By Amy Sondova Take Me Anywhere is more than the title of Chris Taylor’s debut album; it’s the motto of his life, which has been anything but typical. He surrendered his life to God in a car, not at an altar. He went to England to become a great worship leader and came back a man who wondered if he should sing at all. Once he stopped seeking fame, Chris Taylor became an artist that was found.
“I’ve got no problem telling people that I was one of those kids singing worship songs over and over because I thought it was cool,” he admits. A year after he got saved, Chris, who has been playing guitar since he was 13, started leading worship as his youth group never hearing artists like Steven Curtis Chapman, DC Talk, or Newsboys. But as time went on, Chris says he continued leading worship, not because he had a heart for it, but because it made him popular.
After high school, Chris earned a music degree and then decided to travel to England to intern at Soul Survivor, a now-international church started in England most known for their music festivals and their famous worship leader, Matt Redman. “I went there for all the wrong reasons—to get a pat on the back and have people tell me that I was really good at leading worship, which was really stupid looking back on it” shares Chris. “I came home humbled by what it means to lead people in worship.”
“God saved me from that mess. I got to see Matt Redman’s heart. For him, it has nothing to do with fame or fortune or the fact that his songs are unbelievable. He’s just a real Christian,” says Chris, who was amazed to learn about Redman’s difficult past. “Matt was abused for a couple of years by his stepfather when he was a teenager, which left him completely broken, beyond repair. Somehow God lifted him up to write songs that only he could write.”
Upon returning from England, Chris began to pen new songs, “When I sat in my room and wrote these songs, I know that God was doing something in my life. There were times I questioned it. God was teaching me to shut up, listen, be humbled, and to not covet other songwriter’s songs because I had no idea what God’s done in them.” Chris also had no idea these songs would lead to a record deal with BEC Recordings or his debut album, Take Me Anywhere, which was released in April. He describes the album as “kind of rock, folksy, kind of poppy,” inspired by the music of Sting and Radiohead, among others.
Most importantly, Chris’ main inspiration is from his study of the Bible and from reading theology books. Personal spiritual edification and spending time with God are the keys to Chris’ song writing, “We’re all called to do something real and great, which transcends the record. The record serves a purpose for sure, but it should come out of who I am.” Take Me Anywhere’s songs range from the very personal to the very worshipful, with plenty of material in-between.
The album’s title track is climbing up radio charts and is even available as a ring tone (check Chris Taylor’s MySpace for details). But Chris takes the song’s success in stride laughing, “I’ve always wanted a ring tone, and now I have one.” The song was written about two men who encounter Jesus after His resurrection as they travel to the town of Emmaus (see video explanation above).
Perhaps this is most beautifully orchestrated in “Symphony,” which lyrically implores God, who holds the “melody of creation” to “teach the harmony to all [He] loves”. “Melody is the chief movement of the song, whether instrumental or vocal,” explains Chris. “The harmony is any register that’s above or below. It adds to the melody, especially when you stack a few parts above or below it.” The song conjures up the image from C.S. Lewis’ The Chronicles of Narnia—one of the lion Aslan, singing the world of Narnia into creation though melody, and having the created echo back the harmony.
One of the most personal songs on the album, “Come Around,” was written one afternoon after Chris had an argument with his older brother. “I sat down and wrote this song straight through—no pen or paper,” says Chris. The brothers, four years apart in age, never had a close relationship. As they grew into adults their fighting seemed silly, especially after Chris’s big brother was diagnosed with an illness that limits the blood flow to certain areas of his body causing these areas to weaken. Only 30 years old, Chris’ brother has already had one hip replacement and may soon undergo a procedure on his other hip.
Tenderly speaking, Chris then says, “It’s about getting closer after something that’s ridiculously horrible. The part that says, ‘You’re my bone, my blood’—I can’t sing that without thinking about his bones failing.” Though horrible, the illness has caused the brothers to reconcile their differences and come around to a renewed relationship with one another.
Other songs on the album include “Made for You” a vertical song that’s a hybrid between a song for his wife and a song for God, “Speak to Me in Mysteries” erupts into a chorus praising God, and Chris’ favorite song on the album, “Atmosphere.” “It’s about God’s expansive wonder in creating everything, but He’s not bound to creation. He can step through space and time and those boundaries that we have and communicates not only with us as people, but as individuals,” he shares, and then adds, “Actually, the whole record is a conversation about me talking to God and having Him reveal Himself to me.”
The interesting thing about Chris is that he’s almost more excited to talk about God and His work, than his album. Getting to know others, especially to his audience, is a crucial part of Chris’ life as a musician. “I really enjoy connecting with people and trying to be more vulnerable. I definitely don’t want to be the kind of artist that sits backstage and isn’t accessible,” he says. On his recent tour with Kutless, Chris would often befriend audience members and enjoy the concert by sitting with them.
He also loves to respond to people who leave comments on his MySpace page. Yet he’s stricken by the disclaimer that often comes at the beginning of many of his messages and e-mails, “Here’s how people write to me, ‘I know you’re not going to read this but…’ and then they wrote two pages about what’s happening in their lives. It’s sad because they have no one to talk to.” Seeing these as sacred moments of vulnerability and ministry, Chris prays that God allows him to draft a worthy response.
Dismayed that other artists don’t take time to get to know their audience, Chris laments, “There’s no connection between the people and the artists, but it shouldn’t be that way. Before I’m an artist, I’m a Christian. There should be a level of accountability. Christian musicians are different than secular artists. We’re ministering and encouraging others in God, and it’s a model that that world doesn’t know.” He adds that artists are afraid to be accountable to their fans and each other, “Artists can’t afford not to be accountable. We see what happens when they aren’t.”
Accountability is important to this 27 year-old husband and father, who planned to take two year-old Clara swimming at the conclusion of the interview. “I’m still trying to figure out how to do what I love without the expense of losing my family,” he shares. “I’m convinced you don’t have to choose one over the other and that God works it out.”
Chris Taylor’s life and his album, Take Me Anywhere are proof that God works it out, in spite of our own desires. “I’m fascinated daily with the idea that God started a dialogue in my life when I was completely without Him,” he shares with wonder. “You learn how to wander and actually be found.”