Tag Archives: music

Post-Angst Angst, Part II

I’ve been feeling this way for a while now.

I feel like I’m missing out on quite a few things. My personal life is spiraling and I don’t know what to do about it. When I say ‘personal life’ I mean the content of my character. Got a job. Attending church. People love me. God is good. But life is harder than it looks.

Have I been so drawn away from God that I’m not as excited about God as everyone else? Am I losing all semblance of sanctification in my life? It sure does feel like it.

But God is there. No, He’s here. And He sees me. Even in this angst. Even in my inconsistency. He sees me.

I was talking to a friend earlier this week and he encouraged me with the following statement:

“…you’re not crazy, you’re just going to a new level of faith.”

This impacts me deeply, still. Even in my angst. Even in my shortcomings.

“…no matter what it takes/i’ll make sure that you’ll find, you’ll find your way/I know how hard you been trying, little one…”  – Bilal, Little One

On Tuesday, I got together with a group of mid-twenties/early thirties from my church, as we do regularly, and our pastors were there. This weeks topic of discussion was the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. The pastor highlighted a few pertinent things in this story. One thing was the fact that God is always in control, but doesn’t intervene in every situation. This enlivens Romans 8:28 in my heart.

Romans 8:28 NLT

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.

God is not to blame for all the bad stuff that happens to me. A lot of that is my choices. But the verse doesn’t say that God causes every little thing to happen. It just says that He takes every little thing that happens and makes purpose out of it for the ones that love Him. Now, that’s incredible.

God sees me. God sees me and knows me. God wants to redeem every place I’ve been and every thing I’ve gone through. So sometimes, He allows me to be in angst…if that’s what it takes for me to invite Him in.

Remember teenage angst? Yea, me neither, but whatever happened in those years, God gave purpose to it in order to benefit you and me. Same goes for post-angst angst.

Good day, truly.

Post-Angst Angst

Let me just start off by saying this:

My life is my fault.

Moving right along…

Tye Tribbett (for those of you who may not know him) is a gospel artist who’s been on the scene since the early 90’s. Many, in black church circles at the VERY least,  consider him to be this generations greatest musical mind. I’m willing, personally, to say that at a few different points, his music has changed my life.

Due to tragedy in his life (which I won’t be getting into at all), he took a big blow to his ministry and things seemed to be falling apart. After some time away from putting out music, though, redemption swept into his life and he began putting out music again. He released a new album and, to the chagrin of many, it failed a lot if expectations. The new album was indeed incredible, but his previous works have been lauded by a great number of folks to be far and above this new album. Since the point of his tragedy, his music was not the same. It wasn’t the quality that diminished…it was something else.

Yesterday or so, Tye Tribbett released another album, entitled Greater Than, an ode to God superiority to everything else. Per usual, I didn’t hear the album immediately. I usually let the air clear a bit on new music, as to not cloud my own reception and experience of it. Based on what people were saying and how people were reacting about it so far, it was as stupendous a work as his pre-tragedy music. This was the reaction by and large for the first day it was released. The second day is when I decided to listen for myself.

Just before that thought, there were some comments made from some musical minds/close friends that gave me pause. One person said that they couldn’t get past the second song. For those of you who know Tye’s work, this sounds like a pure travesty. But this was someone whose musical opinion I trust. Shortly thereafter, a second opinion from a trusted source surfaced and with not much good to say about the album. It was time for me to check it out for myself.

Upon my first listen through, I found the album to be very good. But, when it comes to Tye Tribbett, “very good” isn’t saying much. Am I holding him to a higher standard of music making? Of course I am. You’d do the same if Michael Jackson were in a high school talent show…that’s how great a musical mind Tye Tribbett is. With that being said I cannot say with any form of conviction that I am impressed with Greater Than. His first album after the tragedy got the same response from me, but over time that album grew on me. Maybe such is the case for Greater Than.

Meanwhile… seemingly everyone I know and a lot of other musicians, singers and musical minds I trust think the album is amazing. For some reason, I feel very itchingly that I am missing something.

Believe it or not, everything written before this line was set up for everything written after it. Bear with me, if it suits you.

Remember about an hour ago, I prefaced this blog post with the statement that my life is my fault? Yea, its a faint memory to me too. Here comes the boom:

I feel very strongly that I don’t love God enough to enjoy this album as much as my counterparts have. I also feel very strongly that currently, my personal and spiritual life is in shambles. That’s a direct correlation in my psyche.

I arrived at this by comparing my life to those that I percieve to be leading better lives than myself, which I know I probably shouldn’t do. But I am doing it. I just want to paint as honest a picture as possible.

Well, then…is it true?

Part II coming sooner than you think.

Angry Hobo Rant

Being homeless isn’t so bad for me.

