After quite literally years of prayer and conversation, my wife Roshare and I have made some big decisions over the last few months. The long and short of it is this: I am going to retire from music at the end of 2013. Truthfully, when we made the final call on this back in December, I wasn’t sure if I would be done right away, or what the exact timetable would be…but ultimately I decided that I really wanted to honor my label and publishing commitments through 2013 and tour this new record, that I love so dearly, for at least a year from release just to make sure I “finish well.” To most everyone who knows me on a personal level I don’t think this would be a bit surprising simply because this decision really was years in the making…the reality is that we just finally found what we thought was the right time. Both my record deal and my publishing deal were coterminous with the release of my new record back in Oct of 2012, so it was either time to re-up for another 5-6 years, or move on. The decision was strangely easy. Really easy, actually. Mostly I think just because on emotional, spiritual, personal, and relational levels, I have struggled for years now with all of the things that surround and are a part of what it means to be a professional musician…the touring, publicity, lack of consistency, anxiety, and time away from home have been a struggle for me in different ways for pretty much the entirety of my nearly 20 years playing music. Please don’t misunderstand me, playing music has genuinely been a dream come true…I never could have imagined this story for myself and it has far exceeded anything I could have planned on my own. But as I’ve stated so many times in the past, I really have always felt like an “accidental” musician in so many ways, and with that has always been this sense that I would never be a “lifer,” this sense that music would someday come to a definitive end for me. The truth is, my heart just hasn’t been in it for quite a while now, and what was left of it I feel like I squeezed out and emptied into writing and recording this latest project…which now turns out to be my last project, and perhaps my favorite project that I’ve made – one that I couldn’t be more proud to finish my career with. So the reality for me is that I honestly couldn’t be more excited about closing this door and opening a new one. And when I say closing the door, I mean really closing the door. On music. Closing the door on touring, performing live, and even songwriting. I don’t have any plans at all to pursue a career in writing or really anything music related. If I’m honest, I’m not really sure that I know how to NOT write songs…I’ve never really tried that since I learned to play the guitar at age 17; but I can say honestly that I don’t really have any plans to write again. At the very least, I won’t write another song until I HAVE to write another song – if that makes any sense at all. I don’t want to write again until something in me forces it’s way out, until there really is a true upwelling of my spirit and absolutely nothing less. So maybe one day somewhere down the road I’ll have a group of songs together that I might want to record in my living room, but I’m not really holding on to that as part of what I hope for moving forward. The reality for me is that I don’t have any one specific direction…I feel like there are a solid handful of things that I really get excited to do with my life in this new season. But as far as specifics are concerned, I don’t know that I really feel called to something else as much as I feel called away from music. In all honesty, I think that uncertainty about what comes next is what kept me hanging on to music for the last few years. It’s hard to walk away from something that has been so life-changing and so all-consuming for all these years, something that I’ve seen God move in so profoundly. And on a practical level, it’s hard to walk away from an occupation that’s been so fulfilling and so stable, the only job I’ve ever had, and one that still provides so well for my family. But I’ve always known and promised myself that I would not forsake a call in a certain direction based on the fear of what comes next. That’s not faith at all I don’t suppose. So here I am, on the edge of something altogether new…the same way I was 20 years ago when I turned away from the potential of medical school and towards a new season of music. My goodness, it’s daunting but, my Lord, it is indeed beautiful. I don’t know how to express just how thankful I am for all of the people who have supported me for all these years…I still don’t even know how I got here, how I landed on this particular course, but I do know that it wouldn’t have happened without a God who is bigger than the burdens of this world and without the relentless willingness of people all over this world to be a part of this with me. I will be forever grateful.
Archive for "bebo-norman"
Today pre-orders start for my new record, Lights of Distant Cities. Hard for me to believe the Oct 22nd release is just 3 weeks from today. It’s always so interesting to me to watch how the writing and recording process unfolds, how the songs end up finding a common thread between them that weaves some sort of theme. In ways, I think Lights of Distant Cities turned out to be an answer to my last record, Ocean. If Ocean was a record that sort of embodied an idea of longing for something, I think Lights of Distant Cities embodies the idea of finding it…or perhaps, rather, being found. One of my favorite things about the writing and recording process is that you just sort of put your head down and pour out until it’s done, and then sit back and try to reconcile what it all means…how it all represents and speaks to what life has been the past few years. The title itself is a nod to all that draws us forward in life, all that stirs our hearts and peaks our imaginations in a way that reminds us that there is still so much to be hopeful for, even in a dark and confusing world. I think maybe that’s the thing I keep coming back to in almost all of these songs…the goodness of God in the middle of everything, as the foundation for everything. I often find myself asking God why things are the way they are, why this world can seem so terrible some days and so beautiful on others; but there is a basic and simple truth that the German mystic Meister Eckhart wrote in the 1300s that I keep coming back to… “if the soul could have known God without the world, God would never have created the world.” Simple. Never more true. Like the mystery that lays out before us in lights of distant cities that we’ve dreamed of and never seen. It pulls us forward into that mystery and reminds us that there is indeed so much to hope for.
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.
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…)
For the entirety of my adult life, almost like clockwork, every two years or so I have been given the gift of being “forced” into taking stock. I’ve often told people that I don’t know how to write songs if I’m not writing them out of my life, out of my own personal experience, and so for me I think it’s inevitable that any new group of songs will tell some sort of story about where they have come from. And so for the last 15 years, 8 times to be precise, thanks to the deadlines that the powers that be “impose” I have been given the gift of taking stock, of evaluating where I have come from, what God has been unfolding – to unpack, assess, organize, (more…)