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Speechless

(CD - Jun 1999)
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Overview

An exploration of the intervening power of God's grace. Features 11 new songs including Dive and title track.

Details

  • SKU: 9787474007742
  • UPC: 724385169526
  • Title: Speechless
  • Qty Remaining Online: 1
  • Publisher: Sparrow Corporation
  • Release Date: Jun 15, 1999
  • Format: Album
  • Media: Compact Disc
  • Music Categories: Contemporary/Pop
  • Weight lbs: 0.22
  • Dimensions: 5.00" L x 5.69" W x 0.43" H
  • Awards: 2000 Dove Awards (Nominee - Recorded Music Packaging)
    2000 Dove Awards (Winner - Pop/Contemporary Album)
  • Category: CONTEMPORARY
  • Subject: Christian - Contemporary

About The Songs

(by Steven Curtis Chapman)

This was inspired by a story my pastor, Scotty Smith, told during one of his sermons. He has an awesome fishing trip with his friend, Scott Roley. They had gone trout fishing and found a stream that produced a day of fishing that was a dream come true. They were standing chest deep in this stream catching trout left and right and at the day's end had caught 200 fish. It was just unbelievable. He said the interesting thing was all the people standing on the shore watching them. Nobody was catching fish on the shore because you had to be put in the deep water where the fish were. Scotty related this story to the Christian life by saying it's not a spectator sport, it's not something where we just sit on the side, we've got to get deep into the living water to experience what it is. It's dangerous, it's scary, it's frightening and it's all those things but that's where we are called to live our lives. I took that analogy and said, " I want to write that somehow" and I started working on the song "Dive." From there I began to think about how my kids and I go to Tablerock Lake every summer and we climb up on the cliffs and jump off. We don't actually dive; we're not brave enough to do that yet. That whole experience is so much like what it is to follow Jesus Christ. If we're really going to do it we've got to really dive deep into what it means to get lost in the flow of the living water. It's a scary thing. You stand there with your knees knocking and you almost can't catch your breath. But once you hit the water and go deep, you experience that sense of "yes! I did it, I'm in!" All of those emotions and experiences are what I wanted to capture in this song.

Biography

What do you do when you've had 29 number one singles, won every major award and sold more than four million albums? Steven Curtis Chapman decided to take a year off to spend time with his family and contemplate his next move. This "time off" turned out to be a roller coaster year of joy and pain that has left Chapman Speechless.

The nine-time Gospel Music Association Songwriter of the Year chronicles that life-changing year with his first collection of new songs in three years. "The bad news is it gave me time to write a whole lot more songs than I probably needed to write for one record. When I first went in I had 40 ideas that I had to weed through. That's always the tricky part or settling in on what the strongest ones are." The result is 12 new Chapman signature songs, from the energetic title track of renewed faith, "Speechless," to "Fingerprints of God," written to encourage teenage daughter Emily.

Chapman was thrust back into the limelight during his sabbatical by the tragic shooting at his alma mater, Heath High School, in Paducah, Kentucky. He made several trips to his hometown to offer emotional support and did a benefit for the victims' families. Tragedy struck again when a close family friend lost a daughter in a traffic accident. Those emotionally draining events had a major impact on the writing for the new album.

"Because so much of Speechless was written around the times of funerals I was going to. I thought a lot of this record was going to be introspective and a little more dark, somber and moody. But just the opposite happened with songs emerging like "With Hope," dedicated to the lost lives. "It turned out that as I got in to start recording the songs and picking the final 12, it actually is more of a joyful album. God is good, and I want to celebrate His goodness, even in the midst of the confusion and difficulties of life and unanswerable questions."

Speechless also finds Chapman breaking new ground musically. For the first time he has recorded an entire album with his touring band rather than studio musicians. "That's one of the things that's made this record so unique and that has breathed new life into it and added a lot of excitement."

While Chapman provided a majority of the music and all the vocals on Signs of Life, the involvement of his band on Speechless led Steven to explore new musical territory. Bassist Adam Anders was an integral part of the recording process. "A lot of these songs we sat down together and kind of built around a guitar riff, and then we'd find drum samples and loops and different kinds of sounds that gave this a real fresh approach."

The teamwork is evident on "Dive." The electronic sounds interplay with the acoustic guitar intro and the rhythmic track provides the foundation for the wall of sound created by Chapman and his band mates in the chorus.

