Posts filed under Stories Behind Songs

The Damaged- Live Performance Video

What kind of song do you write when you feel like you stood on wobbly legs for the last time only to be knocked back down again? What kind of words do you share when it feels like the tiny tears in you heart have met each other and now you see only gashes?

What kind of melody is sung from lips on the face of someone who has found themselves in mud after life's storms have pounded so relentlessly?

What kind of song is the white flag of surrender? The deep aching groan for help? The last whisper before words dry up?

What kind of song acknowledges, even if only in the asking, that their is a place to reach for? Someone to grab for? Help to be found? Someone who will rescue?

This song is my answer:

The Damaged- Live Video Performance

Please pass this song around to any you may know who need to fit these words inside their fragile beating hearts.

The Damaged Sarah MacIntosh

Red is the color of my heart as it cries hush hush Pouring like the river torn apart as it pleads hush hush Keep stepping further from the scene whisper softly hush hush Wreckage scattered wildly crumbling look away and hush hush

I don’t want to be the one whose broken I don’t want to be the one who falls apart I don’t want to be damaged

Keep binding, sewing, mending no one notice hush hush Stitches gather wounds and keep them clean mine are numbered hush hush Face twitching sweaty palms are tells mine are screaming hush hush Eyes down and waiting for the gale start the tipping hush hush

I don't want I don't wanna be I don't wanna be...


I was recently asked to do a video blog for my song "Hope." I gathered my thoughts about the writing of this song and set to work putting on my camera face. There are times when it is hard to put into words what the thoughts behind a song are, perhaps because they are too emotionally wound around my heart, but this song is a clear memory. Maybe it is clear because I wrote this song with a friend of mine, Jimmy Robeson, and at the point of writing this song we had already written many songs together and were comfortable in the writing process. We opened our bibles, dug through our hearts and were quick to agree about what we felt like we ourselves and the church were needing to say. We were so quick in fact that we had the entire song written and a demo recorded within just a couple of hours. It was like this song was pushing its way out, ready to be heard and passed around, so it could find its place vibrating through the throats of all those desperate to cling to its hope filled lyrics. In two weeks my album, "Current," with this song, "Hope," is being released, worldwide, by Integrity Music. You can mark your calendars for March 6th but until then you can listen to the track playing along with this video blog about it. Please share it with your friends. You will see the Facebook share button and the Twitter tweet button, please use both because the moment I recorded this song it became not for only me, but for all who's hearts are already beating

"We have hope! We have hope! Let our mourning Spread Your glory We have hope!"


So It Begins...

Here I go. I've made a u-turn and am heading back into what may possibly be the hurt zone. Years ago I was in a band on the christian record label, Sparrow Records. We released bits of our hearts on a CD that they released to big media acclaim and even bigger radio and sales failure. I packed my bags and headed to California where I thought I would have to pursue "non-christian" music in order to have a career since my christian music was not connecting with the christian audience, but, a funny thing happened, the more I found myself recovering from the backlash of rejection, the more obviously christian and God centered my lyrics became. I wrote tons of songs that are so dark and depressing that even Edgar Allen Poe would tire of them, but, the songs I was most excited about writing were the songs about life, hope, joy, peace, comfort, resolution...the songs about my Savior. The Savior of mine who was active in this transition time of my life and still is. I tucked away the Poe-esque songs (well most of them, I still think there is a need for lament songs in our worship) and I started bringing out these new bits of my heart for others to hear. And you know what happened? Laughing and tomato throwing? No, connection. I saw understanding on the faces of those who were hearing my new songs. I heard their hearts of thankfulness for putting words to their stories. And so I turned my ship back around and headed back into the unknown waters of christian music. (You can read my blog about signing with Integrity Music here: "Yep, I’ve Signed With Integrity Music!") I am, with my friends at Integrity, pushing forward into the place that I once thought might crush me with the hope that there are those out there who will grab a hold of these new songs of mine and say, "Yes! This is for me! These are the songs of my heartbeat." Are you out there? I've heard whispers about you and I'm coming with a slew of songs we can sing, cry, and shout together.

The first step is a single, a song called, "We Should Run." I will be writing a blog about it later, but for now you can call your radio stations and request it as well as trotting right over to iTunes and downloading it right here:

"We Should Run"

You are the tree like branches who will help me get this song and my upcoming CD out there, so stretch out your long arms by re-tweeting, sharing and whispering to those around you while you join me singing

"We should run, we should be laughing We should look and see, He is lifted high! We should shout, we should be dancing We should call and find a Savior who's alive!"

The Hopes And Fears...

A few weeks back I was sitting with a friend talking about a line out of the Christmas song "O Little Town Of Bethlehem." The line is found in the first verse of the song

O little town of Bethlehem, How still we see thee lie! Above thy deep and dreamless sleep The silent stars go by. Yet in thy dark streets shineth The everlasting Light; The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

What a beautiful and odd lyric.

