The news was bleak. Despite decades of hit songs like “Blue Skies” and “Always” and enviable celebrity status under the pen name Irving Berlin (originally named Israel), by the turn of the 1930s America’s songwriter had peaked and was sliding with the stock market into oblivion. Not only was the country entering the Depression, but, more personal to Berlin, his only infant son had died on Christmas day in 1928, the new medium of the radio was killing his beloved music industry with free music, and he couldn’t seem to muster up any songs capable of fighting back the closing darkness. Though he plodded on with the habit of writing in the early 1930s, nothing he could pen would measure up in his eyes. As far as he could see his most joyous era was coming to an end, the country was collapsing, and the cliché phrases he daily penned were painful reminders of his draining well.Read More ›
“Writing poetry is too hard.” This is the offense I hear my high school students protest frequently. I get it, but I don’t think it’s entirely true.
As I am writing about Joy Ike’s newest album, Bigger Than Your Box, my daughter is literally making a home out of a cardboard box on the carpet beside my chair. It is a house for our cat, Berdie. Before Sally Ann finishes spelling out “Welcome” in marker on the front, Berdie is already inside, purring.
On November 4, 2014, when I wrote the “Voting Day” poem that later turned into this song, I wrote it in the midst of what felt like a disproportionately high stakes rhetorical battle. Read More ›
Late in the pre-kid dawn of our marriage, Lyndsay and I drove a packed-to-the-windows Honda Accord named “Donovan” from Chattanooga, Tennessee, to Los Angeles, California—one last Read More ›
In 2013 our church commissioned several musicians to write songs for the annual Christmas concert. At the time I felt drawn to write about shepherds, because my own son, Shepard, was Read More ›