I am a songwriter. At least I’d like to believe I am. I’ve written songs and even had people give me positive feedback. In fact, a worship song I wrote was even used for a wedding as the bride walked down the aisle (No, it wasn’t my own wedding, but thanks for that vote of confidence). I don’t say any of this to brag but just to explain that one of the most amazing things I’ve experienced is writing a song and seeing it impact others’ lives.
Throughout my life I have recorded a number of albums: solo albums, band albums, church albums. They have all been a significant part of my life. However, I doubt anyone really listens to them. And that begs the question I’d like to answer in this post:
Why record an album if no one is really going to listen to it?
Well, before I answer this question, here is a run down of some of the albums I have personally recorded (tracked, mixed, edited, etc.) and some other details about each.
2004 : “It’s Time” by Sketches (This was a worship band I was in in High School.)
2008 : “Lifted” by Philip Burton (This was a solo album recorded with my college friends.)
2010 : “Split the Sky” by Reformation Band (Post college band days.)
2012 : “New Life” by Philip & Brittany Burton (First Husband and Wife album.)
2013 : “Nothing To Fear (Live)” by Philip & Brittany Burton (Second H&W Album.)
2015 : “Love Reigns EP” by Hope Worship (This album was done with our church team.)
Some of them you will find on iTunes or Spotify if you dare to search. If you do listen to them, you’ll see (or rather hear) how I’ve developed over the years (Come to think of it, it might be better to start with the newer ones). There were are also a couple of albums I recorded to sell during a couple of summer “tours” with KidzAblaze Ministries. But those were mostly kids songs and mostly not originals, so I didn’t include those above.
So, why record all of these albums over the years? Why spend countless hours tracking each instrument, mixing and then mastering them (I mean, it’s a lot of time)? Why spend all the time designing graphics and labels for them? Why spend so much energy making physical CD’s from hand or spending so much money to have them made? Well, there are a couple of main reasons I’d like to share with you and a bunch of small ones that I won’t bother with.
ONE: The first reason I did this was because it was fun. Yes, it is that simple. In fact, this reason is probably the reason I started making albums. You see, I love the entire recording process, from tracking the first snare hit to mastering the entire song into one beautiful file. It’s been something I have been passionate about since I began playing guitar when I was 13 (I turn 31 soon, wow). The second I picked up the guitar I was writing music (albeit terrible music) and wanting to somehow record what I was doing. Even though I wasn’t very good at guitar, or singing, when I first started (just ask my parents), I still felt a need, a call, to record what I was doing. To capture what was happening in that moment.
The best part is that as I grew my abilities in guitar, vocals, and in the “studio”, it only became more fun! I began to really discover new ways of tracking and mixing that made each consecutive album better than the one preceding it. Ultimately, I wasn’t getting paid for any of this, so it was technically a “hobby”, but it certainly felt and still feels like a serious part of who I am.
TWO: To understand the second reason I continued to record albums you’ll need to start but reading the following.
Joshua 4: 1-7 When all the nation had finished passing over the Jordan, the Lord said to Joshua,“Take twelve men from the people, from each tribe a man, and command them, saying, ‘Take twelve stones from here out of the midst of the Jordan, from the very place where the priests’ feet stood firmly, and bring them over with you and lay them down in the place where you lodge tonight.’” Then Joshua called the twelve men from the people of Israel, whom he had appointed, a man from each tribe. And Joshua said to them, “Pass on before the ark of the Lord your God into the midst of the Jordan, and take up each of you a stone upon his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the people of Israel, that this may be a sign among you. When your children ask in time to come, ‘What do those stones mean to you?’ then you shall tell them that the waters of the Jordan were cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it passed over the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. So these stones shall be to the people of Israel a memorial forever.”
Stones. That’s why I record these albums. The Israelites piled stones so that it would be a reminder of what God had done for them. To be a lighthouse, shining forth a beam to all who can see it, that says, “Look what God has done!” To be honest, it took me a while to connect this verse to what I was doing. I believe God had instilled this in me before I even realized it. But now, this is why I continue to record and create albums. It’s not an ego booster or a bragging moment for me or what I have accomplished, but rather, these songs represent where I was in my life when I wrote them. Similar to journaling, these albums are physical reminders of what God was doing in my life during those times.
One day, when my children are more grown, I will let them listen to the recordings and share with them exactly what God was doing in my life. I will point to this album or that album and say, I remember when God did this. These albums are memorials. These albums are a pile of stones, piled high to make sure I don’t forget all God has done for me. So let me close with one question for you.
How are you building memorials in your life to what God has done for you? How will you pass down to your children, and your children’s children, the stories and testimonies of God’s faithfulness in your life? Whether through journals, photographs, music, or other means, I encourage you to find a way to document what God is doing in your life. Don’t rely on spoken words. Spoken words fade out, get misinterpreted, and are ultimately replaced by silence.