we are going to be posting some information regarding the new cd on our website occasionally, leading up to the release, and i thought it would be fun to post stuff here first. you know, keep it among friends for a bit. so here is the first installment titled “the making of a collision”. hope it is enlightening and enjoyable…
the making of a collision or (3 + 4 = 7)
it all started with a book from the early 60′s acquired by my wife from an antique shop in downtown chicago. that, and a conversation with a very intelligent acquaintance of mine who is currently finishing his phd work in super string theory, and who happened to mention in very whimsical tone one sunny texas afternoon that we were, and i quote, “…walking around in the sky…” he said this while pointing to nothing in particular, “…you see, there is ground and there is sky and we are somewhere in between. we’re walking around in it. our feet are on the ground but….” wait. i’m getting ahead of myself. like i said, it started with a book; “the story of atomic energy” by laura fermi (decd. 1977) who was peace activist and wife of famed physicist enrico fermi, (decd. 1954) with whom the atomic age arrived. the fermi national accelerator laboratory, which is home to the most powerful atom collider in the world, is located just outside of chicago. i found it fascinating that my wife would procure this particular book from a shop in this particular city. the book’s cover is pale green, definitive 60s green if you ask me, with what one would assume to be the representation of an atom in a complimentary 60’s pale yellow set against it. it is the familiar depiction of a nucleus and some number of electrons swirling about. i was immediately enthused by this icon as i have an affinity toward semiotics and symbols and iconography and drew satisfaction that a book about energy had a representation symbolizing energy on it’s cover. no words, just pale yellow on pale green and through symbol i understood that energy was inside. and here is why this simple thing would inspire a collection of songs: this model is improper in it’s depiction of particle matter. we know in fact that electrons do not circle in elliptical paths around a nucleus. and this is the difficulty with symbols. they are never quite proper. they are always a bit broken. and as i held this book in my hands, frozen in the middle of an intersection in downtown chicago, while this inadequate drawing roused simultaneously both hope of discovery and reminiscence of destruction in my chest i thought, “this is the essence of art. we are creating broken containers.” ¶ then came the eschatology of bluegrass. one evening, after hearing our band play in Dallas Texas, the grandfather of one of our guitar players stated, and i quote, “you boys should do a bluegrass number as it is the superior variety of music!” and so it was that we stumbled into this vast genre of song, written, in a religious sense, almost exclusively in regards to the ever after, the sweet-by-and-by, or flying away to glory. i was at first troubled by what seemed a glaringly unbalanced doctrinal depiction of the kingdom of heaven as i have the fear that this approach to christian living has lead many a person’s head into the clouds and allowed for justifications of neglect in bringing the kingdom of heaven into the here and now. then a close friend of mine was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. it had spread. it was everywhere. liver. brain. lymph nodes… everybody wants to go to heaven. ¶ we settled on “i saw the light” by hank williams. by way of johnny cash. ¶ what i am about to relate is nothing short of miraculous. we met the fabulous marty stuart at the dove awards a year ago. at age thirteen, mandolin protégé marty stuart found himself on the road with bluegrass legend lester flatts and peers in the likes of roy acuff, ernest tubb, bill monroe and grandpa jones. after lester’s death in 1979 the next band he would join was johnny cash’s (decd. 2003). marty is a living history of country music. and there he was backstage wearing a black suit, aglow in rhinestones, sparkling down both sleeves and spanning the back of the jacket in the shape of a very large cross. his hair was flawless and bigger than mine. he wore shades. none of this would have been entirely strange if not for the fact our guitar player, who’s grandfather’s fault this whole bluegrass thing was, had suggested exactly one day prior, “we should get marty stuart to help us with the bluegrass number.” we gathered around a microphone in johnny cash’s cabin and recorded the song with marty just outside of hendersonville tennessee; two of hank’s verses, the one of johnny’s and one of mine. ¶ the rest of “a collision” was recorded in waco texas in the barn behind my house. the barn was built in 1885 by the then waco corner drugstore owner and local alchemist wade morrison. it’s color is the most perfect of faded barn reds, very close in color to that of a dr. pepper can holding the delectable beverage whose origins are mr. morrison’s corner store. local lore has it that this barn was home to morrison’s horse, incidentally named pepper. ¶ we documented the whole process online with weblogs and four (a significant number for us) webcams running 24 hours a day for four weeks. near the end of our tracking i posted an invitation, to all who were tuning in, to join us in the barn for a hoedown and some group singing. and our friends came in cars and planes, from california, tennessee, arkansas, georgia, colorado, and more extraordinary places far and near. i wish you could have been there! there was a bbq smoker in the shape of a pistol 10 feet tall. (the meat goes in the chamber and the smoke comes out of the barrel.) it was true texas culinary indulgence met with ocular and aromatic stimulation. we ate. we laughed. we shook our heads at the distances traveled. and we sang. we sang at the top of our lungs. these good folks sang like they meant it. ¶ for the past two years i have ended most nights in concert with the following statement: “when our depravity meets his divinity it is a beautiful collision.” this recording is about that collision. it is the collision of our fallen state and our maker’s transcendence. it is a rendering of our mortality and eternal life. it is about the tension that exists in the living of life, here, where the sky meets the broken earth. it is about a tsunami in east asia. it is about a sunrise over hiroshima. it is about too many who know intensely what pain the word cancer holds and the words of my friend whispered in my ear, “it’s ok. none of us are getting out of here alive you know.” it is about victory. it is about the joy that comes when blood tests come back and a miracle is announced. it is the hope in a rescue that has come. the hope in a rescue that has found us. and the relentless hope in a greater rescue that is still coming. one that has not yet arrived but is no less present. this music, broken, improper and inadequate in its response is rooted in that hope. the kingdom of heaven is here and now and coming. ¶ “…here it comes, a beautiful collision is happening now.”
so it is the beginning. we have finished. we listened to the final copy of the cd last night at jack’s parents house. they live on the tip of texas. south padre island. we’re playing down here and it was quite a nice thing to have family down here where we could cram into a living room and crank up the bose stereo system. it was just perfect. wish you could have been there. i absolutely can not wait for you to hear it! we posted the cd for pre-sale on our website yesterday. it’s so crazy, 250 people have already bought one! this is the best thing in the world to get to do what i do. to work so hard on something and then i’m reading these names of 250 people and i can’t believe that they are going to get to hear this stuff. i wish you could feel how deep this smile goes into my chest. if you are one of those 250, thank you. you’ll never know what it meant to read your name. anyway, i’m back here in the land of xanga and really looking forward to keeping you in the loop of the release of this recording. i’m praying it is a blessed and wonderfully maddening journey!
Crowder Blog archive
An archive of Crowder's blog posts, 2004-present.
Posts come from the following blogs:
emprise34.xanga.com (2004-October 2009)
davidcrowderblog.com (October 2009-2010)