I wanted to start this song story series off with "Rise and Fall" because it's by far the most personal song i've ever written.
It was a cold night and way too late for coffee but myself and Jason King (who co-wrote most of this record with me) had just brewed a fresh french press full of it. It was one of those nights when it hits midnight or 1 a.m. and you suddenly feel energized by the night and its conversations. I don't know about you, but for me it becomes infinitely easier to let myself open up in conversation late at night. There's something about the sunlight that leaves me feeling... unconcealed - exposed. However, under the cover of the night I immediately feel safer. I'm not sure if this is relatable, or horribly indicative of some terrible issue I have... so judge me graciously.
So we sat, and sipped, and talked while I strummed. Conversation was eventually pulled in by the gravity of a thought that had been buzzing around in my head: Can you pinpoint the moment you recognized your loss of innocence for the the first time? I can.
Not the moment you lost it, rather the moment that it was so jarringly apparent to you that you had lost it. We circled the idea in conversation for a bit and words began to trickled down and rest on a melody for the the first verse:
"What's the word to describe it?
The feeling you've lost and can't find it,
And where's the time and place it was last seen?
What's Her name, I remember -
he spirit you broke last December,
Just to see if you could."
Words that touched painfully and still ambiguously on the moment I held in mind. It was clear to both of us immediately that this was a song that needed to allow the listener to identify to themes loosely, but also one that would hopefully disarm them. As if to say "Here's a confession i'll trust you with, now trust me with yours."
We played with verses and bridges and melodies that would reflect the haunting nostalgia that our memories were bringing up, but there was something missing from the song. Missing in a big way. We had verses and notes that represented confession, regret and growth, but our conversation didn't feel half as bleak or sad and our song felt at the moment. We both understood that there was a grace that covered those things we hesitate to share, but it seems we often are slow to forgive ourselves despite having already been forgiven. Forgiven long before the thoughts were had or acts had even been committed.
"There's hope for the beggar,
And grace for the thief,
But these menial sins we committed,
Have teeth and they gnash"
We grasped for hours at how exactly we could represent the hope that our conversation held - something that could pull the listener away from that gnashing feeling. Then, it just came. Some nights you have to wrestle the idea down until, without warning, it just submits and give you just what you need. Out of the sleeve of the night words just poured into the gaping pieces of our song that perfectly described a journey that seemed to build and build to a point of triumph.
"We're rising and falling,
but we've set our eyes on a light that's growing.
This promise is swelling,
like daggers it's crashing on shores left empty."
It was important to us, looking back on our respective moments, to communicate the fuller picture we saw from where we were now. At those moments when you feel so helplessly low - when you see no rescue or relief from circumstance - you have to remember that we rise. On this journey from shore to shore there are incredible lows but it's so critical that we remember that for every trough of the wave we find ourselves in, there is also a crest... it's coming. From our lowest points it seems like we might be crushed before we ever reach the crest again, and from the crest it seems like we'll never fall, but it takes both to understand the fullness of each.
And so this is the pattern our journey takes until one day when we'll simply rise, and rise and there will be nothing else but that.
"Rise and fall... rise and fall... and we rise...we rise."