Behind the Song…with Dianne Wilkinson: "Where's John?"

Behind the Song…with Dianne Wilkinson: "Where's John?" May 23, 2011

Last week, a lot of us got a good laugh at “Camping and crew” over the fact that they predicted the Second Coming on May 21st, and of course nothing happened on May 21st. But at the same time, we should recognize the sadness of what was going on there. Not only were many poor people fooled into giving up their livelihoods, Camping and his followers only gave more fuel to the fire of those who mock the idea of a Second Coming entirely. While it’s certainly true that no man can presume to know the day or the hour, we should still be sober and vigilant, knowing that Jesus surely will come.

Dianne Wilkinson recently penned a song on this very topic, and she was gracious enough to answer some questions about it for the blog.  It’s called “Where’s John?” and it has generated very positive critical reactions despite its chilling subject matter: The song is written in the first person from the perspective of a man who’s been left behind in the last days, searching for a brother named John who (we realize) has been carried away in the Rapture. The speaker says John was always warning him that one day Jesus would return, but he only laughed in his brother’s face. Now there are “open graves everywhere,” John is missing, and the speaker is slowly realizing the horrible truth of what awaits him. Most southern gospel songs leave the listener with some sort of pleasant feeling inside, but this is one fascinating exception!
Besides being interested in the song itself, I was curious about the fact that Arthur Rice had recorded the demo, since Terry Franklin always does Dianne’s demos. Read on for her intriguing answer to that question as well.
yankeegospelgirl: How did you come up with this fresh lyrical idea for a southern gospel song? Was there any specific inspiration?
Dianne: I wasn’t even thinking about writing…this song started coming to me, as many do, lyrics and music.  It only took about 20 minutes to finish, and I made no changes.
yankeegospelgirl: How did the music evolve? Did it come right along with the lyrics?
Dianne: The melody started in the minor key, and it seemed right just to keep it there, given the way the song turned out.
yankeegospelgirl: How did the Kingdom Heirs come to record it? I understand that Arthur picked it up after doing the demo.
Dianne: That is really a God thing. The young man who did the track on this suggested to my publisher that they send it to Arthur for the demo, and Arthur has never demo’d one of my songs before or since. When he sent it in, that’s when I realized Jeff was singing the bass feature (Arthur was doing all the other vocals). Well, I didn’t think the Kingdom Heirs would ever do this song, but I sent it to Steve French so he could hear what a great job Arthur and Jeff did. He contacted me immediately to put the song on hold, and was very excited about it. He thought it had a message the world needs to hear. Of course, I did, too…but I thought it would be difficult to get it recorded. I’m so glad the Kingdom Heirs did.
yankeegospelgirl: This has been described as “one of the creepiest songs in SG,” but in an approving way. What’s your reaction?
Dianne: Well, it’s certainly different.  It’s dark, and imagery is one of a young man’s growing terror after being left behind at the Rapture…separated from his brother.  So I expected people to react to it differently than probably anything I’ve ever written before.  It will be interesting to see how it’s received before live audiences.  My prayer is that it will find lodging in the hearts of lost people who come to a concert, or go into the Kingdom Heirs theater at Dollywood, and cause them to come to Christ before it’s TOO LATE.
yankeegospelgirl: Thank you very much!
I hope this will not be the last “behind the song” feature I get to do on this blog. Thanks to Dianne for taking the time to let us in on the song-writing process here!

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  • Another song with the same subject matter is “With Him” by Tracy Dartt. I think the Cathedrals sang it.

  • Rick Simpson

    Great blog!!! I love songs that convict.
    Thanks Diane

  • Thanks! She’s awesome. 🙂

  • Rick Simpson

    Yes Sir. She is one of the BEST!
    love her writing! I wish I could just be in the room with her when she writes to learn.

  • Me too! But I’m not sure you can catch what she has…

  • Rick Simpson

    I’m sure that’s true. But, maybe not “catch it” like you mean but I’m sure I could “catch” inspiration from her. I went to Nashville, TN (last year) and co-wrote at Rebecca Peck’s house and “caught” so much inspiration from her. I’ve only been writing songs for about 5 years. So, to get to sit in on a songwriting session with someone like Miss Dianne would be to a “young songwriter” (me) a dream. Sort of like a kid in a toy store. Songwriting is a deep passion of mine. I write everyday. I mean I’m working on a song (or songs) everyday. I love it!
    God bless,
    Pastor Rick Simpson
    Montgomery, AL

  • Great interview. I haven’t heard the song but this makes me want to find it.
    Hey Bro. Rick, when you wrote with me all you “caught” was a cold. Lol

  • Rick Simpson

    and a hard time. You guys made more nervous than Rebeca & John Robinson did in Nashville.

  • dinah Wilkening

    I listened to the ” where’s John” on the Gospel Hour. I would like a copy of the song. It was chilling, but I want my unsaved kids to listen to it. Thanks. Dinah

  • Hi Dinah! You can get the song on the Kingdom Heirs’ new album We Will Stand Our Ground.