Format: Sound Plus Doctrine PodcastDownload Session
In this episode of Sound + Doctrine, David and Bob are joined by Jon Althoff, one of the songwriters on Sovereign Grace albums and kids’ projects. He shares how he became involved in Sovereign Grace Music as well as helpful thoughts on writing and co-writing.
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David Zimmer: Welcome to the Sound Plus Doctrine podcast my name is David Zimmer.
Bob Kauflin: And I’m Bob Kauflin.
DZ: And we have a special guest with us…
BK: Yes, we do.
DZ: This morning, Jon Althoff.
Jon Althoff: Hey there.
DZ: We are happy that you are with us.
JA: Glad to be here.
DZ: And gonna take some time to get to know you and how you came to Sovereign Grace Music. And Bob, you know Jon, like your history goes back further than mine.
BK: It does.
BK: I’ve known Jon… What, eight years, seven, eight years? Somewhere in there.
JA: Yeah, that sounds about right.
BK: And you came down from Michigan to Louisville, Kentucky?
JA: We came down to Nashville.
JA: From Michigan.
BK: That’s right. Well, that’s close enough.
BK: And what brought you down to Nashville, with Shea, your wife?
JA: Right, yeah. Yeah, so we came down, Sovereign Grace was planting a church from Knoxville to Nashville, and we had heard about that through a mutual friend. And I was in Michigan at the time, kind of in a season of life of trying to discern what the Lord had next for us and just had a heart to be part of a Sovereign Grace church, and so we stepped out of full time ministry and just in faith moved down to Nashville. The Lord provided a job, just so we could be there and serve the church, and so I worked outside of the church full-time and just served, planning, leading worship, helping out wherever I could. So…
BK: Wow, Jon, that’s a big move. Just to, for a second, fill that out.
BK: Left full-time ministry, went down to Sovereign Grace Church, got a job, served as a worship leader. What was it that made you wanna do that?
JA: So that was probably about a two or three-year process, and part of this comes into how I got involved with Sovereign Grace, but probably my first exposure was a guy from the church that had come to my office one day and asked to meet with me and actually brought some resources from Sovereign Grace Music, which I wasn’t familiar with at the time. Yeah, and he had loved Sovereign Grace for a long time and just was a member of the church, and I was leading worship at the church and he said, “Hey, there’s some great songs that Sovereign Grace Music does, and I’d love for you to check these out.” And so I said, “Okay.” So he gave me a couple CDs and he told me about your blog, Worship Matters, and so I kinda got on Worship Matters blog, started reading different blog posts that you had done, and I thought, “Wow, there’s people out here who kind of think… ”
DZ: Wow, this is helpful.
JA: “The same way I kind of think but who are further along.” And just began to learn from a lot of the wisdom that… From what you’re writing in the blogs. And then maybe a year after that, I attended my first WorshipGod Conference, which I think was 2009, if I remember right.
BK: Wow, John Piper. Yep.
JA: I think John Piper was there. Yep.
DZ: Where was that?
JA: It was in Gaithersburg.
BK: Gaithersburg, Maryland.
DZ: Okay, yeah.
JA: Yeah. And so I remember being at that conference really and that was a pivotal moment for me ’cause it was kind of like “These are my people” kind of feel. I’ve had similar doctrinal beliefs but hadn’t seen that really practiced in a practical way within a local church setting, but being at that conference I just thought “Wow, this is, I think, what I’ve been longing for, looking for, for a while, but I just didn’t know it was even around.”
BK: That’s so great.
JA: And so then it was still a four-year process, I think, after that, ’cause we moved to Nashville in 2013. I believe the WorshipGod Conference we went to was ’09, so it was kind of a four-year process there.
BK: That makes so much sense ’cause I remember you had done an album with your wife, Shea.
JA: That’s right.
BK: And I heard that, and I heard a lot of gospel-centeredness and thoughtfulness in the writing and actually I had the thought “Man… ” When I found out you were moving to Nashville, “I wonder if Jon could write for us someday, that would be so great.”
