Friday, November 19, 2010

Seven days. Seven songs. This week was unexpected. It came and went as quickly as a Houston winter. Thankfully, it wasn't as disappointing as the 3 day season. In fact, it was far from being a let down. It was certainly a challenge, but one that revived me, even after beating me senseless. Last night we had the after party. About 20 of us gathered in Casa Studio in Austin. We talked and laughed and shared. Everyone sang one song that they had written this week. There was some incredible talent in that room. I almost didn't go. I had things in Houston to do and I was tired and...I was using all of that as an excuse because I was afraid. I knew there would be incredible songwriters and I was intimidated. But all day on Tuesday it sat heavy on me. I could not shake the feeling of being compelled to go. So I contacted Debbie, another songwriter in Houston that was going and told her I'd take her up on the carpool. I showed up at her apartment at 4:20 yesterday and met her for the first time. The ride up was wonderful, the community experienced in Austin was refreshing, and the conversation on the drive home was fantasitc. I'm so glad I didn't let fear keep me from going.

I needed 7in7 for so many reasons. I had been praying that God would expand my community of songwriters. I just have been longing for a creative community. Don't get me wrong, I LOVE my current community, but there is just something different about sharing life with people who think like you do, who create, who understand the joys and pains of the creative process. I also had become very aware of my lack of discipline in regards to music and writing. With the CD coming out and God seemingly opening some doors, I knew some things needed to change on the self-discipline front. But let's be honest, I didn't know where to start and my problem is that I lack self-discipline so not knowing where to start meant I wasn't starting anywhere. Yay for 7in7 kicking me in the rear! And I needed to be reminded that there is no end to the creativity God may express through me. I needed to have a reason to stretch how and what I write about. I wrote two worship songs. In all my years of writing (probably about 14 years) I have only written one other worship song. And I had never written a peppy song about sadness. And I certainly had never written a song like Fields of Fire. All in all, despite the exhaustion and having to say no to other things and feeling worthless on somedays, this was a fantastic life-giving week. Here's the breakdown of the days:

Day One: I started out day one feeling good about what was to come. "As My Own" came fairly easily. I woke up knowing that was the song I would write.
Day Two: Not so simple. I had no idea what to write. I would write a couple of lines of lyrics and then hit a wall. By 11:54 that night I had the first 5 lines of Blue Skies and no clue what to do with them. My roommates came in and made me laugh and basically just got me to a place where I could enjoy (sort of) the process rather than being so intent on finding the perfect line. And so I finished "Blue Skies" miraculously without punching a hole in a wall.
Day 3: "Fields on Fire" was hard, but not hard like blue skies. FoF was hard emotionally. It's the first time I have written a song without hope involved. It is the first time I've allowed myself to write just about pain. And while I am not in a current place of feeling such hopelessness, I have been and I had to walk back through that desert to produce this song. It was draining, but also so healthy. I am really happy with this song.
Day Four: "Meet Us Here". I was not sure what I would write on Sunday so I just opened my Bible and read. I was reading 2 Chronicles 6 and there was one line that really struck me. "Is it true you dwell with men?". Solomon is consecrating the newly built temple and asking that the Lord would dwell there and hear the prayers of the people, but he knows that this request is not a small one. Even the heavens cannot contain God, how could the temple...and how can our hearts be a proper dwelling place for such a mighty God?
Day Five: This song was the most surprising to me. As I sat in church on Sunday and listened as Pastor Gregg asked us who our husbands were (what are the things you look toward to satisfy your thirst)and spoke of the woman at the well being cast aside by 5 men, I knew I wanted to write a song about it. I had no idea how to communicate any of that. I have never been in love so I didn't know how I would communicate loving someone and feeling cast aside by them. And then as I sat to write, this song just poured out. It was really a sweet moment with the Lord as he dealt with my heart as these words were being written.
Day Six: I sort of cheated on this one. I had written the first verse over a year ago and had forgotten all about it. So as i was reading through old documents looking for inspiration, I stumbled upon this started song. It took me all day to come up with the rest.
Day Seven: What a strange day. I was relieved and heartbroken that this week was over. That I would wake up the next day and not have to write a song. But, I'd deal with that Thursday. It was Wednesday, day seven, and I needed a song. I have an affinity for peppy poppy songs about sadness, but I have a mental block in writing such songs. When I think sad words, I hear sad melodies. So that was my goal...a peppy poppy sad song. I worked on the lyrics throughout the day and was pretty happy with them, but I had no clue what would happen when I got to my guitar. I was sure that I would be up all night and my guitar would probably be smashed into smitherenes by morning. But that wasn't at all what happened. I got home. Recorded "One" and then went to work on "Sunny Side Sadness". I started SSS about 8pm and was done by 10:30. It was a miracle!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

I did it!!! 7 songs in 7 days!!! I have had some sweet moments with the Lord this week as He used this excercise to shape and mold me. I'm sure more songs will come out of this week than just the 7 that are now written. for every finished song there were 4 or 5 ideas that didn't become songs. So...we shall see. For now, here are 6 and 7. A hymn and a happy heartache.

