Tag Archives: songwriter

Christmas Un-Wrapped with Wes Pickering

18 Dec

Singer/songwriter Wes Pickering’s easy vocals make for a delightful listen, especially with his latest project In Work and Worship.  Compassion is a way of life for Wes, who adopted his dog Esther from a Nashville-area dog shelter and works with Songs of Love to craft original melodies for sick children. So, of course, Backseat Writer is pleased to un-wrap Christmas with Wes Pickering, who is sure to make Santa’s “Nice List” (even though Wes doesn’t believe in Santa).

Did you score any good deals on Black Friday?  Is it a day of great deals or terrifying chaos?

Nope, on Black Friday I drove home from North Carolina to Nashville and made no stops to shop.

What is one of your favorite Christmas memories?

When I was 3, we lived in Germany.  For some reason, my parents didn’t celebrate Christmas on December 25 that year.  Instead they woke us up one morning (I’m still not sure what day it was) and gave us a fuseball table and an electric race car track.  Even being so young, I still have a really vivid memory of that morning. 

Let’s talk Santa.  Did you believe in him as child?  How did you find out he’s not real?

Nope, my parents raised us on the story of the real St. Nicholas, who you may not know, was a theologian, attended the council of Nicaea, and was imprisoned for his faith in Jesus Christ.   One time, my uncle asked my older brother what Santa was bringing him for Christmas.  He looked up and simply responded, “Santa Claus is dead.”

Describe one of the biggest Christmas-related catastrophes that happened.

There weren’t ever any major Christmas catastrophes in my household, although my sister did once back into a candle and catch her hair on fire.  We caught it pretty quick and avoided any major disaster.

What’s your fave Christmas song/Christmas movie or cartoon/Christmas cookie?

Song – “Labor of Love” from Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb of God, Movie – It’s A Wonderful Life, Cookie – well, it’s not really a cookie, but Mom usually makes buckeyes for Christmas

Bonus Question:: New Year’s resolution—yes or no? If yes, what is your resolution?

Yes.  Thirty new songs and 100 shows.  I definitely need help on the latter, so let me know if you’re interested!


Take 5 with Randall Goodgame

11 Mar

Let me just be honest here—Randall Goodgame’s Bluebird EP got lost under a pile of Christmas presents, seasonal depression, and site changes. Randall Goodgame is an artist that should never be lost, but is a joy to discover.  From his work as a songwriter for artists such as Caedmon’s Call and Andrew Peterson, to his solo work, Goodgame’s easy vocals and melodies flow effortlessly.  Bluebird is a bittersweet mixture of upbeat songs like the title track “Bluebird” and mellow (yet lyrically strong) songs like “California” and “All the Years.”  To offer more perspective on his album, music, and life, Randall agreed to “Take 5” with Backseat Writer.

*While listeners may not be entirely familiar with your name, they are probably familiar with some of your other work, including the songs you crafted for Caedmon’s Call and Andrew Peterson.  What’s it like to hear other artists performing your work?

First, I love those people, so creating with them or for them brings me a deep sense of joy, just because of our relationship.  But artistically, seeing songs fleshed out in ways I’d never thought of has really grown and stretched me.  I’m so thankful for that.

* How did a song about a little bird become the title track for the whole album?

Well, the whole record is about broken relationships and longing for the time when they will be restored.  The song “Bluebird” still has some hope left in it for today.  That’s how I’d like to live.

*I love the solid piano melodies on this album, especially in the reflective song “All the Years.”  What’s the story behind this song?

Again, anyone who is honest will express deep grief at their capacity to love someone else well.  Relationships are hard, and life is hard, but you can’t give up.  That’s what is going on in “All The Years.”

*Besides being a husband, father, songwriter, and many other things, you have also been open about your struggles with ADHD on your blog. I appreciate your openness about what can sometimes be considered a taboo issue.  How has talking about your experiences with ADHD been helpful to others?

Honestly, so far, talking about it hasn’t made much of a stir.  Most folks I know that struggle with it are reluctant to talk about it because it is difficult to gauge.  It acts differently for different folks.  So, it’s not like talking about the flu, which people can relate to.  It’s like saying your depth perception is a little off.  Well, by how much?  And what kind of a difference does that make in your life, really?  And, it is difficult and expensive to medicate.  I’m off my meds right now, and I’m not sure I’ll go back on them.  So, I can understand there not being a big rush to talk about it.

*I know you have a seven year-old daughter and a wife with an amazing first name (Amy’s of the world unite!), but you are also seeking to add to the Goodgame family.  Would you mind sharing a bit about your adoption plans?

Actually, my daughter Livi is now 8 years old, and Jonah is 5.  And yes, we are in process to adopt from Ethiopia in 2009.  We began the conversation about adoption in 2007, and are more excited than ever about going over and getting our kids. The most we can say is that we are sure we have no idea what we are getting into, but that this is where God has led us.  Crazy.

For more information on Randall Goodgame visit him online at randallgoodgame.com or myspace.com/randallgoodgame.