JA: Yeah, I remember sending you the CD, I think.
BK: Yeah, the CD.
JA: Yeah, I didn’t know you at all, and it was one of those… That kind of shot in the dark like, “Yeah, I’ll just send this to you.” Maybe I got your contact through your website or something and was just like, “Hey, I’ll send you the CD, and if you don’t have time to listen to it, I totally understand.”
BK: No, it was great.
JA: And you actually got back to me and you were like, “Hey, I hear some great things, here’s some things you could work on.” I was like, “Oh, this is great, like, good feedback.”
DZ: It was awesome.
JA: Yeah, it was pretty cool.
BK: So you have been writing for Sovereign Grace now.
BK: And I should add that right now you are a full-time pastor at Redeeming Grace Church in Nashville.
JA: Yeah, so I’m working on Pastoral residency, working towards eldership ordination.
JA: Yeah, I’ve been there on staff for about two years now.
JA: Yeah, working full-time there.
BK: Okay, so how did you… I remember you came to a songwriter retreat, we have a once-a-year songwriting retreat, about 15-20 people that we invite and we get together work on projects, and you came to one of those.
JA: I did, yeah.
BK: But I don’t remember you getting a song on an album.
DZ: What year was that?
JA: No, no it was a few years. I think it would have been January of 2014, because we moved in September of 2013, and then you sent me the invitation. And for me, honestly, that was kinda out of the blue, and I was like, “Maybe our Pastor Dave must have let you know that I was in the Church or something.”
BK: He bribed me, he sent me 100 bucks.
JA: Yeah, so there you go, I knew there was a reason. No, but yeah, so I think you sent me an email along with those 15 or 20 other people just saying, “Hey, we’re having this songwriting retreat, would love for you to be there.” And at the time I was honestly like, “How did I get on this list?” And even, I remember joking, Shea and I were joking, she was like, “Maybe you got on there by accident or something,” you know. I was like, “I don’t know, but however I got on there, I’m going.” So I was like, “I’m gonna go.” So yeah.
DZ: That’s great.
BK: Try to avoid them.
JA: I came up, and it was at Neil’s house, and I can’t remember which album it was for.
BK: It may have been Romans, or Sooner Count the Stars.
JA: I think it was Sooner Count the Stars, actually, if I remember right. Yeah, I believe it was that one.
BK: Which is a challenging album. So the album… Challenging in term to write for.
BK: But the album I remember you really being gold on, in other words, that album wouldn’t exist without you, was the kids’ album that we wrote as a companion album to Marty Machowski’s book, family devotional, “The Ology”. Get it? “The Ology.” You came up huge for that. I don’t know, you wrote like five or six of the songs, and I remember working on a couple with you just like at the very last minute. [chuckle] “Okay, we need the song for this.”
JA: Right. Yeah.
BK: ‘Cause you’re working for different themes. So, was that a surprise to you, that you had so many kids’ songs just coming out of you?
JA: Yeah, I would say it’s a yes and no kind of thing, because when I served at the church in Michigan, one of the things that we did was, our children’s ministry, we had a curriculum that they would do throughout the Fall, and there were scripture memory songs that we wrote as a team to go with that. And so I had had maybe four… Three or four years where we had written probably 25 songs every summer, that was kind of a big project that I would do. And so through that, I think… And I didn’t write all of those, that was a team of people that would write, but I would probably write six, seven, eight, maybe even 10, and helped produce those. And so part of that three to four-year process was kind of learning what kids enjoyed, because I would hear back from the teachers like, “Oh, they really liked this song!” Or there would be songs that are like, “Nobody likes this song.” Or I’d have parents that’d tell me, “Oh, we love listening to that one in the car.” ‘Cause we would make CDs of them, back to the CD, so I’m dating myself. But anyway.
DZ: But you had direct feedback from the songs that worked and the songs that didn’t work?
