Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pay Attention

I love to read the Psalms through every month. I don’t always get through them all, though. You have to read five a day to do it, and 119 throws me off every time, although it’s one of my favorites. Taking in all that Biblical poetry at once really accentuates the fact that so many of them talk about music. I know, I have a knack for stating the obvious, don’t I? But it makes my heart sing, literally. And how blessed the music-makers are! Like David, we make hearts sing. I find that the reward of creativity is the creative act. Mailbox money and awards are nice, and seeing audiences respond with smiles, or tears, or singing along is great, but still nothing compares with the feeling of finishing a song that you feel good about. In that moment, you know you have somehow obeyed a higher order, persevered through the fear of the blank page and the voices of the invisible judges, and spoken the language of the soul, both your own and possibly that of humanity. And maybe just maybe you’ve tapped in on the heart of God, who must surely love music to have created it with such transformative, healing power.

God created music. Have you thought about that? It’s a new twist on the matter for me. I like to think that my songs are co-created with God, and if you think I’m arrogant and presumptuous, pray for me. But I’m considering another perspective. It came to me when I went to a show the other night, a monologue presented by my friend Craig Havighurst, and he talked about the science of music, sound waves, harmony, and all the crazy coincidental tricks of music theory, and musical physics. For example, 440, 220, and 880 are all A’s in different octave ranges. The number, or rate of the sounds waves, cuts in half or doubles at the octave, making the pitch higher or lower but the same. No one invented that reality. The math of music blows my mind. If you study the harmonics that happen when you strike the note A on a piano, the tonality of all three notes of an A major chord will be present, A, C#, and E.

In his show, String Theory, Craig said, “Do you know what this means? It means that harmony wasn’t invented, it was discovered!” I guess this struck a chord with me, so to speak, because, first of all, it connected the God-dots, but also because I feel so much like I discover songs when I write or compose, and I see the same thing happen to my students and creative friends. It’s the “magic” part, the mystery that keeps you ever reminded that you are not in total control of the gift you are being given. Humbling, isn’t it? This is why one of my favorite songwriting mottos is “pay attention.” Those who have “eyes to see and ears to hear,” as Jesus was so fond of saying, will get the greatest rewards, creatively. And it all ties in to the language of the Spirit, like the wind blowing wherever it wants, or walking on water, or loaves and fishes multiplying.

So, be brave, baby. Maybe you’d rather have me tell you how to demo songs, or make connections, or collect royalties, but trust me, that information is easy to come by. I’d rather encourage you to travel to worlds unknown and bring back something very cool for the rest of us to see. To create is to discover. Let me know what you find!
Kim McLean from Uncommon Sense: God's Gift of Creativity

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

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Thursday, January 29, 2009

Lumps of Sugar

Here is a delightful sentence I read this morning:

The painter and the host almost fight because a man breaks lumps of sugar while the gypsy sings.

It sounds like someone placed a string of magnetized words across the refrigerator door. I laughed out loud when I read them. The cadence compels me say them out loud. The imagery conjures up a world, and for every picture a thousand more unfold.

The painter. I picture an easel, a palette, brushes, an air of otherworld-ness. The host makes me think we are in a café or at a private party. The fight suggests to me they are men, which suggests to me that I have a bias. The gypsy sings and I see the dark countenance, the flowing presence, the bells, joy, sensuality, passion. I hear a melody that moves like lovers and rouges. As for the lumps of sugar, this must be from another place and time, and it must be a noisy process breaking lumps of sugar.
I was, of course, reading these words in context, but they still stood out in a particularly nonsensical, I want to go there kind of way. How nice for the gypsy that her music mattered enough that it should not be drowned out by lumps of sugar, though no doubt the near fight was worse still.

Ultimately, this sentence today might be: The waitress and the sound man almost fight because a man orders a cappuccino while the song writer performs. Now we are in a bar in Nashville. But the now of the scene above is Paris in the early 1930’s. The writer? It is Anais Nin retelling a fun time to her diary. The words are not made up or even necessarily creative. She simply has a way with words that re-creates the world and keeps it alive. She makes me want to write.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

On A Kick

By Kim McLean

I’m on a kick lately because I think Christianity has gotten a bum rap. Some say it’s about rules. Some say it’s full of hypocrites. Some say it’s about power and money or the political church. Some say it’s just another religion – choose whatever works for you.
I say it’s Religion with a capital R. God the Father, the Son, the Holy Spirit is Religion with a capital R.
Perhaps the unfortunate judgment is created when we, everybody, Christian or not, major on minors. Rules, for example. Not healthy rules, but controlling rules. You know the ones. They make you hide from your Christian friends. You wear a special mask just for them, a mask that is you, just not all of you.
My faith is not based on such rules. I have faith, I am a Christian, because I have had an encounter with the God of Love. I have a faith that has been handed down by a cloud of witnesses who have had an encounter, too.
I John 1:1-4 says: “That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched (ref. John 20)-this we proclaim concerning the Word of life. The life appeared; we have seen it and testify to it, and we proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and has appeared to us. We proclaim to you what we have seen and heard, so that you also may have fellowship with us. And our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son, Jesus Christ. We write this to make our joy complete” Me, too!
Seek a Revelation of Jesus Christ. Pray for a revelation of the True and Living God. Ask for God to show you what it’s all about, and you’ll realize that what Jesus said is still true: “Seek and you WILL find.”