Bebo Norman :: From the Ruins

14 Sep

Talking with Bebo Norman is like chatting with an old friend; except I’ve never met Bebo Norman. However, I’ve closely followed his career.  Easing into our phone interview with a joke, Bebo informed me that he’s running errands while he talks.  Moving into a safe icebreaker, we chat about his family and rearing of his one-year-old son. Specifically, who is better at diaper duty: “I’m better at it; there’s no question,” laughs Bebo.  “I haven’t timed it.  I pride myself on cleanliness rather than speed.”

It’s this articulate attention to detail in lyric and music that has made Bebo Norman a popular singer/songwriter since 1996.  Looking back on the past 12 years is like reading an autobiography. “I really have a unique opportunity, a gauge of where my life story has been and how God has been so strangely consistent in the middle of all that.  I say ‘strangely’ because sometimes I can look up and wonder where God is, but I have this constant reminder of the consistency of Him through these songs and through my story.”

After finishing his first record deal, last year, Bebo signed with Seattle-based BEC Recordings, home to artists such as Jeremy Camp, Kutless, and Chris Taylor. On the heels of releasing an immaculate Christian album, Christmas…from the Realms of Glory in 2007, Bebo’s latest project is a self-titled album and probably his most revealing and vulnerable. “My prayer—and I really do hope this happens—that every year I live, I can be more vulnerable relationally and musically.”

Similarly, Bebo draws from his life humbly noting, “I don’t really know how to write songs unless I’m writing them out of life.”  Take the song “Britney,” a quiet apology to women who have been ravaged by lies about true beauty from culture and media.  Ironically, the song was inspired by Britney Spears.

“Truth be told, who writes a song about Britney Spears?” rhetorically asks Bebo with a chuckle.  “I was up late one night because I couldn’t sleep.  I was flipping through the news channels when I came upon a pretty tragic story about Britney,” referring to Spears’s hospitalization.

“She was being taken off in a stretcher.  My first instinct was to respond cynically, and then there was a freeze frame moment.  She had this look on her face where she was completely lost in brokenness and despair.  The thing that struck me—paralyzed me—was that I’ve had that look on my face before.  I was able to look at her life with compassion, not as a tabloid story.”

Not excusing her poor choices, Bebo continues, “Who, if not the Church, is going to say ‘hope is here’ to the culture, to someone like Britney Spears?  We are called to live with compassion in a broken world.”

Though it is the opening song on the album, “Pull Me Out,” is one of Bebo’s most personal songs to date.  Recently opening up about his struggles with anxiety and panic attacks over the past five years, Bebo lays it all out in this song.  But for the purposes of this interview, he was more than willing to candidly discuss anxiety with a fellow sufferer.

Suffering from panic attacks which seemed to revolve around playing music, Bebo says he felt as though he could not breath and his heart would race and sweat would pour down his face.  “I would try to convince myself before I played a show that I could do it.  ‘I know how to play these songs, which I’ve literally played a thousand times and I can breathe; I’m breathing right now.’  Despite the positive self-talk, Bebo shares that sometimes he would “literally lose it. It is the most helpless feeling I’ve ever felt.”

By opening up to those around him and getting help, Bebo is learning to manage his anxiety.  At first, he was ashamed to tell anyone about his attacks. “I was praying about it and praying about it and reading Scriptures about it and praying that God would heal me from it—all these things.  I don’t believe this, but subconsciously within the culture of Christianity, we communicate that if you’re not alright, then something’s not right with you spiritually.”  But it wasn’t the judgment of others that keep Bebo suffering silently, it was his own inability to reason through his anxiety.

“I’ve always prided myself on my ability or what I thought was my ability to reason my way through things.  This whole struggle with anxiety has been the first thing in my life that I haven’t been able to reason through… that was the scariest moment for me. I didn’t understand why it happened or when it was going to happen again.  For years and years, I felt a lot of shame and frustration in that; I was trying to fix it on my own.”

While anxiety has put Bebo on edge, it has also allowed him to cling to the very edges of his faith. “The older I get, the more I realize that faith is not about this accumulation of wisdom or wealth or knowledge or spiritual gifts.  Faith is literally, as defined by Scripture, a desperate clinging to Christ.  In that sense, anxiety has done nothing but increase my faith because it has forced me to do nothing but cling to Christ.” He thoughtfully adds, “Clinging to Christ doesn’t mean that the anxiety is going to go away, but it does mean that God is in the middle of that anxiety.”

In his musings about anxiety, Bebo swings back to the first song he wrote for the project. Inadvertently, “Ruins” became the theme song for the whole album with its simple phrase: “Let my ruins become the ground You build upon.”  Bebo shares. “Anxiety has stripped me of a lot of things.  It has broken down notions in my mind about control, vanity, and reason. It is from brokenness that I want God to rebuild this faith structure that I have, which isn’t built on my own abilities.”

Rebuilding and starting afresh are what Bebo Norman’s latest project is all about. His admirable vulnerability only add to his ability as a songwriter to strengthen this man of God, as he lets his ruins become the breaking ground of faith.

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