BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#824 - "HARD LOVE" by NEEDTOBREATHE
The title track from NEEDTOBREATHE's latest record celebrates courage in the face of obstacles.
 


BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #824 -
Posted: May 23, 2017 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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South Carolina's Grammy Nominated band NEEDTOBREATHE hooked me eleven years ago with their major label debut Daylight, which featured the single "Shine On." Since then, the band has somehow managed to improve with each album. They earned an opening slot for Taylor Swift, played on late night television and collaborated with Gavin DeGraw on one of their biggest hits to date, "Brother."

Something I take immense joy in discovering with each new NEEDTOBREATHE release is the incredible songwriting and musical excellence interwoven with nuggets of lyrical connection. In their latest album H A R D  L O V E, my Top Album of 2016, the band subtly includes the reference to the "dance" of life in a few contexts. They take us on the journey of life lessons learned in "HARD LOVE," including the lyric "hold on tight a little longer, what don't kill you makes you stronger. Get back up, cause it's a hard love." The song also appears with a guest vocal by Lauren Daigle on the inspired-by compilation for The Shack. I had the great opportunity to interview Josh Lovelace about "HARD LOVE."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

Lyrically, we always like to write a song about real life situations, about something happening to us at the moment or that has happened to one of us. We are all away from our families a lot. I just had to leave my three year old son and tell him I was leaving for a concert. It's the least fun part of the job, and it's a hard love. It's not easy, you have to fight for it, and the people you love are where you find real joy. When it's hard love, it's worth it. 

It's an autobiographical song. It's a fight song for the long journey between trials and redemption. It's about appreciating the wisdom and maturity that comes from hardship. Sometimes our ideas for what we think we need and what God knows we really need don't line up. We've been through situations we didn't think we'd make it out of, and this song is an encouraging message about what's ahead for us.

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

2 Samuel 23:20-21 (MSG): "Benaiah son of Jehoiada from Kabzeel was a vigorous man who accomplished a great deal. He once killed two lion cubs in Moab. Another time, on a snowy day, he climbed down into a pit and killed a lion. Another time he killed a formidable Egyptian. The Egyptian was armed with a spear and Benaiah went against him with nothing but a walking stick; he seized the spear from his grip and killed him with his own spear."

1 Kings 1:36 (NLT): "Amen!" Benaiah son of Jehoiada replied. "May the Lord, the God of my lord the king; decree that it happen."

What is the takeaway message?

It is a fresh take on a rock song, and we added in some heavy synth parts. It was an undertaking and an inspiring experience. Speaking for myself, when I'm feeling like I'm against the world and nothing's going my way and I'm down, for me personally, the thing that has gotten me through every day is my faith. It's the backbone of who I am as a person and who I want to be as person and a dad. The only way I can face the wolves in life and in battles, is with my faith. 

Whether you are in a war with something or a struggle in life or your job, the only way I feel effective as a creative person in a band is to find a way to make something work. In life you can look for something that makes you feel good for a time, but my faith has never let me down, and that is what I've needed in those moments. 

We liked collaborating with Lauren Daigle for the version on The Shack soundtrack, and also on the recent version with Andra Day. They both really inspired us. We hope people are inspired by the song and all of the versions.

Lyrics:
Trading punches with the heart of darkness
Going to blows with your fear incarnate
Never gone until it's stripped away
A part of you has gotta die today
In the morning you gon' need an answer
Ain't nobody gonna change the standard
It's not enough to just feel the flame
You've gotta burn your old self away

Hold on tight a little longer
What don't kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love
You can't change without a fallout
It's gon' hurt, but don't you slow down
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love

You know the situation can't be right
And all you ever do is fight
But there's a reason that the road is long
It takes some time to make your courage strong

Hold on tight a little longer
What don't kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love
You can't change without a fallout
It's gon' hurt, but don't you slow down
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love

When the wolves come and hunt me down
I will face them all and stand my ground
'Cause there's a fire burnin' in me
They will see my strength in this love I found
Oh

Hold on tight a little longer
What don't kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love
You can't change without a fallout
It's gon' hurt, but don't you slow down
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love

It's a hard love, it's a hard love, it's a hard love, it's a hard love
Oh, it's a hard love, it's a hard love, it's a hard love, it's a hard love
Oh, it's a hard love, it's a hard love, it's a hard love, it's a hard love

Hold on tight a little longer
What don't kill ya, makes ya stronger
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love
You can't change without a fallout
It's gon' hurt, but don't you slow down
Get back up, 'cause it's a hard love
'Cause it's a hard love


In connection with this album, song and the Bible passages about Benaiah, who I discussed with Josh, I read a remarkable book: In a Pit with a Lion on a Snowy Day: How to Survive and Thrive When Opportunity Roars by Mark Batterson. In short, the book is about not living with regrets that you didn't chase the lions in your life, or wishing you had pursued your dreams and taken risks to move from good to great.

Through a series of personal examples and life lessons, the book and Benaiah's story challenged me to think about the key qualities that I've come to respect the most in people I've encountered in my life, especially courage, enthusiasm, trust, humility and understanding. Rather than being afraid of new challenges and obstacles, those who embrace developments with an air of excitement and passion tend to provide the most inspiration, which this song celebrates.

HARD LOVE is one of the most meaningful albums I've ever heard. I can't get the catchy melodies of many of these songs out of my head, with the perfectly produced tracks and the song order brilliantly inviting listeners to join the band on their journey. The very relatable and transparent words of these songs perfectly depict our daily walks, wrapped around catchy songs. 

My own "HARD LOVE" journey has involved evaluating my core beliefs, being honest with myself about my goals and ambitions, and professionally and personally pursuing partnerships with those who embody the qualities that I admire the most. That's what this song represents for me. The song personifies the band's challenge of standing up for what's right in a dark world. In the duet versions of the song, Bear Rinehart's, Lauren Daigle's and Andra Day's powerful vocals lift this song to its highest point in the bridge: "When the wolves come and hunt me down, I will face them all and stand my ground, 'cause there's a fire burnin' in me, they will see my strength in this love I found." Be encouraged by the words of Benaiah from 1st Kings 1:36: "Amen! May the Lord, the God of my lord the king; decree that it happen." That type of faith inspires me to live out the lyrics: "Hold on tight, what don't kill you makes you stronger, get back up, cause it's a hard love." Amen to that!

Watch the music video below.
 




 

NRT Lead Contributor Kevin Davis is a longtime fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. He lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.

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