Thursday, September 28, 2006

I've been trying to post this for two days...apparently the boys in Leeland have some sort of connection at blogger central and the powers that be don't want me taking on Christian music's brand new heroes.
If you happen to catch what was the start of the last Leeland post, I'll briefly state it again. I really like this record. There's some good creative stuff, some straight up rock songs, a lot of good worship material and some major hooks.
However, I've got problems with the AC radio release, "Yes, You Have." Here are the lyrics.

Verse 1
Ev'ry tree and ev'ry stone / Ev'ry rushing wind that moans
They sing Your praise / My God, they sing Your praise
Ev'ry star and open sky tell of Your glory divine
They shout Your praise/ /They shout Your praise, yeah
You've stolen my heart/Yes, You have / You've stolen my heart/Yes, You have
You've wiped away the stains and broke away the chains / Yes, You have
Verse 2
With Your love You set me free / Three nails gave me liberty
So I'll sing Your praise / My God, I'll sing Your praise
Oh, with Your love You forgave my sin forgot my past and brought me back again
So I'll sing Your praise / I'll sing Your praise, yeah
If I ascend into the sky or hide behind the night I cannot run
Your love is chasing me if I fall into the sea, Your hand will rescue me
No one will take Your place
Because this is all for You / Yes, this is all for You
You're the King of the world / You're the King of the world

Here's the deal - this is a great song written around a great theme: That God is a redeemer. That He destroys chains and sets us free! Something that I love singing about.
But tell me this - why would a song about God's redemption start out with a verse about rocks and trees and stars and sky? What does the first verse have to do with the chorus or second verse? I think we're seeing the Christian music industry at its ugliest here - the song's got a good melody and it's very cool, so we let it slide with a first verse that is horrible.

I also don't know that this sort of I-can't-run-from-God in the bridge thing really supports the redemption theme of the song. The bridge tries to stay true to itself by acknowledging God as "King of the world," which does support the can't-hide idea, but still does nothing to speak of God's redemption.

Listen, I'm not trying to be a songwriting jerk here, but as a writer and a worship leader, this song hacks me off. Guys like me are starving for great songs and it's extremely frustrating when you find a tune that is 50% amazing and half-lousy. I'm ashamed to say that I've written tons of songs like this and it's equally frustrating to find out my own stuff is need of major repair. But maybe in thinking this way, I can become better at this elusive thing called songwriting.

Maybe it doesn't matter - maybe it's okay for my people to sing about nature in the first verse - as long as they're focused on God.
What do you think? I'd love to know if you all find this song as unlinear as I do. I would ask, however, that you make sure your responses are led by reason and not by the fact that you are Leeland fan. They're a great band and it's a fantastic record, but this song has too many wasted opportunities.

Okay...let's talk it out, gang!


Robert said...

Being honest... I never thought about the lyrics of the song. I like the album too but had not had time to inspect the lyrics of it.

After you initial attempt of posting the lyrics I took a look. I had no idea what you were going to say about them but I remember thinking, "Hey, that first verse does not match the rest of the song." Not that it was bad or anything but it just didn't line up with what they were saying the other 93% of the piece.

So Todd, you are correct once again. However, it is hard to argue with the fact that a lot somebodies disagree with us because they are getting some serious airtime play!

Jonathan Martin said...
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Jonathan Martin said...

I thought that maybe they were following a Psalm of some sort...but found out that theory was incorrect.

I think it is important to ask, what is the artist is trying to convey through the song? I'm always interested in knowing what inspired a song, because it tells alot about what goals the artist has for the song. Maybe they don't want it to flow together...Kind-of like those paintings that look to me like nothing but paint splattered on a peice of paper. still impacts several people. That's just art. It's different for everyone. To me and you it may be crap and seem lazy...but to the several others including the artist it may be profound and something that we are just unable to see for whatever reason.

I just think it's a little hard to limit creativity because then it's not creative anymore. We can't say that something isn't "good" just because it doesn't fit inside a certain box. When considering art...good is relative.

Todd Wright said...

I agree/disagree with what you're saying's my take.

If good is relative and it's all based on what's seemed best and most right to the artist, then why does do labels hire producers? If it's all about what's profound to the artist, then let them produce themselves. In addition, why aren't labels handing out songwriting deals to everybody then?

There's a big difference between a song and a painting or even a poem. When somebody opens a book of poetry or stands in a museum, they can take all the time they want to observe and maybe learn something from the piece. Songs are very different from that. Leeland's got about three minutes to tell us something.

I agree with you that there may be something I'm missing...something that connects nature to God forgiving our sins and that I very well could be missing it. But to me, this is very obviously a song of worship to God... it's very inspiring, but I would venture that almost everybody at your school who teaches songwriting would tell you that songwriting is a balance between inspiration and craft. The song is very inspiring, but it's not well written. It's a rookie-mistake of songwriting. (Believe me, I know this - I make this mistake all the time!)

I'd be very interested as to what Belmont staff thinks of this tune.

Jonathan Martin said...

Don't get me wrong...I agree that the song lacks connection between lyrics. If you are missing something, then I am too. Also, the only song that Leeland has that I have listened to is "Sound of Melodies." So I'm not defending them because I am not familiar with their ministry.

I do think "good" music is relative though. I don't think you or I can put a blanket statement out there that something is bad. Most, older people think our music sucks. Does that mean it does? Tons of people love Derrick Webb...does that mean that you have to think he is awesome? Obviously, not.

You and I both know that the reason song writing deals and producers are hired is because it is an industry whose goal is to make money. They only make money by selling what a large group of people might think is great. In this case, the Leeland song applies. A large group of people happend to love it.

So is this a good song or not? Is Derrick Webb a good artist or not? It's cool to have an opinion, but you also have to consider that it is only that, an opinion not a fact. All of the Belmont staff I have come in contact with would say the same thing. Sure they'll give their opinion if they think it is great, or if they think it sucks. But then they will also make sure to admit that is only their opion and that it is very likely that a lot of people may love what they think is not very good. One thing they are very against is saying that one way is the only way to do it. I have yet to have a teacher or instructor give me a formula on how to write a good song or be a great artist. And I love that.

So, I understand why you don't really like this song, and I think it is great that you tell why you don't like it. But that does not mean that it is not a good song. It's just not what you look for in a good song...the good thing about sharing opinions though is that you can maybe convince more people to crave the same depth that you and I are looking for.

Paul James said...

I'd have to agree with Todd on this one, the song is just not written well. Great concept but poor execution - THAT is what I heard a lot of as an art minor in college. Good art, regardless of medium, follows certain rules or laws. In good art, be it abstract or realism, things like balance, color, line,shape, etc are present in some form.

The same goes for music. Music has definition; not everything that makes noise is music. Worship music has even more structure or definition. I'm not saying there's a formula, but not all "christian" songs are worship songs and not all worship songs are "good" music.

A worship leader has a responsibility to ensure that a song that is played in worship aligns with scripture and promotes worship. I think this song has great potential but needs more work. I'd give this song a C+.

Blake Stewart said...

Oh God, don't let Daniel see this.

Personally, I think the band is ok, but they just don't cut it for me. Some of the music is quasi-good, while the rest is lacking.

But hey he's just like 17 or 18 right? Give him some time and we'll see how his music progresses.

daniel said...

i'll always love you darkstew

JB said...

FYI - the rocks thing is from Romans 1 and the run and hide thing comes straight from Psalm 139. It doesn't necessarily make the song good but might answer your thoughts on where they got the lyrics.