panning for gold

35 Hours

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A few minutes ago, I shared this on Twitter:

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It's true. Art encourages us to forge friendships and learn from people we might ordinarily assume we have nothing in common with.  Music has made me feel more connected to the rest of humanity - thus, less alone - all my life.

A couple months ago I wrote about the song and idea behind "Panning for Gold," and the new work I was thinking about as I wrote was this upcoming EP of cover songs I'm working on with producer Ben Shive.

Austin Kleon, whose book Steal Like An Artist I highly recommend, writes:

What a good artist understands is that nothing comes from nowhere.  All creative work builds on what came before...You are the sum of your influences.

He also quotes Goethe:

We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.

I was shaped and fashioned especially by the sounds I soaked in during my teens and early 20s, and I believe they are worth celebrating.

If you're not convinced that bringing a new voice to old songs can be worthwhile, I heartily recommend these fine examples by Sleeping At Last, or this one by Greg Laswell.

We still have 35 hours to go on rounding up backers for this project.  Will you consider joining the team, even if you can only manage pre-ordering the download for $5?  

That's not too little!  We want you in this with us.  And if you would bring a few friends along?  The more the merrier!

In case you missed these on Twitter or FB, here are a couple teasers from last week's show in Raleigh. The band and I had a blast re-imagining these favorites from The Smiths and REM.  Not saying these are definites on the album or that these would be THE arrangements, but maybe you'll get a taste of the possibilities.

Thanks. Thanks for being here with me.

-cnw

Panning for gold...

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 I go to the riverbed, shoes on the shore

I’m shaking a little bit, hardly know what for

Oh, and the water’s cloudy as the sky

I’m looking for answers in the riverbed of life…

My parents are pretty amazing, no doubt about that.  My childhood was filled with enough love to make the frequent relocations more than bearable, our house filled with people always.  I have no complaints.

But Mom & Dad were very careful about what kinds of music, books, and television we consumed, so I missed a few moments in pop culture while I grew.  Okay, I didn’t know a single Prince song until I saw Pretty Woman.  That’s a fact, Jack.  (Unfortunate that I didn’t miss more of the fashion trends.)

But as they slowly opened the doors for us to explore music and film during our teen years, they also taught us to pay attention.  To think for ourselves.  To listen and work to discern truth and notice all the big and small ways Truth gets told in stories that aren’t necessarily telling - or trying to tell - the whole gospel truth.

 I go to the pages handed down and worn

I’m hearing the sages with the truth on their tongues

Sifting beauty from the layers of ash

I’m tracing the universe with my fingers in the sand…

Above all they showed us that all people are worth our attention and that there’s nothing more important than looking for things to love in others.

Over time, for me, that theme has carried over into the way I see all of life--our books, films, music.  There’s gold just about everywhere.  Maybe all our moments--of triumph and failure and longing and love and humanity--are moments within the great story.

It’s a game of Where’s Waldo or I Spy.  Give us something well-made, thoughtfully crafted, and shaped in pursuit of excellence. Don't we want to spot the good, the true, the hopeful, the redemption, the STORY – even if only glimpses – in the most unlikely places?  Cosmos from chaos, as Madeleine L’Engle wrote in Walking On Water.

Sometimes the good is more breathtaking for having been discovered like a baby grand at Goodwill.

It’s here in the city where the nations converge

It’s in the graffiti and the shapes of the earth

Choir lofts and kitchens, where voices ring loud

Reflections of faith shining glory over doubt…

Friends, I’m about to do something different, and I’m a bit tentative. Not because I have doubts.  But because I’m so hopeful you’ll want to go down to the riverbed with me and do some panning.  I’m so hopeful that you’ll be as excited as I am to put fingers in the sand and trace the true, even in the dark moments of your own journey.

Get ready.  Sharing soon.

Gonna be beautiful.  And fun.  And truly worthwhile.

Panning for gold, I’m panning for gold

Until I have all my heart can hold…