Behind The Song Let's Build An Airport EP

Behind The Song: [Everything Is] Broken

A Break

At the tail end on 2010 I had quit leading worship at my church, planning to spend a year recharging my batteries, learning about songwriting and writing every day. [Everything Is] Broken was one of the first of the new batch of tunes, though the basic lyrics date back to 2004.

At the time the concept ‘if a good God make the world why is it so messed up‘ was to me little more than an ‘apologetic’ device – an explanation for ‘non-churchgoers’ that might persuade them to sign up. But in the years since I wrote the song it’s given me a frame of reference to understand the ever-present darkness in my world, helping me deal with it in my own life and allowing it into in the art I make.

All These Broken Things

From the start the concept was that the structure of the song itself would reflect brokenness (something I call madrigalism), musically I decided to write the verse in mostly 7/4 which gives an impression of a missing beat. I wanted to use a string trio, or rather, a ‘broken’ quartet with the second violin missing. (This is why I ended up using a trio on Brother Bull and Better For Me too). There are no drums for the same reason. The song breaks down towards the end interrupted by ‘random’ samples and the vocal degrading and the last word missing.

In the lyrics there are 18 broken things

Shattered frame
Torn photograph
Broken home – his daddy doesn’t live here anymore
Wedding vows – unmade
A mug that’s chipped
Broken skin – cuts her lip
Broken sentences – staccato, each incomplete
Stillborn baby
CD player
Broken peace treaty – torn up
A hairline fracture in the universe
Broken Earth – cranky and she’s getting worse
Broken city – split by an earthquake
The church boiler
The church heating pipes
The choirboy’s voice
The communion bread
Christ’s body


The song was written as a distorted solo rocker in Am – imagine if If Billy Bragg joined a discipleship group led by Derek Webb, or if CS Lewis secretly hankered after playing in Iron Maiden. On the demo, the distorted guitar, my amp crapping out and my voice cracking as I screamed my head off all seemed to reflect the subject matter, but my producer friend Mark pointed out that the song didn’t sit with any of the other material on my EP. So I dialled back the mayhem, transposed it down, played fuller chords capoed at the 3rd fret. When I tracked the guitar I did what I call a ‘Lennon Extension‘ by accidentally adding an extra beat into one of the prechoruses. A happy accident.

I agree with Chris Cornell from Soundgarden when he says he likes writing in odd meters because it feels like there’s only one melody that it can possibly be.


Observant Christians might wonder what’s up with the weird church service. It has real bread (not wafers) like a pentecostal church but has a Priest and an old building (like a Catholic church) and they have the wine before the bread (like no church I’ve ever encountered). I guess that’s what they called poetic licence. In my mind it’s church as imagined by Frank Miller or the Wachowski brothers. (I do not attend a church like this).

The concept of a fracture in the universe comes from a 2009 Easter sermon by Matt Chandler, “red wine burning in my chest” came from a journal entry about taking communion in an Anglican church and “the earth is cranky” came from somewhere else that I can’t remember.

FAWM Showing Up

We Won!

The First Tuesday Songwriting Group boasts 4 FAWM winners this year and 3 of them got together tonight to share a bunch of their songs. Matt Wood, Rachel McClean, Martin Quibell and I all wrote 14 or more songs in Feb.

Amazing Australian Jazz bassist/vocalist Liz Frencham was kind enough to feature me on her ‘Writers I Love’  page alongside Leo Babauta, Merlin Mann and Seth Godin – heady company! Check out Liz’s brilliant FAWM song Lazy Train – while stocks last!

Really enjoyed part one of Life In The Woods interview with singer/ songwriter/ Noisetrade founder – Derek Webb (the second part was a little bit wooly and contradictory IMHO)

Discovering k.s. Rhoads (through Noisetrade) was one of the musical highlights of 2013 for me. Such a mature and complex writer and outstanding lyricist. This track is from his debut album Dead Language.

Free Words Music Biz 2.0

Why You Should Give Your Music Away: Derek Webb


Singer/songwriter/indie-christian-maverick Derek Webb was recently interviewed by The Music Biz Weekly Podcast about NoiseTrade, the music sharing website he set up. It’s fascinating stuff.

Check it out here


Derek Webb: What Matters More…Being Controversial?

If you follow all the latest news in the CCM world and are on the Wide Worldled Interweb you can’t not fail to have missed all the hoo-har surrounding Derek Webb’s new album Stockholm Syndrome and specifically the song What Matters More and specifically specifically the BAD WORD he says on that song. A BAD WORD that is a synonym for


Want to know what all the fuss is about?
Want to hear the song?
Want to hear a christian say a BAD WORD?
Do ya?

Well you can download it here for free!

My 2 cents? (Which, like all my songs, is free).

This is an average song, not the best he’s ever done, not even the best on the new album.

The BAD WORD doesn’t add any impact to the song.

The figure he quotes doesn’t seem to match anything current – hunger, aids, peanut allergy-related deaths,

Tony Campolo said the same thing. 20 years ago. It’s hard to be cutting edge when you’re two decades behind a sociology professor.

The song leaves us with the message that “something bad is happening to someone somewhere and SHAME ON THE CHURCH for not caring!!!!!”

Perhaps Derek was just panicked by the heat coming from a new contender for his controversy crown?

Related Posts: One thousand and ten free music (including two Derek Webb songs!)