JA: Direct feedback. Exactly, yeah. And so through that process, I think it was helpful just to kind of learn what kids liked, what kids and parents kinda liked. And so I feel that helped me a little bit.
DZ: That’s awesome.
JA: But at the same time, I think that, plus having so much raw material from Marty was just…
BK: Yes, yes.
JA: It made it easier than it probably would have been, ’cause I feel like… When I met Marty I said, “I pretty much just have to thank you for all the songs that I’ve written, because I just take all the great stuff you write and put melodies to it.”
DZ: That’s true.
JA: And there’s a lot of truth to that.
BK: So we’re gonna have another podcast specifically talk about writing for kids, so I’m gonna resist…
JA: Okay. Great.
BK: Getting in depth on that.
BK: So you helped us with that, and then with “Listen Up”, another kids’ album.
BK: And I think the first congregational worship album we did that had one of your songs on it was “Prayers of The Saints”.
JA: That’s right. Yeah.
BK: Which came out in 2017, I think.
JA: I think so.
BK: And the song was, “He Is Our God”.
JA: Yeah. “He Is Our God”.
BK: Which I added a little bit to, but not very much. I don’t even think of having added anything to that song.
JA: No, you did.
BK: It’s just a great song. And then, new Christmas album, “Heaven Has Come”, which is coming out October 30th of this year, it may have already come out by the time this podcast airs. And yeah, so you wrote a lot for that as well, I think co-wrote three or four songs.
JA: Yeah, three or four.
BK: So let’s take some time, if we can, unless you had any other thoughts, do you?
BK: Okay, just to talk about writing, because you seem to be a guy who loves songwriting.
JA: I do.
BK: I mean, I write songs, I don’t know if I love songwriting, it’s hard.
JA: It is.
BK: I’ve been doing it for a lot longer than you.
BK: Probably as long as you’re alive, and it just… In the process there are certain moments that go, “Oh this is great”, but you just seem to breathe it, you listen to songwriting podcasts and you’re always talking about it. So how long has that been a part of you? And talk about… Also this… Well, let’s just talk about that right now.
BK: The love for songwriting, where does that come from?
JA: So, I think the… I don’t know if the right way to put it, but the songwriting bug kind of hit me, I think it was 2004, I believe was the year. The church I was at, we used to do this big Christmas program, as a lot of churches did, and we would kind of pick and choose different songs and try to put them together, and sometimes we had people that would write like dramas for those things. And so that year we had… There was a song that was already published and it was basically John 3:16 set to music, and… But it wasn’t gonna work out for the musical we were trying to put together, and so we contacted the publisher and said, “Hey, could we take this and just kind of adjust some lyrics?” And very wisely they said, “No.” We’re like, “Okay.”
BK: I was hoping that was going to be the answer.
JA: So yeah, no they said “No.” So, I thought to myself, I was like, “Well, it’s John 3:16, the lyrics are already there, maybe I could try writing a melody and see what happens.” So that’s kind of what started. And so I wrote the melody and then I ended up writing a second verse, and just with much…
BK: Wait, one verse was the Bible, and then the next verse was yours?
JA: Yeah. So the first verse is way better than the second verse, for sure.
BK: The Bible warns against that, Jon.
JA: But the second verse tried to do expand on the theme of that verse. But anyway, so I turned it in to our worship pastors, and I’m very much like trepidation, just kind of, “I’m sure this isn’t any good, but just as a shot in the dark.” And he came back to me and said, “I really like this, can we use it in the musical?” And I’m thinking, “Can you use it? Of course you can use it! That’s why I wrote it.”
BK: “No, talk to my agent. I’ll get back to you.”
