Tuesday, January 10, 2006

With These Hands

Generally, I am an impatient songwriter. Song ideas usually don’t sit very long with me. I don’t mind the process of writing, but I really enjoy having written.

That being said, this song took me over a year to complete. I had this idea about hands. I liked the image. Think of all the things hands can do. They can demonstrate great strength, build great buildings and structures. The same hands can display gentle tenderness. They can caress an infant, comfort a loved one. They create beautiful and intricate works of art. They work the earth and provide sustenance.

So, I had this idea about hands. Then I thought of the title, “With These Hands.” Then I though it sounded so obvious and familiar that someone must have written it already. So I did some research. I started asking people if they’d ever heard the song “With These Hands.” When nobody had, I began to write it.

For whatever reason, the process was difficult. This one did not flow. I sat with it many a night waiting for the direction to reveal itself to me. My friend, and fellow musician, Chuck Fink, came over one night to play music with me and I presented this song idea to him. I played what I had – which was not much – a three or four chord progression and a bit of melody. Chuck helped me structure the verse musically and lyrically. It was at that point that I decided to include the eyes and heart in each verse.

Now I had a structure. I sketched out the first two verses. But I still had no direction. I sat with it. I walked with it. I drove with it. I was not ready to receive it. But I stuck with it.

About a year after I had started the process (and had completed other songs) I took a trip to Wisconsin for another Children’s Music Network gathering. It was getting close to my tenth wedding anniversary, I was away from home, getting a little homesick, and missing my children. One night sitting alone with my guitar in Wisconsin, the direction revealed itself to me and I wrote down the last two verses.

I was so unsure of it during the writing process that I remained unsure of it after it had been completed. I was uncomfortable performing it for a long time. Now, of course, it is one of the mainstays of my repertoire.

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