Mercy Lives Here

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Mercy Lives Here

Life has been rugged lately; don’t be shocked if I have to resort to a GoFundMe cam­paign soon to cover the bills. There’s been a not incon­sid­er­able amount of scream­ing at the sky, yelling at God to kindly show Him­self if in fact He’s there at all. You could accu­rately say my faith has been quite tat­tered and frayed as of late.

Thank­fully, God is tol­er­ant, reveal­ing Him­self in ways well known yet made anew. For exam­ple, the song ref­er­enced in this excerpt to the book I wrote some years back, this par­tic­u­lar quote being from Derri Daugh­erty of The Choir and The Lost Dogs:

Where Daugh­erty sel­dom goes is any­where near pen­ning lyrics him­self. Why? “I don’t know. Early on I tried to write a lot of lyrics, and I wrote lyrics grow­ing up. But I was never very proud of much that I did. At some point I became embar­rassed enough to where I told myself I didn’t want to do this lyric thing.”

He con­tin­ues, “For me to do it, I have to be deeply inspired. The muse has to strike hard, which doesn’t hap­pen very often. I don’t have a lot of patience for it or con­fi­dence in what I might come up with. Plus, Steve is so good at it he ends up say­ing a lot of the things I’d want to say. Once you get a band going, hope­fully you real­ize the strengths and weak­nesses of the other mem­bers and relin­quish your weak­nesses to their strengths.”

And yet there is con­fi­dence in his abil­ity to write music … “I’m not real con­fi­dent in music writ­ing either,” Daugh­erty laughs. “Over­all I’m not a very con­fi­dent guy. For me with music, I get lost in the sound. That’s why my stuff has never been overly com­plex. It’s more about sim­ple parts; work­ing hard to get this cool sound I like that inspires me.

Music is an eas­ier thing to do. I believe even the best of lyri­cists would say lyrics are a chal­lenge. It’s hard to keep com­ing up with some­thing unique and inspir­ing, yet not repeat­ing yourself.”

There has been at least one instance in recent years of some­thing unique tak­ing place that inspired Daugh­erty to write a lyric, said inci­dent mov­ing him to write “Mercy Lives Here” on Flap Your Wings which given its set­ting – a bar – raised a few eye­brows. Doesn’t exactly jive with your aver­age con­ser­v­a­tive view of Amer­i­can Chris­tian­ity, y’know.

Right,” Daugh­erty replies. “It doesn’t. The rea­son I wrote it was an epiphany I had in a bar.”

He con­tin­ues, “I had been read­ing The Power and the Glory by Gra­ham Greene. It’s one of my favorite books. It’s about this priest who’s fallen and renounced not his faith, but his priest­hood, and he’s run­ning away. In the midst of him run­ning away, he keeps encoun­ter­ing these peo­ple he reluc­tantly has to become their priest to in order to min­is­ter to them. It keeps hap­pen­ing over and over and over again. It’s a very inspir­ing book to me.

At that time, we were at the place with our band where things were wind­ing down. It was the point of your career where you real­ize while every­one in it feels like we’ve done a lot of good things, we’re never going to be the big band. You’re in that moment of hit­ting the wall and real­iz­ing the wall is real. You’re not going to go any far­ther. It’s bit­ter­sweet, and you’re fight­ing all those feelings.

Well, we were play­ing in Akron that night in a lit­tle club along with Over the Rhine. We were open­ing for them, and they wanted to do their sound check later because they weren’t going to get there for some rea­son. So we set up and did ours. We had a bunch of free time after that, so we went walk­ing around down­town Akron.

Akron was a very depress­ing town. The whole down­town was boarded up. How­ever, there was this one thing with lights on that was stick­ing out, and it was this Egypt­ian kind of tent that came out from the wall like an awning. It said, ‘Cairo.’ So we wan­dered in there and sat down.

It was this weird lit­tle bar, and the char­ac­ters in the song, in the lyric, are all real. There was this midget that was dressed like a clown, with clown makeup on and over­alls. He was sit­ting at the bar, and next to him was an Amish-​looking guy that was obvi­ously an alco­holic who was shak­ing. There was a guy in the back with a woman who was obvi­ously a hooker.

We spent a cou­ple of hours there hang­ing out. They had a juke­box that had all these old ‘40s songs that was two songs for a dime. It was this sur­real cross between David Lynch and Quentin Taran­tino. Very weird.

