Derek Webb Was Wrong and He’s Sorry, But Why?

Derek Webb has released the title-track to his upcoming album, I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry and I Love You. You can watch the video below. It has a message!

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Though the message is striking, it’s not, in actuality a huge departure from Derek Webb’s previous offerings. Webb has always been a blatant sort of fellow, the kind of musician that writes music with a mind to convince and change minds. When Derek writes a song, typically, you know he’s got a point to get across.

So what’s the point of “I Was Wrong, I’m Sorry and I Love You”? Probably Derek Webb’s slow realization that he’s been a flawed human being over the past ten years of his career, that he’s made mistakes, but that he’s grateful those who have stuck with him in spite of it. That’s a pretty universal sentiment, and an incredibly profound and honorable one at that, especially for a public figure.

Still, it’s going to leave a lot of listeners unsatisfied. The fact that both the song and the video allude to his previous albums implies a kind of specific and myopic focus, and a sense that there’s some inside knowledge that we’re not in on. Derek has been a controversial figure over the last few years, occasionally using words that make his fans blush, criticizing the church in various ways with coy and sarcastic choruses, and refusing to play into the standard “Jesus-per-minute” expectations often applied to most contemporary Christian musicians. It’s an approach that has lost as many fans as it’s won. As a result, Webb’s latest serves more as a litmus test than anything. What would you like him to be sorry about? Maybe it’s that.

That’s the most prominent flaw of this single: it inspires speculation rather than introspection. If the song was meant to be a powerful work of art, it would have been much more effective by being even more vague. More likely, the song is only the thematic introduction for an album yet to be released.

The upcoming album, purported by Webb himself to be a follow-up to his first solo album She Must and Shall Go Free, will likely be a more concrete offering than the title-track suggests. Derek Webb is nothing if not honest, both with others and himself, and like all of us, he’s done a lot of maturing in the last ten years. It’s safe to say he’ll have a point to get across. My bet is you’ll know exactly what he’s sorry for.

About Richard Clark

Richard H. Clark is the co-founder and editor-in-chief of Christ and Pop Culture. He has a Master of Arts in Theology and the Arts from the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He lives in Louisville, Ky. He is also the managing editor of Gamechurch and a freelance writer for Unwinnable, Paste, and other outlets.
E-mail: clarkrichardh [at] gmail [dot] com.
Twitter: @deadyetliving

  • buckmark1

    i think the meaning behind this is pretty obvious…… no matter when, no matter what, no matter who…. the three most important things one can say is, “I was wrong, I’m sorry, and I love you”. these words are ones we all need to learn and be willing to say.

  • Andrew

    “If the song was meant to be a powerful work of art, it would have been much more effective by being even more vague”

    Have you listened to Ctrl? I think it might fall into your category of “even more vague”.

    I wonder… how often are artists this honest? I find it refreshing.

  • sue

    except if you think “i’m right, i’m not sorry, and i don’t love you.”… ;) but i hear your point! i think its a posture of the heart…to be willing to be all those things “be wrong, sorry, and to love” all the time that reaches across politics, controversy, heartbreak, stalemate, and differences that seem wider than this whole world….

  • David Malcolm Puranen

    I don’t think this is really fair. It’s a song from Derek, but the main complaint seems to be that it’s not universal enough that you can forget the point that Derek’s trying to make, and instead reimagine it as a song that somehow “speaks” to you, which allows you to process some feelings you haven’t been dealing with.

    Would that song have been a really nice one? Yup, but it’s not this one. The intro does make the song pretty well impossible to cover. Much like when someone puts the year the song was made into it. But that’s fine. It’s still a great song. And frankly every time I listen to it I have trouble not tearing up.

  • Esther O’Reilly

    Isn’t it obvious? He’s sorry for ever having a single conservative thought in his life.

    The guy’s gone completely emergent and there’s really no point in denying it anymore. The fact that he actually has talent makes that all the sadder.

  • xjm716

    This is a joke, right?

  • Matt Kramm

    Dang it! I was sure that he was sorry for all the skinny-jeaned liberal wannabe shenanigans that I unfanned him for!

  • Christina

    My first thought was that this is his/our right posture as Christians before God, the message Derek has always led us to have: to realize our wrong (sin), to repent (be sorry), and to love God better & better. That message does sum up quite well the last decade of Derek’s music (and all the years before that of singing with & for Caedmon’s Call).