I’ve been able to stay with family in a basement. I’m still trying to figure out what I’m going to do long term.

I’m very tired. I made a song about it. It’s called Tired. Nice.

I feel like I’m at the end of a rope with no glove. I don’t want to believe that God would leave me here though. A question I struggle with (and have struggled with for some time now) is how much of my life is up to me and how much is up to God?

Am I thinking about wrong? There doesn’t seem to be a concrete answer. That’s hard to live through when you’re existential like me.

I’ve had a bit more time to think, lately, a bit more clearly about some things that rest deeply in my heart. The forthmost of those things is the idea that I’ve been programmed incorrectly by those people I consented to lead me in my life. Pastors. Family members. Pastors and church people, mainly.

That makes me angry. I’m still working through that. What I was taught wasn’t all bad, but a lot of ideas I was taught along the years are starting to not make sense. A big one is this: emotions don’t matter that much. I don’t know that anyone has said this explicitly, but it is very much taught. I was taught to never make emotional decisions. I then learned that some decisions ABSOLUTELY HAVE TO BE EMOTIONAL. I bet a billion dollars that you can’t find one person who advocates for anything, anyone, any idea who isn.t emotionally driven to do what they do.

Go ahead and look.

That idea alone has very much damaged me. I’m not irreparable. I’m just deeply disappointed. I’m still working through that. After all, who says threvnotions I have now hold any water?

I saw a quote a little earlier:

“Be humble. You could be wrong.”

That’s all for now.

Vincent and his Technicolor Dream-Guitar

Last night I hung out with two good friends of mine, one of which I haven’t hung out with in a very long time. After all of the updating and whatnot, we got to talking about how miraculous Muslim-to-Christian conversions have been happening in the Middle East. There were some remarkable stories that she shared with me.

“I belong to YOU?! Really, White Jesus? Oh wait, this is a stock photo, not a dream.”

One dude had a dream that Jesus came to him and touched him on his head and on his heart and said to him, “You belong to me.” He was a devout Muslim his whole life up until that point, and after that point he followed Christ, going the first two years with no bible, no church and no one to preach the Gospel to him. That is the most remarkable story of conversion I have ever heard, not to mention the details about him being a drunk and an abusive husband and father before then, at which point he moved away to an Islamic monastery type place, worked full time and sent money home to his wife – just so he wouldn’t beat her and the kids. Amazing. Jesus led him right back to his wife and children after the dream. Upon telling his wife what had happened to him, she then said that she would follow Christ if that’s what he was doing.

Yup. Same dude that was punching her face in. Amazing-er.

That was just one of the stories she shared with us last night. Even more amazing.

Both of these friends, like most of my friends, are musically gifted people. One is a signed recording artist, singer/songwriter. The other is a phenomenal pianist, with a very finely tuned musical mind, but he’d never admit that to you. Naturally the conversation found it’s way to the arts, more specifically singing. My songwriter friend shared some new material she was working on with us and it was solid stuff. Really creative and original sound. I’m used to her making good stuff, but this was even above what I was used to. Now that I’m thinking of it, she’d one of the best studio singers I know. She went on to tell us about some frustrations she was having with her label and what she planned on doing to rectify things. That’s when I spotted the guitar nestled in the corner.

I asked, politely, if I could check it out. She said yea, so I went for it.

She was still talking about her label as I tuned the last few strings. I started strumming some arbitrary chords and my pianist friend noticed.

“That’s a nice chord,” he said.

(Just so you know, I was STILL listening to my songwriter friend. Those that know me know I suck at multitasking. But recently I discovered something: I can be engaged in a full on conversation while playing guitar. I haven’t tried other instruments yet, but I can imagine it works with piano and bass too. Drums, ehh not so much…I’m still trying to get a solid coordination down)

I asked if they had heard my latest material and they hadn’t. I figured I’d share a couple songs I’d been working on. I braced myself mentally for the well-meaning red ink that I would be receiving in a few minutes, as these were musically astute folks I was dealing with.

I played the first song. It’s called Hurricane. It has nothing to do with Hurricane Sandy. (Shout out to those who suffered losses and are STILL recovering….keep holding on!) I’ll share some lyrics for context:

Lord, take the reins of my mind

steer me into the eye of this hurricane

where the winds are just calm enough

for me to see.


They were really impressed with the song. I forget exact words but they expressed to me that they really liked it and that is a lot from them. Needless to say I was pleased with this. It boosted me a bit. I went on to share the next song with them, a song called Empty, which you can check out here.

Dead silence.

“You need to be signed!”

“You could perform that at a secular gig…and they would listen.”

“I’m not saying that you should not sing gospel music, but that’s better than what the secular artists are doing.”

I took in what they said and began to think about what it is about my music that was so great to them. Then I stopped thinking about that, and started feeling an intense urge to get up and do something about it. I still don’t know where to begin.