JA: Yeah, so that was the first time. And just, I think seeing people affected by something that I had worked on and poured my heart into was just very meaningful. And then as a couple of years had gone by, I would have maybe a time, a devotional, that something just began to bubble up in me, like a melody with some lyrics kinda would start to come…
JA: All at the same time, and so then that began writing congregational worship songs for the church. And then again, same kind of thing, like introducing those to the church, the church sings them, and then having people come and be like, “Oh, this song really… We just really love singing this song, because of this or because of that.” And so that just really lit a fire in my heart to just see the value of writing theologically-rich congregational worship songs that people can sing, that help teach, that help give people voice for expression of their heart and worship, and so it’s ever since then that I’ve just been… Just having a desire to just grow in that craft.
JA: And realizing that it is a craft and you really have to grow in it, you’ve gotta put the work in to get better at it.
DZ: Yeah, I was gonna ask, how do you develop the songwriting craft? We said previously that you would write some songs and you’d have instant feedback from people. Talk to us about how does one start?
JA: Yeah, I think a great place to start, at least for me, when I… Suggestions I often make to people is taking an existing lyric and writing a new melody to it, or taking an existing melody and writing a new lyric to it, ’cause that way you don’t feel like you’re having to try to come up with everything all at once. So if you took kind of a classic hymn or something like that, like “How Great Thou Art” or “Come Thou Fount” or something like that, and just…
JA: With songwriters, sometimes you lean more towards melody or you lean more towards lyrics, some of it is just figuring out what you like to do, what you feel like you’re good at. And then I think feedback is huge. And then some of it too is just the work of just writing, just getting down to it and saying, “Hey, I’m gonna write one song, I’m gonna finish it.” And just think of it as your first draft, so don’t think of it as like, “I’ve gotta make this song, and once I’ve done it, that’s it.” I’m trying to think of that less and less the more I go, is like almost all my songs now I think of it as, if I “finish it”, that’s only the first draft, ’cause it’s gonna change. ‘Cause someone along the way said “Good writing is rewriting.” Maybe like Brian Doerksen or something. I read an article, and I remember that always stuck with me, “Good writing is rewriting.”
DZ: Yeah. That’s so good. I like the idea of writing to pre-existing lyrics or melody, because it’s like building a house and the structure is there, like the frame is in place.
JA: Right, and you know the melody works, if it’s something like “Come Thou Fount”. You’re like, “This melody works.”
DZ: Right, right, right. Yeah. Not to just re-write melodies to old hymns, but the idea that it’s the practice of, “I can write to a structure that’s already in place,” instead of… Some people are just pulling from “Where in the world do I pull this from? And I’m just looking at a blank sheet of paper.” So I think that’s really great advice for writers.
BK: So Jon, you’re saying it’s not a good idea for someone to write a song and assume that God gave them every note and every word?
JA: Yeah. I wouldn’t make that assumption.
BK: And that you shouldn’t change it, almost like scripture?
JA: Yeah, definitely not.
BK: Okay. But we can feel that way, can’t we?
JA: We can feel that way sometimes, for sure. “No, it’s good, yeah.”
BK: Even when you’ve been doing it a long time.
JA: Yeah, yeah. Well, you know they do, they become… They’re sort of your baby. You don’t want anybody to critique it. I think that’s just…
DZ: Don’t call it ugly.
JA: Yeah. That’s just part of the process though of growing, is learning maybe to hold things a little more loosely.
DZ: That’s good.
JA: And realize that something that affects you as a writer may not affect someone who’s listening. And that’s such great feedback, to know, “If I’m the only one that’s affected by this song, maybe I should use it in my personal time.” But it’s just not…
DZ: For your devotions. That’s so good.
JA: Maybe for whatever reason, it’s just not affecting other people. And that’s okay, too. You know what I mean? There’s a part of the act of songwriting, I think, especially if you’re writing devotionally or if you’re writing for your church, that it needs to be an overflow of your own worship to the Lord. And so I think there’s value in that too when you’re writing, just to have those times where it could just be, “I’m writing this song to the glory of God, and if it goes no further than my bedroom with my acoustic guitar, that doesn’t invalidate that as a song. It just may mean that God’s not using that for a broader purpose, and that’s okay.”
DZ: That’s really great.
