Episode #309 — When you look at an incredible career bookended by powerful anthems like “I Can Only Imagine” and “Say I Won’t”, what MercyMe lead singer Bart Millard has to say comes as not a small surprise. He doesn’t think he’s a particularly good crafter of story songs!
“There’s a song on the new album called ‘The Moment’ which is a really special song to me. It’s painting a picture of when I got saved at 12 years old. Not remembering the actual words in the prayer of salvation, but vividly remembering that after we prayed that pastor at that church camp told me, ‘Hold on to this with everything that you have, because no matter what happens this is never going to let you down. So it’s me telling that story in the song, and so – I’ve said this in a few interviews – I’m not a very good storyteller-type-songwriter. And, when I say that, everybody is like, ‘What are you talking about?!'”
Bart takes a run at explaining what he means.
“‘Imagine’ is about my dad, but it’s not painting the picture of my dad. The story is more about me just asking questions. What am I going to do when I see Jesus? And it’s not because I was a super Christian. It’s because I was so heartbroken that my dad’s bedroom was empty, that he was gone. And people were saying, if he could choose heaven over you, he would. And as an 18 year old being angry they would say that to me. What’s wrong with me?”
Those were words born not out of great spiritual achievement, but out of raw honesty.
“Those questions were not because I was the next Billy Graham, it was me coping with, ‘God, it’s got to be amazing if he’s willing to leave me.’ Just being honest. So it’s the story that comes with the song, but to actually be like a Bob Dylan or these guys that literally paint the picture in the song, I’m not good at that. ‘Say I Won’t’ is very inspiring, and – if you’ve never heard Gary’s story – hopefully it will still be inspiring, but it’s the story attached to it that’s beautiful in my opinion. So that’s what I mean. Obviously I’m still trying to figure it out.”
“When you hear ‘The Moment’, it’s a total package. I love the song so much, because I’m used to saying something inspiring & telling the story before the song starts. This – I’m trying to put it all in there, and it’s been such a weird challenge and something I’m most proud of.”
Bart Millard is the lead singer of the national treasure that is MercyMe with the brand new, just released record inhale (exhale).