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Totally Off Topic

Paula Carragher’s Brave Decision

In 1977 Paula Carragher was given some heartbreaking news. After having already suffered two miscarriages she was told that the unborn child she was now carrying had Spina Bifida, a serious birth defect of the spinal cord.

The doctors asked her to consider the option of having an abortion.

Strengthened by her Catholic faith, she refused, determined to care for the baby no matter how disabled it would be.

“Our Lord told me to have the baby”, is what she maintains to this day.

On 28 Jan 1978 her son, James Carragher, was born.

Later this afternoon (4 Sept 10) James (or Jamie as he is better known) will play his testimonial match at Anfield Football Stadium.

 

It’s a very special celebration of Jamie’s career playing for Liverpool Football Club. So far that career includes over 600 matches, 2 FA cups, 2 League Cups, 1 Champions League, 1 UEFA Cup, 2 European Super Cups, 2 Charity Shields and 1 FA Youth Cup as well as over 30 appearances for his country.

It’s an amazing achievement, made possible because one brave lady faced her difficult decision and made the right choice.

Thank you Paula.

(source, Carra: My Autobiography by Jamie Carragher & Chris Bascombe)

 

Related Posts: First Black President
Your Difficult Decision

Free songs by Matt Blick

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Behind The Song Songwriting

Behind The Song: One Three Nine

Like the other pro life songs I wrote last summer, One Three Nine was written and recorded in little over a week. I found with this song especially that having a time limit was freeing, forcing me make snap decision rather than getting mired in chasing elusive possibilities.


I’ve wanted to chop up a classical composition and use the chords to create a new song for a long time. As ‘Ase’s Death’ by Edvard Grieg is almost entirely chords I thought it would make an ideal starting point. The original piece, from the play Peer Gynt, is a lament and seemed like a good match for the lyrics.

I spent two days sifting through five different recordings and chopping them up but the process proved too complex because I wanted to change the time signature from 4/4 to ¾, put it in a lower key, discarded one section and invert the remaining two. So in the end I borrowed the score from the public library and played all the parts in myself on a mini keyboard. In between trips to the library I worked on the song by playing the chords as best as I could on guitar.

The lyrics are a paraphrase of Psalm 139: 13-16

Each stanza contrasts the view that the unborn are human beings made in the image of God with the view that they are ‘things’ that we may remove and dispose of as we see fit.

You knit me together there, my maker
Deep in my mother’s womb
But they found the place where you hid me
And dragged me out.


There in the hidden depths you wove me
Such intricate handiwork
But they unpicked each strand, in clinical
Man-made light.

Download the FREE mp3
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Read the full lyrics

Other pro-life songs
Your Difficult Decision
Salt Water
First Black President

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Uncategorized

One Three Nine: New Song Preview

Sneak preview of my 4th & final pro-life song.
Music: Edvard Grieg, melody & lyrics: Matt Blick.
mp3 posted Friday 19 Mar 10

One Three Nine

Almighty God, my maker
You formed the depths of me
Like wolves they came, encircling
Eager to tear me to pieces
You knit me together there, my maker
Deep in my mother’s womb
But they found the place where you hid me
And dragged me out.


Almighty God, you made me
So fearfully and wonderfully
But fearlessly, so callously
See how they chose to unmake me.
Your works are wonderful, my maker
That I know very well
The horror of things evil men do
I know that too.


Almighty God you saw me
In secret you made my frame
But openly, so publically
They broke me before I was finished
There in the hidden depths you wove me
Such intricate handiwork
But they unpicked each strand, in clinical
Man-made light


Almighty God, you saw me
My body as yet unformed
They saw me too, thier hearts unmoved
Labelled me something sub-human
All the days you ordained for me Lord
Were written down in your book
But still their decree stood that not one
Should come to pass.

