2017 was a harsh year for our nation in a lot of ways; political fights, fires, floods, shootings, hate on social media... . It was enough to break the strongest man or woman and I finally had enough. My heart was broken after the second mass shooting of the year and I wrote two songs from the trauma and heartache of both shootings, Las Vegas and Southerland Springs, TX. I'd like to share this first one with you now and the story behind it.
When I share this song in concert, I tell folks what I truly believe. Washington won't change our nation. Neither Republicans nor Democrats will make this nation better from their high perches and out of touch philosophies and over extended government. I don't like institutions and never will. They make me feel cold and useless. I've quit many jobs because if a monkey can do, I don't want to. I want to matter!!!
Our nation, communities, towns, and cities will only be changed by how we treat our neighbors and how we take care of those hurting from tragedy. Make no mistake about it, tragedy will find each of us at some point. It's a broken, and sometimes heartless, world and sometimes I just don't know what to do about it.
I write songs. I can also mow lawn real good. I'm horrible at auto work and scared of electricity. You may bake the best angel food cake in your state, or you may be the best mechanic or carpenter in your area, or you may be a really good friend who knows how to sit in silence and let companionship do it's good work. We all have been given gifts and we should be brave enough to step out and use them, for the betterment of our friends, towns, cities, and country, no matter how simple and common they may seem to us who hold them. One small act of kindness at a time will make a difference. You may not rewrite Washington but you may just rewrite someone's heart by thinking outside the box and applying your gifts to their tragedy.
This song was born out of one such tragedy where down in Texas on a morning not any different than most mornings, a man walks into a sleepy church filled with friends and families, young and old, open fires and slays half the church. From grandpas and grandmas to unborn babies. I can't relate much to folks who suffer from flooding or earthquakes because I live in the midwest where these things don't happen much if ever. It was harder to relate to fires decimating homes and lives out in California and Colorado, but this, this hit home in a very real way. I was raised in church my whole life and while I don't attend Sunday morning church anymore on a regular basis, I can imagine the decimation which was brought on this little church and I get sick in my heart thinking of how this could've have been my family, friends, and loved ones. I could've lost my wife, my children, my parents, to the devil and a madman.
So out of the familiar and atrocious, out of the broken and utter horror of this moment, I wrote this song. Loss is loss and pain is pain in any language. But music has a way of reaching where we can't touch and speak. We feel. We search. We long. We pray. Let's not forget to reach out and use the talents and gifts which we think are insufficient and ho-hum, and make our world a better place. This song is for the hurting and the yearning.
This is "The Old and the Young".