is now, so I’ve decided to go ahead and put the liner notes here on my website.  If you’re here, thanks so much for your support, and I hope you enjoy the tour through my brain.

Track 1: When I Call

Some Christian songs seem a little formulaic: Verse 1, I was lost; Verse 2, Then I was found; Verse 3, You can be found too, cause it’s great!  But I’ve found that the formula doesn’t always match up to the realities I’ve experienced in my life.  So I try to write songs where the answers aren’t so obvious, if there are any answers at all, and in the midst of the unknowing, God might seem distant or unresponsive.  That’s the essence of this song, based on Psalm 77, where all you can do when God doesn’t answer is keep singing.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), Steven Randal (guitars).  From All There Is © 2007.

Track 2: Shelter

This is the title track to my first solo album in 2001.  And yes, it is an obvious nod to Bruce Hornsby, one of my keyboard heroes.  When ML3 plays live, one of the moments I look forward to the most is hitting the piano solo section of this song.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), Kent Peterson (guitars), Alvin Henry (drums), Marti Denna (vocals), Bill Pence (vocals). From A Bridge Called Surrender © 2001.

Track 3: Grace Is

We have a tendency to make the word, “grace,” too small sometimes.  Grace can be defined as God’s unmerited favor, and we understand this as God’s saving mercy which covers our sins, and adopts us as His beloved children.  And that is, thankfully, very true.  But outside of God’s saving grace, He also extends to us a sustaining grace, that which we find in the mundane and every day moments of life.  If grace is God’s unmerited favor, then grace is found in every sunrise, every drop of water, every smile, every good gift, every relationship.  Indeed, every breath we take in our lives is an experience of God’s unmerited favor upon us.  This song is a reminder of God’s sustaining grace that pours out to us in every moment.
Credits: Jeremy Johnson (guitar). From If Life Were a Book © 2004.

Track 4: Twenty

I wrote this song for my wife, Debbie, on our twenty-year anniversary.  It was the third song I had written for her.  The first was when we were dating, and the second was for our wedding.  I can honestly say that every day that I know her, I love her more than the day before.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass). From All There Is © 2007.

Track  5: If Life Were A Book

I speak often of God’s meta-narrative—creation, fall, and redemption—that is the story of the universe.  Each of our stories of redemptive grace is a small stream in the vast ocean of God’s larger story, for He is the Author of Days (Hebrews 12:2).  This song was an attempt to capture this idea, that God works in each page of each paragraph of each chapter of our lives, lovingly writing His love story upon us.  This song also has my favorite bridge lyric: “Shaw he had his demons, Hemingway his wars, Melville knew the monster he was looking for.  Verne he saw the future, Homer saw the past, but Solomon knew the things that would last.”
Credits: Jeremy Johnson (guitar). From If Life Were a Book © 2004.

Track 6: Blue

I’ve always felt that music was pretty easy to write; it was the lyrics that were always difficult for me.  Influenced by Sting on this particular song, I was challenging myself to write some better lyrics.  Specifically, I was playing with the meanings of the word “blue,” and using these meanings as a metaphor for life.  This is what I came up with.  And yes, blue is my favorite color.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), David Holcomb (guitar). From All There Is © 2007.

Track 7: All There Is

This is the title cut to my 2007 album.  Prior to choosing it as the title cut, I had approached my friend, Keith Elliott, to do the artwork on this album (he also did the artwork on this one), and I was explaining to him the overall concept of all the songs.  He thought pensively, and replied, “I get it.  This is your mid-life crisis album.”  So I guess if there is a mid-life crisis song, this would be it. As a side note, this is the first song Rachel and Paige (then nine years old) sang in.  I had to bribe them a dollar each to sing. Based on the book of Ecclesiastes, with a nod to the Motown school of funk.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), Rachel Luz, Paige Luz (background vocals). From All There Is © 2007.

Track 8: You’re My Lord

The psalmist has a lot of songs that speak of desperation and longing.  Somewhere in the darkness of our lives, we cry out to God, and hear nothing by silence.   I’ve always loved this song, though I can no longer perform this song live—I simply can’t sing that high anymore.  Big kudos to Matt, Kent, and Alvin for pulling off this song with such emotion.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), Kent Peterson (guitars), Alvin Henry (drums).  From A Bridge Called Surrender © 2001.

Track 9: Why

This song kind of epitomizes a lot of things I try to do musically—it is a mini-suite of different movements, enfusing elements of jazz, an unusual 6/4 meter, and anthemic piano ballad.  Lyrically, this is also another one of those songs where I wanted to express that faith doesn’t necessarily mean having any easy answers.  Sometimes all we have to cling to is the sovereignty of a benevolent God.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass). From All There Is © 2007.

Track 10: Falling

This is my “Dark Night of the Soul” song.  The inventive drum solo by Alvin and haunting vocals by Marti at the end of the song still gives me goose bumps.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), Kent Peterson (guitars), Alvin Henry (drums), Marti Denna (vocals).  From A Bridge Called Surrender © 2001.

Track 11: It’s All Right

This song probably epitomizes the “So Far” theme more than any I’ve written.  If you pay attention to the inner workings of the self, you attain a certain perspective when you reach the halfway point between birth and death: “No longer living life deceived, my faith is in whom I believe.  It’s all right, It’s all right. Lord, I know it’s all right.”
Credits: Jeremy Johnson (guitar). From If Life Were a Book © 2004.

Track 12: Take Me To The River

I’ve been doing this cover many years. I felt it fitting that it would eventually make it on one of my albums, and it has become a crowd favorite over the years. With all due respect to Al Green and The Talking Heads, I think the guitar work by Steven and bottom thump by Matt on this song makes it the best version of the song ever.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), Steven Randal (guitars). From All There Is © 2007.

Track 13: A Bridge Called Surrender

Probably the simplest song I’ve ever written.  But also the one I keep learning how to live.  More than any other, this is the song of my life.
Credits: Matt Sawhill (bass), Kent Peterson (accordion).  From A Bridge Called Surrender © 2001.

Additional Credits for So Far

All songs © Manuel Luz.  Photography and Art Design by Keith Elliott.  Additional CDs can be purchased on iTunes or CDBaby.com.

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