BK: So I wanna talk about co-writing some, but before we do, share that story, I think it’s Jason Ingram, that you heard on another podcast. We’re just re-manufacturing, or passing on stuff from another podcast.
JA: Passing on stuff.
BK: Yeah, about how he grew as a writer.
JA: Right. I think if I remember correctly, the story was that he was doing merch table for a band, and the band needed a song that… They had a title, but they didn’t have a song. And so he went back to the hotel room and wrote this song, and it was great, and it made the album, maybe even got some radio play or something, but he got a writing publishing deal out of it. But then for, I think, the first year, he wrote 100 songs and no cuts. And the second year, another 100 songs, and…
BK: Got one cut on a B-side.
JA: One cut on a B-side. And he was convinced, “There’s no way I’m getting another year contract.”
BK: So that’s 200 songs that he wrote and finished.
JA: 200 songs, yeah. That’s right. It’s almost like the 10,000 hours concept. You have to do something over and over and over again to learn what works, what doesn’t work.
DZ: Yeah, and it’s a muscle that you’re slowly developing over time. You can’t write five songs and go, “These are all incredible.”
JA: Right. That’s right.
DZ: You might get five out of 500, is sort of the mentality.
BK: But then…
JA: But then after that, it was just, I guess, everything started to fall in place for him. The next thing you know he’s… And I think he was learning to be a producer over that time, too, ’cause he was producing the demos that he would turn in, and the next thing you know it seems like everything he writes is on albums everywhere, and it seems like from that point for the next several years, a lot of the stuff you were hearing on the radio or projects with major labels and all that stuff, that his name was everywhere.
BK: What I remember him saying was last couple years he’s had 100 songs cut each year, which was quite a difference. So anyway, I just found that very inspiring. You do a lot of co-writing. What are some of the things you love about co-writing and… ‘Cause I was thinking about feedback, how when you have a co-writer you have feedback right there as you’re writing. And then what are some of the things, if someone’s thinking about co-writing, they should watch out for?
JA: Yeah. I think one of the things I love is just being able to bounce different ideas off of each other, and everybody brings their own strengths. And so part of it is that immediate feedback of like you can throw something out there and if everybody agrees like, “Oh yeah, we really like that,” you can keep going down that road. Or it may happen the opposite way, where you throw out an idea and then nobody jumps on it. You’re like, “Okay, I guess it wasn’t a very good idea.” So you have to learn to, again, going back to not holding things too precious, so to speak, I think it teaches you not to hold things. But also one of the things I’ve had to learn is to be less afraid, and so be less afraid to just throw out an idea. ‘Cause sometimes, especially if you’re… I’m an internal processor, so I like to think about things before I put them out into the air or whatever, into somebody else’s ear, and I’ve had to learn to do that less and just go with the gut, so to speak, and just throw out the idea, sort of like spit-balling ideas, and sometimes things work and sometimes they don’t.
JA: But just because someone doesn’t like it doesn’t mean… It doesn’t invalidate you as a writer. But you just need to get stuff out there and just keep throwing out ideas until something works. So that’s one of the things I like about co-writing. And then just when you see everybody’s strengths coming together to make something better than you could have done by yourself. So I’ve been trying to do that more, just co-writing, whether that’s in a room with somebody or getting an idea to a certain point and then sending it off to somebody and saying, “Hey, what do you think about these lyrics?” Or “Do you like this melody? Should we change it?” And so, even songs on the Christmas album were that way, just coming up with an idea, throwing it out to somebody and then batting it back and forth.
BK: Okay, here’s a question: When I’ve co-written with you, you are one of the most flexible, open-handed… It’s amazing to me, ’cause we’ve worked on a number of kids songs, couple worship songs. What’s that balance between saying to other people that you’re co-writing with, “Hey, I’m totally open,” and saying, “Yeah, I don’t think that’s the way it should go,” without becoming territorial and say, “Don’t touch that! Don’t kill my baby!” How do you find that balance? I just find you a real joy to co-write with. And have you guys done any writing together?
