INTERVIEW WITH THE ARTIST
Derek Webb: I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You
By Hannah Goodwyn
Ten years ago, singer/songwriter Derek Webb moved on from his days in Caedmon's Call to a solo career that has produced eight studio albums. His new record, I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You, in some ways is a follow up to his debut, She Must and Shall Go Free. Webb himself calls it a "sibling" record.
Recently, in an interview with CBNmusic.com, Webb explained how the two albums connect, some insight into how he crafted the new tunes on I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You and what he has to say to his fans and the Church. Here are excerpts from that interview:
What did you learn about these three phrases ("I was wrong. I'm sorry. I love you...") as you were writing this new album?
"I was wrong," "I'm sorry" and "I love you" were the three phrases that I always heard growing up. I learned that you needed to learn to say these three phrases to keep any relationship going. As I realized that I was making another album for the Church, I thought that would be a great place to start. Especially since I had gone through seasons in which I had been misunderstood a little bit with folks not completely understanding what I'm doing or where I'm coming from.
In a bigger sense, if we are diverse members of one body, which we are and we're told that we are, it speaks to a bigger issue. It would be arguably sinful for us to be a homogenous group of people, reaching the same conclusions on how to build the Kingdom that we're building together. If that's the case, if we are diverse members of one body, then it's no wonder that we bicker, fight, disagree and reach different conclusions.
The only reason we gather together is in order to be healed by Jesus because we are sinful and sick, and then to praise Him for the healing that He gives us. So if we know that, then we have to learn how to say these three phrases to each other. We have to be able to look at each other, our diverse brother and sisters, and say that we're wrong, we're sorry and that we love each other. If we can say these things to each other, then we can hopefully learn how to say these things to the rest of the world.
There is a lot of restoration and healing that needs to happen in places that we as the Church can go and say that we were wrong, were sorry and we love you. I can't imagine what a disruption that would be in the way that the Church and the world communicate. It feels like such an important statement and that's why I thought it should be the title track and the first song on the album.
What love and criticism are you speaking to the Church on I Was Wrong, I'm Sorry & I Love You?
A lot of the messages on the new record have to do with how we love each other, how we treat each other, how we submit ourselves to each other and how we give space to brother and sisters who are not like us to come and be able to be co-exist together. "A Place at Your Table," which is a song about the unity around the communion table and the different traditions that we come from, speaks into that.
Most of the criticisms for this album will be on me instead of the Church. I'm in the center of the bullseye this time around. The protest songs on the album are protesting me. For example, the song "Everything Will Change" protests cynicism, and that is because I am such a cynic. I'm an idealist and therefore I am a cynic. There's no place for my cynicism in the Gospel story, a story that I am charged with telling. The Gospel is a story about all things being restored and made right, all sad things becoming true, a story about everything transforming to what God originally intended. There's no place for me in that story to withhold my hope and to say that there is no hope. That's why this song is a protest against my own heart.
This project is a collection of songs of me saying things that I wish to believe. I don't believe all of the things that my songs say, but I wish to believe them. It's what the liturgy songs do for me. That's why I love the liturgy, creed and confessions, reading scripture and repeating things over and over again. I don't declare The Nicene or Apostles Creed because I believe it. I say it because I wish to believe it. We don't say our wedding vows because we believe we can do those things. We say it because we wish to believe we can do those things. This album is like that for me. Whatever criticisms or protests I have on this album are against my own heart.
How did your new song, "A Place at Your Table", come about?
It's about the unity of the communion table. No matter how I come to it, as long as I belong to the Lord, I have a place at that table. I'm so grateful that me belonging to the Lord has nothing to do to me. I was gifted with faith. He started it in me and He will finish and perfect. Therefore, I will always have a place at that table. No matter how disenfranchised someone feels as a result of things in their own heart or things they believe or don't believe, there is still a place at that table. They might not be as far away as they think.
"Heavy" is a powerful song. What led to this confessional lyric?
A lot of things! I'm an impatient, highly logical and highly detailed person. I go to great lengths to try and make light of things that are not light in order to try and get what I want when I want it because I'm selfish, greedy and again, impatient. "Heavy" was just my confession that I do that and I don't wish to. I know that ultimately I will fall on Jesus, thankfully. I remember sitting down and thinking about the song "Wedding Dress" that was on my album 10 years ago. That was my confession then about idolatry and realizing who I really was and the depth of what I really needed to confess. I started thinking about if I wrote that song today, what would the updated version of that song be, and that's what "Heavy" is.
"Lover Part Three". What's the history and story of this song?
What's interesting about "Lover Part Three" is that 10 years ago I wrote a song called "Lover" on my first album and it was a song about Jesus. I realized at that time that I'd never written a song about Jesus before. I was thinking about the life of Jesus and I wrote 11-12 verses and cut them down to five. It was one of the simplest and least cryptic songs I'd ever written. On my second album, which was called I See Things Upside Down, I wrote the follow up song that was called "Lover Part Two." It was very mysterious, really abstract and highly poetic song. Even the recording of the song was mysterious; it had a very strange sound to it.
At the time, I was leaning very heavily into abstract language and I didn't know exactly what it was about. I borrowed some language from the original "Lover" song and just let it be what it was. Where else but in art can you really do that? I left it there and always kind of wondered if I would write another.
As I was writing the songs for the new album, I started to write a song that felt like it resonated to those two songs. I wasn't thinking much about it, but I wrote it and once I took a look at it I thought, "wow this is ‘Lover Part 3.'" It wasn't until a few months ago, long after the album was finished, that I realized that "Lover Part 3" is very much from the perspective of the Father. "Lover" is from the perspective of Jesus. That's when I realized that "Lover Part 2" is about the Spirit. It's very mysterious and it feels and sounds like something that would be about the Holy Spirit.
I realized over the course of 10 years, I had unknowingly written three songs called "Lover" and they were about the Trinity. It was a crazy feeling. I'm so grateful for moments when even you don't know what you're doing and God reveals it to you later.
Hannah Goodwyn serves as the Family and Entertainment producer for CBN.com. For more articles, visit Hannah's bio page.
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