The musical influences on the album include Collective Soul, The Wallflowers and The Dave Matthews Band. "I'm probably more influenced in terms of new music by what my kids like. That could be everything from The Supertones and Ska music to Newsboys and Delirious."

Lyrically, Chapman continues to be influenced by great Christian authors of past and present. The biography of Jim Elliot, Through Gates of Splendor, and Oswald Chambers' life story, Abandoned to God, had a profound impact on Steven. "These two books got me thinking about what I am doing that really matters. These two guys lived lives that said ‘Right now at this moment am I doing what I think looks the most like obedience to God, and am I surrendering to His will?' They were just radically committed to the Gospel. That really has challenged me in the writing of this album."

An avid reader, Chapman has also absorbed books by classic authors including A.W. Tozer and Corrie Ten Boom. Contemporary writers Chapman admires include Phillip Yancey, David McCullough, Mike Yaconelli and Brennan Manning. "Manning's book Papa's Child, deeply affected me while writing for this album. I'm so astonished at God's love, and I want to be captured by it and invite others into that process with me."

Another major influence on Speechless was Steven's pastor and friend, Scotty Smith. The songs "Speechless," "Dive," and "The Change" were all inspired from sermons preached at Christ Community Church in Franklin, Tennessee. In fact, Steven and Scotty have just completed work on a book titled Speechless: In Awe of the Power of God's Disruptive Grace which will release by Zondervan in June.

Chapman was invited to participate in several major projects during his sabbatical. He contributed "I Will Not Go Quietly" to the Grammy Award winning The Apostle Soundtrack and filmed a music video featuring the star of the movie, Robert Duvall. Chapman also contributed a song to the gold-selling album inspired by the hit movie, The Prince of Egypt - Nashville.

As Chapman moves forward with this new chapter in his musical career, he takes a moment to look back from where he's come. "I'm having to shift into not being the new kid on the block, and I feel like Heaven In The Real World was kind of that shift to 'now he's an established artist.' So this was 'where do you go beyond established artist and what does that look like?’" Chapman has decided to let others contemplate that question as he moves on with his mission in life. His time away has rekindled the fire of his faith. "I was able to get far enough away that I feel like I've come back with a renewed sense of excitement about just writing and singing songs that talk about my faith in Jesus Christ. The songwriting that was done during that process gave birth to a renewed sense of awe and amazement and astonishment that I hope I captured on this album."

Interview

So where did all of this [your music career] start? When did your love for music begin?

Well I grew up in a real musical family. My dad wrote songs with his friends on the weekends and he began to perform them around town. I remember them all huddled together in a room, recording songs and my brother and I would press our ears against the door to listen. My dad, my brother and I all became Christians at about the same time. And my dad, part time, began to serve as the music minister in our church. In fifth and sixth grade I began playing drums and my dad used to give guitar lessons as I was growing up, so I took them too. So really, my musical interest was being fed from all sides from early on.

It has been about 3 years since your last completely new album. Why did you take this hiatus of sorts from recording?

This has been something I've been planning to for about six or seven years. I was really being encouraged by my manager and some people in the industry who had worked with artists for many more years that I had and had seen the value of stepping out the limelight, getting off the treadmill for a while. I really needed the break, especially in the role that I'm in where I'm trying to communicate what God is telling me, the truth of his love. And really, when you look at the people who God has really spoken through, he has spoken to them while they were out alone in the desert, or sitting on some hill tending sheep or something. I realized it was time to step out for a while, and possibly never step back to it in the same way that I left it.

I think I will always be writing and singing songs that glorify God, but it won't always look like it has up until now. It might not always be recording and going on tours.

I had to let God shake the foundations of my life and get back to what is really at the core of why I do this. I had to ask myself, what part of this has become a machine that just continues and carries me on with it?

God has really used this time to refocus me. In many ways God has taken me back to the drawing board of why I do this.

Did you find what you were looking for in your time off?

