All in Music

Our Gathering Song

However we hit it, we’re usually all happy by the time we finish the Doxology. No matter how we started, we end in gladness. Singing that poem of praise with these people has lifted my fog or funk or fatigue. We may yet find snark during our meal. One or more of the boys may yet complain or provoke or chew with his mouth open and get a rebuke. The preschooler may yet take my coveted last piece of bread for himself. The baby will undoubtedly throw something gleefully on the floor. But we’ve begun with thanksgiving, which is the least we can do.

Finding Voice

When I place a record on the turntable, something in me slows down. It simply will not do to continue the multitasking that consumes most of my days and some of my nights. This is not background music for grading; it is an experience. I must listen. And as I listen, the experience threads its way into the busyness of my everyday. As I listen, the crackle and hiss of the turntable’s voice lets me into the wild soul of the music.

Song Dedications

Who am I to say how or when God communicates, or what a DJ has to do with the divine? But maybe this is the way of God, to hover over the surface of the waters, to speak something new into being. To speak something new when all is dark and cold, something that will penetrate the opaque substance of hull or hill or heart.

The Cost of Making a Great Record

This career is something I’m called to. It’s fulfilling, hard, rewarding, and scary sometimes, but I can’t see myself doing anything else right now. Unto Us was a labor of love. I’m so proud of the musical moments we created in the studio, and I love imagining thousands of families creating Christmas memories with my music as a soundtrack.

On Honest Art

For a day we considered our deepest disposition, sons of Adam and daughters of Eve that we are: we compartmentalize, we believe one thing to be true and behave as if another thing is true, we say “This matters most!” and then live as if it doesn’t really. This tendency has profound implications, for learning, for labor, for love, for liturgy—for all of who we are, for all of how we live.

How do we begin to find our way to coherence? Can we even imagine a way of seeing and hearing that honestly connects what we believe with the way that we live?

On Taking a Band Break, Comedic Short-Story Song Writing, and Grandma Carolee: Brooke Waggoner Interviews Kelsey Kopecky

As a writer in the past I’ve been like, “Okay, how can I say this message and encrypt it in this level of poetry that sounds interesting for the sake of poetry?” But ever since picking up an electric guitar, my music is sounding so much like when I’m on the phone with my best friend Laura telling her things about Minneapolis where I grew up—songs that are trying to say what I want to say but you talk too much type of lyric. I would have never written that before because I would have thought it isn’t poetry.

It isn’t normal for a drummer to call an artist and say, “I’m going to play on your next album, and we are going to do it like this.” He and Matt Pierson (the gift of studio time was for the two of them) were very gentle and careful the way they went about it, and so I was able to get into a different place. What would I write if I wasn’t thinking about audience and due dates? I really wanted to lean into being a songwriter, taking the craft seriously. I wanted to write from a more intuitive place. Writing is never easy for me, but it did help to have this wide-open invitation to write whatever I wanted.

I am contemplative and introverted. I am tactile and love to make things. These are all catalysts for articulating my individuality. I am also an alcoholic, a drug addict, an egomaniac with an inferiority complex and an emotional lightning rod. These things do not supply my identity either, though they are as much a part of me as the traits I cherish. And I am equally grateful for them because the helplessness they triggered ushered me further into dependence on God and finding my place on the path, one step at a time.

Like committing crummy jokes to memory, remembering is intentional, the discovery of great gain in contentment. Where the debris of spilled baggage reaches its angle of repose, the place where physical objects come to rest along an incline (to borrow from Wallace Stegner), there is rest from the near-constant onslaught of shame, of striving to be enough, to make ourselves worthy, to, in effect, make gods of ourselves. And maybe not being enough is a healthy place to be, a place where God is good and is enough, all the time.

Beginning Violin: On the Joy of Opting in to Failure

The violin has forced me out of my cubicle into a world without muscle memory or transferable skills. Everything is a battle. My hand cramps holding the bow. C sharp never sounds quite the same in the second measure as in the first. I can’t tune without my teacher’s trained ear. It is humbling to arrive on Irene’s doorstep having made no progress from the previous Tuesday. The opportunities for me to fail on the violin are daily and infinite.

Out of belief comes life and all its attending stories. I have, over the last ten years deliberately chosen to keep some of these stories quieter or even private. Other than a few interviews and the occasional post here and there, I’ve required of myself what I’ve so often hoped for from others — a little reserve, maybe even silence. And so, on the topics of God, People, and Place — interdependent topics I’m very passionate about — I had gone mostly quiet.