Monday, January 24, 2011

Songs from the Valley

Many years ago I recorded my first cd. Not Tree of Life (2009), but way, way before that. I called the compilation of music "Songs from the Valley" because it was a bunch of songs I wrote as I was battling my way out of a bad depression. In any case, I loved the songs. They were, to me, some of the greatest riches I had been blessed with as I fought my way through that rugged time.

I felt, as I always do when I make something; I wanted very much to share it! I wanted to show everyone else these treasures I had found and for them to be touched by them as I had.

So, I worked and worked to get it ready to give to my friends and family. It was more labor than I had ever put into a music project before and I knew they were all going to be as delighted and amazed by the songs and ideas as I was. When I was finished with it I began to give them out to all the folks I knew.

Thing was, weeks and even months passed and no one that I gave it to said anything about it. I was really surprised. No reactions, no "I really like this one", or. "what's this song about?"– actually nothing!

In fact, the only person who responded was my mom. And it seems, she really liked it. Of course I asked myself, "Does she just like it because she's my mom?" She was full of questions and observations about the songs, and every once in a while, when she was struggling with something of her own, she would intimate to me that the songs were "like water in the desert" to her.

At first I was hurt because all the other folks didn’t respond. But, after some humbling, and some self-reality-checking, I realized I couldn’t fret over it.

So, the positive was that my mom really loved it. It was humbling, but I was moved to ask myself. "If I wrote, recorded, mixed, and labored over these songs for only one person to really enjoy, was it worth it?" "If the inner Voice, my beloved inner compass, caused me to entertain these ideas so intimately and powerfully over all that time, believing that lots of folks would love it, and instead, just one did – was it worth it?" The voice of the world would certainly say no. It would (and did, in my thoughts) insist that I as a huge loser because no one cared about my creations except my mom (who, some would argue, has to like them).

But, in the place of real honesty I had to admit, yes. It was all worth it. To think of being able to reach a single person in that tender place of spiritual honesty – there is nothing that can replace it. And it is just what this artist always hopes to do.

There was one other person who was blessed – me. When I think of how deeply I was touched, healed, moved, and instructed by fighting the battles, doing the work, laying it all on the line for those songs, I can't imagine myself without those riches.

It was the beginning of a long, rigorous, and expansive path that I am still exploring. I have found that learning to give gifts that actually do the job – healing, helping, inspiring, encouraging, is a demanding road – humbling and exalting.

Bless you as you walk that path too!

If you want to hear a couple of songs from Songs from the Valley, go here. You will find "Christ in the Grass" and "Prayer for Purity" on the collection "Unreleased Gems".


  1. Hi Alex,
    This resonates. I've had similar thoughts, writing, starting a new blog. What occurred to me the other day is that God determines everything, including both what I create and who decides to look at it, and how they are touched. So I can't look at any of it as happening independent of God's will. And I can't look with hope (and obsession) at my blog stats or my social networking progress to see the signs of doing right. Just have to put my hand in God's . . . I'm still finding your music inspiring. Keep up the good work!

  2. Thanks for chiming in Wendy! That sounds so right. It feels good to let go of all that, and move on with the doing, trusting.

  3. Thank you for the story, Alex.

    I listened to those songs again and came to this conclusion, Alex: I especially like the sound of your voice blending with itself. It's this really unique, rich sound. That helps to explain why in many case I'll listen to the demo version of one of your songs more often than its produced & published twin.

  4. thats so interesting ben! it IS very amazing to feel how different the songs are when they are recorded, brand new, and still steaming, and the recordings after they have been around for a while.