Nothing inspires me to write like great music. Here’s an artist or tune that’s been tickling my ears lately and serving as one of my writing prompts.
Forty-five seconds. That’s all it took. That’s all I lasted without tears falling from my eyes.
The first time I heard Chris Staples’ song Dark Side of the Moon, I couldn’t help it. I didn’t care that I started crying right there in the middle of a coffee shop, and I didn’t want to stop myself. I just wanted to fall freely into it all—its words, its lyrics, its beats, its sound. It was all perfect.
Here’s how it starts:
I want to tell you a story
The only way that I can
I’m just replacing a man that came before me
One day the world is going to see
Another man replacing me
That’s just the way it’s got to be
It’s always been that way.
And maybe those lines mean nothing to you, but they mean a great, great deal to me.
See, I’m a dad to a 1-year-old son. It wasn’t an easy road to parenthood by any means. It was a long, hard struggle, filled with painful potholes and grueling obstacles. I’ll spare you the details, but there were many nights when I had to choke down the reality that I may never get the opportunity to be a father.
And so now, when I hear a lyric like “I’m just replacing a man that came before me,” I’m overwhelmed by my new reality. That I am a dad, and that I do get that chance to pass down all the good my dad passed on to me. I love that! I love being a dad!
But in my reality, that lyric has another meaning.
See, my wife and I adopted our son. And because of that somewhere in this world there’s another man who helped bring him into the world. Another man that came before me. Another man that I’m replacing. And it struck me, my son will always carry pieces and parts of that man with him—his eyes, ears, hair, maybe his personality—but I hope that one day the world will also see in my son pieces and parts of me. I want him to receive and pass along the things that my dad taught me…things like faith, patience, love, humility, trust, humor, perseverance.
And so I’ll do as the song goes on to say:
I want to love you
I want to pass it on
I want to give and give until it’s all gone
I want to know you
While we have the time
Because that’s all I got to leave behind
And here’s the song…