Just Regular Guys
- Friday, October 24, 2008
While he doesn’t consider himself a natural multi-tasker, Bebo Norman is getting a ton of firsthand experience these days. When we recently caught up by phone to chat about his first non-holiday project for BEC, he was gently trying to encourage his one-year-old son Smith to eat his Goldfish crackers rather than throw them on the floor.
“It’s just a normal day as a father,” Norman says with a laugh. “It’s definitely not easy for me to do several things at once, but I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
And for a guy who admittedly thrives on consistency in what’s typically an inconsistent life as a traveling musician, Norman is stepping out of his proverbial comfort zone with his music, too. Not only does his latest work bridge the gap between his acoustic, singer/songwriter roots and the decidedly pop flair he’s embraced on 2001’s Big Blue Sky and 2004’s Between the Dreaming and the Coming True sonically, but his decision to self-title his latest work, something artists usually do on their first album to brand themselves, symbolizes this new beginning.
“I’m doing some new things, really just starting fresh,” Norman shares. “This particular recording experience has been really phenomenal. From a creative standpoint, I’ve felt like a kid again. And I realized something really important—that I am inspired to still make music, and I still feel like I can do it well. If I can’t do it well, then I really don’t want to do it.”
Teaming up with friend and fellow artist Jason Ingram, the process of making the album really took off with a track titled “Ruins.”
“I don’t know how to write about anything but exactly what I’m living. So really, I probably should’ve written about feeding babies,” Norman shares. “But the theme behind the album is ‘let my ruins become the ground you [God] build upon.’ I actually considered calling the record ‘Ruins’ at one point because it’s such a pivotal moment. Ultimately, I made the decision not to because it sounded a little too dark,” Norman says. “The idea of ‘Ruins’ is actually hopeful, though. God does some of His best work where we fall short—the ruins. It was the first song that Jason and I worked on, and I was so moved, that really, I could’ve written just that one song, and it would’ve been the record for me.”
Another moment of unexpected inspiration came from an unlikely source—tabloid fixture Britney Spears.
When Spears locked her youngest son in the bathroom and was later wheeled out on a stretcher before being taken to a psych ward, Norman couldn’t help but be moved when he saw it played out on late-night TV.
“I saw this look of absolute confusion on her face, and my first instinct was to scoff and say ‘Whatever!’” Norman says. “But as I saw that brokenness in her, I started to think about how this girl was created by God just like I was created by God. It was a strange moment, instead of wanting to spew judgment and anger, I thought ‘What would Jesus say to me in a dark moment like that?’ He would probably say I’m sorry for this world being so hard, and I’m here. Hope is here.”
Penning the song, aptly titled “Britney,” in about 15 minutes, Norman is still surprised that it’s the first single (it’s currently in the Top 30 on Christian AC charts). But he’s excited that the song encourages culturally relevant dialogue. “As the Body of Christ, we often to fail to dig into cultural things. We should be writing songs that force people to talk about these issues,” Norman adds. “What our culture says to young girls about what’s beautiful, is horrible. As a believer, it’s my responsibility to say there’s a better way.”
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