This year for Mother’s Day we decided to interview a bunch of kids and write a song around the things they said. We showed the video in service, then we performed the song live. The finished product turned out better than I had hoped, and our people really seemed to enjoy it. I thought how the process worked from concept to service was interesting enough that it would make a good blog post. (A video of the finished product is at the end of this post.)
I need to say up front that this was not an original idea. We borrowed it from Church on the Move in Tulsa (entitled I Love Moms Or Something), and they borrowed it from Flight of the Conchords (entitled Feel Inside And Stuff Like That). But once we started interviewing the kids in our church, the whole thing took on a life of its own.
We started with writing the interview questions. I took these pretty much verbatim from the COTM video. We worked with our kids ministry to select kids and set up interviews on a Wednesday night. They were great! They selected kids that have a reputation for saying funny things and are naturally outspoken, and they coordinated all the interview times and letting the parents know what was going on. Each interview lasted about ten minutes. Some kids gave us tons and tons of material. Other kids gave us barely anything we could work it, but we discovered that each kid would at least give us one thing we could use—you just had to dig for it.
We knew the song would be centered around all the things that would be missing if there were no moms in the world, so many of the questions focused around that. There were two things I was looking for specifically. One was a title. In both the COTM and the Conchords videos, they got one of the kids to suggest a title but then tack on a phrase like “or something” or “or stuff like that.” Then, as the joke goes, the interviewers make the assumption that the tag phrase was part of the title the child suggested. We could never get our kids to say something similar. However, I liked the phrase “Thanks moms” that one of our kids threw out. The S’s at the end of each word was just funny to me, and then when we actually put the words to music, it just happened that there was this awkward pause between the words when we sang them that added to the humor of the title.
The second thing I was looking for specifically was a “grand finale” moment for the end of the song. I originally thought of a rap section (again, similar to the inspiration videos) and tried to get some of the kids to rap some made up lyrics. But we could only get one kid to give us a few words. However, one of the girls made the comment about her mom dancing to 80s songs, and that allowed us to go in a completely different direction and achieve that same kind of moment.
Once we finished all the interviews, I had the video producer send me mp3 files of the audio of all the raw footage. I listened to all the files and put each answer into a spreadsheet. I know that sounds really geeky, but it was an incredible tool to keep things organized when it came time to actually write the song. Even if the answer didn’t seem like much, I recorded the answer in the spreadsheet because you never knew what word or phrase you’d need. Some of the answers the kids said made the song because they were funny. Some of the answers the kids said made the song because they rhymed with something else.
Then it came time to write the song. I focused on the chorus first, then I worked on the verses. With just my acoustic guitar, I used the voice recorder app on my iPhone to record the song. I did this several times as I filled in lyrics (and sang “la la” lyrics where I didn’t have words yet). I think they’re four different versions of this song on my phone (here’s what the first one sounded like). I used the Notes app for the lyrics (which syncs with iCloud), so no matter where I was or what device I had in front of me, I could type in lyrics as I thought of them. I was able to write and finish the song over the weekend.
With the song finished, I quickly made a GarageBand track to send to the band, so they could start learning the song (I finished the song on Tuesday morning and rehearsal was that Thursday evening). Also, with the song finished, we could now focus on the video. Since I still had the spreadsheet, I put together a complete script for the video with notes of all the cuts necessary and where to find them. I gave that script to our video production department. They were awesome, and with the help of the script they were able to produce the video pretty quickly.
That Tuesday evening, the other worship leader and I got together at my house to begin figuring out who was going to sing which line and how to approach harmonies. We already knew that the line about the 80s music would be part of the big finish at the end, and we even already had the idea of the band starting to playing the Cyndi Lauper song in the middle. But it was that night we decided we had to actually dance some signature 80s dances. So here we are, two grown men, in my long narrow master bathroom dancing in front of the mirror trying to choreograph this thing. That’s probably not something I should admit in public, but it’s true.
Thursday evening is our normally scheduled rehearsal for the weekend service. We did the normal process of working up the band, then adding the vocals and dialing in the sound. It was also at this time that I worked with our lighting designer. My vision for this song was it had to be over the top and completely overdone. I told our LD to pull out every trick he had and to use lots of moving lights and pulsating colors, and he came up with some pretty cool stuff. Taking some inspiration from the Conchords version—since their song was a spoof on the infamous “We Are The World” type songs— I got the idea that me, the other worship leader and the band needed to perform the song very seriously and over the top—like our lives depending on it.
Here is how everything came together. It was incredible to watch this idea take shape and become a finished production in just a week and a half.