I’m a “Christian” artist in about the same way U2 or Mumford and Sons might be considered “Christian” artists. I’m an active member of my church, I consider myself a Christian, blah blah blah. But if the music I make is ever categorized alongside overtly Christian artists I would be most uneasy (even queasy) with that limited, often-saccharine, box. My understanding of and relationship with God and Christ is complicated and confusing at best – and always evolving. I won’t go into a rant on organized religion here, but suffice it to say that you can “insert rant on organized religion here.”
That said, there’s no better place to find verbal, poetic inspiration than the Bible – and no better place, in my experience, to scribble down lyrics than in church. The works of Shakespeare are great for dredging up material, obviously, but then he cribbed from the Bible as well, so there’s that…
When I was in grad school I got to study the Bible as literature and that is what really got me reading the Good Book for the first time in earnest. And, man, it’s a really good book. There’s some amazing stuff in there in layer upon nuanced layer. Some people’s entire literary and musical careers have been based on just teasing out sections of it and building it up to discover, reveal, refute and struggle with its meaning.
“Into the Wild” is only the most recent song I’ve written that emerged from the one-two punch of a gospel reading followed by the sermon. The gospel reading was Luke 8: 26-39 and the sermon was by Shawn Garvey, my friend and pastor (and gifted songwriter and musician in in his own right).
Look, any story about demon-possessed pigs jumping from a cliff and drowning is going to get my attention – and make me want to write a song. My favorite thing about Jesus is his audaciousness – and steering Legion into doomed hogs is pretty audacious, dramatic stuff – the kind of stuff that would make a great heavy metal song. This is not that song. However, if you want to bang your head to it, I welcome that. Listen (and rock out) to the “Into the Wild” demo here.