On the 11 th of May 1998, Oxford band Unbelievable Truth realised their first album ‘Almost Here’. The band line up included Nigel Powell, Jason Moulster, Jim Crosskey and front man Andy Yorke, younger brother of Radiohead’s Thom Yorke.
At the time Radiohead were still riding out the success of OK Computer, their 1997 critically acclaimed album. It was a far cry from ‘Almost here’, which after receiving some success, subsequently found Unbelievable Truth dropped from their label.
I was living in my home town in 1999 when I stumbled across their album in a clearance rack at a small arcade record store I frequently scoured for music. I was the type of girl who spent more of my minuscule pay cheque on CD’s than I did on clothes.
Part of my job at the time was putting together a music show for the Community TV station I worked for. I’d seen their music video for ‘Settle down’ but I didn’t realise that this CD would become somewhat of a life line for me.
In 1999 I was slowly starting to lose something. Only I really couldn’t work out what it was. I was doing my best to make the most of the opportunities before me, but I had become stuck in a small town rut of my own making.
I had recently come out of an unhealthy relationship, work had become routine and I was feeling dissatisfied with the day-to-day. Life wasn’t what I’d imagined it would be and I couldn’t seem to find a way forward. I felt detached in my need for something more. I had this ache that hovered like a cloud over me. It wasn’t heartbreak, it was something much more debilitating. A lowness that came in like waves, crashing hardest when I was alone.
This wasn’t how things were meant to be.
I sat in my damp hillside flat in front of my CD player and listened. I listened to that CD until I was totally immersed in a melancholy I didn’t know how to express. The sound of words mixed with the the strum of acoustic guitars spoke to my soul and awakened something in me that needed to stop and grieve. I would palm over the pages of the CD sleeve, pouring my heart out as I searched for answers. I felt so lost. I didn’t even know why.
A year later my life would begin to change significantly and what was missing would become clear. But this time was a turning point. I prayed the only way I knew how, I was still with the music and I know now looking back that God was with me.
I believe through music we can make sense of feelings that we are yet to find a name for. And I believe that God can speak through it when we are still and searching.
For me, the same is true of the written word, painting, sculpture, movies, song writing, dance, poetry, blog posts and other artistic expression. There is something God breathed in using gifts that are God-given. And there is something transcendent in sharing wisdom through our experiences in this way.
Your Art may not be world-renowned right now, but it may be world-changing for someone. It may be a bridge from here to there, through grief to hope, from lost to found.
The album ‘Almost Here’ was one of those in mine. It never reached the critical acclaim of Radiohead’s discography but it found me exactly where I was and helped gently moved me forwards.
Seth Godin said ‘That there is a huge difference between what is popular and what is important.’ The most important music, books or movies may not be number 1’s or on best seller lists. As creatives we can become frozen by the pressure to conquer the world with our art. That way of thinking can stop us from even beginning.
Success has never been about filling stadiums or topping charts. What we create has our own unique story written within, and those experiences are never lost. They mean something. They give us words to feel and a place to dream.
So, create for the pure joy of it, pour everything you feel into it and send it out into the world for someone like me.
Give your gift generously. Help someone find a way to express what they feel through your creation, help them get from here to there and give them a chance to find the same hope you have found.
Your art is important to them. And it’s important to me.
Don’t worry if it’s good enough. Send it out wholeheartedly, brave and courageously, knowing that you are in service to the one who created you and placed that gift within.
Do it for people like me and do it for yourself. Don’t concern yourself with popular, that’s just an illusion . Popular doesn’t last forever. Make work that truly means something to you. Chances are if it means something to you, it will make a difference to someone. Pray about it. Bring what is hidden out into the open.
Do it as your act of worship. As an act of thankfulness. Use the gift you have been given to bring others the hope you’ve found.
Today, if you are wondering if you should keep creating, or if it even matters, please know that it does!
Write that blog post, record the song, publish the poem, dance!
Express the God-given talent that is waiting within you. Don’t worry about where it will take you. Think more about where God can take it.
Keep creating … because what you do truly matters.
This chapter in my life was all before I met the love of my life, so I have to give a shout out to my husband Luke Shaw, musician, singer/songwriter, encourager of my world and best friend. Who would have thought that I would fall in love with a man, who’s music would become the soundtrack to a life long romance. Everyday I am overwhelmed and thankful that I get to live this beautiful life with him.
Photo Credit – Derek Truninger – Unsplash