©Will Spicher 2009
June 2, 2009
no beauty has a man ever seen
as the eyes of a child
wonderfully pure and serene
are the eyes of a child
reminding me of someone I've been
with you as my king
wondering if I'll see again
thru the eyes of a child
everyone I see looks like you
through the eyes of a child
every living moment brand new
for the eyes of a child
see every color poignant and true
with light shining through
and in everything I see you
through the eyes of a child
the bruises & sorrows of life
leave their mark on my mind
much that I regarded as growth and time
have left me weary and blind
of all the things that I've left behind
the eyes of a child
is the thing I most want to find
for the eyes of a child
still reveal your highest design
lord make them mine
could I receive a gift so divine
as the eyes of a child?
On October 18, 2008, I was talking with Ted Hohenstein, a talented singer-songwriter with whom I was privileged to serve alongside at the Peoria Rescue Mission. We had our guitars out and were exchanging songs (a wonderful experience), and I was just astounded at how prolific he is at writing great songs (four dozen in four years!). I recall describing a song that I would like to write someday about the eyes of a child, but I did not have lyrics, a melody, or any idea around which to begin. The notion had occurred to me only fairly recently. A month later I woke from a dream with music in it; even when I was awake, I could still hear some notes (this rarely happens, though much of my music comes from such occurrences). I immediately realized that this was the core around which to write the song, and inspiration exploded.
For me this song is about repentance--a word that has almost lost its meaning in our culture as its mere utterance evokes reactions based on common misunderstandings. The longer I live, the more I see the 'R-word' as more a change in perception than a change in behavior (though one follows naturally from the other). Someone once said Jesus used the word in a sense that conveyed, "go back and look at things through fresh eyes." And what eyes could be fresher than those of a child? I reached a point where I suddenly realized how long it had been since I saw through such eyes. And I longed for it. Once in a while, I, too, need the 'R-word.'
The Eyes of a Child would still be gathering dust on the back burner had it not been for my good friend, Rob Weber. For the circumstances that produced the occasion for such a song also brought me to a point where I lacked the desire to do the things that bring me life. But I had told Rob that I felt it was meant to be a piano-driven song and gave him the scratch track. Then I just didn't get around to doing anything with it. Rob, however, wouldn't let it go and eventually insisted that we put dates on the calendar. Now, one must understand the difficulty in affecting Rob's schedule to fully appreciate his magnanimity here; I have gotten used to making plans months in advance with him. So I could hardly refuse. I discarded the original Sonar project file; we had a rehearsal; we exchanged some big emails; and finally we tracked on May 2 with no metronome (really different approach for me). Rob took the new project file, cleaned up the piano line, and hit the ball squarely back into my court. At that point somebody else had real sweat invested, and I no longer felt the liberty to procrastinate.
Long ago I accepted the fact that, for a while at least, I would have to be the only person who believed in my music. After all, why would anyone else believe in it if I did not? Taking all of this together, I realize Rob's contribution to this song, which goes deeper than I have yet described, may be the biggest compliment that anyone has ever paid to my music. Thank you, my friend.
By the way, he is also a pretty good pianist (as you have probably noticed by now).
From the song's beginning I knew the instrumentation would be sparse: piano and guitar, in that order. In some ways that creates more problems than it solves. No drums to keep the timing. Expression is everything. Exposed microphones that tell all. The production notes describe an expensive and time-consuming project in which I treated my studio with 22 cubic feet of acoustic foam.
The first four bars of the song (C-D-C-D) are completely Rob's idea and execution. They did a lot to set the mood of the song and tell the ear that this is something to reflect upon. From there the instrumental approach changed numerous times in numerous ways as a result of his ideas and playing (mainly me trying to fit a guitar line to Rob's piano line, then him trying to fit the piano to what I came up with, and so forth).
We tracked the song "live" with Rob playing the Yamaha MM8. I miked the guitar and voice using a technique that gave maximum acoustic separation in case those tracks were "keepers," which they weren't. But Rob's piano line was. The piano was tracked with Rob and me listening to a piano patch on the keyboard but recording the MIDI information (basically note commands). Later, as the mix came together, we settled on the Steinway Concert Grand with Native Instruments Akoustik Piano.
After Rob finished the piano part (minor editing), I final-tracked the guitar and vocal in one music-marathon day (which Weather provided by causing an event cancellation). The guitar is my Taylor 414-CE-L3 recorded with an AKG-C414B-XLII (the "414 thru the 414") backed by the Reflexion Filter. This is run through the Aphex 207D tube preamp which sends a digital signal to the sound card. The raw audio was treated with Sonar's Vintage Channel using a new setting I found during this project and really like. The vocal was recorded with the same hardware but processed with Sonar's multi-band compressor.
From that time on Jesus began to preach, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand." (Matthew 4:17)
At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, "I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure." (Luke 10:21)
[Jesus] called a little child and had him stand among them. And he said: "I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever humbles himself like this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven. (Matthew 18:2-4)
Interestingly, “growing up” is largely a matter of learning to hide our spirit
behind our face, eyes, and language so that we can evade and manage others to
achieve what we want and avoid what we fear. By contrast, the child’s face is a
constant epiphany because it doesn’t yet know how to do this. It cannot manage
its face. This is also true of adults in moments of great feeling—which is one
reason why feeling is both greatly treasured and greatly feared.
Those who have attained considerable spiritual stature are frequently noted for their “childlikeness.” What this really means is that they do not use their face and body to hide their spiritual reality. In their body they are genuinely present to those around them. That is a great spiritual attainment or gift.
Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy