“The Spirit of Broadway”
As a writer myself, I place great value on the actual lyrics that Broadway lyricists so carefully and meticulously craft. I have not changed one word in any song without express written consent by these lyricists. (one exception: "sue" for "screw" in '"Til Him." Apologies to the late Mel Brooks.)
On a personal note, I've been fortunate enough to meet (and sometimes work with) many of these wonderful composers and lyricists. I am continually blessed and blown away by your words and music. Keep writing! Keep blessing us all with your brilliance! And I promise those Broadway friends whose songs are equally "spiritual" that I will hopefully have many more albums to come with some of your great songs as well.
Another thing: I've included Biblical references and my own commentary below as a means for further reflection/study. Take them or leave them. This is a window into how I personally experience the songs, but peeking into this window may not be for everyone. The great thing about music is that everyone will have their own unique experience with each song. I'd be excited to hear yours.
ROADSIDE (John 16:13, John 16:15, Romans 8:4, Romans 8:14, Romans 8:26 etc.)
As I listened to this gorgeous piece for the thousandth time, I realized why I liked this song so much – the unspoken truth that lies behind the beauty. The song IS the redemption story beginning with the first verse’s Garden of Eden – before ambition and other sins entered in. This is a place where you could just “relax, take it easy” and just “enjoy the road.” The second verse symbolizes “The Fall.” Everything gets complicated, there is always “something wrong” out of balance. The final verse is the freedom and joy we have in Jesus. “No one says ‘do or don’t do’" corresponds beautifully with the new covenant based on grace, not on works or strict obedience to commandments. The repeated “roadside” chorus reminds us that we are all on the road, following the leading of the Holy Spirit. The bucolic simplicity of this song has been a continual reminder for me “to relax, take it easy and just follow the road.” As I stand before a group of technologically savvy teenagers (as a high school teacher,) flipping out that the Apple TV and speakers aren’t working and that I’ll have to scrap my lesson plan once again, I just turn on this song and it instantly relaxes me. I hope it does the same for you in times of stress.
I WAS HERE (Genesis 11:4 – Tower of Babel)
It’s not about YOU! (or ME!) We are mortal! There’s something bigger. We try to fill the emptiness inside with something besides the only immortal thing within us – the Holy Spirit. We speak from our pride, our vanity, our self-centeredness. We all want to feel important. But GOD is the only one that can fill that deep desire.
A NEW WORLD/A QUIET THING (Lamentations 3:25-28, Philippeans 4:7-9, Acts 9:19)
The “New World” song takes us into the day that Paul becomes a brand new person with a brand new identity in God. This is the moment scales fall from Saul’s eyes – literally the “moment it all becomes clear.” I don’t know that there’s much Biblical evidence of “quiet” conversions. Usually the recipient of Jesus’ saving grace wants to shout it throughout the city like the blind man to whom Jesus restores sight. But I can personally attest to the lyrics in “A Quiet Thing.” Sometimes God whispers his invitation to follow and we whisper quietly in response. That’s the way I first met Jesus. No rooftop experience – just a quiet, settling truth where I finally felt I had found “home.”
POOR SWEET BABY (Luke 5:12-15, burden is heavy , Luke 7:11-16, Luke 8:40-56, Luke 12: 22-31, Luke 18:35-43)
In this song I picture Jesus the healer, the great physician, the miracle worker. I think of all the downcast, downtrodden, sick, diseased helpless people that came to Jesus for healing and how he met each one right where they were, giving them exactly what they needed.
Another way I hear this song is through the perspective of The Father. I love the last line of this song with a small, but incredibly significant word change. Instead of “Mama’s here,” I substitute the word “Papa’s here.” (I would also love the substitution of "Abba" which means Daddy.) That sums up the whole song for me: daddy holding me in his lap and shielding me from the world of pain and suffering. Picture sitting in the lap of our loving God the Father, and Him singing these words to you. This is one of my favorite melodies in this collection, unfortunately assigned to the character of Lucy to sing in the show SNOOPY, so the strident voice doesn’t capture this incredible melodic line.
TRAVEL (John 3:6-8, Philippeans 3:12, Philppeans 4:13, Acts 10:38, Romans 8:14)
I love this extended metaphor for living the Christian life. We must always seek the Holy Spirit’s guidance. All we are called to do is hoist our sails and the Holy Spirit will guide us throughout our life if we’re listening. The more we try to control our lives, the messier it all gets. We need to be aware of who’s in control of it all. It’s freeing to know that it’s not about our efforts – it’s only his grace that gives us everything. God opens and closes doors for us based on what HE knows we need, not what we think we need at the time. To me, this song is all about TRUST.
MUSIC THAT MAKES ME DANCE (Psalm 57:7-11, Psalm 92:1-5, Psalm 108:1-5, Psalm 150, Psalm 19:1-10, Psalm 119)
This song is incredibly rich in spiritual truths. The first thing that pops out to me is the joy one feels when reading scripture. The “music” that makes us dance is His Word and “HIS word alone.” In this song right off the bat we learn about the powerful creator God who can shake the earth and move mountains. But I think the line that hits me the most is “I need less of myself, I need more Him, more Him.” That’s the prayer I keep praying throughout the process of creating this album: "Please Lord, don’t let it ever be about me, but always, in every way bringing glory to YOU." This line is one that we can keep uttering to ourselves throughout each and every day. The difficult line theologically is “He’ll sleep and He’ll rise.” God doesn’t sleep – he is ALWAYS there, even when we do sleep. But “in the light of two eyes that adore him” is perfect – called to live our lives with only one goal: to glorify God.. We pray that our adoration towards God invades our whole day, even our sleep.
IT ALL FADES AWAY (Philppeans 4:7, John 4:13-15)
THERE IS ONE THING THAT'S ETERNAL,
THAT CANNOT BE TORN APART,
THERE IS ONE THING THAT REMAINS FOREVER TRUE.
PAST THE THINKING, PAST THE BREATHING,
PAST THE BEATING OF MY HEART,
IT WILL ALL FADE AWAY BUT YOU.
'TIL HIM (Romans 6)
Like Saul, we have a whole new identity in Christ. Our sins are forgiven, we have a new freedom in Christ. But Jesus is always a friend you can count on to be by your side. This is the antithesis of I Was Here. Yes, life wasn’t going anywhere, we were “stuck,” but Jesus has come along to redeem us all. Whereas the earlier song was all about hopelessness, this song replaces our deep longing with the only thing that can fill it - Jesus.
HOW GLORY GOES/ MY MAKER (Book of Revelation)
I like the juxtaposition between these two songs. In “How Glory Goes” we identify with our own questions about the nature of heaven – from the profound to the simple. “My Maker” gives us greater perspective – whatever our beliefs about what will and won’t be in heaven, we are sure to find there the only thing that really matters – our maker, the God of the Universe. We will behold Him in all His glory and now in direct relationship with Him, we will know the answers to all of our questions.
I'd love to hear what Broadway songs have touched you in a deep spiritual way so I may include them in future albums. Please email me at email@example.com