In the Fall of 2001 I must have sat out on the porch for hours a night, sometimes with a buddy, sometimes with a few, but mostly with God, and the precarious rhythms of late night traffic.
I had nowhere to go. I’d weathered a break up that left me questioning my sanity and I’d quit my job at the Olive Garden after a woman cussed me out over the price of cranberry juice. With no work, no relationship, and my ‘89 Ford Tempo on its last legs, I found myself emotionally and, otherwise, shipwrecked. My whole world was a guitar and everything I wished I’d said.
I think it was during those months that I learned how to write a song, because that was the year I learned to be honest with God.
As a teenager, I played my first guitar chords on the loading docks behind my father’s storefront church in Pineville, NC. I guess I began playing for the same reason everyone does, to impress girls at school. Unfortunately, it was a little late in the game for an instrument to become much of a savior, but it became a friend, an outlet, a way of sorting things out.
Looking back, it made sense that I would go back to that place when I was against the ropes, and why I would end up out on that same porch almost a year later, with another set of issues and another batch of songs.
In November of 2002, I’d flown down to Jacksonville, to do some recording. While in the studio, we received a call about some friends who’d been in a car accident that left 2 of them in critical condition. Late that evening I got another call from my dad. One of my closest childhood friends was gone.
I had pages of dialog with God in the days that followed, some angry, mostly confused, but also I wrote a lot of songs. It was this time period that shaped verses like “Kiss Your Feet”, a modern vision of Mary Magdalene, and an emotional climactic folk tune called “Ashes and Flames”. The first song of that generation, much of it written the day after the accident, was the song “How He Loves”. “How He Loves” was every bit of a tribute to a friend, a cry for understanding, and the worship that resulted from it all.
The following years were characterized by an almost confusing contrast. While I lived with an ever-present stinging sensation from the loss, I was enamored with the immense joy of my engagement to a brilliant, angelic girl named Sarah Williams. We we’re married in 2004 and have been confidants, band mates, and business partners for over 6 years. In 2008 our son Jude was born to the growling vocals of Kevin Prosch singing, “Praise the Lord, Oh my soul” over a hospital radio. More than anything, it was this contrast that shaped the ideas that would eventually become “The Medicine”.
Up to that point, much of my music, though rarely void of hope, was still born out of loss. However, “The Medicine”, presents portraits of resurrection. From “Death In His Grave”, a southern, hymn-like narrative depicting the classic resurrection of Jesus, to “Skeleton Bones,” a worship song celebrating the power of resurrection life, a story of resurrection is present throughout the whole record. Songs like “Ten Thousand” illustrate the ultimate victory of life over the grave as do “Out of the Ground” and “Carbon Ribs” in more abstract ways.
More than anything, I think “The Medicine” explores the implications of resurrection in our every day lives even the dead places of our lives that need resurrecting. To his own hurt, Jesus, chose to be a part of our world. Why would we pretend that we don’t bring all our love, loss, and insecurity with us into the conversations we call “worship”? After all, we don’t serve a God who is unacquainted with grief. He is not surprised by or even unfamiliar with the darkness that can plague a human heart. In fact, he specializes at dealing with that sort of thing. That is what “The Medicine” is about and those are some of the conversations I want to help people have in worship. I want to write songs that give your heart language in the porch lights of your own reckoning; dangerous songs that give you permission to wear your heart on your sleeve before Jesus, unencumbered by the grave cloths of mindless tradition.