I just got word that we’re allowed to show you the cover for the new record. When the folks at the label told me they wanted Katie Moore to do the cover I headed straight to her website. I was pleasantly surprised that I was already familiar with her work (with the Civil Wars, Leagues, Ingrid Michaelson and Trent Dabbs, to name a few) and even owned several of the albums. We met and I blathered for about an hour about the songs on Light for the Lost Boy. At one point I told her that I kept picturing a boy in the woods with a lantern. I said it bashfully because I doubted it would make a good cover. Well, a few weeks later she sent several ideas and everyone who saw this knew right away that it was the one. Thank you Katie, and thank you Centricity Music for signing her up to work on it.
Just for laughs, I’m including a link so you can download a screensaver, and you can also click the image below for a high resolution version of the cover. Can’t wait for you guys to hear the record in August.
“We really didn’t know what this was going to be when we started recording it, but it’s kind of turned into this story that we didn’t anticipate telling–the story of our lives for the past three years.”
That’s Caleb Chapman describing his band’s newest EP, To the Ends of the World. I met Caleb on tour last fall and immediately enjoyed his company. He was 22 years old and had already been married for a few years. I enjoy the look of surprise on folks’ faces when I tell them that I got married when I was 20, but there I sat, registering the same look when Caleb told me he had one-upped me by a year. I must watch this young grasshopper closely, I thought as I stroked my beard. I knew he had a band, and that Brent Milligan (whom I’ve known for several years via his excellent production of a few Eric Peters records) had produced their latest album. I also knew Caleb’s dad (this guy named Steven).
What I didn’t know was that their music would make me ugly-cry while jogging. Several times, in fact. As soon as To the Ends of the World released I bought it, and as soon as I listened to it I loved it. It sounded like a combination of Coldplay, The Killers, and Switchfoot. It sounded fresh and full of energy and joy. But what caught my ear from the beginning wasn’t just the sound. It was the story.
I just stumbled upon this post from 2007 and was shocked by what I read. Shocked, because five years ago I seemed a few degrees wiser than I feel today. Jamie and I are in the middle of some pretty huge, life-altering decisions right now (good things, don’t worry)–decisions so big that I cried myself to sleep last night, my spirit assaulted with worry and fear. The thing about worry is that it exposes how little faith we really have. It’s something I’m discovering over and over lately, though I hate to admit it. God help my unbelief. –AP
I recently had a good, long phone conversation with a singer-songwriter about that grand old subject, Getting Started in the Music Business. He’s recorded an album but hasn’t yet taken the leap into full-time music and was asking me for some advice on the matter.
The problem is, I don’t know what kind of practical career advice to give, because what worked in my case might not (and probably won’t) work for you. I loved a pretty girl in college. I also loved to make music. I was deeply frightened that I had to choose between her and the songs, and late one night my old friend Adam said, “If God wants you to play music, dummy, you’ll play music whether you’re married or not.” So I married the girl.
On the other hand, I gave similar advice to some guy many years ago and a few months back, after one of my shows, his heartbroken ex-wife told me through tears that he had left her because he thought she was holding back his music career. It’s a good thing I don’t know where he lives, or I’d have a mind to throttle him. “If you marry the girl, dummy, God wants you to stay married, music career be damned,” I’d say.
On this fine Tuesday, allow me to brighten your day with this beautiful cover by two of my favorite people (and neighbors, more-or-less) of one of my favorite songs by one of my favorite songwriters. That’s FOUR favorites in one video. Seriously, Don and Lori Chaffer are delightful and crazy talented. If you’ve never dug into Waterdeep (or Paul Simon), here’s a good reason to correct that.
Last summer I was at my trusty Starbucks working on a Rabbit Room post when I got a phone call that changed the last five months of my life. It was my manager, Christie, asking if I’d be interested in going on tour with Steven Curtis Chapman. I remember pacing outside, processing the invitation. I knew I had to say yes, but I tried to play it cool and told her I had to think about it. In truth, I did have to think about it, but only because I was so excited; knee-jerk excitement can lead to bad decision making, and I wanted to be sure that it was the right thing for my family.
