One of the most fascinating parts of the creative journey of writing and recording songs is seeing the changes that happen through the process. Sometimes it is as simple as a change of one chord or one lyric. Othertimes a new bridge or instrumentation unlock new possibilities. With “Open Arms” it was a dramatic change of style that led to the song not only making it on our debut album but becoming our first radio single.
From the bio we released with the album “Lifted High:”
“Lifted High’s buoyant debut single, “Open Arms,” is a bright reminder of God’s unfailing love. “The song is a reflection on the fantastic faithfulness and grace of God, our persistent Father, who pursues us and embraces us in our brokenness,” Needham says. Originally written as a much slower song, a new tempo inspiration from Rousseau—a student at Boston’s prestigious Berklee College of Music—and Dane’s studio handiwork helps make “Open Arms” an album standout with its memorable Jack Johnson-meets-Jason Mraz groove.”
As was noted in the story behind the song “Lifted High” many of our songs were birthed through our time serving at summer camp. “Open Arms” was written as a piano-driven reflective ballad complete with cello and violin. The slow-tempo served the piece well for a few years before the song worked it’s way out of our normal rotation.
A few years latter Joel sent an MP3 of a demo of the song he had recorded. He tells the story of having the idea while he was washing dishes. I am not sure we knew what to make of the new feel and it sat on the shelf for a while until we were picking songs with our producer, Mitch Dane, for the new album. Joel played Mitch a little of his creative spin on “Open Arms” and we began recording it within a few hours.
I try to remember this story as we are working on our new album. Perhaps the most challenging and yet rewarding parts of the process is learning to let go of your pre-conceived ideas of what is best and allow others to speak with great influence into the life of a song. It is what makes a band great and it is constantly helping us to grow and improve.