Friday, September 28, 2007

this breaks my heart of stone

so, it seems that this has become a photo blog. and from time to time a spots update blog. the thing is, I’m obsessed with photography. I really am. I get like this. last night I was up late editing audio, and listening to paul edit audio, and falling asleep as I was sitting there, and paul said “brian, go to bed” and so I did, and on my way to bed I stopped by the other computer and edited more photos.

paul is in town, and I am so happy about this. for those of you unfamiliar with paul, he is my friend and engineer from nashville, and he’s in town to help me finish the next red mountain record. we started writing these songs I guess about a year and half ago, and been working on this record on and off ever since. we’ve been calling the record “the pocta sessions” due to the fact that all of the songs have been written or co-written with our 2nd favorite texan, benj pocta. (sorry benj – but my good friend chrissy boone reminded me that she is actually my favorite texan). anyway. we are now calling the record “this breaks my heart of stone” and it looks like that might be the title we go with. I’ll probably be writing and talking about this record a lot, I am sure - but for now - suffice it to say that lately, in small tastes and moments, I’ve felt my heart breaking, and it’s been beautiful.

About a month ago, I’m in albuquerque, new mexico. we were out there playing some music for a wedding, a church service, a concert, and this man looks at me, tears running down his face, and says “brian – when we get to heaven – it’s going to be you, clint, ashley, leading us in worship.” now those of you who know me know that I’m a jaded man. I walk into churches and I’m scanning for the exit doors. people call me "brother" and tell me that they are praying for me, and I tell them to keep their prayers to themselves. and this man in albuquerque tells me this and I have no idea what to say. I look back at ashley, and look back at the man and say “you are now going to have to give me a hug.”

I keep reading these hymnals. I keep writing these songs.

Just this past weekend, two new friends were in america, visiting from england. dan hames and tom slinger. they stayed with me for several days, and we had long talks, good meals, long visits with some of my best friends here in birmingham. we drank good wine and good whiskey. I took them to my parents house for lunch and my dad made his piano sing for them. I sat around with dan and tom and we worked through the gadsby hymnal, finding texts we liked and writing music for them. and one of their last nights, clint and evan joined us, and altogether, the five of us wrote a tune to an anne steele text that I think may be one of our best songs yet.

And last night, I’m sitting there watching paul dig through the tracks clint and I have compiled over the past 15 months. there’s so much work done, and there’s so much work still to do. and all the while I can’t help but feel my hardened heart mysteriously breaking. I can’t avoid this feeling that I really do believe. and when I admit that it kind of shakes me somewhere in my core. belief is a scary thing. I don’t understand that.

When the man in Albuquerque told me I’d be leading people in song in heaven, I so badly wanted to say “man – I just hope heaven is real.” I wanted to tell him that if it is real, there is no way I’d be doing anything. I’ll probably be cleaning the toilets. the most amazing people in heaven will probably be the homeless people I avoid eye contact with every day on the streets. and the thing is - I’m just a musician – trying to say things with music – and I’m fortunate to be surrounded by inspiring, lovely musicians that make it all bigger and better than I could ever make it by myself. and I’m fortunate to be immersed in unavoidable hymn text – old songs that connect me with people across the new mexican desert and the altantic ocean.

It was night time in albuquerque, and clint and I were riding together in the back of a truck, staring up at the stars and talking about how beautiful it was to be with christians and not feel guarded, not feel jaded, not feel attacked. we had an entire weekend of feeling receptive to christianity, being open to our beliefs. sharing these old hymns with new friends, finding pieces of our own souls along the way.

I don’t know what I’m saying. other than that from time to time, I feel my heart breaking. and it feels good.

I’m going back to my photos now.


TillmanTillmanTillman said...

That's beautiful. I can't wait for the new record.

Daniel said...

He did make that piano sing!

Brian- we enjoyed our time with you so much, and can't wait to hear the results.

I hope it's not the only time we get to do that stuff together. The feeling of a hard heart getting broken (or even just a bit warm) is pretty cool isn't it? 'Strange indeed if love like this should not melt the frozen heart'...

Nicholas said...

A beautiful post, photos, thoughts, honesty.

That's what makes a good blog.

bruce said...

i started writing several things and words failed me - i found this post very moving

Clint Wells said...

thanks for this post, btm.

JP said...

I remember the first time God broke my heart -- I was 18. I grew up in a non-Christian, non-believing family, and I was so againt this "Jesus crap" that some of my friends kept trying to drag me to. But in a moment of desperately trying to escape my family, I agreed to go to a church camp for week -- I mean, it was in Panama City. That Thursday night during the 4th sermon on the Sermon on the Mount, God showed me that I was weak and poor and helpless -- that that was why He sent Jesus --and that I didn't have to fight through the world alone. And my heart broke because I had been trying so hard to run in the opposite direction.

Now my heart breaks at church during the hymns. The songs from the Gadsby cd & the ones Chris Miner has done make me weep. It is scary to live with a broken heart -- but I can't imagine being whole with a stone cold heart again. I really like the cd title.

evan said...

Well said Murph.

I like Brits by the way. Especially Dan and Tom. I think I'm going to have to incorporate "isn't it?" into my daily speech. Love it.

By the way, songwriting is a transcendent experience. I love connecting with something someone wrote hundreds of years ago.

Charlotte said...

So glad you shared this...

Thank you for your words, your art & your honesty.

Brian T. Murphy said...

tillman - thanks man. and the new record: I can't wait either. we're breaking some new ground and trying some new things, and so far it's coming together really well.

daniel - thanks man. great to visit for sure. looking forward to next time. and thanks for the hymn quote. I can hear that one in my head right now.

nick - hey. thanks man.

bruce - wow. not sure what to say to that.

clint - yeah man. thanks for making so much awesome music with me. been going through all these tracks with paul. and everytime your guitars come up, paul says something like "we really need to get someone to teach clint how to play guitar." and I respond "I know. it's really a problem".

jp - wow. really well said. thanks for that. and I think you are right. about being broken as opposed to cold and stony. and I'm with you, the hymns get me pretty much all the time.

evan - I am going to start turning all of my statements into questions. that's the british way. and yes on songwriting with hymns. totally agree.

charlotte - thank you for always opening up your home and not pretending like life is always perfect. friends like you are rare. said...


shawn avery said...

gosh. this is a great post brian.

Benj said...

Great post. I am always reminded how glad I am to know you when I read this blog.

Aaron said...

nice post. i look forward to the new cd.