BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS
#912 - "Down Down Low" by Christa Wells
Christa Wells offers a gentle call to humility through this song from her new project 'Velveteen.'
 


BEHIND THE SONG WITH KEVIN DAVIS, #912 -
Posted: April 17, 2018 | By: KevinDavis_NRT
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GMA Dove Award-Winning singer-songwriter Christa Wells is best known for writing the song "Held," which was recorded by Natalie Grant, along with co-writing "Need You Now" and "God Help Me," which were recorded by Plumb. Christa released two of my favorite indie-pop "gourmet" projects of the past decade, How Emptiness Sings (2011) and Feed Your Soul (2013), which both ranked in my top 5 albums of the year. Those albums featured her standout songs "How Emptiness Sings," "Everything Moves but You" and "Shine." After her covers album in 2015, she has returned with a stellar seven song album titled Velveteen.

Opening track "Down Down Low" is an engaging song, with Christa's passionate vocals setting the tone for this exceptional album. The song is an unashamed declaration observing that "everybody wants to talk, nobody wants to listen." Christa hooked me with the lyrics in the bridge "hear the whisper of humility, love will write a sweeter melody," which is essentially the thesis statement of this redemptive, personal and moving album. I had the chance to speak with Christa about "Down Down Low."

Please tell me the personal story behind this song.

I've learned a lot about myself the last few years due to some family crises we've been in. I found it helpful in a practical way to reflect on my own tendencies that were playing into conflict that I had not known about before. In my family upbringing, and in all of my relationships, I tend to be a peacemaker personality. That sounds really pleasant, and comes across that way, but there were none the less a couple of relationships that I couldn't figure out why I was in conflict with these people. 

I'm a gentle person, but what I thought was peacemaking and peaceable often also included prescriptive and passive-aggressive tendencies. I was repressing anger and emotion and withdrawing from relationships. I've been paying attention to that in myself, thinking about when it is time to speak up and when it is time to pull back. What is my motivation? Is it because this is where the Lord wants me right now, or is it because I'm afraid of conflict? 

During the Presidential election season, it really came to the forefront because it was so hard to stay quiet about things when we all have such strong feelings and opinions. It was so much noise that I found it really disturbing. I saw people who are normally friendly with each other who couldn't be in the same room without erupting at each other. These were believers. I didn't see humility or grace or people entering into conversations out of genuine curiosity or openness. We weren't really listening to each other, but we were waiting for our turn to seek confirmation of our existing opinions. I couldn't get away from it. I had friends who took a break from social media during that time, and I didn't want to do that either. In my tendency of being quiet, I just didn't rock the boat. 

We need to strive to find that place in the center where truth meets love, not wimping out when we are speaking truth, or hit people over the head with it or be addicted to our sense of certainty of opinions. They are just our opinions. 

I wanted to become a better listener. At that moment, I was driving home and needed to step away and think about how it is supposed to look. I ended up writing this song. It's a simple song lyrically. I love words, but decided to write the song in a simpler way with less words. 

Which Bible verses connect to the message of the song?

Proverbs 17:27-28 (NKJV): "He who has knowledge spares his words, and a man of understanding is of a calm spirit. Even a fool is counted wise when he holds his peace; when he shuts his lips, he is considered perceptive."

Psalm 19:14 (NKJV): "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, my strength and my Redeemer."
 
Matthew 15:18 (NKJV): "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come from the heart, and they defile a man."
 
James 3:9-10 (NIV): "With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse human beings, who have been made in God's likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers and sisters, this should not be."

Proverbs 25:21 (NIV): "If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; if he is thirsty, give him water to drink."

John 16:33 (NIV): "I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world." 

Ephesians 4:32 (NIV): "Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you."

2 Corinthians 10:2-5 (NIV): "I beg you that when I come I may not have to be as bold as I expect to be toward some people who think that we live by the standards of this world. For though we live in the world; we do not wage war as the world does. The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ."

What is the takeaway message?

