Missive #02 - "Galatians 2:20"
I wrote “Galatians 2:20” at night in our kitchen under the quiet light of the stove, my Bible on the counter next to the sink as I tried to think how to fit those unrhymed and unmetered words into the confines of the chords and a waltz. Because everyone else was asleep, and I was writing on acoustic guitar, my voice was a whisper and the dynamics were soft, and the song was born really little and delicate like that. But I never intended it to be that way always, and soon we were singing it bigger, and later on our church began to sing it as a piece of liturgical music that we sang every week for a couple months straight. It has ended up being a tradition now that we sing it every Sunday in Lent.
I love that setting parts of the Bible to song can help you to memorize it. I’m really terrible at memorizing Scripture, but because of this song I know Galatians 2:20 by heart, and I think that’s true of others in our church. The way we ended up recording it was a wonderful and unintended collision of my ideas with Monique’s ideas. She guided that opening feel of it with our producer and bassist, Jeremy McDonald, and our guitarist and drummer, Anthony LaMarca: we wanted something poppy and earnest—no kick drum and Monique’s sweet and plainspoken delivery (she did this all in one take, singing live with the band)—a kind of marriage between the Velvet Underground and Olivia Newton-John, circa Grease.
I loved all that, but I also wanted to make the song gloriously burn and shine. It’s about death and resurrection and life inside of us that can only be accounted for by Love. Plus, I had been so bowled over by seeing Kanye West doing “Ultralight Beam” on Saturday Night Live, and then Chance the Rapper with his song “Blessings” on Jimmy Fallon, and one of the things in common that carried each of those songs dizzyingly and deliciously high was a gospel choir. I wanted a gospel choir on our song! And we got a terrific one, assembled from new friends and old throughout New York City.
This is the first song on the record, and it is a little bit of a thesis statement, now that I think about it. It is an expression of God’s love and power working through Monique and I’s divergent ideas, with the two of us surrounded by a community of friends sharing their gifts with us, the whole world, and with Christ himself.
Before I sign off, I’m going to say something about money. In fact I’m going to ask you to give us some of your money. In the last few years we’ve placed two collections of our songs on the website Noisetrade: Purity of Heart is to Will One Thing in 2011, and A Work of Love in Progress in 2015. These were downloaded just under 40,000 times. So we know there's a few of you out there.
So here’s the deal: if just a few of the people reading this were to, right now, give $15 in exchange for a digital download of our new record, Light Up The Stairs, we could cover the cost of making this new record.
Also, for what it's worth: the budget for the record as it stands now simply covers paying our band and our producer, the studio fees, production of CD’s and t-shirts, etc. Monique and I aren't being paid. And I honestly don’t mind that all. I just want to honor the labor of the people who’ve worked so hard on this record, and I want to get this music out in the world. And that can happen if just 1 out of 10 of you pay for a digital download.
If you’re able to do so, would you please consider doing that.
Ok, that’s it. We have another song coming to you next week. It’s the only song on the record that I didn't write, but the guy who wrote it has a name just as peculiar as mine. You’re going to love it.
 Obviously we will get there even faster if you want to order the vinyl, or if you want a t-shirt, which, if you get a t-shirt… Have you seen the cat t-shirt? Have you seen it?