The Story Behind "Different Light"
At the outset of writing the songs for this album, I felt a continuation of the desire that fueled the writing behind my first solo record, “More Than Shadows.” I had found new love in my life and therefore was able to see family life and becoming a husband in a very different light from how I had in younger years. Lifelong commitment to a spouse suddenly seemed like a life privilege rather than an imposition, the bachelor life looked bleak and barren rather than free and boundless, and the idea of being a loving husband felt like abundance and something to embrace, rather than tribulation and something worth avoiding. Songs like “Flatlands” and “So Many People” were and still are intended to inspire others to love as openly as Dana had shown me to love. My goal was to give others subconscious permission to find their own version of lifelong love and happiness. The world looked kind and gentle while the future looked free and bright.
Then our lives were forever changed. On July 4, 2018 tragedy struck our lives and home. Dana’s son Cross Justice was suddenly taken from this world at the age of 16. The accident involved a small group of Cross’s friends and a firearm. Our foundation was shaken, our perfect home suddenly had an ever-missing piece, and our idea of a kind and gentle world was replaced by a world riddled with uncertainty and the constant questioning of how long any connection could last. In the days that followed, songs of hope became songs of prayer. I remember singing “Music, Laughter, Love”, (a song Dana & I had written for our wedding) to Dana during a time when we were in the hospital, as a way to offer her comfort and maybe a small bit of peace. I kept playing the new songs in live settings because they were very cathartic for me Music was one of the only things that could make life feel like it made any sense, even if it was just for a short time. As time passed, the full meaning behind some of the other songs was revealed and we began to see them in a different light. “Shine Down” is a song off the album that I had begun to write before the tragedy. The song had an angel in it and upon playing it after July 4th, I realized who the angel was. It was then that the most important part of writing for the song began, with the third verse devoted to Cross. The goal of the album became a pressing desire to give people comfort in an ever-changing world. In times of uncertainty, when some of us are afraid to send our young ones out into the world, music can be an incredible teacher and tool.
It is my hope that these songs find their way to the people who need the messages they offer. People deserve to know that connection goes on after death and this world truly is a wonderful and merciful place to live. Cross was a part of my life for nearly two years and not a day goes by that I don’t think about something he said or something we did. Knowing him has made me think about life and I would like to paraphrase Jimmy Buffett by saying, some of it is magic, some of it is tragic, but I’m going to have a good life along the way. We have come to see life in a different light. Each day we must actively choose love and look for the good. As we all grow older, we inevitably have loss in our lives, but if I can shine a little light with my music, then our experiences will be transformed into something positive.