Thursday, October 30, 2008

The Rules by Kim McLean

There is a verse in the Bible that is hard to believe. I John 3:9. “No one who is born of God will continue to sin, because God’s seed remains in him; he CANNOT go on sinning because he has been born of God.” How is this possible? It IS possible, because when we are born of God we begin to take on God’s nature – which is love. To be “born of God” is to make a choice to live by God’s law – which is love. This happens by faith in God, in Jesus Christ. It happens day by day, choice by choice. We believe by faith, we say in our heart, “Thy will be done,” and we become by grace what God is by nature.
This is the Christian message. It’s about life. Being fully alive, reaching our greatest potential as human beings in God’s beautiful world. What a picture!! Consider Colossians 3:12-14. “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” And consider Galatians 5:22 where love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control are described by Paul as our new natural inclinations.
Some people seem to think that Christianity is full of rules. Yes, it is about rules, but it is the most natural thing in the world to abide by them. Rule number 1: Love God. It’s the best thing you’ll ever do for yourself. Number 2: Love one another. I’m talking about family and friends. Not so hard, right? Rule number 3: Love your enemies. Put forgiveness into the world, into the universe.
Now abides faith hope and love – but the greatest of these is LOVE.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Songwriters Find the Missing

EVENT – November 4, 2008 – Bluebird Café – 9pm - $10 – Songwriter Tour Finding Missing Persons

A few years ago, a young singer songwriter named Gina left a gig in middle America, and was never seen again. She simply vanished. After a few months...her name was just another statistic and an unsolved, unnoticed case. Her sister, Jannel Rapp of the group Clementine began an organization of singer songwriters who would announce names, hold up pictures, and give details of missing persons around the country. That awareness has led to finding many, many of the people that have been listed as missing over the years. Each year during October and November, Clementine and the Squeaky Wheel Tour make their loudest noise, and this week they are in Nashville at the Bluebird Cafe for a one night only event with GINA artists and the families of many of the missing persons in Middle Tennessee. Won't you help us by attending?

An Evening with Gina for Missing Persons: Clementine, Kim McLean, John Stoeker and Lisa Montes, $10.00
GINA for Missing Persons FOUNDation presents the 3rd International Squeaky Wheel Tour® (SWT), launching October 17, 2008. The acclaimed 19-day event draws attention to several hundred missing people; each profiled by the musicians participating throughout the US and other countries, and is supported by the families of the missing and nonprofit organizations worldwide. Local nonprofit, Tennessee Missing are helping to coordinate this local event in hopes of bringing attention to Tennessee Missing persons including: Rachel Conger-Paris, Carmella Guiterrez-Chattanooga, Larue Lanier-Memphis, John Thrasher-Livingston, and Jennifer and Adrianna Wix-Cross Plains

Musicians participating in the Squeaky Wheel Tour earmark their concerts or events to profile a missing person(s) in their community. They profile that missing person during their show and ask attendees to take a flyer to post throughout their community.

Call the Bluebird Cafe, or make your reservation online now at

Thank you so much,
Kim McLean and Devon O'Day
The Kim McLean Team

Saturday, October 18, 2008


By Kim McLean

German theologian-pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer was executed for opposing the Nazi regime. With a heart of great compassion, even for his persecutors, he wrote: "Nothing that we despise in the other man is entirely absent from ourselves. We must learn to regard people less in the light of what they do or don't do, and more in the light of what they suffer."

When you have an encounter with the living God, through the Holy Spirit; when you have a revelation of Jesus Christ, you know God to be Reality. When you know the Reality of God, you know the Reality of Love, and Love, though it cannot tolerate evil, cannot judge with anything EXCEPT Love. Only Love. This is why our hearts break for the lost. This is how we share in the sufferings of God. When you have cried for your enemies, you have participated in a Divine emotion.

And so it is written:

"Blessed are the poor in spirit,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

"Blessed are those who mourn,

for they will be comforted."

"Blessed are the meek,

for they will inherit the earth."

"Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled."

"Blessed are the merciful,

for they will receive mercy."

"Blessed are the pure in heart,

for they will see God."

"Blessed are the peacemakers,

for they will be called children of God."

"Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness' sake,

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." Matthew 5:3-10