The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

I have done quite a bit of research on this lyric to try to discover the original meaning that the author intended but try as I might, there is no interview with the author explaining it's meaning. This is probably due to the fact that it was written by the rector of the Church of the Holy Trinity in 1868 and was only really intended for his Sunday school Christmas service. The rector, Phillip Brooks, gave his lyrics, the week before the Sunday service, to his organist and asked him to write the music for the song. According to the organist, he had difficulty writing it and wasn't able to come up with what would be the music until the night before the service. Sheesh! Now that is pushing it, but, sometimes it is in the crunch time, when you are not triple thinking yourself that you, as a songwriter, can come up with your best ideas. In the case of the organist, I think this is also true.

Just think of that melody on that line

The hopes and fears of all the years Are met in thee to-night.

Ahhh. It is perfect.

So what does that line mean?

I have a few songs that I've written over the years that I don't like to explain the meaning to. In the beginning I never intended to hide the meaning of these songs but ended up keeping them to myself after people would come to me and excitedly describe to me what the song or songs meant to them. It reminds me of a C.S. Lewis quote I read once in his book "The Four Loves"

"In each of my friends there is something that only some other friend can fully bring out. By myself I am not large enough to call the whole man into activity; I want other lights than my own to show all his facets."

Songs are like this. Each different listener brings out a different meaning or facet or view of the song. They shed light from a different perspective and reveal something new that is wrapped in the words and melody making that revelation, through the lens of their lives, a great beauty for the rest of us to behold.

I think this lyric has been one of those with a kaleidascope of meaning as revealed by thousands of listeners and singers throughout the years. Listeners who have tucked these words right into their hearts and then breathed out it's personal meaning to them with each aching heartbeat.

So tell me, what light do you have to shine on this lyric?

What revelation do you have?

Please do us a favor and let us see this lyric through the your light and perspective so that we can know it more than we ever have before.

Comment below and tell me, what are those hopes and fears met in Jesus that night 2000 years ago?

The No-Longer-Lonely's...

20 hours.

That's the amount of travel time that I spent getting to and from a place where I spoke and sang on Friday night.

9.5 hours to get there and 10.5 hours getting home, all for 1 hour of singing/speaking.

I am now sitting on the flight home typing this blog as the last few of those hours go by. Outside the window I see clouds and the setting sun, even though when today's travel began the sun was just barely starting it's ascent into the sky.

I sit and think. Why do I do what I do? Why would I travel so much knowing that there is a high likelihood of men with broad shoulders sitting next to me on planes, forcing me to lean like the Tower of Pisa for an entire flight or women at airline check in counters, who don't like the look of me and the guitar on my back, who give me a hard time about carrying my guitar onto the plane or people leaving me in the cold waiting for them to pick me up while my luggage surrounds my feet, or many breakfasts, lunches and dinners that will consist of only the peanuts or crackers or cookies the plane supplies?

Because, each time I do, I come off of the stage and speak to the people that were sprinkled throughout the audience who connected with what I sang.

Brokeness Joy Grief Love Excitement Happiness Relief Exhaustion Hope Longing Praise

All of these things I wrap carefully into songs. Weaving them bit by bit with melody and lyric, hoping for that moment where, what I have learned, what I know, what I question, and what I search for meets the same in someone else and the two of us can share our stories and see that we are not alone.

Once again, this happened on Friday night and once again I left knowing that this is what I am supposed to do.

So, now, as I look out the window, the sun now hidden until morning, I see the un-countable dots of light that are street lamps and signs illuminating cities where people finish their days. I think of how many are celebrating or smiling or surrounded or hopeful or giving or laughing or satisfied or at peace. Then, I think of how many of them are feeling isolated or lonely or hopeless or un-championed or unnoticed or unwanted or unheard or unvoiced. Maybe there are those out there for whom my words are their words. Maybe their story is my story.

I travel looking for these people. Then, I step onto the stage and I hand over my words, hoping that they are present in the audience so I can say, "Here, these are for you. I think we share a bit of the same story."

So, if you are there, out in the crowd of faces at my next show please say hello. Let me know that you are one of the No-Longer-Lonely's. We could stick together, all of us, and make quite a rag-tag group.

Singing the song of Christmas...

I don't know why, but this year I felt like I wanted to wait till it was actually December before talking about my Christmas CD. In fact, I have downloaded and made a playlist of all of my favorite Christmas music along with all of the new CD's that have come out this year (no, not the Justin Bieber Christmas) but I still couldn't bring myself to listening to it yet. There has been something, since becoming a mother, that has caused me to want to slow down, take a deep breath and live in today's moment. My daughter is now only 3 years old and explaining Thanksgiving was something that needed to be done for a large portion of the month of November, yet I still am unsure she truly understands what the holiday was about. So, since I didn't want to confuse her by going straight out of the turkey stupor into the candy cane madness I have waited, and I'm thankful that I did.

So, here we are, December 1. Let's charge straight towards Christmas with all the holiday cheer it brings.

