Liner Notes

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.

Unraveled albumUNRAVELED :: Liner Notes

Unraveled is a 2013 release featuring the Manuel Luz Trio. I’m very happy in that it is a true musical collaboration with Matt Sawhill and Chad Jackson, and represents the best of what we were able to do together.

To order the CD or download the MP3s, please visit cdbaby.com or iTunes.

Credits

All songs © 2013 Manuel Luz.  Arranged by ML3.  ML3 is Chad Jackson (drums), Matt Sawhill (basses), Manuel Luz (piano/keys/vocals).  Additional musicians: Steven Randal (electric guitar), Kent Peterson (electric guitar), Bob Kilpatrick (acoustic guitar), Kim Peterson (sax), Steve Liberti (percussion and honorary ML3 member). Special thanks to Phil Denna, Greg Davis, Won World Studio, Proclaim! International Studio. Recorded at Psalm 98 Studio, El Dorado Hills, California. Mastered at Won World Studio. Art Direction and Photography: Keith Elliott.

Track 1: MAKE UP YOUR MIND

Sometimes one comes to a moment of decision and that perso become paralyzed in it. It could be a spiritual decision, a psychological one, or a difficult life decision. And I like to encourage people, in those moments, to simply keep moving forward in life. Because often times, the worst decision is not to make one.  Featuring: Steve Liberti, Kim Peterson, ML3.

Nothing to talk about, Nothing to realize
But ooh, don’t you know that
Ooh, Just make up your mind
No need to talk it out, No need to rationalize
But ooh, Tell me ‘bout you
Just make up your mind

No time to waste away, No need to compromise
But ooh, don’t you know that
Ooh, Just make up your mind
Nothing that you could say, No need for alibis
But ooh, Tell me ‘bout you
Just make up your mind

Tell  me your dreams, drop the disguise
Tell me what keeps you up at night
Tell me your sorrows, tell me your fears
How do you dry those tears

Nothing to talk about, Nothing to realize
But ooh, don’t you know that
Ooh, Just make up your mind
Know that I’ll be with you, Know that I’m on your side
But ooh, tell me ‘bout you
Don’t you know its true, between me and you
Just make up your mind

Track 2: ANOTHER LOVE

We were trying to do something different with this song, which is a rock tune in standard 4/4 time.  Listen to the quirky instrumental break which is in 7/4 time signature, featuring some inspired percussion work by Steve Liberti.  Featuring: Kent Peterson, Steve Liberti, ML3.

I, I feel the weight of things unsaid
The memories in your head, the wide and empty dread
I, I see you walk this world alone
With nothing to atone, you live a life unknown
But the days are like a river
Drifting, flowing ever nearer

There’s another love I know, There’s another life I live
There’s another hope I hold, There’s another grace to give
There’s another tale to tell, There’s another time to go
There’s another life I live, There’s another love I know

I, I see the hollow in your eyes
The blackened cloudy skies, I have to wonder why
I, I feel no solace in this cold
You watch your life unfold, without your pot of gold
But the days are like a river
Drifting, flowing ever nearer

Track 3: I CAN’T REMEMBER WHEN

Of all the songs on the album, this is the one that most people ask, “what is that one about?”  Though it is quite metaphorical—which is why people can relate to it—there is a quite literal explanation.  The song is about the life of Moses.  He went through a lot in his life quest to follow the will of God, and though he did so imperfectly, he paid quite the price.  It was unfortunate that, at the end of his life, he was unable to go into the promised land.  And that is something I can relate to.  Featuring: Steven Randal, Steve Liberti, ML3.

Forty years in the desert, Forty years in the dirt
Forty years of living through the heartache and the hurt
Forty years of plodding, On these same old ruts I’ve known
Forty years of reaping, Off these same old rows I’ve sown

And I can’t remember when, No I can’t remember when
No I can’t remember when,  I last saw your face

Forty miles of highway, Forty days at sea
Forty thousand paces, Each one has taken a toll on me
Forty times I’ve stumbled, Forty times I fall
Forty times I’ve gotten up, Just to answer the call

And the desert is a mistress, And the sun hangs in the sky
And my footprints sinking deeper, And I have to wonder why

Forty lame excuses, For the man I’ve come to be
Forty bad decisions, Can this be my destiny
Forty times I’ve stumbled, When I’ve fallen on my face
Forty years of seeing every act of Your grace

Track 4: ROXANNE

This is only the second cover I’ve ever recorded.  This song always reminds me of Jesus’ encounter with the woman at the well.  Please note the excellent classical guitar on this track.  Featuring: Bob Kilpatrick, ML3.

