7 more days!!!

Track 4. Little Bit Crazy

I remember writing this song so well. It often happens in the morning, as I am still half asleep and starting to wake up. If it’s really quiet in the house, I start to hear a melody in my head. If I don’t get out of bed right then and there to go jot it down, I will fall back to sleep and lose it. So, I stumble out of bed with this unsung melody going through my mind. It was a bouncy tune, like a Francesca Battistelli song. Problem was, I was in the habit of writing slower songs, so it was really stretching me to get out of my box and try to think while it was too early in the morning. So I quickly jotted down the thoughts from my head onto a piece of paper and played out a scratch melody idea on the piano, then recorded it onto my iPhone (my usual M.O.). Then I went back to the bedroom and crawled back into bed.

I continued to work on the song. I wanted it to be fun and about this crazy life of being a Christian, where it seems like we are salmon swimming up the river against the stream (how ’bout that Pacific Northwest analogy?). Seriously, it’s pretty crazy as a believer, living in a world where right is wrong and left is right (so to speak). We literally have to go against the grain of popular culture to take a stand for what we believe in. But it’s okay, because it strengthens us. And one day we will reach our  goal.

So here is the life lesson in the song. I used to get mad at myself when I would spill my coffee in the mornings, when heading out the door to go to work or run errands. I started thinking about it more and more and realized, it was more often a given fact, that I would spill my coffee. Was I really going to let spilled coffee on my clothes ruin my whole day when it just started? My attitude needed to change. How ridiculous. After all, didn’t God create me to live a victorious life, not to be defeated by a measly 8 oz. cup of black java that I chose to do balancing antics with? I started to change my perspective and tune about it. I shrugged my shoulders one day after spilling all over myself, and just decided to accept it. Life was going to be okay! I even started to tell myself after a good spill, “it’s going to be a good day!” And there you have it. It’s important to not let the little things of life get the best of you. The big things either, for that matter. I now laugh at spilled coffee!

SongwritingSessionWithEricDarkHorseIt was a writing day at Dark Horse in May 2013 with my Producer Eric Copeland. We were digging through all of my song ideas. I finally, kind of reluctantly, pulled out this last idea of the day. I told Eric he probably wasn’t going to like it. I think it was reverse psychology. He really did like it! And he came up with a nice peppy arrangement idea to go with my melody and lyrics. It was very fun to see it come to life with the ideas swimming.

Mark Baldwin & Gary Lunn
Mark Baldwin & Gary Lunn

It was a song that was not produced in studio, but was passed around from session player to session player in their home studios, so they had a lot of time to get into the song. In fact, by the time Mark Baldwin (guitar) got done with it he told my producer, “Little Bit Crazy is a little bit whacked!” It was so awesome, the effects he put on it. I swear I think I can hear a Galactica space ship battle in it…it’s so cool! Then Tigger and Roo come bouncing around through there. Yeah, my imagination loves this song. Gary Lunn’s bass dances all around there. I love to dance around to it! We also had a feel for some Sergeant Pepper’s in there, so we got the idea for the brass in the middle. Seems like it’s just one big parade…going silly in the wrong direction.

Barry Green
Barry Green

 

Little Bit Crazy

©2013 Jen Haugland and Eric Copeland
Jen Haugland Music (ASCAP)/From The Moment Music (BMI)

 

V1
Such a sleepy head
When I stumble out of bed
You plant a song that’s right there on my tongue
Need to get it all down
Before I’m losing the sound
That is humming from a melody unsung

Ch
Life’s a little bit crazy, but I know
It moves me to worship You more
Just a little bit crazy against the flow
But You’re all I’m longing for

V2
Running out the door
With the coffee I poured
Gotta get all these errands out of the way
Then I take a big sip
And it spills from my lips
And I shrug cause it’s still gonna be a good day

Chorus

Bridge
I get a different view of my day, I’m not the same
Moving in rhythm with a sway, and I’ve gotta say
It’s a little bit crazy
Yeah

(Instrumental)

Life’s a little bit crazy
Just a little bit crazy
Hey…

Ch
Just a little bit crazy, but I know
It moves me to worship You more
Just a little bit crazy against the flow
But You’re all I’m longing for

Life’s a little bit crazy, but I know
It moves me to worship You more
Just a little bit crazy against the flow
But You’re all I’m longing for

 

Session Players:

Eric Copeland (keys)

Steve Baldwin (guitar)

Gary Lunn (bass)

Ken Lewis (drums)

Barry Green (trombone)

 

8 more days… (well, as I write…almost 7)…

Track 3. Where I Am

This is the title track to the project. It was a no brainer, however, it took us a while to figure it out, as we went through all the songs and lyrics while doing vocals out at Dark Horse in Franklin. We realized I had used the words “where I am” in two songs on the project…well, at least we thought. Then, as I was singing through the bridge of another song, we found yet a 3rd reference to “where I am”. So, that is how the title came to be for the album. I guess I have been thinking a lot over the past couple of years about where I am.