One of the most Christmas-y things about this season, to me, is the music. Because of that, I thought I might make my own version of this holiday's songs so that if you found yourself wanting to decorate your tree, snuggle by the fire, bake in the kitchen, take a long drive into the snow laden country, or wrap gifts with the soundtrack of Christmas songs then perhaps my CD would be the one that would make the moment right.

The songs are traditional and familiar except the one that I wrote myself called "There Is A Star." You can find my thoughts behind why I wrote this song in my blog "With One Breath He Came." The CD is a swirl of glockenspiel, vibraphone, tympani drums, marimba, among many other instruments. I ha, haaa'd and oh, oooh'd stacking and layering my vocals one on top of the other until I thought I might pass out. All so that the Christmas songs sounded like Christmas songs.

If this sounds like a Christmas season soundtrack that you would like to add to your Christmas playlist then go download it here on my music page, it's only $5:

"With One Breath He Came"

Merry Christmas and happy Christmas memory making!

Posted on November 30, 2011 and filed under Anything and Everything, Stories Behind Songs.

After The Inhale (Story Behind The Song "Calling, Calling")

I've been thinking a lot about breathing and the function of our lungs. The process is started by the contraction of the diaphragm, just below the lungs, causing air to flow into and fill the lungs. The air that is drawn in is sifted through, separating what is needed (oxygen) and what is not needed (carbon dioxide, nitrogen, helium, etc.), and then the part of the lungs called the alveoli grabs a hold of that oxygen and hands it off to the bloodstream, where the much needed source of life is pushed from fingertips to toe tips. After the sifting has occurred, the diaphragm relaxes and the remaining gases are forced back out of our lungs, rejoining the air around us. This process is repeated approximately 22000 to 24000 times per day, almost always unnoticed. We breathe in, we breathe out. Inhale, exhale. And then again,

and again.

The way that people who don't know Christ perceive Him, through people who claim to know Him, is similar. The things we say and do make up the "air" around them and at some point they inhale, usually unnoticed, these words and actions and their brain and heart goes to work sifting through what has been said and done, deciding if there is any life within them.

This thought is heavy.

I know many people both close to me and acquaintances, even someone unmet who happened to walk by the amphitheater where I am singing or someone at the table next to me in a restaurant, who do not know or choose to believe in this Savior, Creator, God at whose feet I have placed my life. This God who's Spirit fills me with any life worth having. This God who has promised to, someday, make all things right. This God whose very existence explains the unexplainable, fills in the voids, gives purpose, and displays the only example of perfect love this world has ever seen.

Romans 1:19-20 says,

"For that which is known about God is evident to them and made plain in their inner consciousness, because God [Himself] has shown it to them. For ever since the creation of the world His invisible nature and attributes, that is, His eternal power and divinity, have been made intelligible and clearly discernible in and through the things that have been made (His handiworks). So [men] are without excuse [altogether without any defense or justification]...."

With just these two verses I feel the weight of responsibility. I am part of His handiwork. I am one of the things He has made, therefore, He should be seen through me.

Have I relinquished my grip on the things that would distort or poison His life that is housed within me? Have I continued to cling to things that would drive His Spirit away like two repelling magnets making clear Galatians 5:17

"For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another...."

Have I been surrounding myself with unbreathable, lifeless air that is being inhaled and coughed back out by those around me?

I can know if I find myself living in a way that Galatians 5:19-21 describes:

"repetitive, loveless, cheap sex; a stinking accumulation of mental and emotional garbage; frenzied and joyless grabs for happiness; trinket gods; magic-show religion; paranoid loneliness; cutthroat competition; all-consuming-yet-never-satisfied wants; a brutal temper; an impotence to love or be loved; divided homes and divided lives; small-minded and lopsided pursuits; the vicious habit of depersonalizing everyone into a rival; uncontrolled and uncontrollable addictions; ugly parodies of community."

I want to make sure that this is not the air that envelopes me, but instead I desire to express life through my actions and words and songs and deeds and Galatians 5:22-23 describes what this looks like:

"affection for others, exuberance about life, serenity...a willingness to stick with things, a sense of compassion in the heart, and a conviction that a basic holiness permeates things and people. We find ourselves involved in loyal commitments, not needing to force our way in life, able to marshal and direct our energies wisely."

I want people to see real Love.

I want people to inhale life.

These are the thoughts that swirled within my head and heart until finally latching themselves to a melody, forming a song. A song that I could sing to remind myself that everything I say or do could be being inhaled by someone who does not know Christ and set their brains and heart to work, sifting, sifting, looking for anything worth holding on to, anything that would bring them life.

I am posting the lyrics to my new song "Calling, Calling" below and if you would like to listen you can find it by clicking the title below:

Calling, Calling

When the road is long And the mountain steep Let my mouth find words Any word that I could speak To find myself calling after you

If my words had a meaning If my life pulled away Then I would find the mountains move move move If I spoke with assurance If my heart joined my head Then I could tell you how to breathe breathe breathe Cause

Light is brighter Air more fragrant Hope is here in my hand Life will be without end

Changer, chameleon I will be red and then I’m green Let my heart find strength Any strength so I will keep And find myself waiting on you