"Grounds" was first solo record. It was a strange experience. By that time I had been writing on my own for several years, but hadn't released anything. I had a ton of songs I felt I had a duty to release. A majority of them were Christian tunes, and some of them are a little embarrassing in hindsight. But, it set the tone for a very bipolar recording career. And there is still quite a bit of it that I'm proud of. I enjoyed working with Nikomas Perez (Drums) and some of these songs still see rotation when I'm playing. It's been a long time since I've listened to it, but here's what I recall, song by song.
This is one of the songs I stand by, haha. I wrote this smack-dab in the middle of my Rich Mullins phase, and I think you can tell. It's a song about having the willingness to give up everything for your faith. Or at least a recognition that ultimately your faith is more important than everything else. I think people consider this one of my "signature" songs. So I play it when I can, and I think it has held up nicely.
This remains one of my favorites that I've written. It's very simple in structure and in lyrics, but I have a strong love of this song. It's one of those Christian songs that also isn't. When I was in ministry, I would regularly dedicate this one to those who work in homeless ministries and those they serve. It works for that. Or it also works as a "love your fellow man" thing. Or also as "I'm only on this earth a while, and I'm just trying to get home to Heaven" too. I don't know which one's right. But I like playing it.
Irish! I'm a bit Irish and I love a good Irish melody. This is that. And it gave me an excuse to play the hammered dulcimer (again, a product of my Rich Mullins phase). It was a fun one to write and I still like it. I feel like I could've done better on this recording, but it's still good. It's a whole mess of words to spit out all at one and a real pain to remember what order they go in. People seem to like it though. Topically, it's about having the courage to stand for your faith. I wrote a lot of that, then. Bible College does that to you.
A SONG FOR FRIENDSHIP:
I like this one more than I remember liking it. It was written at a time that I was sad about losing a friendship, and I was sort of writing about that and about what friendship means to me. So I've got some negative feelings attached to this one that I think impact how much I like the song overall. It takes me back to a time and place I'd rather not go to...but if it speaks to you, I'll be glad to play it by request. :) I do think it's a strong song.
I'm proud of this one. I know for a fact that it has been danced to during at least two weddings, one anniversary, and might be responsible for at least one baby, but I can't prove that for sure. It's a love song. And a good one. I don't play it too often because it's a slow one (and the girl I wrote it about is long since in my past), but it's probably one of the better love songs I've written.
WISH I COULD TELL YOU:
If you had told me at the time that I wrote and recorded this song that I'd never touch it again, I'd have thought you were nuts. But here we are, and I almost never play it. I don't know why. I think it's a good song, and it's got a pretty good riff to it...but I just never think to play it, even when I'm noodling around with old stuff at home. It's a song about being in love and not knowing how to tell the other person...and maybe that's it. I guess it's a little cheesy. And it's obvious listening to it that I was trying to be Pete Townshend. But still...I feel like I could do more with it.
Instrumental track. Not a lot to say about it, other than it was an experiment and I think it went basically right. I've always liked this one, but I've never been able to play it live because I lack enough extra musicians. I really like it and wish I could do it in performances, though. In case you're wondering about the title, I used to tell people I didn't remember what it meant, and for a long time that was true. But I found an old notebook from around this time and found the answer. I was using a processor to get a certain reverb tone... Ambience #4...AMB 4. I guess it just stuck.
I wrote this one just a few hours before I finished the project. Played on my grandpa's old Gibson and recorded in one take for the guitar, then another for the vocal, and a third for clean-up. I don't know why I did that...it was a risky thing. The song's okay, but I've never played it again, since hitting "save" on the project. In truth, I wouldn't be able to. It was played in an alternate tuning and I have no idea what it was. This one's preserved forever on the record...but don't expect to hear it anywhere else.
One Man started out as a song in my punk band, Uncle Dick. That band kind of fell by the wayside, but I always liked this song, so I saved it. I think it always "felt" more like a solo song, anyway. It's about finding your way through life and how each man has to find his own way...or some bullshit like that. I'm really not sure, to tell you the truth. I just wrote it...that doesn't mean I understand it. :)
I like to make up stories about the people sitting around me in diners. Nothing serious. Just false backstories. If a guy's sitting there a little old and grey with a trucker-hat on, I might write a little story about how he's been on the road for a long time and he's having problems with his wife, but they'll work it out, because it's worth it and he loves her. Or maybe he's an axe-murderer, but this is his off-week, so he went to Denny's. Stuff like that. "Diner" was born partially out of that hobby, and also inspired by the movie "Hard Core Logo" where the lead singer, Joe Dick, does the same basic thing, but out loud. I think the "kept drinking" line came from that. Guitar-wise, you can really hear the Townshend influence on this one. I like that.
I don't like this song at all anymore. I really have no idea what I was going for and it feels like this was one of those where I said, "Once she hears THIS, she'll fall in love with me!" and that pathetic and doesn't make a good song, and if I had it to do again, I'd remove this one. Please accept this as my apology for wasting your time with it in the first place. Unless you like it...then it's a great song, and we should all celebrate my genius.
Super-Christian, but I still think it's pretty good. Based on the whole "Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty who was and is and is to come, and also we've got wings and shit..." part of Revelation. I like this one a lot and it's gone through a few variations, but I think this recording is probably just about the best it has ever been.
Another "signature" piece, and probably one of the better Christian songs I've written. But I rarely play it anymore. I guess it just feels like it's from another time and person. It feels like I said the things I WANTED people to think I believed. And maybe I do believe a lot of them, but I don't know that the positive, forward looking, confident lyric of this one is really part of who I am. It's maybe who I want to be...but if I'm honest, I think of this almost as someone else's song. Although it does seem to be one that people mention to me a lot and walk around singing after they hear it. So maybe I stumbled into something we ALL want with this one. And maybe I should give it another chance.