I wrote Your Face way back in the early ‘90’s. I keep track of those days by trying to remember what house I was living in and what roommates I had. (If I’d only kept copies of all my leases, I could reconstruct a pretty accurate Waiting chronology.) I think I was inspired, as so many people are, by the way U2 could construct an entire song around two chords. I like the way Your Face builds from verse to verse, all the different parts, even without the use of a chorus at all.
I have come to realize, over the years, that I’m actually a morning person. I love seeing the sunrise, watching the shadows shorten, etc. I have also learned that prayer in the morning is crucial to taking care of my soul. The day is brand new, and one can set the tone in the morning for how one will live it.
The song has an even deeper meaning for me now, and I’m thankful that Todd asked me to write this post because it gave me the opportunity to reflect on this idea anew. In the Eastern Orthodox Church, we worship facing east, always in liturgical expectation of Christ’s return. At St. Michael’s in Louisville, we have been blessed with a beautiful chapel in which we hold morning services, either Matins, the usual morning prayer service, or Divine Liturgy. Most days of the year, as we are praying, the morning sun comes pouring through a set of windows in the front of the building, the eastern side. The sun hits the smoke from the incense and outlines the icon of Christ, the Son of the living God, whom we worship. (Col 1:15, 2 Cor 4:6)
My favorite memory of that song is actually from a live show. It was Cornerstone ’90- something and we were doing one of the late-night tents. Someone yelled out “Your Face!” and my first thought was “we haven’t done that song in a long time.” I’m not typically comfortable with “winging it” for a Waiting show. For some reason, we decided to do it and it was the best song of a really, really great night. The applause never seemed to end after that song. I guess people like for bands to take chances and give them something they don’t get every night. I’m not sure, but after that show, I don’t think we played that song live ever again…I’m glad we did it. I think that memory is why I love the song…that and Clark’s lyric…and that weird bridge in the middle…and the way it starts from nothing and builds from beginning to end…and that one guitar sound.
For me the song ‘Your Face’ is just a staight worship song- I dont know if that was Clarks original intention when he wrote it but thats the vibe I get. Im not usually a fan of worship music- often to my ear the music seems to be sacrificed for the words. When I listen to really great old hymns and spiritual songs- even alot of ‘secular’ songs- i feel a sense of worship. Im moved and I join in. The same with the very best worship music- like the Violet Burning and others. But I dont feel- for an artist- that the art should be sacrificed. Its more ‘holy’ to me to be what we were made to be. Thats how ‘Your Face’ is to me. The musical impact I feel was a combination of my inexperience (I kicked on 2 big muff pedals at the same time), Genes great ear and especially Steves mix- the mix makes the song musically for me. It gives the song alot of power. So on top of powerful music float Clarks wonderful lyrics which paint a picture that takes me to a different place. A higher place. And thats what a song is all about. ‘Your Face’ ended up being what I intended ‘Is This the Day’ to be on Blue Belly Sky- a straight up worship song in the best tradition.
I had a good conversation with Chris Taylor (of Love Coma) today. The Waiting and his band Love Coma were on the same record label early on. Although we didnt know each other very well back then we are certainly on the same page now. He does alot of visual art (he did an album cover for Sixpence None the Richer and is doing one for Matthew Perryman Jones soon) as well as music (he is a solo performer now and recently did a song with Dave Stewart of The Eurythmics). We were discussing how our views have changed since that time and it struck me that many times a new artist doesnt give the continued effort and time necessary for their work to find its niche. Chris is very rapidly finding his place after many years of struggle and sticking to his vision..Seems to me if an artist has something unique and excellent that whether in the short or long term their work will find its audience- no need to worry. Impatience shows an improper focus on money/fame/success that kills good art- u cant serve god and mammon. The way I see it now is you cant keep a good band down.
Several months ago when The Waiting facebook page started I had a lot of discussions with our illustrious moderator Jan ‘The Fan’ Snyder about our approach. When the band was on the road full time we didnt have the luxury of time in our daily lives to address our fans like we wanted to- or even sometimes at all (we had tons of unanswered fan mail and no time to answer it). So I made a commitment to myself this time around that no fan will go unanswered and as long as humanly possible, I want the band to answer personally. The guys in the band and I have always been grateful to the fans bc we know without the them we are nowhere. I just wanna make sure that this time we are communicating with our actions how we feel about that to all the The Waiting fans out there.