Other pro-life songs
Your Difficult Decision
Salt Water
First Black President

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Behind The Song Songwriting

Behind The Song: Salt Water

Watch Part Two here

Salt Water was my first attempt at a pro-life song written in the summer of 2009. I had seen a video on Youtube of prolife activist Gianna Jessen who is remarkable not only for her courage and outspokeness but also for the fact that she herself survived a Saline abortion at 7 1/2 months that left her with Cerebral Palsy. Her story stuck in my mind and galvanised the desire to speak in defence of those had not lived to tell the tale as Gianna had done.

‘Instillation abortion’ is one of the less common methods used to abort babies often late term. Saline solution is injected in to the amniotic fluid turning it poisonous, burning the baby inside out.

I tried to imagine what a baby would feel in the womb, both during an unhappy pregnancy and then during abortion. I’m very aware that this makes the song difficult to listen to but I tried hard to write as sensitively as possible about what is, after all, a horrific subject.

The final verse is paraphrase of And Can It Be by Charles Wesley

Long my imprisoned spirit lay,
fast bound in sin and nature’s night;
thine eye diffused a quickening ray;
I woke, the dungeon flamed with light;

To echo his language was a spur of the minute decision that felt right at the time.

The song moves through five different keys, starting in the Lydian modes of E, A & G in the verse. Then E minor and E major in the chorus, returning to E minor for the coda.

The chorus chords are ones I had for a long time using them first in a song called Mark 4:14 and later an instrumental called Funeral Dirge For A Dead Ex-Girlfriend. Hopefully they’ve found a permanent home here.

Download the free mp3
Free chord sheet

Related Posts: other pro-life songs

Your Difficult Decision
First Black President

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Salt Water – New Song Preview

Here’s the lyrics for the third  (& probably most controversial) of my pro-life songs. Download the free mp3

Salt Water

All the light,
All the light that I can see
I can see through you.

When you walk,
When you walk my world trembles
And moves with you.

When you sing
Your breathing embraces me
But you haven’t sung
Since the day you found out I was here.

I’m not a twinkle in his eye,
I’m just a little star inside
The universe of you.
Let me shine, let me shine.

I’m not an earthquake come to shake
All you worked so hard to make
But you can burn me, you can break me.
Keep me safe,
Keep me safe inside,
Inside.
I’m not ready yet.

I hear the sound,
I hear the pounding of life
Coursing wild through you.

All you feel,
All you fear in your heart,
I can feel it too.

When you laugh
I feel your laughter shaking me
But you haven’t laughed
Since the day you found out I was here.

I’m not a twinkle in his eye…

I awake.
My kindly prison flames with light.
It feels like time.
Is it my time, my time to arrive?

Salt water burns my skin,
Salt water burns my eyes.
(Though I’ve never seen your face,
Even so I love you)


© Matt Blick NeverbornSongs.Com 2009
For, and with thanks to, Gianna Jessen.

Download the free mp3
Read more about the inspiration for and writing of Salt Water

Related Posts: Five reasons for writing pro-life songs
Behind the song: First Black President
Behind the song: Your Difficult Decision

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Behind The Song Free Music

Behind The Song: Your Difficult Decision

Read the lyrics
Download free mp3
Download free chord sheet

Your Difficult Decision was the last of the pro-life songs I wrote last year. Having set myself a goal of writing four during the school summer holidays I found myself having to squeeze writing time in between leading rock band workshops. The song started in a deserted school playground, taking an acoustic guitar out during lunch hours.

The initial premise was that choosing to have an abortion is often spoken of as having to make a difficult decision with the implication being that because it is so heart-rending it is above criticism. But with every decision there is the possibility of making the wrong choice. But that idea fell by the wayside, as did the original angle for the whole project, which was to write from the point of view of the unborn. Your Difficult Decision ended up being ‘narrated’ by an impartial observer. Sometimes a song has it’s own idea of what it wants to be and you can bang you head against the brick wall or just let it get it’s own way.

The whole thing was a struggle to write and record. I finished recording it just before midnight on my final day but had to go back a redo it from scratch later anyway.

