Sunday, 1 February 2009

Behind The Song: More Than I Could Say

You have called me your friend
When I was happy to be your servant forever

This song took 10 years to write from the initial inspiration to completion. It started with the idea that Jesus calling his disciples his friends in John 15:15 is in part an example of God being "able to do far more abundantly than we ask or think" (Eph. 3:20). I started to write a tune and more lyrics, filling out that thought with other examples but ended up shelving it. I finally picked it up again 7 years later, finishing the song on a piano whilst on holiday, in a house that poet Walter De La Mare had once lived in.

2 years = 2 chords & 1 word

Then came 2 years of rewrites! The chorus originally ended "How great is the love you lavish on us", the extended chorus repeated it a few more times before leading to the bridge which started "How great is the love..." Sometimes you have to sing things to someone else before you realise how dumb they are! Also the extended chorus didn't go into the bridge smoothly. It took me another year and a half to find the 2 words and 1 chord that solved the problem.

What have you done for ME lately?

Writing this song from the perspective of 'what God has done for ME' I was struck afresh by how little the bible says about the individual christian and how much the focus is on the people of God and how out of sync this is with the western culture I live in.

Dark keys & odd structures

The song starts in the minor key and uses a pedal tone in the bass (Dm, Bb/D, C/D, Bb/D) making it sound a little dark. This was a conscious response to the overuse of major keys in western worship music. It seems like the rule is 'If it's worship – it's major' even when handling themes of lament, the cross or the wrath of God. I guess I'd like to redress the balance a little. That said, the song shifts to the relative major (F) in the chorus and bridge but also uses chord 'borrowed' from the key of F minor. The tune at the end of the short chorus reappears in the bridge.

Finally the long chorus/short chorus idea was inspiried by the odd structures in Bacharach & David songs like 'Never fall in love again' and 'Do you know the way to San Jose'. But they are way better at that kind of stuff than I am.

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