Honestly, I am not sure where I am (so many unknowns), but I know whose hands I am in, and I guess that is good enough for me. With all the uncertainty that I am surrounded in, I know for sure that I am not alone. My God is leading and directing my life and every day is a journey discovering where He is taking me along the way. I know that as I wrote these lyrics I was thinking often about how inviting it is when one is outside on a cold and gray rainy day, to find a home beckoning you closer to the warmth that exudes beyond the window panes. I think of the fire that might be burning inside and how I would love to just go right up to the door and be welcomed in: to sit down in a comfortable chair and be warmed up.

That’s how I feel God is. He is always right there…waiting for me to open that door and come right in and visit with Him in front of the warmth of His presence. It is a peaceful place where I can find rest from the rainy days of life. Sometimes I just get so busy with life and keep walking around the block, yet one more time. I think I have to get just one more thing done, when I really know I ought to stop what I am doing and just go inside and spend the time with Him. It’s what I really need anyway to keep me going each and every day.

I think it makes God sad when I don’t come sooner than later, but I know that He always rejoices when I finally do come to spend time with Him away from all the distractions. He takes me where I am. I don’t have to pretend to have it all together. He knows me and so the facade can fade away; it doesn’t help me get any closer to Him anyway. But when I just go on in and just be who I am (who He made me to be…ME) and say, “I’m here, God!”, He loves it and He takes me right where I am. Even if I’m at a loss for words.

I just wish I would get in the habit of going inside much quicker instead of fiddling around with going around the block so many times. And stop in more often. I do love my Savior so much. He is who I am living for.


Image_fotor

Where I Am
©2013 Jen Haugland
Jen Haugland Music (ASCAP)

V1
I’m a little late, broke Your heart again
I’m at Your door, will You let me in
It’s cold outside, seems I’ve lost my way
Been around this block, many times today

PC
Your light is shining bright
And it’s a welcomed sight

Ch
You take me where I am
Any time of night or day
Even rainy days when
I haven’t got the words to say
Oh, You take me, You take me
Where I am

V2
Here’s my famed façade, didn’t serve me well
Only kept me far from Your love until
I saw my heart, it was all alone
An empty void only You could fill

PC

Chorus

 

Today is 10 days before the release of my first full album project, Where I Am, produced and co-written with Eric Copeland of Creative Soul Records, Nashville, TN. I can’t think of a more creative way to do a countdown to one of the most exciting times for me personally (besides marriage, babies and baptisms), than to do an official countdown with what was behind every song that I wrote on the album. 10 song (11 tracks due to an instrumental) in 10 days! Wish it had been that simple in real life!

I’ll start off in order to keep the consistency and flow of the tracks!

Track 1. Deep Into You

This is my very first song that I decided to be brave on and write with a guitar. Since most of my writing is done on the piano, and I had heard that if you want to change up your writing, try a different instrument, I thought why not. And thus was born…a secular song. I must have been thinking I should try and write a cool rock star song, since I was playing it on my guitar. But it didn’t really fit with my inspirational Christian genre, so I decided I needed to give it a holy transformation. I thought (and said to myself), “self, what if you were writing this song to God? How would you show others all that He is for you?” And so the challenge was before me.

The lyrics were about 2/3rds finished when we tracked in session with the guys at Steve Dady’s. The day of tracking, I was actually en route from Seattle to Pittsburgh with a layover in Chicago with a puppy in tow.

Said puppy of interest
Said puppy of interest

So, here I am, listening to my first two songs being tracked in Nashville, TN on an app streaming live from Steve’s studio, while I’m trying to potty my puppy on a pee pad at Midway airport in the handicap stall. It was so surreal! I mean, magic was happening on the other side of this amazing technology of my iPad and MacBook Pro with the most talented and skilled session players Nashville has to offer in the CCM music industry; and here I am in a stall, begging a silly little puppy to please go potty so I can focus on hearing my song. Geez, didn’t all the women in the bathroom know how cool my stall was? (I think I should take this important moment to clarify to you, I was not using the bathroom, myself – neither did the puppy for that matter).

After the guys finished their tracking of my second song and I had just finished texting my producer about how surreal things where based on the above antics, he proceeds to tell the players (and I can hear him saying this over the app), “Hey guys, check this out…she’s in a handicapped stall in the women’s bathroom at Midway airport pottying a puppy on a pee pad while listening to her song get tracked!” Laughter erupts in studio. Bass player Mark Hill says, “Now that’s something I haven’t heard before!” How embarrassingly funny. I was both mortified and immortalized. I had to laugh. I guess one always wants a way to stand out, when making a first impression…Yeah, some session players now know me as the artist that was pottying a puppy on a pee pad in a handicap stall at Midway airport. Say that 10 times fast!

After puppy and I finished in the bathroom, I received a “ruff” (not a dog ruff, but a music track rough) of Deep Into You by Steve. So here I am now, walking to my next gate and listening to Dave Cleveland totally rock out my song in a crazy screaming e. guitar instrumental in the middle of the song (well, sort of seemed like it, it was so awesome). All of the sudden, I had a serious rhythm in my step, my heart was pounding and I was feeling a Sylvester Stallone, Rocky moment. I wanted to shout out “Stella!” I was near tears to hear my scratch demo so magically transformed. People at my gate would have been worried had they seen me crying, so I attempted to tough it out…with a cute puppy to keep me company!

