Friday, March 24, 2006

A few new songs...

There are a few new recordings on the site, again, really quick rough draft recordings. My cousin wanted to use my songs for her wedding, and I had to record them tonight so someone in the Philippines could download them and put them on CD's. One of these days I'll sit down and do a proper CD release, but life gets busy you know... Music is a passion of mine, but I don't need to make a living selling CD's, thank God. I'd rather be playing for a live audience than recording a CD :-).

1. New song "Sweet Union". Don't get it confused with "Sweet Onion", which is not a song, but I should write one just to be able to say I have "Sweet Union and Sweet Onion" in my song list :). Written this past Monday for my cousin and her soon-to-be husband, and yes, it's sort of a wedding song. Wrote it in half-an-hour while I was catching up on email at work Monday morning. Left an email window open, and as phrases popped out of my head, I noted them while multitasking/reading/replying to email. Very upbeat song, I like it :).

2. Old song, "Why Do I Sing", which is one of my favorites to perform. It quite simply explains why I sing, and it's one of a handful of songs that are truly heart songs-- songs that communicate something deeply personal for me. People have often commented that my songs have a sad tinge to them, except that there is also a message of hope and redemption. I write songs about people's lives, I tell the stories God puts on my heart to tell. Sometimes they are my stories, but most of the time they are other's stories, and often they are serious or bittersweet, but there is always hope.

Life is sweet and bittersweet and often very sour-- but God's grace takes broken people and creates something beautiful out of the brokenness. Jesus often ate his meals with the dregs of society when he walked the earth, and his compassion drew some of them to leave their past behind and start anew. I've met a lot of people who have escaped a past that should have left them shattered and crushed. Those are the stories I tell.

"School of Life" is another very personal song, as is "Got to Move On". If you've ever seen me perform them, you might notice that sometimes I'm trembling when the song is over, which is why they are usually at the end of my sets so I can sit down afterwards. Sorry, no recording of "Got to Move On" on the website. If you've heard me perform it, yes, it's a true story. "Why Do I Sing" is a very peaceful, quiet song. Take a listen for yourself. And then, take a listen to "School of Life" to hear what the top of my vocal range is, and why I'm always exhausted after I sing it (it's a live recording of the debut performance, a few minutes after I wrote the song. You can hear the restaurant phone ringing in the middle of my performance :-) ).

3. Very old song, "Simple Phrase". When I started to write songs seriously a few years ago, I wrote three songs in quick succession, and they were my first performance songs at the Six String. The other two were "Thunder Rolls" (not related to Garth Brooks song...) and I think I called the other one "The Goodbye Song". "Simple Phrase" is an unusual song for me, I don't usually write love songs, and the relationship songs I do write are usually more serious ("School of Life", "Fragile"). Like a lot of love songs, it's a sweet song with a lot of repetition. Heh heh.

Is Dan still performing anywhere?

Good question. Regularly, no. The last performance was at Crossroads Fellowship in Raleigh, for a small group from one of their Young Adult fellowships. End of last year I opened for Starting Tuesday at Enloe High School's gymnasium (an FCA event). They're an awesome band, you must check them out. The infrequent performances explain the vast gap in my blog postings.

The Six String Cafe closed in the fall of last year, which eliminated Tuesday night open mics for me. I was very sad to see it close, I learned sooo much from the songwriting community at the Six String. I learned how to refine songs and perform in public. I'll miss the fantastic crowd, the awesome stage, and even playing on the sidewalk outside for random people emerging from the restaurants and bars nearby.

I also miss it because that's where I met people who were honest about their lives, sincere in questions about faith, and not hiding behind facades of polite society. I lost track of the number of people God gave me the opportunity to pray for, who would never have walked through the doors of a church. I miss the random conversations with people trickling out of the restaurants and bars, who would sometimes listen to me practice outside and then sit down and tell me their life story. A lot of crazy things happened to me at the Six String (crazy in a good way, that is). I miss the divine craziness. I still miss it a lot, and it's been several months since it closed. A similar venue doesn't exist around here yet. Where else can I go and perform songs about fallen people and God's redemption immediately after someone sings a song about how absolutely totally messed up the world is, and then sit down with the other performer and have a deep conversation about personal beliefs?

