Welcome to a new series here in the Rabbit Room, where we will periodically peek into the lives of our contributors as well as other artists, musicians and writers in interview form. We believe that not only is it important to hear from those we appreciate so much but we also enjoy knowing about them as well. So in our first installment, it’s (finally) time for an update from our own Randall Goodgame:
Rabbit Room (Matt): Your website hasn’t been updated since 2007. And I can’t seem to find much of anything anywhere on the latest with Randall Goodgame. So an obvious place to start is simply this – what’s happening?
Randall Goodgame: For about a year, we’ve been making a record for our worship team at Midtown, which is the name of our church. It’s a record of all the songs we do at Midtown that were written by people at our church that have never been recorded anywhere else, except for one that Caedmon’s Call recorded of mine. You can get it on our website for ten bucks and can listen to some of the tracks.
RR: What was the heart for the project?
RG: The original inspiration for it was literally that we had no budget. So we thought, ‘Well, we’ve got lots of people who would donate time and give to the making of a record, so why don’t we try to do that and sell it for money.’ It just took forever to do, because you’re getting people to do stuff for free. We finally finished and now that’s finished, the main hope is that they are very useful songs.
You know how you buy a CD and there are only two or three songs if you’re lucky that you can actually use in worship on Sunday. Or sometimes there’s only one! But on this, all the songs have been used in congregational worship a number of times, so they are all useful in that way. So it feels we’re making a contribution to the church at large.
RR: How does that compare to other available offerings in today’s modern worship scene?
RG: You’ll have to tell me. I don’t even know what’s available. I know a couple Chris Tomlin songs, but those are probably six years old now.
RR: What’s happening with your own solo career now?
RG: I have a new management company that I’m working with and they have just built a new website for me.
RR: Does that go live soon because I noticed that hasn’t been updated for a while…
RG: Probably in the next month or so. So we’re developing a lot of content for that. I’ve got an album’s worth of material ready to record, it’s just finding the time and money to do it. I’ll probably have something by October 1, even if it’s just an EP of sorts, it will be something new.
RR: That’s the October release?
RG: I think so. I have been writing exclusively on the piano. I had always been a piano player before but as you grow in Nashville, carry your guitar around, meet with people and you write, it’s just easier to write on the guitar. We moved into Nashville and my piano was in the living room in our old house and here I put it in my office, so I get to play it all the time. It doesn’t bother people late at night. Also, I just committed to it. I’m a better piano player. I enjoy the things I get to do on it. I’m able to be a lot more expressive and feel at home. So it’ll be a bunch of funky piano tunes.
RR: Does that bring out a different side of you – writing from the piano?
RG: I think you’d probably say that it would, yes. My guitar playing comes from the different musicians I love and enjoyed growing up musically. They’re all folky people – Bob Dylan, James Taylor, Nancy Griffith, Patti Griffin – so what I play will sound like that. It will sound like my regurgitating or making it my own. But the piano… I’ve been playing it for so long that I feel I play like me. When I sit down to play the piano, I can just play. I can do that on the guitar, but it feels more like making music when I’m at the piano. So it’s just a lot more fun for me and actually for everybody. When I play the guitar, it’s mellow and folky and when I play the piano, it’s more bombastic.
RR: A lot of the artists you are surrounded by seem to write thematically. Do you write in the same way?
RG: Yeah, I’m writing a lot about friendship and freedom. Feathers. Fruit. [Laughs]
RR: Freedom? As in spiritual freedom?
RG: Spiritual freedom… you know what I mean when I say that and I will know what you mean, but you’re the pastor of a church. And I’m the worship pastor at a church. So I would say personal freedom, because anybody would know what that meant. And even if they didn’t know what what they knew was spiritual freedom, it would really be spiritual freedom. Because when the guy that has the yachts and all the girlfriends shoots himself in the head because he is lonely, it’s because he wasn’t free. He wouldn’t say that he’s free.
So the old blind way of talking about freedom of just being able to do whatever you want… people have wised up to that. They haven’t in their behavior, maybe, because we can’t stop from our behavior being that way. But people are familiar with the language of that you can’t buy happiness. So the kind of freedom that people would understand when you quit a job you don’t like and you just feel free. Or you have a conversation with a friend that’s been weighing you down and making you distracted from everything else that you’d like to be focused on and you finally have it and feel free. So if you take the time to ask what you feel free from, that gets exciting.
RR: Any collaborations on the new music?
RG: Oh, yeah! There’s at least one of the songs I’ve been working on with [Andy] Osenga that he’s been super-helpful with. Most of them so far have been written by myself, but I’m always asking friends to help me with stuff. You know, anyone who’s around and available to give me their brain energy, I’ll take.
RR: What’s the attitude of having to get your name out there? Is that fun or is that frustrating to have to do that work?
RG: I’m not real gifted at the long-term view. As a result, I don’t get bothered by maybe what should bother me. I don’t get worried about things I probably should. Whatever blind spots I have don’t let me get troubled by what it takes to ramp up the Randall Goodgame machine. So it doesn’t bother me. I sort of feel like I still do the same things I’ve always done. I love working for my church. And I’m sure I will continue to do that and they’re real flexible with me. Part of my role there is to recognize and train leaders for the community while I’m gone, so that’s not a problem.
Even though I will have two or three months at a time where I won’t do shows, I have this job part-time so I don’t need but just a few shows each month to make ends meet. Of course, part of ramping up is to do more shows than that. But I’ve been in a charmed season, continuing to be involved in my own work, my friend’s work, the children’s record and being able to be home all the time with my kids, who are 5 and 7… I’ve been around for these formative years and I’m still here. It’s just also been real rewarding writing for the church and being a part of this growing community in downtown Nashville.
Matt Conner is a freelance writer and music journalist. As the founding pastor of The Mercy House, he led a church community for more than six years in intense community development across racial and socio-economic lines. As a writer, he’s interviewed thousands of musicians for multiple print and web-based publications.