I used to think that I hated discipline. I’ve never been one to take authority well either. Not to say I was a bad kid, but I’ve always preferred life on my own terms.
Songs, it turns out, can be like a stubborn child.?They run around in your head, wake you up in the middle of the night, and often hide from you until you go and find them. But here’s the thing. I think they want to be found as much as any kid hiding behind the couch. They also need discipline if they are going to reach their full potential.?Frankly, I need discipline if I’m going to get anything done. Discipline is a good thing.
I’ve wanted to record a Christmas album for a long time.?It feels like I’ve been writing for it for years.?I have a record deal and have a great working and creative relationship with my label, but I really don’t get to make a new record until they tell me it’s time.[quote]Songs?need discipline if they are going to reach their full potential.[/quote]
Now, it’s not as bad as you think.?They usually come to me way before I’m ready for a new one and say, “Hey Brandon, it’s time to start thinking about your next record.” And then, all of a sudden, the baby starts kicking and the ideas start developing. It’s pretty cool actually.
So, in May of 2013, I got a call from my label, asking if I was ready to make a Christmas record. Of course I said yes, but what I was thinking was, “It was just Easter last week.” ?How does one write a Christmas record so far away from Christmas??It’s 85 degrees out, summer is just around the corner, and I’m about to enter a winter wonderland of music. How do you do that?
Discipline. I invited one of my favorite songwriting buddies, Lee Thomas Miller, out on the road with me a few weeks later. I was playing a county fair in a small town in Ohio. We travel by tour bus, which is comfortable, but honestly not the most inspiring place to write.?We were all sitting in the front lounge watching SportsCenter and I remember thinking, “How am I going to write a Christmas song today.” You got it, discipline.[quote]Songs live in us and not around us.[/quote]
Now I don’t want to make songwriting sound so militant, but I have literally learned that the songs live in us and not around us. So literally, we can access them at any time. Sometimes it just takes more effort.
So Lee and I went to the back lounge of the bus?a small room about 10X10. I only had one idea, which at least was a starting place. I wanted to tell a story using one of the characters from the Christmas story in the book of Luke. One character that stuck out in my mind was the innkeeper.?For whatever reason, I have compassion for people who are usually not the most liked. The innkeeper is well known for turning Mary and Joseph away, that fateful night Jesus was born in a manger and not in this man’s hotel. I wondered if he was lying about the inn being full. I wondered if he hesitated before he turned two desperate young people away. Was he remorseful after the fact? What would I have done? These were all great questions to ask and certainly a great jumping off point.
So, with a little bit of discipline, we were no longer in the back lounge. Lee and I were in Bethlehem.?About two hours later, “Just A Girl” was finished. It was one of those rare occasions that a song, a song that I’m very proud of, wrote itself. It was there all along. It just took some work and some faith to get it on to paper. When I went in to record it in July, it was the standout song on the record.
The thing I love about it the most is that it’s a story song.?Jesus, himself, spoke in story. He knew that it was a form of communication that caused people to ask and often answer their own questions. That?s yet another thing hiding inside of us waiting to be found?truth.
So if you’re willing to combine creativity and discipline, something amazing can happen. When you transport yourself from your 10X10 room on a bus, sitting in a dusty field at a county fair, to the city of Bethlehem, you can create something that will truly connect. A story. A song. Even when you aren?t feeling it.