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Song of the Day: David Wilcox

David has long been one of singer/songwriter-dom’s luminaries, one of those guys who generates anecdotes as often as songs.  There’s the one about how someone looked down an alleyway in Nashville and saw him playing a song for someone. Or the one about how he and Allen Levi played a show where each answered the other guy’s song with a song until a story had been told. Or the time he met James Taylor and James was the nervous one.

David was a special guest at the Behold the Lamb of God Christmas concert at the Ryman Auditorium in 2007, and one of my proudest moments was sitting beside him on the stage and hearing him enjoy, one after another, the music of my dear friends. He said, “Ahh” and “Mmm” in all the right places. It was a delight.

The other night he spoke in Franklin about songwriting for a few hours.  He fanned the flame of my love for stories and music and the way they come together in songs–not because of some clever line or hook, but because songs have the power to connect one heart to another. They even have the power to connect one heart to Another.

He said that when he sings a song for an audience, it’s like there are these wheat fields before him that need water. Behind him is an enormous reservoir. Playing a song that is True is like opening the tap and allowing some of that water to spill out. A beautiful picture, and the reason playing concerts and writing books thrills me so. That picture is what my song “Let There Be Light” is all about: using our gifts to speak light into the darkness, love into the loneliness, music into the clamor.

There are a lot of songs–a lot of songs–that I could choose, so I decided on the title track to the first Wilcox album I ever bought, with one of the best first lines I’ve ever heard.  It’s called “Underneath,” and features Alison Krauss and Union Station.  Here’s the iTunes link.

Underneath

I know that compassion is all out of fashion, and anger is all the rage… Grow up and give in to that cynical spin that you see on most every page

We all know what’s wrong with the system how the people are puppets and fools. If they’re not strong, it will trick them, they’ll get used up like factory tools: The kids just give up in those schools…

…yeah, but what is it, really, that’s keeping me from living a life that’s true? When the worries speak louder than wisdom, it drowns out all the answers I knew,

so I’m tossed on the waves on the surface. Still, the mystery’s dark and deep, with a much more frightening stillness… underneath

Hopelessness always comes easy. But “easy” does not make it right. Courage can look past that surface, but fear will still put up a fight.

When I get scared and scattered, and I don’t know where to begin, why even care; it doesn’t matter. Why fight when you know you can’t win? It’s easier just to give in.

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