Getting back to the lyrics, the focus of the song was reflecting desert wandering. You know how there is this easier way of life if you just obey and follow God’s lead (not that His ways are always easy)? Or there is the “hey, let’s go down this path, it looks more exciting and dangerous!” (and stupid).

Anyway, traveling down roads that bankrupt your soul and leave you parched, can make you very thirsty for truth and a living water that never ends. What’s even more cool (besides a cold glass if water) is the fact that no matter how awful and treacherous your path has been, God doesn’t waste a thing and helps you take that story and turn it into a testament of His goodness in your life! So, if you must go through the desert (and here is my disclaimer: I really don’t recommend it), bring water…

Deep Into You
©2013 Jen Haugland
Jen Haugland Music (ASCAP)
Deep Into You

V1
Like a thirsty soul in a desert land
I was desperate at my core
Every other path had kept me wandering and
I was needing something more

Ch
I’m falling deep into You
Away from everything that I’ve been through
I’m falling deep into You
It’s the best thing I’ll ever do

V2
Find the meaning in every day of life
There’s a reason why I’m here
As my struggles shape and redefine me
They’re drawing me so near

Ch

IMG_4865

Session Players
Dave Cleveland (e.guitar)
Mark Hill (bass)
Jason Webb (keys)
Ken Lewis (drums)

Steve Dady (engineer)

Sunset Blvd Studios, Brentwood, TN

(continued from Part II)

That night we stayed up late and we all gathered around the campfire. We worshiped our hearts out under the dark night sky to our Heavenly Father above and it was so beautiful. We thought surely God was glorified in His creation that night by us. After we worshiped we each shared a song we had written. It was incredible to hear all the talent that came from each songwriter. I learned a lot about the heart of each writer that night.

But nothing was more beautiful than our final morning together. Cindy gave us a gift of scripture to go and silently meditate on for 30 minutes. It is an understatement to say that the scripture each person received, ministered directly to his/her heart as if it were meant to be. God is so intentional! Afterwards we had a sweet time of worship in that upper room and then tears flowed as we shared what scripture we had received and what it meant to us in our lives at this time. Beautiful, beautiful hearts… and these are the hearts that will write the songs.

Thank you, Cindy, for a precious weekend of investing in us! We have started off your intensives with a new template… and as one of my new friends said this weekend, “until we meet again…”

 

(continued from Part I)

Our longest day was Saturday. We talked about the Big Idea and saying 1 thing and 1 thing only in our songs. We experienced two more opportunities of songwriting in groups of 3 or 4 to focus and write within a select amount of time around a theme. Probably the most grueling (and possibly because it was our third time that weekend) was the afternoon/evening session with special guest and gifted songwriter Sam Mizell. Sam critiqued our first round of our songwriting and then sent us off to make our changes. An hour later we had to come back and present our re-writes.

Sam was generous to come around and give us feedback even in our working groups, which gave us a lot of real-time feedback to work with. Not all of

Sam Mizell

his comments were easy to hear, but we were also stretched beyond the status quo as he challenged us to go beyond and consider the obscure. He pointed out hooks and themes that took our songs to different levels than we thought before. Sam has written for numerous artists, has a Grammy nomination and many Dove awards. We figured he knew what he was talking about! 🙂 Cindy wanted us to understand the importance of our words and that every one of them should be chosen strategically. We only have 3-4 minutes to convey our thoughts in a song so we need to make our words few as more words have less meaning. (continued in Part III)

 

I thought I would share about my weekend as I have finally recovered from it. There really aren’t a lot of words to describe it as it was beyond describable at times. But this last weekend 24 songwriters gathered from all over the country, including Canada, to attend a Cindy Wilt Colville Songwriting Intensive Retreat at Deer Run Retreat Center south of Nashville. Even though we all willingly went it was as if we were all happy little atoms gathering around, until we collided into each other in close quarters of the retreat center like atoms that bind together to make new molecules and then those molecules come together to form new elements… or for this purpose…new songs!

We were challenged in new ways as songwriters and in how to learn to work with other writers that had different perspectives, styles and skills of songwriting. Some were blessed enough to already have cuts by major recording artists, open for other artists in concert, perform in ministries, etc. Many were worship leaders in their own churches and others still seeking direction. But what we all had in common was our faith in Christ and to become better songwriters.

Here are a few highlights that made it so special:

Friday night we had dinner together, settled into our rooms and had our first lecture. Cindy’s theme for the conference focused around Psalm 45:1 “My heart overflows with a pleasing theme; I address verses to the king; my tongue is like the pen of a ready scribe.” (ESV) We learned that the word of God really needs to be our wellspring in songwriting. We addressed creativity, what gives our song breath and being a songwriter in community. We were placed in our first small groups to songwrite from an idea or theme. For most of us it was a first time to come together in a group co-write. That night we went to bed wondering what the rest of the weekend would hold for us. It was our weekend for having “margin in our lives.” (continued under Part II)