Roxanne, you don’t have to put on the red light
Those days are over
You don’t have to sell your body to the night
Roxanne, you don’t have to wear that dress tonight
Walk the streets alone
You don’t care if it’s wrong or if it’s right

Roxanne, you don’t have to put on the red light
Put on the red light, put on the red light, put on the red light

I loved you since I knew you, Wouldn’t talk down to you
I have to tell you how I feel, I wouldn’t want to share you
I know my mind is made up, So put away your make-up
Told you once, won’t tell you again, It’s a bad way

Track 5: TAKING A TOLL ON ME 

The year 2012 was a difficult and sorrowful one for us as a church, as we said goodbye to a lot of our friends.  This song is about them.  Featuring: Steve Liberti, ML3.

Lie awake until daylight, Listenin’ to the old house creak
Nothing on, till I see the sun, Yeah, it’s taking a toll on me
Said goodbye to an old friend, He was almost fifty three
Take me down to old forked road, Yeah, it’s taking a toll on me
Lord I know, That the winter storms will blow
Lord I know, Like a mist that comes and goes, We go

Crimson dawn will rise up, But the silence falls too deep
One more day, as we join the fray, Yeah it’s taking a toll on me
Honey put on your black dress, We’ll stand under the willow tree
Amazing Grace, till we see his face, Yeah it’s taking a toll on me
Lord I know, That the winter storms will blow
Lord I know, Like a mist that comes and goes, We go

Blue skies on the ceiling, and the sun shines down on me
A mound of dirt where a man used to be
Yeah, it’s taking a toll on me

Track 6: RAPUNZEL

We preach a lot on vision, intention, and means, as a way to understand spiritual transformation.  We acknowledge that we are trapped by the mechanisms of our internal dysfunction, but we also must embrace through intentional surrender the life that God intends for us.  Featuring: Kent Peterson, Steve Liberti, ML3.

Locked in your room, Stuck in your castle, high up on the hill
Trapped within your house of Babel, Held against your will
High above your ivory tower, Life on a window sill
Day by day and hour by hour, Nothing but time to kill
She don’t know she holds the key
She don’t know, She could be free

Let down your hair, Rapunzel, Rapunzel, let down your hair
It’s all I can do, It’s all up to you, Rapunzel, let down your hair

Knock on the door, put up a fight, All in her own little world
Braided locks that hold her tight, Keep her a lost little girl
Sit in your room, Rattle your chains, Far above it all
Addicted to the inner pain, That hides behind your walls
She don’t know she holds the key
She don’t know, She could be free

Track 7: UNRAVELED 

We performed this song first at a men’s retreat at Zephyr Cove in Lake Tahoe.  This is a special place for me, where God always seems to meet me in significant and undeniable ways.  Featuring: Steven Randal, ML3.

I fall on my knees again, Alone in this place again
Down on my knees, Begging You please, To pick up the pieces
I don’t know who I am, But I’m not the better man
That I want to be, Addicted to me, Cloaked in myself

But I’m unraveled, Yeah I’m unraveled
Oh I’m unraveled, in Your presence

Caught in these white lies, Blind to these sight lines
That live in my soul, But still take their toll, Where no one can see
No more excuses, The silent accusers
That take hold of me, Help me be free, to live in the Truth

But I’m unraveled, Yeah I’m unraveled
Oh I’m unraveled, in Your presence

Track 8: YOU STILL TAKE MY BREATH AWAY

For my wife Debbie, on our 25th anniversary.  I mean every word.

So much sand thru the hourglass, So many beats of my heart
So many dreams have come and gone like, So many shooting stars
So many faded photographs, So many dawns turned to dusk
So many frozen memories like, tracings in the dust
But when I catch a glimpse of you, It doesn’t matter what you do
Just a fleeting glimpse of you, And I realize the simple truth that

You still take my breath away, And you still stir my soul awake
And you still make my heart, Beat like a drum when you are near
You still, still take my breath away

So many words unspoken, So many thoughts in my head
So many ways to say I love you, Without a word being said
But when I catch a glimpse of you, It doesn’t matter what you do
Just a fleeting glimpse of you, And I realize the simple truth that

You still take my breath away, And you still stir my soul awake
And you still make my heart, Beat like a drum when you are near
You still, still take my breath away

SO FAR :: LINER NOTES

SO FAR is my compilation album released in  2012.  It includes 13 tracks from my three solo albums, dating back to 2001.  Each of the tracks is available individually on iTunes or on cdbaby.com.

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

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 savinggrace, 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.

 

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