Song of the Day: Allen Levi

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If you’re not familiar with Allen Levi, you should know that this song doesn’t necessarily represent the rest of his music. But then again, maybe it does: it’s a story song, it’s creative, it’s musically excellent (I mean, how cool is that occasional banjo?), and it presents the gospel in a way that conveys Allen’s deep and loving wisdom.  I chose this one because for a few years it was the only song my children requested from my iPod when we were on road trips, and it gave me a great way to talk to them about Jesus.

It’s called “Where the People Walk Backwards,” from his album, The Moon is Round.

Profile photo of Andrew Peterson

As a singer-songwriter and recording artist, Andrew has released more than ten records over the past fifteen years. His music has earned him a reputation for writing songs that connect with his listeners in ways equally powerful, poetic, and intimate. He has also followed his gifts into the realm of publishing. His books include the four volumes of the award-winning Wingfeather Saga.


6 Comments

  1. Janna

    The cliff and the lake . . . i was totally picturing the Igiby cottage and their small little town. I can see why your kids liked this.

  2. Allen Levi

    A few years ago, I read something by GK Chesterton, one of the few passages by him that I feel I entirely understood, in which he wrote, “Suppose we heard an unknown man spoken of by many men. Suppose we were puzzled to hear that some men said he was too tall and some too short; some objected to his fatness, some lamented his leanness. … One explanation would be that he might be off shape. But there is another explanation. He might the right shape. Outrageously tall men might feel him to be short. Every short men might feel him to be tall.”

    That thought, that Jesus was out of step with the world, was rattling through my mind about that time as I was driving to Birmingham to play a Christmas concert there. And it began to make sense to me that the first word of his public speaking ministry to a world heading the wrong way would be “turn around” (“Repent!”) … While I was driving to the gig, in that little temple behind the steering wheel, the picture of a world where all the people walk around backwards began to come together in my mind.

    I pulled over at a gas station and wrote the story; it felt like a Christmas song somehow. That evening, I sang it a capella since I’d not had time to put any guitar part to it, just sort of made up the tune as I went along. Felt right to do it that way, and it’s still how I usually deliver it. Sometimes I weave it into another song, one of the very few, that I’ve written about Jesus: He seemed a walking contradiction/ Perfect joy and perfect sadness/ His perfect sanity seemed madness/ In this world where He’s a stranger.

    What an honor, and encouragement, to know that children can listen with interest to a gas station parable, and to know that Papa Andrew was willing to make the story clear to them.

  3. Joe McDaniel

    My friend allen levi is one of our finest modern day poets, and he’s the most creative song writer I have ever heard – and I’ve been around for a while! He is an absolute man of God who presents the Truth and the gospel in ways that non-believers will hear. He also challenges us as believers to be salt and light in our world.

    I thank the Lord for calling allen from the world of lawyers and into the world of creative Christian ministry. Blessings on him.

    Joe

  4. Jane Williams

    I suppose I am one of many millions who feel this way or similarly about Allen Levi’s gifts, but I will post it because I simply must after experiencing yet another life altering message from his expression over the span of many years.

    I’m so glad this man found the temple in his car that day, had the dedication to his work to pull over with patience and joy and capture this inexhaustible vision on paper… seeing to it that courage would be exercised by singing it for others by evening. And if my finding it here today is why my day was able to be so turned around, then for his wisdom and ingenuity in placing it here so accessibly for yesterday’s, today’s and tomorrow’s searchers like myself, I am immensely grateful.

    I so need what he changes in my life this day and with what I know will mature and guide me as I continue to grow and be a recipient of his great art.

    This Jesus he sees, breathing the breath of the same God I have been seeking since I was old enough to cough or blink, was not what I reached for in my thoughts this morning. Having him brought to me through God’s mercy and Allen’s responsiveness to God’s calling in his life is a mission complete. How many times this has successfully happened in the lives of so many hungering people around the world is countless. Countless.

    Jesus loves me, this I know… and on days like today, I need to know more about those ways…. How does he love me, us? Tell again.

    Allen, if you are reading this, you answer those questions in each expression of your songs, not just one, but in every one that I have heard … with the love, sweat, and tears of putting hand to the plow as a disciplined farmer would, observing weather patterns, textures of ground, expectations of sky, seasons of sowing and reaping until the hungers of many are met just right, with delight. Under the skies of your pen, voice, guitar, you are in lengthy, trusted prayer with your Maker and join us, in a feast of spiritual milestones.

    To a stranger, to a friend, if you are reading this, if you ever need a place to begin or to start over from, come here, to his writings, his songs, his interpretations of scripture in our midst and you’ll see many exciting ways Jesus loves you, loves us, taking us on the best walks of our lives.

    And, if you haven’t already, please try to hear Allen Levi sing live. You will be part of it, not just as listener, but so that it will become part of you from then on, to relish and change with as small stones are tilled and boulders are lifted.

    I first heard him years ago and learned of his childlike thirst for understanding scripture and of his early maturity with the power of the written word which has year after year combined in him to relinquish a gentle and just world, highly imaginative, at times solitary, at times deeply relational, and at just the right time…hilariously inventive. These much longed for worlds his audiences cherish are within our capabilities to harness loving strength and a prayerful journey from, again, given just one listen to any of his songs. They spark the will with keener eyesight and deeper smiles because they generate a huge forgiveness.

    I believe it has never once failed to happen in my life that his songs uplift, deepen and help someone else in my path, not just me.

    And his singing, a gift(!), from God, so humbly accepted by him is undeniably the red ink of his response to Jesus’ spoken word.

    His shoulders being happily unburdened by too much praise is in part due to his intrinsic and intuitive ability to translate everything back into a gaze upon his teacher and friend, our, Jesus Christ, and in part, that he is so intrigued with the dearest people around him, his family and friends within miles of his childhood home.

    Allen, if ever a burden comes, listen to your own records. And then watch how they help you help others so suddenly!

    With much gratitude for your seeing, hearing and turning lovingly in the right direction,
    Jane

  5. Mike Werner

    It was impossible to hear this and not cry! I have many bruises, cuts and scrapes. Turn around.
    AMEN

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