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The Writing of “Backbeat Melody”

12.28.2020

It was May 2017. Twenty months after The Guvs had our Farewell Concert in Knoxville. My wife and I were on vacation in St Simons Island, GA celebrating her birthday. She was 30 weeks pregnant with our first child. As we were walking underneath those 150 year old live oaks in Mallery Park near the downtown Village, we talked about the 3 years, 2 surgeries, and 20+ doctor’s visits and uncomfortable procedures that it took for us to finally conceive. When you go through that kind of journey, you’re just on edge all the time. Will this baby make it? Are we supposed to be parents? If this baby doesn’t make it, then how will our friends react? Who are our friends anyway? Which ones will show up in the dark moments? God, we just wanna raise a child. Is that too much to ask?

Well, that miracle baby did make it and she was born at St Mary’s hospital in July 2017. We named her Joy, cause that’s what she was and still is. Joy on the other side of sadness. 

The opening lyrics to this song came to me while on that walk in St Simons. I was singing them along to a chord structure that Michael had sent me a few weeks prior.

“You know sometimes I like A cigarette at night beneath the old oak tree I got some friends I can deal with, Others I depend on in tragedies”

And then that song sat dormant for the next 18 months. 

In that period of time we celebrated the precious early months of parenthood, and then surprisingly got pregnant again... but for a few of our close friends there was much pain: 

- Surprise cancer in a 30+ year old friend’s seemingly healthy body - Surprise divorce in a relationship that from the outside looked perfect - Surprise terminal illness in the very young child of a family friend

In our dark moment, we struggled with existential questions like, “Why would God allow us to experience this pain?” “Do we deserve this for some reason?” We cried. We held on tight to one another. A handful of our friends surrounded us in prayer, but also in the regular text message or phone call to check in. “How are you doing? How was that last doctor’s visit? You wanna grab lunch?” Better angels among us taking action and using the power of thoughtful, intentional words. Asking questions, listening, and walking alongside. 

Eventually, the chorus came together:

“So would you be my backbeat melody? I’m looking for a friend who would never leave Yeah, would you be my backbeat melody When the rhythm is gone?”

Working on wrapping up another song and hope to get it out to y’all before the end of January. Thanks for the continued support.

Much love,

James