DZ: Oh yeah, absolutely.
JA: Yeah, mm-hmm.
BK: And would you find the same thing, David?
DZ: Yeah, absolutely, yeah.
BK: Or would you find he’s just too horrible to work with?
DZ: No, very easy, yeah.
BK: Jon, would you say the same thing about David?
JA: Yeah, definitely. And to answer your question though, I do think there is a time… I don’t know if I can explain it any other way than it’s sometimes it’s like a gut reaction thing where you go… There’s something sometimes that’s so meaningful that you have to fight for it, where someone else might say, “I’m not really sure about this.” I think you have to fight for it when you know that there’s nothing better, at least in your opinion.
DZ: Yeah, yeah.
JA: You’re like, “I don’t think anything that we’re doing is better than this”, or maybe it was like, “This was the original inspiration, and so I wouldn’t wanna lose that part of the melody because, for whatever reason, that seems to give the song a lift.” So I think you just kinda have to know, it just comes with time, I think.
DZ: I was gonna say that.
DZ: The experience of song writing sort of validates…
DZ: The voice to say, “I really feel strongly that this should stay.”
JA: Yeah, and that’s what I think, you just have to be honest with yourself of like, if you really feel strongly about something… A good case in point was when I was writing with Cameron on the song “Come for Us”…
BK: On the Christmas album.
JA: On the Christmas album, yeah.
DZ: Cameron Keith, yeah.
JA: Cameron Keith, yeah. There’s a song called “Come for Us” that we started together, and I had some different ideas. And maybe an hour, hour and a half at that, you had come in the room at that point, I think I had left, and we were working on this lyric about I think… I’m trying to remember the exact lyric, but Cameron basically said, he’s like, “You know, I really think that this lyric needs to stay.” And I was the one that was like, “I don’t really feel like that does.” But then I kinda reassessed it and I thought, “Okay, well let’s give it a shot and just bring a few more people in and see.” And as more people would come into the room and we would ask, his side was validated, and I remember even encouraging him saying, “Hey, I’m glad you fought for that”, ’cause…
DZ: Yeah, that’s cool.
JA: It’s not like I have every right idea about something, nor does he, nor does anybody else, but it was kind of like the group validation of there was enough people going, “Oh yeah, I love that lyric.” I was like, “Okay, great, let’s keep it,” even though for me it wasn’t initially my personal choice. But then the opposite’s true sometimes, where I feel like I’m the one that’s going, “I really feel strongly about this melody or about this lyric,” and then sometimes you’re right, sometimes you’re wrong.
BK: And if… Were you gonna say something?
DZ: No, go ahead.
BK: I think a lot of times you change in your perception. I’ll think a line’s really great at one point, then three days later think, “Eh, it’s okay.”
DZ: Right? Yeah.
BK: But then also in the context of the song, as the song changes, it affects different parts of the song. So at one point what may have been the high point of song, maybe there’s another high point in the song now and you don’t really need that. And so just find that being flexible along the way, having those convictions, but being flexible, you’re just a real model of that.
JA: Oh, thank you.
BK: So thanks for doing that.
DZ: What would you say to someone who is co-writing a lot, but the person they’re co-writing with, maybe they don’t have a lot of people to co-write with. The person they’re co-writing with, it just feels like a brick wall. You just feel like you’re constantly hitting each other and not thinking that, “I don’t feel like we’re getting anywhere with these songs.” And you have 20 unfinished songs that you’re trying to co-write with people, and you have accessible. So how would you give advice to that person? Should they seek outside co-writers, should they keep working with that same person?
BK: Mm-hmm, that’s good.
JA: I think seeking out outside co-writers would be a good thing, maybe even just getting a third person. If it’s a group of two people, and for whatever reason you’re just not gelling… I think too that’s part of it, is learning what you’re good at and what you’re not good at, and then seeking out people who are good at what you’re not good at.
