missing the manhattans (both of ’em)

most writing isn’t really about our thoughts, it’s about how cool we think we are. maybe we think a certain way, probably flawed to begin with, certainly ill informed then we write about it – but the idea isn’t to convince someone we’re right, it’s not even to get it off our chest – for the most part it’s so that others will read our thoughts, hear our songs and think we’re somehow worth a damn. my thoughts aren’t even that precious to me so i don’t know why anyone else would give a crap, for the most part they don’t. but sometimes an article, a song, a post on a blog somewhere turns into a means of grace for me. something about good conversation that can just build on itself and spiral into something truly meaningful.

i’ve had a lot of friends in my life with whom i’ve had countless conversations with about music, faith, grace, darkness, and just the earthy stuff of life. some of them remain friends, lots of them end up hating me because at the heart of things i’m still a bit of a prick and not that easy to love. it’s not just all me, i’m sure those old friends had a hand in it, too. part of it is just that the road is a jealous lover and she takes away most of your friendships which aren’t mobile. 200 days a year on the road for 7 years killed most of my former friendships and conversations. almost none of the early music friendships i had have lasted, probably because i was unsufferably driven to succeed in music. when some of that success came, it just sort of made folks crazy as a rat in a tin s*%$-house, myself included. i can count on one finger the folks who are still having conversations with me today that i was talking with in 1996. (thanks ryno). either way i found myself missing those old friends today – sorry to see them go, maybe they’ll come back around someday.

i try not to worry about that much, because trashing someone is easy, but sticking with friends through the hards times spirals as well. i’ve found it usually comes to someplace really good, really comfortable. when you spiral into a good conversation the real question is how do you spiral back out? you walk down a rational (sometimes irrational), road with someone and can’t just hit ‘stop’ and finish. good friendships are like that, too. if you spiral down the road of loving someone for long enough you might just figure out that this friendship isn’t like the others, you might just be in it for the long haul.

there is something inherantly spiritual about the spiral. The double helix of our dna is a spiral. space is filled with spiral galaxies. it’s part of god’s painting of creation that we have to deal with. for myself, i got spiraled into music and travelling – to sing and make my living that way. just sort of missing the road today. took me the better part of a decade spinning in and the last few years trying to spin back out have left me dizzy and drunk. something about driving into new york city fresh off of show after shows through indiana, ohio, pennsylvania and virginia and seeing those tall buildings – thinking if you can make it there you can make it anywhere – it’s a rush. something about dreams so close you can taste them in your mouth and smell them in your nostrils. something about smoking cigarettes behind a venue and laughing at fart jokes with a bunch of crude boys…man i miss the road today.

unless you’ve played for thousands of people (this is for me not you) and felt the rush of controlling their thoughts with the sound of your voice and instruments, unless you’ve been caught up in the moment in front of a crowd of people…you and the crowed both spiraled in on a song, on a moment, on a note, until you were barely conscious, barely even cognizant of the world around you, just hanging there thrilled by the moment, enveloped in the sound and the pulsing rhythm, the lights reflecting off the floor the low end resonating through your legs and chest…unless you’ve felt that you will not know what i mean. the road is a jealous lover and she can thrill you in those ways that are not unlike being in love – almost sexual. breaking up is tough, luckily this one hasn’t been that nasty, but on days like these it’s hard. leaves me thinking about the casualties…rustin, derek, joe – mostly old manhattan guys, good guys just not in my life anymore. never got a chance to spiral back out there, just sort of blew up for some reason and i don’d really know why for certain.

new record is coming out soon – best songs i’ve ever written, easily the best production we’ve done. i’ve got new brothers, ben, allen, and todd – to go along with ryno who might as well be my wife. (maybe i’m his wife, we haven’t worked it out yet) i’ll be wishing that the road would follow this release like it has the previous ones, but i don’t think it will. i’m spiraling into a new love now, nicholas and lewis, my two sons and the life i have here with my wife and my church. it’s a good, good life and i love my job and my family. just having a hard day and missing the road and my old friends…thought i’d send this out into nowhere and get it off my chest.

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  • New music???? As in, available to folks? This is outstanding news. Sign me up for three copies… Any timetable on this one?


  • we’re hoping mid-june release. It’ll be for sale or download online at that time.



  • I loved SS with Rustin. He is the best guitarist I’ve ever heard in person, and also one of the best people I’ve ever known. I knew him pretty well in the two years we were both at MCC, and was very sad when he left SS. Good luck with the new record.

  • I concur with both of your comments about Rustin – he is a great player and one of the best people I’ve ever known as well. I was really sad when he left SS but I understand why he did. I just wish I was more mature at the time because I think I would have reacted very differently…it sucks to grow up and look back at all of the stupid things you did when you were young and foolish and beat yourself up about it. Me and my wife are watching the entire “6 feet under” series from start to finish right now. We just watched this episode where Claire is at art school talking to this kid and he says that he lays awake at night torturing himself about some stupid thing he said in 8th grade. I feel that way a lot. It’s not self-loathing either – it’s not like that. It’s this feeling of wishing I knew then what I know now and wanting to go back and fix the stupid things I did which hurt people I care about. I still miss Rustin a lot.

    Hope you’ll still check out the new record when it comes out. I really do like what I wrote about on this one. It was our attempt at doing something w/out even once considering its commercial appeal.

  • Of course I’ll check out the new record. I’ve always felt you had a real gift with lyrics, that was much too constrained by the artifices forced upon you by the CCM crowd. Even with those constraints, you write some really moving lyrics. I’ll definitely be there when you release the new album.