So I’m look­ing around, observ­ing it all, and all of a sud­den it was like the Lord spoke to me show­ing me all these bro­ken peo­ple and how His mercy was there. It was in this place with these peo­ple. In the midst of all of their bro­ken­ness and fail­ure, God’s Spirit was there. He was watch­ing over them. He was look­ing out for them. He was lov­ing them and car­ing about them. It was an intense expe­ri­ence. I remem­ber shar­ing it with Steve (Hin­da­long) after we left. I got back in the van that night, and wrote most of the lyric on the way to the hotel about that expe­ri­ence. It’s some­thing I’ll never for­get. It’s stayed with me all these years.”

https://​youtu​.be/​d​S​E​o​p​O​dWcKY

Life has been rugged lately; don’t be shocked if I have to resort to a GoFundMe campaign soon to cover the bills. There’s been a not inconsiderable amount of screaming at the sky, yelling at God to kindly show Himself if in fact He’s there at all. You could accurately say my faith has been quite tattered and frayed as of late.

Thankfully, God is tolerant, revealing Himself in ways well known yet made anew. For example, the song referenced in this excerpt to the book I wrote some years back, this particular quote being from Derri Daugherty of The Choir and The Lost Dogs:

Where Daugherty seldom goes is anywhere near penning lyrics himself. Why? “I don’t know. Early on I tried to write a lot of lyrics, and I wrote lyrics growing up. But I was never very proud of much that I did. At some point I became embarrassed enough to where I told myself I didn’t want to do this lyric thing.”

He continues, “For me to do it, I have to be deeply inspired. The muse has to strike hard, which doesn’t happen very often. I don’t have a lot of patience for it or confidence in what I might come up with. Plus, Steve is so good at it he ends up saying a lot of the things I’d want to say. Once you get a band going, hopefully you realize the strengths and weaknesses of the other members and relinquish your weaknesses to their strengths.”

And yet there is confidence in his ability to write music … “I’m not real confident in music writing either,” Daugherty laughs. “Overall I’m not a very confident guy. For me with music, I get lost in the sound. That’s why my stuff has never been overly complex. It’s more about simple parts; working hard to get this cool sound I like that inspires me.

“Music is an easier thing to do. I believe even the best of lyricists would say lyrics are a challenge. It’s hard to keep coming up with something unique and inspiring, yet not repeating yourself.”

There has been at least one instance in recent years of something unique taking place that inspired Daugherty to write a lyric, said incident moving him to write “Mercy Lives Here” on Flap Your Wings which given its setting – a bar – raised a few eyebrows. Doesn’t exactly jive with your average conservative view of American Christianity, y’know.

“Right,” Daugherty replies. “It doesn’t. The reason I wrote it was an epiphany I had in a bar.”

He continues, “I had been reading The Power and the Glory by Graham Greene. It’s one of my favorite books. It’s about this priest who’s fallen and renounced not his faith, but his priesthood, and he’s running away. In the midst of him running away, he keeps encountering these people he reluctantly has to become their priest to in order to minister to them. It keeps happening over and over and over again. It’s a very inspiring book to me.

“At that time, we were at the place with our band where things were winding down. It was the point of your career where you realize while everyone in it feels like we’ve done a lot of good things, we’re never going to be the big band. You’re in that moment of hitting the wall and realizing the wall is real. You’re not going to go any farther. It’s bittersweet, and you’re fighting all those feelings.

“Well, we were playing in Akron that night in a little club along with Over the Rhine. We were opening for them, and they wanted to do their sound check later because they weren’t going to get there for some reason. So we set up and did ours. We had a bunch of free time after that, so we went walking around downtown Akron.

“Akron was a very depressing town. The whole downtown was boarded up. However, there was this one thing with lights on that was sticking out, and it was this Egyptian kind of tent that came out from the wall like an awning. It said, ‘Cairo.’ So we wandered in there and sat down.

“It was this weird little bar, and the characters in the song, in the lyric, are all real. There was this midget that was dressed like a clown, with clown makeup on and overalls. He was sitting at the bar, and next to him was an Amish-looking guy that was obviously an alcoholic who was shaking. There was a guy in the back with a woman who was obviously a hooker.

“We spent a couple of hours there hanging out. They had a jukebox that had all these old ‘40s songs that was two songs for a dime. It was this surreal cross between David Lynch and Quentin Tarantino. Very weird.

“So I’m looking around, observing it all, and all of a sudden it was like the Lord spoke to me showing me all these broken people and how His mercy was there. It was in this place with these people. In the midst of all of their brokenness and failure, God’s Spirit was there. He was watching over them. He was looking out for them. He was loving them and caring about them. It was an intense experience. I remember sharing it with Steve (Hindalong) after we left. I got back in the van that night, and wrote most of the lyric on the way to the hotel about that experience. It’s something I’ll never forget. It’s stayed with me all these years.”