I'd love to perform regularly again, but I'm not performing to gather a fan-base or sell CD's. I'm performing because someone always comes up to me and says "I'm that man in your song, except my life hasn't had any happy endings." Or someone sits down and says, "I understand that song you sang, it speaks to me. It could be my life story. I gave up a baby for adoption when I was sixteen and have spent my whole life trying to make up for it." I sing these songs because when I do, God pulls me into contact with people who desperately want to hear a message of hope in a dark world. It humbles me, and reminds me that I experience God's power most when I step into the unknown.

The only other location I'd recommend for acoustic open mics is Pheasant Creek Coffee in Apex, not too far from where the Six String used to be. See their schedule, some of the old crew from the Six String are performing there on Fridays.

Lyrics for songs posted for wedding

Sweet Union © 2006 Dan Tan (written 3/20/2006)
(verse 1)
A long time ago in a childlike state
Rachel dreamed of the man she would be with some day
Would he be like the rush of a summer-time storm
Or the slow steady feeling of sunlight that warms
Did she know
It would happen this way
The man she loved waiting here on her wedding day

It's the story of life and of love of tears and of pain
But the pain doesn't last and then after the rain
of forgiveness and learning to love once again
God brings His humble children together to sing
Of the miracles, joys, and this wonderful thing
That all present will witness with altar and ring
This sweet union, communion of two souls made one
And a story of life that has only just begun

(verse 2)
Not long ago in a faraway state
Howard thought he might never get married someday
But the course of his life and the touch of God's grace
Led this man to a woman his spirit embraced
Did he know
It would happen this way
This lady he cherished and loved on this radiant beautiful day

School of Life © 2003 Dan Tan

You learned to cry, you learned to laugh
You learned to stop just asking why
You looked for reason you found rhyme
And from your depths you learned to climb

You learned to love, and to forgive
When those you loved they never did
They clipped your wings, confined your heart
But you broke all the walls apart
You learned to fly
You learned to soar
Over all you've seen before
You learned to live
You learned from hate to speak with love
And from the wars to rise above
From constant conflict you learned peace
And prison shackles you released

Why Do I Sing © 2003 Dan Tan
(verse 1)
Why do I sing the songs I do
Why do I play in front of you
Why does my voice have to be heard
Does anyone listen to my words?
This is why I sing the songs I do
Cause I hope to bring to you, to you , to you, to you
A song of hope, a song of peace
This crazy world is so in need
Of more than human hands can bring
Oh this is, this is why I sing
Will my music plant a seed
To bring you to the God I believe?
(verse 2)
When I write these songs I sing,
Sometimes inside I'm screaming
This world can cut you like a knife
That's why I'll always sing of life
So precious and so sweet!

(verse 3)
My songs are tragedies of hope
Stories of mortals here below
Sometimes my songs they tear my soul
Sometimes they make my torn heart whole

Simple Phrase ©2003 Dan Tan

I never thought that I would feel this way
Never occured to me that this day would come
When all my heart's desire would come down only to this
To say these simple words I just can't seem to breathe out loud

(Verse 1)
It's so hard to say such a simple phrase,
I pronounce more complex words everyday
And yet here I stand, I can't make a sound
It's as if I have been lost and I need to be found... by you.
Well I think that I do,
No, actually I know that it's true
I love you
Now that I have said these words
I'll never leave your side
You have been God's gift to me
This love we share the world cannot deny

(verse 2)
Now I've said it once and I'll say it again
For as many times until you comprehend
That these words I speak they're not simple to me
And there are no substitutes to repeat

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