The Best of SCC
Later this fall, Steven Curtis Chapman will celebrate 10 years in Christian music with the release of the album, Greatest Hits Volume 1 (Sparrow), and a greatest hits video collection.
When we interviewed Steven, we asked him to reflect on his decade in Christian music.
Campus Life: So what is the "greatest hit" on your upcoming greatest hits album?
SCC: (laughs nervously) Is it getting hot in here?
I'm fighting against giving the answer I always give to that question—but it really is my answer.
The songs I write are like my children. They are all birthed out of different experiences. "I Will Be Here" [on The Live Adventure] was written right after my parents' divorce. So it holds great meaning for my wife, Mary Beth, and me. I wanted it to say, "Mary Beth, no matter what, I won't ever leave you." "The Great Adventure" [on The Great Adventure] was written at a time when God was showing me new things about his grace …
You know what I'm saying? To look at my kids and go, "My greatest 'accomplishment' is Caleb or Will Franklin or Emily," would be so wrong.
Let's get away from lyrics and talk about the craft of a songwriter. Do you feel any of your songs were crafted especially well? You know, the words fit together just right? The imagery was strong?
Actually, "His Eyes" comes to mind, which was on the Real Life Conversations album. This was one of the first songs I wrote that I remember thinking, This is a neat accomplishment here. It's well-crafted and I've not lost the 'heart' of it.
See, sometimes a song gets so well-crafted that you sacrifice the passion and emotions that originally went into it. You know, you write and rewrite. You tweak and tweak again. In the end, you've taken the life and energy right out of it.
Keeping that passion intact is obviously important to you.
Yes. I think I was also able to keep the passion in "Lord of the Dance" on Signs of Life. Musically and lyrically it was quite different from any other song I'd done. I think it was well-crafted and still captured my passion and emotion.
Over the years, what's excited you most about writing a song?
When I was a kid, I always wanted a metal detector. I'd look at the Sears catalog and think, One day, I'm going to get one of those. I finally got one about five years ago. My wife gave me it to me for my birthday. Anyway, there's a point here somewhere. …
Yeah, see, I've always been fascinated with the idea of finding buried treasure. A song is the treasure. It's that piece of pirates' gold. I reach into myself, find it, and dig it up.
Do you "dig" with your guitar or do you dig with a pen?
Both. I do both. In Signs of Life, my guitar was my shovel. That's why the music feels a little different. I sat down with my guitar before I even had a lyrical idea. I created some riffs and some things that I thought sounded cool. It was fun to "wed" some lyrics to the music and watch it all turn into a song.