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Sometimes a Musician

One of the things I am most thankful for in playing music for a living is that it was never my intention.  I am an accidental musician, at best, who sort of stumbled uncomfortably onto this journey half-protesting and with great trepidation.  Admittedly, much of my fear was based in the mystery of the unknown and the lack of control of things, much like any graduating college student heading out into the real world, but quite a bit more was based in the fact that I never quite felt “cut out” for this sort of work.  I always felt like a bit of an imposter…like I would some day, inevitably, be “found out” and everyone would realize that all this time I was just pretending to be a songwriter, just posing as an artist.  So many of my counterparts in music seem to live and die by the art they’re creating and, to be honest, I have many times envied the passion with which so many of these artists carry out their calling.  They cling so desperately to the art and creation and delivery of music that I think it quite literally becomes their lifeblood.  It’s as if the act of creating is as vital and involuntary as the act of breathing.  As if without it they would cease to exist, and with it, they have something to really live for. Truthfully, though there have been times that I have tended in that direction, I fear that that sort of singular passion toward what we do, or even who we think we are, can pull us away from our one, truly singular identity in Christ…and Christ alone.

All I know for certain is that music was meant to be part of the story God was choosing to tell for me, whether I planned it or not.  I was just a college kid with a Biology Degree and firm sites set on absolutely nothing apart from medical school.  But I also wrote songs.  My own little “personal therapy sessions,” as I like to call them, were never really intended for use outside of my living room walls.  But thanks to a few close friends who quite literally forced me to face the possibility of “seeing what would happen” with music, here I am today.  A 1-year “experiment” before planning to apply for medical school has turned into a 15-year career of writing and playing songs.  I can say with all honesty that I have no idea how it happened.  People ask me all the time how to “get started” in music and I have to tell them that I quite literally don’t know.  I can say this.  It was not comfortable for me.  It was not my dream.  It was not my life’s ambition.  I was afraid.  I was insecure.  I was not up for the task.  But I believe that God was.  I believe that God saw something in me that I didn’t see in myself.  I believe there was a Spirit flowing in a certain direction and I knew only enough to not try to swim against it.  I’m actually excited to see where God takes me when music is done.  I am not nearly naïve enough to think that it will last forever.  And to be honest, I don’t want it to.  Because I know that music is not my life source.  It is not my identity.  Music is not who I am.  I have tried to run from it, even prayed that it would end at times.  What I know to be true is that, for whatever reason, God is for us and He chooses to use us.  And He wants to use us right where we are.  And this is where I am right now:  I am a husband and a father, a friend, a brother, a son, and yes, sometimes a musician.  It has been a beautiful story to watch unfold.

Born to Die

People have asked me often lately for the meaning behind my Christmas song “Born to Die.” It actually begins with an old hymn that I discovered a few years ago called “Angels from the Realms of Glory.” If you’ve heard it, it paints a stunning picture of the very first Christmas morning. It’s an image of the angels of God – the very same heavenly hosts who once “winged their flight o’er the earth” singing the marvelous story of the first creation at the beginning of time – this time filling the shepards’ sky singing a very different creation story – the birth of the Christ. I’m not sure why, but reading the lyrics to this hymn was the first glimpse I ever caught into the heavenly vision of angels actually singing the stories and the history of God. It was a stunning thought to me – the idea that perhaps the angels of heaven have been and continue singing – not just telling, but singing – the stories of God. And it’s as if the angels have no choice but to sing. It’s as if the awe and wonder at the glory of their God spontaneously pours from their souls as a chorus like no other. I can only liken it to the barely audible sigh at the first glimpse of a sunrise, or some other wonderous thing, that rises from our hearts and over our lips before we can stop it. That’s how I picture the birth of the songs of the angels…but instead of a quiet amazement, the angelic response pours out into a perfect chorus of ten thousand tongues in spontaneous response to the glorious work of their God. For all of eternity. What a beautiful picture.

And then I imagine those very same angels contemplating the idea that that very same God would somehow choose to clothe Himself in humanity, in flesh, that first Christmas morning. And not only flesh, but the flesh of an infant, helpless and vulnerable, willing and planning to ultimately become the sacrifice for all sin on the cross. Why? Of all the ways to save mankind, why this? Who knows if the angels contemplated such things, but if they did, the weight and conflict of emotion, I can only imagine, would be overwhelming. Hard as it is from our own earthly perspective to understand the reality of what God did in becoming flesh, I imagine it infinitely more difficult from the perspective of heaven. And so that is what “Born to Die” is…a Christmas song from the perspective of heaven, best as I can imagine it. God, in all his glory, ruling the heavens for all eternity, choosing to insert Himself into time, into flesh, to become a living sacrifice for humanity…heartbreaking and heroic…baffling but so beautiful.


Bebo & Chris August Tour Now Booking!

w/ Bebo Norman & Chris August
Select Dates in April & May 2011
For Booking Info Contact David Breen
(615) 777-2227

Cyber Monday Christmas Specials!

All CD’s Only $9.95 or Buy 3 CD’s Get One Free! All orders placed at Bebo’s Online Store by December 5th will receive a FREE AUTOGRAPHED CHRISTMAS CARD FROM BEBO!

Click Here To Shop


The accompaniment songbook for “OCEAN” is now available. The songbook includes the guitar/piano/vocal sheets for all the songs on Bebo’s CD “OCEAN.” Orders ship November 12th. ORDER NOW!

Here Goes

Here Goes is a song that I wrote with my longtime friend Brandon Heath.  It’s really just a simple pop song in a lot of ways, sort of the only one of its type on the new record.  And although I don’t think we realized it at the time, it’s really the culmination of dozens of conversations that Brandon and I have had over coffee or lunch or on some random tour bus throughout the years that we’ve known one another.  You see, I think that in a way, people like Brandon and I are sort of “accidental” musicians – not the types that would have imagined ourselves living our lives on stage, standing in any sort of “spot light.”  Truthfully, that sounds more noble than it really is…the reality of our not envisioning that scenario had more to do with our own personal fears and insecurities than humility.  My conversations with Brandon very often leaned in the direction of that conflict between what we felt we were being called toward and the overwhelming insecurities that made us so uncomfortable with that calling.  And the truth is, I think more often than Brandon or I would ever care to admit we tended to err on the side of fear rather than faith in the face of those difficult moments.  But the thing that I love most about this song is that it is a celebration of the fact that God’s goodness and faithfulness won out over our deep-seeded apprehensions and insecurities.  This song is about the moments we all face every single day that require us to either trust in a God who is bigger than we are or turn and run.

Everything I Hoped You’d Be

Eugene Peterson writes in the preface of his book Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places that “writing about the Christian life is like trying to paint a bird in flight.  The very nature of a subject in which everything is always in motion and the context is constantly changing – rhythm of wings, sun-tinted feathers, drift of clouds (and much more) – precludes precision.  Which is why definitions and explanations for the most part miss the very thing that we are interested in.”  Our perspective on life, (more…)

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