I produced an album for my brother Brad a few years ago called ‘The More I Think I Understand The Less I Can Explain’- his first ever solo project. Id like to say that its an underrated album but i honestly cant say that. Its not underrated- its unheard! Due to marketing misfortunes it was unheard by most- and by ‘marketing misfortunes’ i mean that there was almost no marketing! Such are the hazards of the indie artist. But I had to speak up about it for a few good reasons. #1- Im his brother! nuff said. #2- its a good album! As producer I lived with these songs day in and out for months so I know they hold up over time. This album is certainly on par with Brads usual high quality level of writing. And #3- Brad is the lead singer and main writer for The Waiting for goodness sake! He has given alot of himself for the audience- in every show on the road full time for a decade. He deserves to be heard! So if you were ever blessed by contact with my brother Brad- and everyone who is in contact with him is- then spread the word about his solo album and buy a copy! I think there are 10-12 copies left of this run- after that the future is uncertain depending on demand. To mail order your own ‘… I Can Explain’ Brad Olsen solo CD firstname.lastname@example.org.
as a founding member of a fairly successful chr band- the waiting- ive gained alot of experience in all aspects of the biz over the years. as an independent producer i now have the opportunity to work with alot of up and coming bands and artists (our modern sonnet, dede swint, judah robertson, benjamin cole, kyra, david iduate etc). whenever im asked what the key to success in music is i always point to one thing- honesty. honesty is the most important thing. as a writer u have to be honest in ur lyrics- if not they wont resonate. as a performer u have to honestly care about the audience or they will sniff u out. as a producer or engineer u have to be honest with ur clients (tactful but honest) or u will lose their respect. even in the business aspects its imperative to be honest bc the music biz is not a machine (although it may feel like it) its people and relationships- people respect honesty. even in tough biz decisions its better in the long run to be honest. theres almost always a way to be honest and loyal and still do what needs to be done. whats the old song? make new friends but keep the old- one is silver and the other gold. sage advice. in musical decisions its best to be true to yourself and your roots even at the expense of short term gain- its the difference between a one hit wonder and a career. in the career of the waiting we learned these lessons the hard way- we (i) made decisions in impatience for gains that cost us a significant portion of our core initial audience. i didnt think of it as dishonest at the time but it was and it couldve easily been avoided- perhaps even if no decision was different but the narrative was more straightforward. fortunately we were given the benefit of the doubt by many and we made it through. so yeah honesty- key to the music biz.
ps- of course talking about music is like dancing about architecture…
todd ‘oats’ olsen
on may 22 brad and i are performing the waiting song ‘speak’ as well as other worship songs at christ church in hickory NC. its gonna be fun bc weve only performed a few times together in the last several years- anytime we do a gig these days is special and this will be a blast! i have been performing as a hired gun at christ church for the last couple years (guitar, bass, and infrequently backing vocals). really great people up there- my kind of folks. its nice for me bc since my main gig is as a producer i dont get to play out as much as i used to- most of my time is spent in the studio. this gig came about bc of our close friend danny stephens of smalltown poets fame- he is the musical director there and my best friend michael johnston (singer for the poets) works with him creatively and as a worship leader. its fun playing there- always feels like old times. they have good audiovisual capability there and we are planning on getting live video to post on the waitings fb page- so i guess we better do well! wish us luck and look for it soon after..
things are moving quickly here at The Waiting hq so i thought id blog about our short term plans and events. the song ‘Never Dim (Acoustic)’ has been uploaded to itunes and will be available any day now here- http://itunes.apple.com/us/artist/the-waiting/id5360261 a clip of the song has been added to the music player on TWs facebook page here-http://www.facebook.com/thewaitingofficialpage?sk=info#%21/thewaitingofficialpage?sk=wall
the next step in the plan is to launch the redesigned and updated website www.thewaiting.org- it is being done by our longtime friend and musician/graphic artist Dann Gunn. as soon as its ready we will offer some free TW music on the website as a thank you to everyone for remembering and supporting the band. a TW single called ‘All Love’ (produced by Oats and currently being mixed by Brandon Thompson) will be one of the songs. also i finished up the track ‘Underneath the Moon’ (produced by Gene Eugene) from the BBS sessions recently so that will be another free offering- it is up on TWs fb page now in its unfinished form. and we have already begun work on ‘Unfazed (Acoustic)’ for ‘Acoustically Speaking’ as well. so these are the short term plans- keep checking back for updates/changes and ill do my best to keep ya informed..
todd ‘oats’ olsen