I really had my doubts about the degree of moral neutrality in the lyrics. It’s not child centred at all and there is nothing in the song that even hints that abortion is killing a person until the final lines “It’s your decision…Baby don’t get a say, but you can ask her someday if she thinks you made the right decision.” Even the ‘two people’ in the bridge whose fate is being decided could be misconstrued as being the mother and father, when they are actually the mother and child.

Writing songs like these can seem like an attempt to be holier than thou. I have nothing to be proud of. God has given me, against all odds, a stable family life with four kids and a wife who is far better than I deserve. But as a young man I would have made the man in this song look like a saint. I wouldn’t have promised my support “whatever you decide” while secretly crossing my fingers that my partner would choose an abortion. I would have actively campaigned for it and threatened my complete lack of support if the pregnancy went full term. I wanted the freedom to live in a totally self centred way, without having to consider the needs of anyone else and abortion was for me the final get out of jail free card. God showed me incredible mercy in not giving me the opportunity to add this sin to my many others.

I pray God would use this song to help somebody make the right decision.

Read the lyrics
Download free mp3
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  Other Free songs by Matt Blick

Related Posts: Five reasons for writing pro-life songs
Behind the song: First Black President

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Songwriting

Five Reasons For Writing Pro-Life Songs

If you’ve picked up a pro-life emphasis on this blog over the last few weeks you’re right. Last summer I set myself a goal of writing 4 pro-life songs from the point of view of the unborn. The songs ended up in a kind of bottleneck as I worked through the pastoral implications with others but now my songs and I are ready to face the world, hence the temporary take over of this blog. Next Monday we’ll be back to normal with a post entitled “Does the Holy Spirit thrive on chaos?” but today I want to explain what influenced me as a praise & worship songwriter to tackle this issue, by looking at 5 quotes that have shaped my thinking.

If I profess with the loudest voice and clearest exposition every portion of the truth of God except precisely that little point which the world and the devil are at that moment attacking, I am not confessing Christ, however boldly I may be professing Christ. Where the battle rages, there the loyalty of the soldier is proved, and to be steady on all the battlefield besides is mere flight and disgrace if he flinches at that point.

Fake Martin Luther (Quoted in Parker T. Williamson, Standing Firm: Reclaiming Christian Faith in Times of Controversy p. 5)

Nobody knows who said this, but it wasn’t Luther. However the point is good. The amount of children killed by abortion is far greater than any example ethnic cleansing, war or famine. The death toll for the US alone is well over 50 million children since 1973. That is equivalent to a 9/11 every 6 days. Not everyone can be actively engaged in political campaigning, but surely all can speak out? I am a songwriter. Should I write songs about everything else and not this?

Let me write the songs of a nation – I don’t care who writes its laws.

Fake Andrew Fletcher (An Account of a Conversation)

Actually what Scottish politician Fletcher said was “I knew a very wise man so much of Sir Christopher’s sentiment, that he believed if a man were permitted to make all the ballads, he need not care who should make the laws of a nation” and his point was he didn’t agree with the view. I think to some extent he was wrong. Songs and art can change hearts, changed hearts can change public opinion, public opinion can change laws.

The person who frames the terms of a debate almost always wins that debate.

David Kupelian (The Marketing of Evil)

Tim Challies pointed out this reoccurring phrase of Kupelian’s . Using abortion as an example he says

“The right to abortion was not fought over the right of a mother to kill her child…The child has been left out of the equation altogether. Instead, the debate always has been and seemingly always will be over a woman’s right to choose. It was never presented an issue of life or death, but an issue of choice. And who, in a free and democratic culture, could deny a person the right of free choice? The debate was over and won before it began”.

These songs are an attempt to re-frame the debate. I wanted to present the unborn in these songs not as foetus’s, extensions of a womans body or ‘potential human beings’ but real people with their own hopes, fears and desires.

Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
So that a people yet to be created may praise the LORD

Psalm 102:18

It’s my greatest hope that one day I might meet a worshipper of God who is alive because their mother or father heard one of these songs.

