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Song by Song: Heart

[Editor’s note: Andy Osenga’s new EP, Heart, is now available. Here’s Andy with a song-by-song breakdown of the record. Enjoy.]

“No Heart Beats Alone” My friend Russ Ramsey had open heart surgery this past year (you may have read about it here). He was telling me about all he was learning about the heart and how it works and said he asked the doctor if it was hard to get the heart beating again once you stopped it. The doctor replied, “No, it’s hard to get it to stop. It starts right up. The heart is made to beat. It wants to beat.”

How powerful.

Two heart cells floating in a petri dish will, Russ told me, find each other and begin beating in time. No heart can beat alone.

The guitar at the end is my Les Paul, through my new Tyler JT45, on some stage in some church somewhere between soundcheck and the show.

“Belle Isle” I was in Richmond, Virginia, with the Behold the Lamb tour and went out for a run. It was a damp, foggy day and I ended up running along the James river. The interstate goes over the river on two huge bridges and underneath was this strange, snaking walking bridge hanging just above the fog.

One is helpless but to cross this sort of thing.

I thought it would bring me to the other side of the river, but it didn’t. It dropped me off on an island. It was beautiful. There were kayakers racing through the rapids along the shore six feet from where I was running. Trails up and down the rocky, wooded hills were everywhere. I had found some sort of mystic Southern Narnia.

Scattered around the island were those little historical markers, talking about what used to be on that spot. Turns out this island, Belle Isle, was a Confederate prison for soldiers captured at Gettysburg. The South had nowhere near enough resources to take care of its own people, let alone its prisoners of war. They essentially left an estimated 14,000 men to freeze and/or starve to death here on this gorgeous spot.

This song is what I imagine a letter sent back home from one of these prisoners might look like.

“Until You Provide” I’m self employed. So are most of my friends. This song is a fictional summary of a thousand conversations I’ve had within my community. We work as hard as we can and try our best to be good husbands and dads and sometimes it feels like the pressure is just never going to let up.

If it works like it’s supposed to, this is one of those songs that you either get or you don’t. If you don’t, just listen again in a few years.

Pretty much every note of this song was recorded in the 2-year-old room of some church, at a table built for 2-year-olds. My back still hurts from hunching over.

“Out of Town” Our house has flooded twice in the last 3 1/2 years. It’s hard to state just how devastating that has been for our family, in so many ways, not to mention the time lost on my career.

Like so many difficult things, it’s hard to understand how God can be there for us when we’re in it. So many people said things they thought were helpful, but just weren’t. What I had to hold on to was the same thing David did in the Psalms. “I don’t see you now, but I’ve seen you in the past and so have the people I trust, so I’m going to believe you’re still here.”

“She is a Foreign Country” I’m married to a smart, funny, and beautiful woman. My Legos would never have believed you if you’d told them this when I was twelve years old.

It has slowly dawned on me over the past eleven years that I won’t begin to learn everything there is to know about this woman sleeping a foot away from me every night. She is at least twenty lifetimes of beauty to be discovered and celebrated.

When I’m in beautiful places all over America I love to imagine what it would have been like to be the first person to walk over this hill and see this valley or waterfall or canyon or mountain. That thrill of discovering a new land will surely be something we’ll experience in heaven.

This is how I feel with my bride. I keep walking along and randomly looking up and being knocked out by some stunning uncharted aspect of God’s glorious creation in her. The writing of this song is a map on a napkin of what I’ve seen so far.

“The House Where No One Spoke” Like most of my favorite songs of my own, and this is one of my all-time favorites, I still don’t really know where this all came from. I just know I love it and believe in every word of it.

We want so desperately to feel some control that we kill the things we say we love. But we have no control over anything but our own response to the madness of the world.

It is kindness, after all, that accomplishes what anger and armies and manipulation and money never can. Kindness changes us. The fruit of the Spirit growing within us is love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against these things there is no law, there is only mercy, forgiveness, trust, and redemption.

Lord, let me be someone whose heart reaches out with kindness rather than grasps tightly to not lose control. I don’t have it anyway.

This was recorded in the middle of the night at my daughter’s art table in our basement, which used to actually be a studio, but, courtesy of one of those floods, is now a play room.


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