Behind the Song: Some Say
One of the most common questions I have received since releasing Kingdom is about how I wrote the songs. Oftentimes my response is a blank stare, as I'm not quite certain myself how they all came to be. In an attempt to be more prepared for these inquiries, I took a look back through my journals and the Voice Memos on my phone: the two main places that I use for recording my ideas. I was reminded of the evolution of the songs, and thought it might be enjoyable for people to read about how a few of them were created. This is the first in a three-part series going behind the songs of Kingdom. If you have any questions or comments about this song or others, I invite you to reply in the comment section at the bottom.
Before writing songs inspired by Scripture, I take time to study the passage, which includes reading the passage several times, doing research, and listening to sermons. It wasn't until I started studying the account of Christ's transfiguration (recorded in Matthew 16:13-17:9, Mark 8:27-9:9, and Luke 9:18-36) that I realized the story doesn't begin on the trip up the mountain; it actually begins with Christ's conversation with his disciples, specifically Peter, at Caesarea Philippi. It was fascinating to realize a distinct story arc beginning with Christ's question, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?," climaxing at the revealing of Christ's glory on the top of the mountain, and concluding as Christ comes down the mountain to fulfill the Father's task for Him on earth. As I mapped out the songs I would write for the second part in Kingdom, called Messiah, I knew that the first song would center around this question that Christ asks about His identity. I later titled this song "Some Say."
When writing a song, I usually spend the most time developing the chorus, which is the part of the song that is typically repeated after each verse. I like to take walks around my neighborhood and use my stroll as an opportunity to brainstorm. If I come up with something that I want to remember, I'll take out my phone and use the Voice Memos tool to record my idea. Here is a Voice Memo I recorded of my first idea for "Some Say." If they happened to be outside that day, I'm sure my neighbors were less than enthused by this rousing rendition:
After a couple days of mulling, I went to the piano and recorded this melody:
At this point, I had a pretty solid melody for the chorus, but still needed to come up with lyrics to fit. I use a journal to write down my lyrical ideas and below is an entry for "Some Say." As you can see, I had a lot of ideas, but failed to land on anything solid.
After a bit more work, I finally landed on these lyrics for the chorus:
Some say John the Baptist is risen from the dead
Some say the Elijah, with his fi'ry dread
Some say Jeremiah, a prophet from the past
All will say for certain you're not just another man
Q & A
Now that I had a chorus, I needed to fill in the rest of the song. I had an idea of doing a "Question and Answer" format for the verses: having one of the voices repeatedly asking who Christ is, and then a second voice replying with several different answers, each answer portraying an aspect of Christ. I chose this format because it reflects what happens in the Scripture passage, but it also asks the question to the listener.
"I WANT" MOMENT
Another thing I wanted to do in "Some Say" is introduce the character of Peter and give him an "I Want" moment. In every good story, there is that one character who emerges as the protagonist – within the first moments of any story, the protagonist makes known what he or she wants, and then the remainder of the story is about whether or not he or she receives it. For example, within the first 5-10 minutes of Beauty and the Beast, (of course I'm using a Disney example!) we hear Belle sing, "I want much more than this provincial life." This identifies what she wants, and the remainder of the story is about whether she gets it or not. The most interesting stories will conclude with the character getting or not getting whatever it is he or she wants in unexpected ways. So in Peter's "I Want" moment he sings,
But I say, I say
You are more than all these things
And I pray, I pray
That Your kingdom will be brought to earth
For You are more than this!
This is such a beautiful profession, and yet we find out later in the passage that Peter is limited in his knowledge of what it means to be the Messiah. So, in the end, he does indeed get what he wants – he witnesses the transfiguration – and it is not at all what he had expected, and he would not at all have chosen that Christ, as the Messiah, would come to die, but as his character develops, not just in the transfiguration account but also in the rest of the New Testament, he realizes that God's plan is so much bigger and better than his own.
When I finished "Some Say" and the other songs from Messiah, I worked with Shannon Connelly, Brian Felten, and Chris Rookus to perform the piece live. Here's a bit of audio from the first performance of "Some Say" that combine all of the elements referred to above:
Now, less then a year later, there is a professional arrangement and recording of "Some Say!" Here is the same part of the song from the final recording, which features the arrangement by David Clydesdale:
As you can see, the song came a long way since I first came up with the initial idea. "Some Say" is probably my favorite song from Kingdom. I hope you enjoy listening and that perhaps it prompts you to consider yourself who you say the Son of Man is.