There are issues that we have to discuss. We have practical matters that we need to sort out as a national community. It's not about avoiding them or even being silent in those times. But we need to realize that Scripture speaks about humility and the dangers of pride. We are willing to kill each other emotionally and spiritually, and Jesus and Scripture doesn't speak to the things we argue about nearly as much as about the dangers of pride and virtue of humility. Jesus demonstrated humility as God who humbled Himself to become man. The way He acted day to day was also an example of humility, and the way He presented Himself to earth was all about humility. Functionally, we push humility too low on our priority list, and we are way too concerned with what others are doing and saying. That is upsetting, and to see the Church in these moments of visibility, as believers we need to be known by our humility, gentleness and patience. 

On a deep, deep level we need to become more aware of our hidden motives. A lot of our lashing out is fear-based and is not as righteous as we want to believe. We are interested in our ideas being right, and it is terrifying and threatening to learn that we aren't right about something. We don't know what that is going to do our lives and peace of mind. 

A big thing for me is learning to be engaged without being overly attached to my own ideas. I don't need to be fearful of my identity and pride. I'm trying to not withdraw from conflict as much as to enter in and use words if needed, being less fearful of people's opinion of me and looking at God and asking what He wants from me. Jesus didn't say to love other people's ideas, but to love people.

Lyrics:
Sometimes you gotta go dark
Sometimes you gotta be quiet
Sometimes you gotta get far from
The voices that stir up violence

Everybody wants to talk
Nobody wants to listen
Everybody wants to talk
Nobody wants to listen

You gotta get get get
Down down low
You gotta turn turn turn it
Down down low
You gotta take it take it take it
Down down low
You gotta get down low

Sometimes you gotta go first
Sometimes you gotta be sorry
Sometimes you're gonna get hurt and
Go back to where you started

Everybody wants to win
Nobody wants to listen
Everybody wants to win
Nobody wants to listen

You gotta get get get
Down down low
You gotta turn turn turn it
Down down low
You gotta take it take it take it
Down down low
You gotta get down low

Find the voice that speaks in every tongue
Hear the song that writes a thousand more
If we listen well before it's said and done
There'll be a harmony we've never heard before

Hear the whisper of humility, ahh, ahh
Love will write a sweeter melody, ahh, ahh
Love will write a sweeter melody, ahh, ahh


When I first heard this song, I was immediately hooked by the message, knowing that it is connected to the two greatest commandments from Jesus to us: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" and "love your neighbor as yourself." As the hymn sings, "They'll know we are Christians by our love." This song really reminds listeners of the power of words and the need to "tame our tongues" from James 3. The tongue is capable of use for both virtue and vice. The takeaway is that this is not something we can do on our own, and we're not going to always succeed. The song encourages us as believers to "find the voice that speaks in every tongue, hear the song that writes a thousand more, if we listen well before it's said and done, there'll be a harmony we've never heard before."

As a dad of three young girls, my wife and I have tried to raise our daughters to have confidence that they "have been made in God's likeness." We've also urged them to not compromise their values from peer pressure or make fun of other people and create conflict. Jesus commands believers to love others as He loved us, and to show His love by helping people who can't help themselves. That's how we can show God in us to others. Also, look for God in the "least of these." This song connects with the saying by Saint Francis of Assisi: "Preach the Gospel at all times. Use words if necessary."

This is a daily prayer asking God to come and change our hearts and change our lives in such a way that our behavior and the way we live flows from God living inside of us as believers. As Christians, we're called to speak out about injustice. We often mistake staying quiet about issues as turning the other cheek. The truth is that Jesus flipped over the tables in the temple when He saw injustice. In Micah 6:8 (NKJV) we are told, "He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?" The song is so spot-on with its observations of how we live and hurt others with our lack of love. My prayer for this song is that all of us can make these the words we live by.  This song both musically and lyrically, has an empowering message and feel. In our society filled with wars, bullying and a lack of care for others, this anthem is the cry of my heart with the much-needed call to action message for Christians, "hear the whisper of humility, love will write a sweeter melody." 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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