CRAYON BOMBS - The Water EP
It isn’t often that I look back on the older songs I’ve written. This is due, in part, to the fact that I don’t carry the curse of popularity and I’m not constantly asked to play the same hit songs over and over again. Once a song, or even an entire album, begins to fall out of my setlist, it rarely finds its way back in. The positive, at least for me, is that I’m always playing the music that feels most relevant to who I am at any given moment. Still, I think it could be valuable to look back on some of my forgotten songs and talk about what they meant to me then, how I’ve changed, and what significance they may take on now. That is the inspiration for this new TMI series, that I’m calling What Was I Thinking?
Given that the topic of this month’s In the Corner conversation is politics, I thought that Crayon Bombs from The Water EP would be a good start.
LISTEN ON SPOTIFY (or go to the music page of my website).
What It Meant to Me Then:
The year is a bit fuzzy, somewhere in the mid-2000s, and I was attending my first songwriting conference as a very green singer/songwriter. I technically had an entire record under my belt by that point, but let’s just say there’s a reason that first record is never mentioned and is incredibly hard to find. Checking in at the conference, I was invited to draw a piece of paper from a hat and was told that it would be my song assignment for the weekend. As I unfolded the note, I read the words, “Crayola Bombs to End the War.” Jackpot!
America, at the time, was smack-dab in the middle of our “War on Terror,” and country singer Toby Keith led the call for putting boots up people’s asses because, well, it’s “the American way.” Now, I have certainly never claimed to be an expert on foreign affairs, but I do have many opinions on the value of human life and I certainly hope that the American way involves much more compassion and nuance, so trying my hand at an anti-war song seemed like a good way to spend my weekend.
The actual writing of the song came pretty quickly. I mean, it’s all there in the prompt. If only we could get back to the attitudes we often employed as children, full of passion, yes, but also full of grace, creativity, and forgiveness, then maybe we could find ways to solve our problems without violence.
How I’ve Changed:
Looking back at myself in that song, I see the idealism that dominated my personality and beliefs. That isn’t to say that I’ve lost all of it now, but, as I’ve grown older, I lean more into the fact that nothing is as simple as we would like it to be.
I was far removed from my playground days in the mid-2000s. Now, as a parent, I’m reminded that kids are actually not very good at forgiveness. But what they lack in clemency, they more than make up for with forgetfulness. When things are going well for my daughters in their social interactions, past grievances aren’t given a thought. But the moment something negative happens, the emotional war strikes back up.
The playground conflict is not something that can simply be fixed by coming together momentarily and the same goes for our conflicts as a society. As beautiful as the picture of “crayon bombs” might be, we can’t solve our conflicts through forgetfulness.
I think about the story of the Christmas Truce of 1914 when German and British troops supposedly put down their weapons to sing carols together. In essence, they lived out my song - only to resume fighting the next day.
I still love to hear a good idealism. They make me feel warm and fuzzy inside like anything is possible. But I believe that if there is any chance for humanity to find peace, globally or locally, we have to stop waiting for ideals and start putting in the work. Grace, forgiveness, and understanding require practice and intentionality, and most of all humility.
Yes, let’s “paint the world the color of love,” but we shouldn’t be too entrenched in our own understanding of what that color looks like. We need to listen to people outside of our own community and start seeing love as a multiplicity of color.
I'd love to hear your comments below, along with any suggestions you may have for which of my songs you’d like me to tackle in the next post.