DZ: Can compliment that, yeah.
DZ: Yeah, okay.
JA: So for me, I feel like I have…
BK: That’s very good.
JA: I love writing both lyrics and melodies, and for me I feel like my melody writing is a little stronger than my lyric writing, and so I will seek out people who are better at lyrics than me, ’cause sometimes when it comes to melody stuff, a lot of it is subjective, right? I may like a melody and thinks it’s amazing, and somebody else is like, “I don’t like it.” But yeah, so getting a third person in the group is helpful, ’cause then it’s not just you versus me in our opinions, it’s like there’s at least… At some point you’re gonna have a majority. And then I think, too, just finding as many ways as you can to find other co-writers, that could be different Facebook groups, or maybe it’s reaching out to five like-minded churches in your area and just emailing or calling the church and saying, “Hey, is there anybody in your church that you know that likes to write songs?” And then just connecting with those people, whether that’s so… It could be online, it could be in your town. But yeah, get a group of three people together and everybody bring a song and meet every other week or once a month, everybody bring a song or even part of the a song, like, “Hey, I got a chorus”, or, “Hey, I got a verse,” or whatever, and just find ways to keep yourself writing, I think, is the key. Just find whatever you can find to just keep doing it.
That’s so great.
And would it be good to just keep expanding that kind of editorial board. Three people might think something’s a great song, but then you play it for a group of 10…
BK: They’re like, “Ah, it’s okay.” And we’ve had that happen at songwriter’s…
DZ: Yes, right.
BK: Retreats at times, where a group is, “Oh, this is so great!” And you play it for the group and, “It doesn’t feel as great.”
JA: Yeah. Yeah, yeah.
BK: You can get caught up in the songwriting moment.
DZ: And just be deceived.
DZ: And I wanted to briefly share a story of…
DZ: Something that you’ve been a part of, Jon. When you said, “He is our God,” I remember…
BK: Oh, that’s right.
DZ: I remember the first time I… The first time I met you I…
DZ: Well, we were at a conference together, and I just happened to sit next to you in the front row.
JA: That’s right. I came in late, it was… Andrew Peterson was giving a talk, and I came in late and I knew a guy who was sitting, I think, right next to you or something.
DZ: Yeah, yeah.
JA: And so, yeah, we sat down and you were like, “I gotta tell you… ”
BK: Guys, we’re really not caring about who sat where, just get on with the story.
JA: Okay, anyway, you whispered… I introduced myself and then you whispered, “I gotta tell you a story after this is over.”
DZ: Yeah, and I was like, “Jon Althoff, ‘He Is Our God’, I remember working on that song.” And my point in all of this is that the song is never really done.
DZ: After you write it, you can send it off, and you submitted it to a songwriting retreat, and we were about to throw that song away. It was really slow, we needed an up-tempo thing, we didn’t arrange it. And then at the end of the songwriting retreat, I was there with Bob and we just thought, “What if we flip this on its head? What if we take this slow song and make it really fast?” And we put this hook on it, and then it becomes the title track of the album, and the one song you had on Prayers of the Saints…
DZ: Which I just think is really great. If you’re working on the craft of songwriting you can have those songs in a bank, it’s never really done, and they might find life later in a completely different scenario, so I just… That was a wonderful way to meet you and also to work on that song together.
BK: That’s right. So we saved your song, Jon.
JA: Yeah, pulled it from the abyss.
BK: You’re welcome, yeah.
JA: It’s so funny.
BK: I’m not sure if people can hear the lawn mower outside right now, but we sure can. But in any case, that shows this is a real podcast.
JA: That’s right.
BK: Jon, we’re gonna have you back for more stuff.
BK: Love to talk about the Christmas album, love to talk about writing for kids’ albums, and more just about writing for congregational worship and what that’s like. Thank you for joining us.
JA: Glad to be here.
BK: Dave and I are just loving doing this with you, Jon. Thank you for joining us, and hope you’ll come back and join us again.
JA: I would love to.