My last album, Come Join the Living World, was released on June 2, 1994. And if that wasn’t exactly the date, well, it is now.
Twenty years is a long time. When I finished Come Join the Living World, at first I had no thought that it would be my last album for so long; after enough time went by, I thought that I would ever make another record.
John Lennon wrote, “Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans.” I went to Nashville to be an artist and a record producer; whichever one I was more successful at would be the one I would concentrate on. Just as I was getting ready to begin writing my next record, Cindy Morgan showed up at my house with the songs that would end up being the Listen album.
After that, Michael W. Smith asked me to be his Musical Director on tour for a year.
And after that, Word Records offered me the job of Vice-President of A&R, and said I could keep producing records while doing it.
After five years of that, the music industry collapsed and I moved my family back to California, my solo recording career firmly in the rearview mirror. After all, no record company was going to sign someone my age, and the idea of making a record on my own was an expensive and irresponsible fantasy.
By then, I had been a professional musician since I was fourteen. The music industry was in the toilet. Nobody was doing anything. I decided to work at a church, and started writing novels. I coached soccer. I helped with my daughters’ community musical theater. I worked at a different church. I took the odd local music job. By 2012, I was bored and stir-crazy.
I got a call from Michael Blanton at his new company, BE Entertainment. He and I had kicked around the idea of me doing something for BE, and finally the right thing came up. I was to work with a young singer/songwriter from Southern California, writing, producing, mentoring. A year later, my appetite whetted from this experience, I started writing songs for me. But even then, I had no plans to make an album.
I think it was when my time was up at BE and the songs I had written looked like they were not going to have a home, that I began to believe that the best possible place for them might be on an album of my own. But that’s crazy! I can’t make an album! Who’s gonna buy it? Who’s gonna sell it? But then, technology had gotten to the point that the stuff I was recording on my computer was sounding pretty darn good. So maybe I would put out the songs just as I had them on my computer–no pressure, if someone wanted to buy them, they could pay whatever they wanted. But then, a few people whose opinions I respected said things like, “You’re going to put real drums on that, aren’t you?” And, “you are going to add guitar to that aren’t you?” And one thing led to another, and it’s a slippery slope, and here we are, with practically everybody I’ve known since high school showing up to lend a hand.
And it’s wonderful. And I am blessed. And I owe a lot of people a lot. Some people have asked whether I have any regrets not making an album sooner. Ahh, that’s were “Don’t Look Back” comes in. I don’t like to play “if I had done this–then that” games. Things happen for a reason. If I hadn’t done exactly what I did, then I wouldn’t have had the experiences I did have, and most likely wouldn’t be doing this now.
And maybe, if it all works out, I may do another record before June 2, 2034…