One by ErinWoodsMusic


If these tears of guilt could dissolve theses chains
We’d have set ourselves free by now
And if the will of man were strong enough
We’d be stormin the gates of hell
But there is only one thing
That can set a man free
It’s in the blood that spilled at the top of the hill
At Calvary

If the mind of man could all things know
There would be no more disease
If the wars we’ve fought were true and just
We’d be tasting peace
But there is only one thing that can make a blind man see
It’s in the blood that spilled at the top of the hill
At Calvary

Hallelujah to the Lamb
Who died and rose again
Hallelujah sing to Him

If silver and gold could redeem our souls
We’d have known abundant life
And if our hearts were lit by holy love
The darkness would surely hide
But there is only one thing that can make a dead man breathe
It’s in the blood that spilled at the top of the hill
At Calvary

There is only one God who can rescue and redeem
Hallelujah Christ our King

Sunny Side Sadness by ErinWoodsMusic

Sunny Side Sadness

There isn’t enough silver lining
To make this darkness brighter
And you can’t push the sun into view
To light up the night
So you’re tucked into the corner
Out of sight
baby that’s aright

Cry cry cry
Until the dawn breaks
It’s on it’s way
though the night may seem long
you feel like
Break breakin down
So darling cry cry cry
And I’ll be here by your side

You can’t lift your chin high enough
to get a glimpse of tomorrow
you can’t pick yourself up
From the weight of the world
So you lie crumpled on the floor

The better ones
Peddle their prosperity to the poor in spirit
Pushing popular ideas about the sunny side of sadness

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:35 AM | 1 comment

Becoming One of 7 in 7 (Midweek Thoughts)

Today, in a conversation about 7 in7, I was asked, “So when do you say, ‘this just isn’t for me. I may love music but I’m not going to write the next big worship song or be the next Chris Tomlin.’?”

Maybe this person was attempting to kindly steer me away from investing in something that I may not be cut out for. But I think he was honestly just asking, “How much time do you spend writing when it isn’t your living?”

And to be honest, this is a question I ask myself often. How much to I invest in singing and writing? How much time, energy, lack of sleep, even money do I spend on writing songs when there is no guarantee of a return.

And my flesh wants to know the answer. She wants to be protected from working till my fingers bleed and my eyes are bloodshot and my heart is tangled in the promises made by guitar strings and my own mind. She wants to not feel the disappointment and sting of rejection if after all, no one cares…no one who can repay my efforts.

On the other hand, my spirit, my soul, the part of me that is aware of God even when my flesh is screaming against Him, she writes because it is in her to write. She sings because she cannot do anything else. Will I be the next Christy Nockels or Nichole Nordeman? I would be arrogant and my thoughts of my ability would be far exceeding their actual might in saying yes. And yet, I would be foolish to say no. From where I sit, I do not see how I could follow such amazing talent, how I could stand in the places graced by a thousand others who know more, speak clearer, and write more beautifully than I. But my God, His thoughts are higher than mine, and His ways I do not understand. Who can say what He will do with my songs? I do know that if I don’t write any, He won’t do anything with them. It is not up to me to decide where I am in 5 years. It is up to me to be obedient to what I have been given today.

It is the same in any other ability and passion. A teacher will teach regardless of whether or not he has a formal setting in which to do so. He will teach over coffee with friends, around the dinner table; he will teach himself. A painter will paint, an athlete will compete. Not every athlete will be paid to run, to kick, throw, or jump. But every athlete will run, kick, throw, or jump anyways.

I write because I must. I sing because if I don’t, I will shrink into the darkness.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 8:44 PM | No comments

Becoming One of 7 in 7 (Song 5)

I can't believe I have written 5 songs this week. Amazing. (i will go back and post words with the songs below)

This song is based on the sermon at church last night. Pastor Gregg is teaching on John 4 and the woman at the well. At one point he mentioned that at that time, women could not divorce a man. So, that meant this woman who had had five husbands was cast aside five times. And now she had given up on marriage and was just living with number six. Pastor Gregg emphasized the thirst in all of us. This woman was trying to meet that thirst through a man...through husbands. Then he asked us, "What are your husbands?" What are the things that you look to for thirst quenching? Is it approval? Success? Attention? Love? What is it? Whatever it is won't satisfy and in fact, it will leave you feeling cast aside when it doesn't fulfill it's lofty promises. But there is a man at a well with the answers...