Sign up for some open mics….and not just Christian ones!”

I really want to push this artistry.

Hit up (music engineer we all know), go get your stuff recorded!”

Somehow, still, there are reservations. I don’t think that on the surface my music has that “life changing” aspect to it yet, and I don’t know what to do to get it either. But then, as I was writing this entry today, it dawned on me:

If Jesus can convert a Muslim to a Christian with something like a dream….and then have that Muslim follow him for two years based on one dream, no church, no leadership, no bible, no nothing but that man….then most definitely he could use my music to touch people’s hearts and bring them closer to Him. Of course He can do that.

I believe that wholeheartedly. Maybe – just maybe – I’m someone’s dream to be had.

Free Beat…(ing) (myself)…..(up)

I made a beat today!

It was a Chaka Khan sample, A Night in Tunisia, one of my favorite songs all time. I made it on a demo of this music program called Fruity Loops Studio. I first used Fruity Loops when I was in high school in Chester, PA, maybe 9th or 10th grade. It was a bit perplexing at first (maybe the first 5 minutes) but, once I figured it out, I was like a runny nose with no tissue….disgusting!

(random side note: black people seem to always use negative terms to describe positive things in our slang and colloquialisms. That’s what makes that last line so funny. If you didn’t think it was funny then keep reading, it gets better……please?)

I think between the years of 2001 and 2005 I made something like 200 beats. I had found a new passion in music production, a space where all of the music floating in my head had SOME kind of outlet. It wasn’t enough to execute all I wanted to, though, so I started to get into instruments like piano…..well piano was it for a while. I picked up more stuff in college.

So the beat I made today is awesome. I really like it. I’d play it for you but I haven’t given WordPress.com any money yet. So instead, I will put it on my Facebook page and let you listen to it here. HA! Take that, WordPress! There are some other songs on there if you want to check them out, but the name of the beat I made is Forties [Instrumental].

Okay, sorry WordPress, I shouldn’t treat you that way, you’re very kind in letting me use your space. I apologize.

Where was I? Oh, yea music production. I’m talking about it today because it is something that I think I’m good at and I wonder what I could do in that field that would be fun, lucrative, career launching, I don’t know. Many of my musical friends like my material, but I’ve never sold any of my stuff. Very early in my artistic development, I had resolved that all of my music would be free because I wanted as many people to hear it as possible so that their lives could be changed, free of charge. I wonder if I said that out of fear that my material wouldn’t be “buy-worthy”. Probably so. I was a very existential, self-deprecating and depressed teenager, so it makes sense.

I still have some of those fears left over in my adult life. I really want to be a full-time artist. It is where I am comfortable. It is where I am good. It is where I believe I will be most effective. But of course, I could be wrong.

I don’t know why, but when I think of me going out and being an artist, I feel selfish. Maybe I’ve been conditioned by my theology to be more giving than anything and, consequently, anything resembling personal pleasure gives me pause. Yeah, I think that’s pretty true. I’m a recovering extremist, so be patient with me. To be honest I’m not always recovering. Sometimes, I’m all guns blazing when a situation really just calls for a handshake. Ask anyone I knew/have known since I was a teen.

BUT NOW….I’m at the point where I am….starting not to….care about………GAAHHHH I do care! I CARE ABOUT HOW I WILL COME OFF. I CARE ABOUT SEEMING SELFISH TO PEOPLE BY PURSUING MUSIC. I CARE ABOUT SEEMING SELFISH TO GOD…….whoa…..snaps.

I care about seeming selfish to God.

What does that say about how I view God and my faith (Christianity)? I must think, at least partially, that God doesn’t care about my happiness. Or if He does, He only wants me to be happy doing what He wants me to do. That feels true, but I think I may be looking at it the wrong way. It comes off controlling to me, but I know God isn’t a control freak, He wouldn’t have given us free will if that was the case.

This kind of makes it hard to pursue a career as an artist with a clear conscience. This simultaneously makes the dirt very appealing…..I gotta resist that though or the blog will be over.

Do me a favor would you? Check out my music. Tell me if it does anything for you. Even if it doesn’t, I’m just as happy to share it with you, free of charge.

for now.

Dawn at (almost) Noon

Current mood: craptastic

So, I have this job. I’m a tutor, reading and math. Part-time gig. I’m really grateful for this gig. I love kids and teaching is something I’m good at. I used to call teaching a passion, but I think I only said that because I wanted to sound like I was doing more with my life to other people. My true passion is singing, songwriting and all things music. If given a choice between singing and teaching, I’d pick teaching because I care about what people think, but I’d really want to pick singing.

Something just dawned on me. I’ve spent some of my silver on a lie. I think I believe that being a musician is a loser lifestyle. Wow.

It’s noon somewhere, right?