Sacred Discontent: Behind the Album The Broken Seasons with Adam Whipple

Adam Whipple plays a house show in East Tennessee.

Loyal readers might remember we ran a review from John Barber of Adam Whipple’s new album The Broken Seasons here a few months ago. I would recommend you read it first, then come back and hear from the artist about the philosophy and planning behind the album and the songs. This isn’t meant to be a review, but a conversation that hopefully will give us a glimpse into his creation process. Then click on over to PledgeMusic and help this album drop into a world that needs its honesty. There are only a few days left.

John Palmer Gregg: First. This is an amazing album, and not just a collection of great songs, but it seems well put together. Awesome job man.

Adam Whipple: Thank you!

JPG: Can you briefly describe your songwriting process? Do you start with the lyrics, the music?

AW: I tend to woolgather a lot. Bits of lyrics will come, sometimes verses or choruses or bridges, and I record it or write down a sketch of the melody and let it percolate. The days of entire songs arriving like lightning are either gone or very rare. Sometimes a whole verse or two will show up. That happens a lot when I’m driving, when it’s inconvenient (or illegal?) to write anything down. Once in a while, music comes first, but I get so enamored with music that it often gets hard to see past it. Those times when music arrives first, it seems to open up lyrics that were already there, usually about things I’m dealing with at the time.

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Memory of Flying

I was convinced that it wasn’t entirely impossible. Difficult and miraculous, perhaps, but not impossible. I reasoned that there must be a different way of perceiving the world that would enable a person to leave the ground behind – and fly. So, at around eleven or twelve years old, that is exactly what I did.

I remember it so clearly.

There was a ditch that ran alongside a portion of the long driveway that led to the log cabin I grew up in. An electric barb-wire fence ran down the far side of that ditch. It was a fence and ditch I knew very well. It was the fence I accidently hit with a golf club while trying to perfect my chip shot with fallen hickory nuts that had gathered in the ditch. It was the fence I accidently urinated on – twice, and it was the fence I spectacularly failed to jump over on my metallic red Mongoose BMX bike. I still have scars from that experience wrapping around both legs where the barbs dug into me as I struggled to free myself from the wire. Each surge of electricity running down it caused my muscles to spasm and lock up.

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Hoc est Corpus Meum

Hieronymus Bosch: The Conjurer, 1475-1480

Last week I sat in a theater in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, with my wife and four-year-old son. We were waiting for Terry Evanswood’s magic show to start and sharing a comically small box of popcorn that my wife assured me I didn’t want to know the cost of.  I was more worried, though, that my son’s attention span wouldn’t last the full hour and a half. It turned out I had nothing to worry about. He was mesmerized from the first second to the last. I spent more time watching his reactions than I did the performance.

In my son’s stunned expression, I find something that I long for, something that I believe we all long for in one degree or another—a sense of wonder. In an age and culture where the answer to virtually any question we can conceive is just a few taps and swipes away, wonder and unknowing are absent. It is one thing, however, to suspend disbelief for a couple hours to enjoy a magic show, and another to live a life believing anything blindly.

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The Secret Beauty of My Heart

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I’m going to put all my cards on the table.

I’m a journalist – with an agenda.

There it is in black-and-white. I want whoever reads my stories, or looks at my photographs, or watches one of the videos I’ve produced to see the world the way I do. I want you to feel what I feel. I want you to believe the same truths I believe. I want you to hate the things I hate, and love the things I love.

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Over Mountain Weavers Guild

Over Mountain Weavers Guild in Kingsport, Tenn.

“This,” said Marita Swartz, waving her hand over the intricately woven pattern of threads taking shape from her loom, “gives me life.”

Swartz is one of over forty members of the Over Mountain Weavers Guild, a guild that gathers at least once a month at the Exchange Place, a kind of living history museum in Kingsport, Tennessee.

“It’s an art,” said Jean Green, “It makes you appreciate things. Not everything you can just go into Wal-Mart and buy.”

Many of the guild members are retired, though not all, and many see the art of weaving as a way to reconnect with the way things were done in the past. For some, it is cathartic, providing an opportunity to take something intangible and shape it into something real, something permanent.

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