I came home for lunch and told Jamie about it, and her knee-jerk excitement affirmed my own. A day or two later I accepted the invitation and not long after that the Songs and Stories tour with Steven and Josh Wilson was confirmed. To make the deal even sweeter, Steven asked Ben Shive to be his piano player for the tour, which meant I would be on the road with one of my best friends. I spent the rest of the summer and fall swinging between disbelief and mounting excitement until the day I showed up for rehearsal. Contrary to my cynical expectation that the tour would somehow fall through, I was undeniably there, in the rehearsal studio with Steven and Josh and a world class band.
Today I’m sitting in Starbucks again, this time in Lakeland, Florida, a day away from the end of the tour, trying to think of a way to sum up the last forty-five shows.
Someone pointed me to this letter the other day, and the author (James K. A. Smith, Professor of Philosophy at Calvin College) gave us permission to re-post it here. As someone who has been in hundreds of churches over the years, I resonate with much of what Smith says. I’ve wanted to write something similar before, but didn’t because I didn’t want it to be seen as some veiled critique of my own church—a church I love.
This is a touchy subject, and it’s easy to get opinionated without affording much grace toward the music leaders. I agreed to lead the songs one Sunday at our church a few years ago, and by the time I had chosen the songs, learned the songs, chosen the keys, prepared the slides, called the band, rehearsed with the band, soundchecked with the band, and played in the service I was exhausted. My week was shot. I learned two things: 1) music leaders at churches work harder than most people realize, and 2) never agree to lead songs at church again if you hope to get anything else done that week.
If you’re not familiar with Josh Ritter’s music, here’s a piece I wrote about my discovery and ensuing fandom of his songwriting. He just released a new EP of lullabies called Bringing in the Darlings, and this video from one of the songs was fairly mind-blowing. Here’s what one of the folks at Etsy.com had to say about the making of the video:
In part one, I talked about the outset of the journey. Part two was a look back at the lack of pattern over the years, which explains the appropriate lack of readiness, which, while uncomfortable, can be very good thing. In this post, thanks to your excellent feedback, I’m going to try and get more specific about the process and try to answer some of your questions.
Right off the bat, let me address this question a few of you asked: Which comes first, the lyrics or the music? This question has been asked of songwriters for as long as there has been songwriting, I imagine. The answer isn’t very satisfying, I’m afraid, which may be why it keeps coming up. The answer is “Yes.” Or, if you prefer, “D) All the above.” Sometimes the lyric comes first, sometimes the music comes first, and sometimes they come all at once, like the doorbell and the phone ringing at the same time. When someone claims to have discovered a foolproof method for creating art—other than a willingness to work very hard at it—I doubt either their honesty or their skill.
I’d dig into that more, but I want to get us back to the studio. Reading through your questions, I realized the best way to approach this may be to choose a song from the new record and give you a play-by-play of what we ended up doing.
Like I said in part one, this isn’t meant to be a definitive piece on record making, because there are a zillion ways to approach it. I just did the math and realized this is my eighth studio record. That doesn’t include live stuff or Walk or the Slugs & Bugs CDs, nor does it include occasional shorter recording sessions like “Holy is the Lord” (for City on a Hill) or the appendices A, C, or M. I only say that to say that as I look back at all those sessions, one of the only patterns that emerges is a lack of pattern. This may be super-boring, but just for fun I’m going to try and remember a thing or two about the making of those records.
Walk (1996): I mention it here because even though it was an independent record, it was my first time in a legit studio with legit musicians. It was recorded in three days by my buddy Mark Claassen, who was interning at a studio that let us use a room after hours. To be honest, I remember little about the process except that it was maddeningly rushed. Also, we had no idea what we were doing (but we felt really cool doing it).
This post should really be called, “How We Make a Record”, or even “How We’re Making This Record”. There are a thousand ways to skin a cat, or to write a song, or to make a chocolate chip cookie–this just happens to be our recipe. That said, in some ways I’m still as mystified by it as I ever was.
I remember lying on my bed in high school with two cabinet speakers on either side of my head, listening to Pink Floyd’s A Momentary Lapse of Reason, getting delightfully lost in the music and wondering how on earth this band of Brits transferred their music to two-inch tape, then to cassette, then to the record store, then to Lake Butler, Florida, to my speakers, to my ears, and finally to my adolescent noggin.