Since I started taking my songwriting more seriously a few years ago I've learned to always be on the lookout for any kind of a cue that might have the potential to grow into a song.
As we were finalizing the list of songs that we would record for Everything Everywhere, we had settled on nine songs and were trying to decide on the tenth. I had committed to having the tenth one selected and its demo done by the end of a certain weekend so the musicians could record it early in the week.
Problem was, I didn't have a good choice for the tenth song. I had a couple of options but I didn't feel like they were really at the same level as the others we had already done, and no one who had heard them was clamoring to hear them get recorded either. Driving home from church on Sunday afternoon I had resigned myself to a particular song that I really wasn't all that excited about.
While driving home that Sunday, I heard the song "Walking Her Home" by Mark Schultz on the radio. Now, I love that song, and I think Mark Schultz is a phenomenal songwriter and storyteller, and for some reason this particular day a certain line near the end of the song stuck in my subconscious.
Later that afternoon I made one last try at finding a better song to record. I asked my son who writes his own music too whether he had any songs that might fit my CD, so he played me a song that he had written for a friend who moved away, and in an odd case of coincidence, this song also had the exact same line in it.
Now, I'm the first to admit that I'm not the sharpest tool in the shed, as they say, but hearing that same line in two different songs only a couple of hours apart connected some synapses somewhere, and I started thinking about what a song with that one line as the theme would sound like. Pretty soon my son and I were throwing ideas back and forth... A song about people at the end of their lives... full of regrets about the choices they had made and leaving their loved ones behind... with a chorus that focuses on God's mercy and grace...and it would resolve with the idea that the end of our time on earth is not really the end, but that there's a whole new existence awaiting us.
I wasn't sure how a song written at the eleventh hour would turn out, but by the time we were finished recording we had a song that I think is touching, sad and poignant, but that doesn't lose sight of the fact that even when we're at the point where there seems to be nothing left before us, thanks to God's mercy and grace, This Is Not The End.