I must have been about ten or so when Jimmy Tepper and I decided to climb the hill in my backyard and work our way to the church that always hovered over us. It seemed like only moments later we were inside enjoying the air conditioning, the water fountain, and amazing ourselves with how empty the building was. Where were all the people? Of course this was a weekday but a church this big can’t be left all alone, we thought.
My first years as a Christian were not easy, to say the least. Having come from an environment where I was the center of attention, where acting, dressing and being strange were not only the norm but expected practice, this was a huge change.
I never expected when I wrote those words that sin- your sin, my sin - would become the centerpiece of my ministry. I had been moved by a pastor’s sermon to write the piece and it challenged every work thereafter to meet a standard of compassion and communication.
I think of Noah, outside for days, weeks, months performing a task that everyone obviously found pointless, ridiculous and most likely offensive. The tenacity, perseverance, bravery and hope (fear?) that must have motivated this man not to waver.
More than anywhere else in the world I have had the good fortune to live, Phoenix to me seems the loneliest of all. Not just for me but the people around me. Since many would argue my observation let me clarify by saying that in this instance by lonely I mean isolated. Arizona seems to be filled with people that moved here to “get away” form something (or someone) more than a place people migrate to build on their dreams.
In 2004 when I was preparing to record Not Unclean, I was short one song and decided to write something special catering to the style of the record more than the message. I wrote Shouldn’t Hurt Like This in the course of a couple of hours and made very few changes to it along the way. To me it’s one of the most interesting songs on the record and was a stepping stone to my experimentation on future records.
Kinda hard not to.
Angry at growing older
Angry at not being able to eat anything in sight without getting fat
Angry at allergies
Angry at finances
Angry at people who promise one thing and deliver another
Angry at sleeping alone
Angry at my dog for destroying his plastic pool
And angry at Walmart for not carrying them anymore because they are “seasonal”
And an obsession.
The way it looks, the way it feels, what YOU think of it.
A slowly decaying shell that I think of far more than I ever think of my soul.
When I first read Leaha McGillivrey’s words that would one day become this song Human Love I was moved by her awesome use of the obvious. By listing instead of trying to rhyme she created a powerful indictment of human frailty and how it sets us up for failure and tragedy.
I have so many memories of this song as I have been performing it for years. I first heard it back in the early 80’s when I was just coming to the Lord. I got my hands on a Tennessee Ernie Ford gospel cassette that literally changed my life. I had never heard music like this: religious (as I called it back then) music with so much passion, heart and conviction.