Open your mouth for the mute,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Open your mouth, judge righteously,
defend the rights of the poor and needy.

Proverbs 31:8-9

It seems that no voice has been silenced more effectively than that of the unborn. Even among their champions the emphasis is often on changing legislation, religious ethics or preventing post abortion trauma. I am in no way criticising these aims, or even saying they are being over emphasised. Only that there is an almost completely unexplored perspective. Speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves rather than just speaking about them. And so, rather than ministering to people who have been through an abortion, I’m trying to serve those who have been, or are in danger of being, aborted.

I know it’s unusual and somewhat unorthodox, and if the songs themselves suck it’s all a lot of fuss over nothing. But…if you think it’s a worthwhile aim please leave a comment and say so. Download the songs (the links are below)they’re all free, and if you like them leave a comment. I’m not looking for you to stroke my ego – your recommendation may encourage someone else to listen.

Lastly please give the songs away. Some of the content is pretty strong and you will have use your own sensitivity and faith in knowing when to share a song and with who. Don’t forget those who have not had an abortion but would “if they ‘needed’ one”. And don’t forget pro-choice guys too.

First Black President
mp3     Chord Sheet     Read Lyrics      Behind The Song

One Three Nine
mp3     Chord Sheet     Read Lyrics     Behind the song

Salt Water
mp3     Chord Sheet     Read Lyrics     Behind The Song

Your Difficult Decision
mp3      Chord Sheet       Lyrics       Behind the Song

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Your Difficult Decision – Preview

Here’s the lyrics for the second of my neverborn songs. Download the free mp3 here.

Your Difficult Decision

When you look into his eyes you know he’s frightened
Still he’s trying hard to say what’s right
‘Cos he knows deep down a man should be supportive
So he says “I’ll be there for you, whatever you decide”

But he’s hoping all you want him to be there for
Is a lift home from the clinic when you’re through
You didn’t think that you’d be carrying a baby
And you know you don’t have the strength to carry two

Every woman’s got to make it on her own
Every woman’s got to take it on her own
They can sympathise, empathise
Blur the truth and rationalise it but
Every woman’s got to make it on her own.

It’s up to you – it’s your decision
It’s up to you – it’s a difficult decision
They say time will heal
Who knows how you’ll feel
One year on from your difficult decision?

When you see your friends and tell ’em all the bad news.
They give you pity and concern but no advice
Everyone holds up their hands as though they’re frightened
Of being held accountable when you decide.

Every woman’s got to make it on her own
Every woman’s got to take it on her own
So they sympathise, empathise
Blur the truth and rationalise it, you know
Every woman’s got to make it on her own.

It’s up to you – it’s your decision
It’s up to you – it’s a difficult decision
They’ll applaud you today
But when you crumble they’ll just turn and say
“You gotta live with your decision.”

Sometimes there’s nothing riding
On what you decide
And sometimes it’s life and death.
Right now there’s a choice to be made
About two people’s fate
But only one gets to choose…

It’s up to you – it’s your decision
It’s up to you – it’s your decision
It’s up to you – such a difficult decision
Baby don’t get a say
But you can ask her some day
If she thinks you made the right decision.

(c) Matt Blick 2010 Neverbornsongs.com

Download free mp3
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Behind the song post

Related Posts: Behind the song:First Black President

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Behind The Song Songwriting

Behind The Song: First Black President

This song had it’s roots in a pro-life song called ‘Neverborn’ which I tried to write but ended up scrapping maybe 4 or 5 years ago. All that remained was the title (which I’m using as the name for this project) and a desire to one day write a song reflecting my concern for the plight of the unborn.

Fast forward a few years. Feeling increasingly convicted to try again I set myself a goal of writing 4 songs from the point of view of the unborn over the 6 week school summer holiday – just to see if such a thing was even possible.