Cast Away by ErinWoodsMusic

Cast Away

Your fickle love leaves me longing
Thirsty for something that will satisfy
You promise your heart and instead bring your lies
And it’s clear you were on your way out
from the day you stepped into my life

You cast me aside
Just like my last love
You will steal the little faith I have left
I will swear you off as the worst of my lovers
And I’ll find another
To ease my pain
And he'll cast me off
Just the same

My heart thirsts for the depths of the well
My heart bursts from the pain
It’s left bleeding and screaming and still
I’ll find another love to soothe this dull ache
And he'll cast me off just same

But there’s a man at a well
Waiting to tell me I’m his
He cuts to the depths of my drowning heart
And breathes life where there’s only been dying

He says
Cast all aside
And at last be my love
I will revive your faith
I have sworn to restore all that your lovers destroyed
I’ll love you to death just to love you to life
So take my love and cast all else aside
Posted by Erin Posted on 8:39 PM | No comments

Becoming One of 7 in 7 (song 4)

A worship song!!! I dont' write many songs that I would classify as congregational worship songs, but this is one that should most definitely be sung by a group of God's people. It is based on 2 Chronicles 6. Solomon is consecrating the temple and acknowledging that for God to dwell with men in this temple is asking alot and Solomon acknowledges that the people of God are sinners and will sin. And then he begs God to forgive the people when they turn back to him. At the end he prays,
41 “Now arise, LORD God, and come to your resting place,
you and the ark of your might.
May your priests, LORD God, be clothed with salvation,
may your faithful people rejoice in your goodness.
42 LORD God, do not reject your anointed one.
Remember the great love promised to David your servant.”

And so, here is the song. Meet Us Here.

Meet Us Here by ErinWoodsMusic

Meet us here we pray
We cry for mercy
We cry for mercy
Let us see your face
We cry for mercy

Your people have sinned
Fallen short of all you are
And yet you forgive
And you hear our pleas


Is it true you dwell with men
Though the heavens cannot contain you
Nor is a temple built by hands
Worthy of your presence

Chorus 2x

Lord arise and rest on us
With all your might
Bring salvation
Open our eyes
To see your glory
That we may sing

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 10:41 PM | No comments

Becoming One of 7 in 7 (Song 3)

Wow! I am exhausted. I knew this would be a hard challenge but seriously. I chose to be a part of 7 in 7 for several reasons. One of those being that I wanted to stretch myself in my discipline and in my style of writing. This particular song is very different from the stuff I usually write. For one thing, it's very depressing. I have a tendency to write "God is good" songs, or "Life sucks BUT God is good" songs. I have a hard time writing about the hard things of life without adding the "but there's hope" aspect to them. So, I decided that I would take this opportunity to just write about hope to tie it up nice and pretty like. Just raw ugly angry heartache.

Now, let me also say that I do not feel the emotion of this song in my current life. However, I have felt it. I would venture to say we all have. I am sure we have all watched as our dreams died. Maybe it was a marriage or the loss of a child. Perhaps it was a friendship or even a career path. It is heartbreaking to watch what you have invested in come to an unmistakable end.

So, there you have it. This is not my favorite song of the week, but it is what it is.

Fields of Fire
Fields of Fire by ErinWoodsMusic
Posted by Erin Posted on 1:16 AM | No comments

Becoming One of 7 in 7 (song #2)

SO, here it is. Song 2 of 7 in 7. Day one was a breeze, but day 2...brutal. I had writer's block and the resulting headache all day. I kept jumping from idea to idea. I felt as though I was grasping at the air trying to catch an idea and pin it down. Even when this first part of tis song was written, I was lost as to where to go with it. But, it is done. Enjoy.

Blue Skies by ErinWoodsMusic

Thanks to Brittany Billon for talking through the inspiration, and to my roommates for coming in and talking me down from the ledge when I couldn't get past the first verse.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Posted by Erin Posted on 11:45 PM | 2 comments

Becoming One of 7 in 7

I have taken on a challenge along with about 50 other songwriters to write 7 songs in 7 days. Today was day one. Here is what I wrote.

As My Own by ErinWoodsMusic

For more information on 7 in 7 please read this.