I can say that my sabbatical time was both very rewarding and very frustrating. We got to the end of it and my wife and family said Wait, I want a redo! My wife and I had thought that I would get all the things on the "honey do list done. That we'd have all the closets in the house clean and that no music would be involved at all, which of course was silly. Because in the meantime I had the opportunity to perform a song for The Apostle, and for The Prince of Egypt and several other projects. Also we had a lot of tragedy come into our lives with the school shooting at my high school in Paducah, Kentucky and the daughter a family that was very close to us dying in a car accident. We were able to walk alongside that family, and it really had a profound impact on all of us. I mean our kids had been playing together just before that [accident happened]. Here it is a year later and we still feel it. To be honest, I think those tragedies are a big reason why I had that time off. I can't imagine walking through all this with my family while being on the road. I was able to be home, I was needed at home. Watching my daughter turn 12 and then 13 and everything that comes with that. I was able to be with my family through all this.

What I had prayed for at the beginning was, God I want to have a true sense of the Gospel run true and fresh in my heart. In one way [the time off] was very good for that, in another it was very difficult.

It has been 12 years since your first album, and you now have a very successful career, what is next for you? Will you continue to tour and record, or are you looking toward new challenges?

I didn't know 10 years ago that my life would look like this, so it would probably be stupid to say; This is what the next 10 years will look like. I'm trying to be much more intentional in how I handle things with my family. I just got out of a marketing meeting where I heard 104 great ideas, but as I was sitting there with my wife next to me, I could feel the full weight of it coming down on us. I was just thinking, "How are we going to get to all the soccer games and baseball games? How will I have time to be around so that when those teachable times with my children come along, those times you just can't plan, I won't be on tour, out on the road? At the same time though, I think, how can I tend this wonderful, incredible opportunity God has put before me?

I know for sure that I will work to spread the message of this album and this book. I'll work to keep sharing God's love and God's peace with those who have not yet heard and those who have not yet made a personal decision to follow Him.

I think it would also be fun to write some kind of musical. I also really enjoyed parts of the process of writing this book with Scotty Smith, my pastor. I enjoyed it to the point that I could see myself sitting down someday and really focusing on doing that.

Most of all, I will continue, day by day to ask God,What does obedience look like for this season of life, for this day And most importantly, What is my greater calling, to be a father and a husband, going to look like?

Tell me a little more about the new book.

My pastor Scotty Smith and I have been trying to write and dreaming to write this book for years. He helped me write out a lot of the ideas for the Signs of Life album and we would get to the end of writing these songs, and at times they would just scratch the surface. There is so much more that I would like to share, that go into those songs, but I just don't have time to communicate it in a 4 minute song. So many of the themes come from ideas and thoughts from sermons that Scotty has led me in.

The theme of the book is astonished by the Gospel. I heard him use that phrase as we were having a lunch meeting and talking over some ideas for the upcoming album. As I was telling him some of my ideas, he stopped me and said, "So what you really want to say is that you're astonished at the Good News and hope of the Gospel. I realized, well, yes, that is exactly what I want to say.

So this book is telling our own stories in coming to see what huge sinners we are in the face of even greater grace, and then just being astonished by His love and mercy. This was really a chance for us to tell these stories, and how, as the subtitle says, we are Living in awe of God's disruptive grace." Because God's grace really is more disruptive and messier than I ever imagined. But that is because I'm in much worse shape than I ever imagined. If we ever think, "Everything is OK. I'm OK, you're OK, then the Gospel is just OK. But when we see just how desperate and needy we are, then the Gospel truly is amazing.

Looking back over your career, is there anything you would change?

I'm sure that are some small things that I would change. At the time, I didn't want to do a big tour for the Signs of Life album, I wanted to just do something small. What is really wonderful though, is that when I go back and listen to the music God has allowed me to make, there isn't a one where I think Oh man, I was trying to be too cool or I was trying to be too trendy. I realize that it really was God moving in me to make those songs.

If there was a way that I could do what I do and not be away from my family, I would do that. Sometimes I think I might set up a little theater in Branson like those country guys do and have people come to me. Then I could go to work at 8 and be home by 5. It would be great.

What has been your favorite part of it all?

Songwriting really is my favorite part of the process, that is the part I get really excited about. But if I didn't go out and sing those songs, no one would ever hear them. Then of course, my very favorite part is doing interviews like this one (he pauses then laughs). No, I guess I am being a little facetious.

Tell me a little about yourself. When you're not onstage or recording, what do you do to have fun? To relax?

Hang out with my kids. My guys are both really good pitchers and there isn't much I like more than going out and playing catcher for them. I also like to ride my Harley Davidson with Geoff Moore. Or maybe grab my fishing pole and catch some fish with my kids. Really, if its with my family, that is really where I love to be.

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