First Black President was an idea I had floating around for a while. I was so struck by the irony of Barak Obama’s extreme pro-choice position when groups like Planned Parenthood are actively targeting Black majority areas and engaging in what some campaigners are calling a black genocide.

But this song is not about Barak Obama. It’s about the millions of children (of whatever ethnicity) who never got the chance that he did to do anything with their lives.

 The opening lines were inspired by a testimony I read of a man who’s partner had had an abortion years before. He remembered very little but when asked how old his child would have been if it had not aborted was shocked to find he knew the answer without a second’s thought. It was only then he realised how much guilt and sorrow he had buried in his heart. I was also thinking about an article that talked about historical figures who would have been prime candidates for abortion today beacuse of their parental situations. While many such articles are grossly incorrect the point is still valid – who knows what a difference one small life might mean?
The song was written in a week. Early every morning I would run to my church’s offices, arriving usually before anyone else, wash, write for a couple of hours, then run home again. Then at the weekend I demoed the song at home.
 
In the lyrics I wanted to capture the amazing and the mundane. A child who doesn’t grow up to be the President still has the right to life. I was inspired to write a song in ‘swingtime’ by listening to Chris Spring‘s songs Skinny Water and Pilot Song. The old time signature bars in the chorus are either 5/4 or 6/4 depending on whether you’re hearing it as a very slow song with a fast melody or more upbeat. I hear it slow. I expected to rewrite the music as I was worried that the chorus was too complicated and the verse was too simple. But they grew on me. Anyway, I had other songs to get on with.

While playing the song I often segued into singing The Bourgeois Blues by Leadbelly. I was really interested by the juxtaposition of Leadbelly’s account of institutional racism in Washington , D.C. with the modern reality of a Black President in the White House. I would have like to sample the song but didn’t have the time or technology to do it, so what you hear is my pathetic approximation.

My favourite line is “covered in glory ‘cos I gave my life” as it was an unintentional double meaning (an American soldier’s coffin is often draped in ‘Old Glory’ – the American flag).

Related Posts: New song: First Black President
Best books and films of 2009

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Top 10

Best Of 2009: Books And Films

Books

1)The Case for Life: Equipping Christians to Engage the Culture(Scott Klusendorf) – This book makes a compelling pro-life argument and help us to cut through the many smoke screens and false trails to the one issue behind all others in the abortion debate. In a way the only drawback is that it does this so effectively in the first chapter that it becomes a victim of it’s own success and the following few chapters seem a bit superfluous . However later chapters approach the issues from different angles and are very rewarding. Informing and crystal clear without being any heavier than it needs to.

2) Getting Things Done: How to Achieve Stress-free Productivity (David Allen)– a brilliant life management system – simple, comprehensive and common sense without getting dogmatic. David Allen argues convincingly for running your life from the bottom up rather than top down (against books like 7 habits) and shows you how. I’ve read it twice and am still applying the lessons.

3) Wild Swans: Three Daughters of China (Jung Chang) – a heartbreaking study of the cost of Chinese communism told through the real life stories of three generations of Chinese woman starting with the author’s grandmother – a Chinese warlord’s concubine.



Films

Up– a kids film? Hardly. Out of a ridiculous premise (OAP balloon salesman flies his house to South America) Pixar craft the most profound and moving film of the year. If there is any justice in the film industry this should win best picture Oscar. A moving plot, humour, and better characterisation that 90% of Hollywood films. Even the talking dog is believable!

Man on Wire– a thrilling, dramatised documentary of the illegal wire walking stunt of the century. In 1974 Philippe Petitsmuggled ½ ton of equipment into the twin towers and walked between them, 104 floors up, for three quarters of an hour. Using interviews, original footage and reconstruction the film explores how he did it, who helped him and what it cost them all. 


Frequently Asked Questions About Time Travela quirky and original low budget British sci-fi comedy that pays homage to, and subverts, the genre at the same time. Great fun.
Honourable mentions
Related Posts: Best Music (2009)
Best Music Videos (2009)