A life well-lived is marked by deep feelings, the stuff that takes us high and the things that pull us down low. Singer-songwriter Gable Price believes there should be a soundtrack for all of it.
It’s easy, the California native explained on a recent episode of “The Prodigal Stories Podcast,” to pen songs on the other side of a valley, when it’s a memory to reflect on rather than a present experience to journey through. Those songs have their place, for sure, but what about lyrics for those who haven’t seen the hillside yet, who haven’t been delivered from their present pain?
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“I don’t think there’s much bravery in writing when you’re past the thing,” he said. “I think everything is a past-tense pain: ‘I used to be this,’ ‘I felt this at one point, but I’m great now,’ ‘God came along, and now I’m great.'”
“Where’s the song for the person who’s in it?” Price continued. “And where’s the song for the person who doesn’t particularly need a resolve right now? … There’s no joy for me in writing a song that doesn’t feel like it’s exactly where I’m at.”
There’s a rich history in the Judeo-Christian tradition of embracing life — and God’s presence in it — as it comes, whether good, bad, or somewhere in between.
Through the Psalms, David wrote from the proverbial valley.
In Psalm 143:7-8, he was in crisis. Despairing and tempted to give into sin, he sought refuge in God amidst his pain: “Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul” (ESV).
And Jesus is familiar with the deepest pain and grief this life can offer.
In Isaiah 53:3, the prophet, foreshadowing Christ, wrote, “He was despised and rejected — a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way. He was despised, and we did not care” (NLT).
Price, who grew up in a Christian home and for years thought he would become a worship leader, said it took a while to find his rhythm, his space in the music industry. Ultimately, he carved his own niche: a unique marriage between faith themes and vulnerable lyrics chronicling the ebbs and flows of life.
“I think Gable Price and Friends started when I started to combine [those themes],” he said. “So I think finding a way to combine my process with the faith ties to my music was a longer process of figuring out how it worked. … It was just a matter of finding a way to create this honest reflection of life and faith, and they don’t have to be these two separate projects.”
It’s that philosophy that makes sense of the shift between Price’s first and second albums.
The first album, “Fractioned Heart,” he explained, came when he was in ministry school, soaking in Scripture and theology on a daily basis, completely immersed in his own faith tradition. The second album, “The Consequence of Being Alive,” which debuted last November, came amidst a season of transition: getting married and emerging from dissecting, perhaps for the first time, the faith he has in Jesus.
One of the most vulnerable songs on the latest album is “JESUS CHRIST,” a record he described as “an honest letter to God of, ‘Hey, I think you should know this, like I told you I’d never leave, but, while I was leaving, I tripped, I sprained my ankle, I’m at the bottom of your apartment complex, and I need help.'”
“[The song is] more of a human approach to the faith struggles of this journey I think we’re all on of maintaining this intimacy with God and nurturing the relationship, because, just like any relationship, it needs to be nurtured,” Price continued. “I think that song is a series of confessions to God and then this acceptance of, ‘I really need to hold onto something.’ No matter how fast this thing grows, how much I feel like I’ve got life figured out, I need something to hold onto that’s eternal.”
That vulnerability is born out of Price’s priority — honesty.
“I pride myself on writing exactly where I’m at with each song,” he said. “A lot of ‘Fractioned Heart,’ that first album, was a reassurance. I’m writing these songs to reassure myself of what I believe and I’m beginning to believe them again as I write the album.”
The follow-up album, Price explained, came from the other side of those uncertainties, from a season when some questions remained unanswered but the wondering didn’t bother him so much, because he was comfortable in his “really solid” relationship with God.
“I’ve always said we’re Christians in a band who sing about what we care about,” he said. “A lot of times, faith comes out of that, a lot of times belief, a lot of times my relationship with God, but, a lot of times, it’s just love — it’s writing a song to my brother, telling him to just hold on [because] life is hard. That’s kind of been the natural progression for me. I don’t feel like there’s been a shift mentally.”
You can listen to our full conversation with Gable Price here.
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