NRT Contributor Kevin Davis speaks with Duncan Phillips about the meaning behind their debut hit single, "Born Again," from their latest album, in stores today!
Combine the strengths of two super groups that have sold millions of records, achieved an astounding number of #1 radio hits and received numerous Dove Awards. The result? A reborn newsboys. Now that longtime members Jody Davis (guitar), keyboardist Jeff Frankenstein and drummer Duncan Phillips have welcomed the vocal strengths, writing talents and boundless energy of former dc Talk member Michael Tait to the band, this is clearly a good reason to feel born again and in fact, share some new songs.
This week, newsboys are more eager than ever to release their 15th studio project, aptly titled Born Again.
Already a live highlight at their concerts, “Born Again” is where newsboys truly become a band renewed, and they collectively view the song as representative of everything the band has gone through this past year.
“We’ve all believed in lies at some point,” Tait says, emoting his testimony. “I had some prodigal years in the past, but I hope the song encourages others to make the same decision I did: I’m giving Him the best of everything that’s left of the life inside this man / I’ve been born again."
"Born Again" is also the project’s first music video, and the perfect match to share footage of newsboys building houses in Mexico’s poverty stricken Baja Peninsula.
I got the opportunity to interview Duncan Phillips about "Born Again." You can listen to our entire interview here.
Please tell me the background in writing the song “Born Again.”
There are two distinct meanings regarding the message of the song. One is about being “born again” as Christians and the other is about being “born again” as the band, newsboys. When my friend of over 30 years, former lead singer Peter Furler, announced he was leaving newsboys, we all had a natural period of surprise and concern. We decided we could make one of two decisions: quit, or call up Michael Tait, the amazing singer from dc Talk, and keep going. Naturally, it took us about 20 seconds to decide to call Michael. If you were a fan of dc Talk, you probably also followed newsboys back in the 1990’s. As a band, we actually have to audition for our jobs with each new album. If you keep making the same record, you are actually going backwards. Michael could sing the phone book and people would probably buy the recording. Over the years, we’ve had over 20 #1 hit songs, but we are “reborn” as whole new band. Once we made the announcement last year that Michael was our new lead singer, the band and our fans began to relish the positives and possibilities of this fresh start. This song is all about that fresh start.
Did you base the song on any Bible verses?
John 3:1-8: There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
What's the take-away message for listeners?
Because we’ve been saved by Jesus who died for our sins, we need to give God our best. As the chorus says, “I’m giving Him the best of everything that’s left of the life inside this man / I’ve been born again. As Christians, we all need to be “born again” in Christ. I don’t ever want to be the Christian version of something else. I want to be better than everything else that’s out there. Since Jesus saved our souls, He deserves the best we have to give Him. The faithfulness that Jesus has shown me blows me away. I owe it to God to give Him my best.
That’s our message to everyone who hears this song, that we want to celebrate what God means to us in our lives. That’s also the message of the music video where we are helping build houses in Mexico’s poverty stricken Baja Peninsula. We have neighbors 20 miles across the border from the United States living in absolute squalor. When we drop the keys into the hands of a family to give them a house to live in, it is an amazing feeling. We are more blessed than those families. Everyone who calls themselves a Christian should take a trip to a third world country, and it will bless your socks off.
I found myself looking into the mirror
Knew I wasn’t who I wanted to be
I was living like the way that I wanted
But my eyes reminded me I'm not free.
Believed that I saw everything that I know
Says I got to go, tired of going solo
But I'm never gonna go there again.
Chorus: This is what it is
This is who I am
This is where I finally take my stand
I didn’t want to fall
But I don't have to crawl
I met the One with two scarred hands
Giving him the best of everything that’s left of
The life inside this man
I've been Born Again
I see you walking like your living in fear
Having trouble even looking at me
Wishin’ they would give you more than words
Sick of people telling how it should be (how it should be)
What’s your download, where'd you get your info, you saw that I'm show now your in the in load
Gonna tell you what I believe
We are the ones they call by name
(I'm never gonna look back)
Let go let go the guilt the shame
(Said I'm never gonna look back)
This is who I am
According to Matthew Henry’s commentary on John Chapter 3, “Birth is the beginning of life; to be born again, is to begin to live anew. We must be entirely different from what we were before, as that which begins to be at any time, is not, and cannot be the same with that which was before. This new birth is from heaven and its tendency is to heaven. It is a great change made in the heart of a sinner, by the power of the Holy Spirit. It means that something is done in us, and for us, which we cannot do for ourselves.”
For Nicodemus, the concept of not being part of God’s kingdom unless he was personally “born again” was a revolutionary idea. In today’s secular culture, it is radical for people to accept that the entrance requirements for heaven are repentance and spiritual rebirth. This song, “Born Again,” challenges me to live for Jesus. God is looking for spiritual growth from His followers. Are you allowing God to help you grow spiritually? Are you “giving Him the best of” yourself?
Kevin Davis is a long time fan of Christian music, an avid music collector and credits the message of Christian music for leading him to Christ. Kevin also writes reviews for ChristianMusicReview.org. He currently lives in Pennsylvania with his wife and three daughters.
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