The Making Of... "Have Mercy" Video Session

Let's go behind the scenes of making the "Have Mercy" video in photo essay form...Ready? 

Why would you do a video shoot/painting session without a solid spread of food & drink? Hint: There's no good answer to that question.

We filmed at my apartment where I love to make a peaceful, comfortable space for people where creativity can flourish, vulnerability is natural, and fun is easily found. These things seemed extra important for such a night as this, so I got excited and kind of went all out.

Sidenote: "Have Mercy" was written in the apartment and appropriately shot here as well.

Britney Winn Lee hard at work on the watercolors. She's my first call for watercolor work, but I guess her primary creative medium is words. Read some of the gems at britneywinnlee.com.

She picked a good one to tie the knot with a couple years ago. Luke Lee of Fusiform Design Workshop is an amazingly talented and generous friend who skillfully shot and edited the whole "Have Mercy" video.

A huge thank you to Luke and Britney for their time and efforts. I'm happy to share this video with you all and look forward to more of all this in the near future! Thanks for reading/watching/listening/caring...

sd.

The Mercy Tapes (EP)...available now!

I released a new EP this week! You can download "The Mercy Tapes" by using the buttons below:

Album art, Watercolor by Britney Winn Lee

Album art, Watercolor by Britney Winn Lee

In compiling a larger group of songs, I realized a pattern forming in this small handful that carry themes of mercy & making. So I got to thinking about how the songs might fit together and then got to work. What you hear in this project is the product of that process.

In Hebrew, the word for mercy is actually the same word as womb with different vowel points. In light of that, I’ve heard mercy defined as “womb-like mother love” or the willingness and capacity to give oneself over entirely for the sake of another. I’ve found that any encounter with mercy seems to be generative of some creative act–either it making something of the stuff of our experience or moving us to make in response to it (or more often some combination of the two). This connection in mercy’s etymology to the word womb seems to characterize that nurturing, creative aspect of it that I’ve intuited. And that’s exciting to me.

An acoustic performance of "Have Mercy," track #2 on The Mercy Tapes... (Video by Luke Lee)

So these songs explore what mercy makes of us, what it makes of time, and how it can restore what we have made of things when we haven't done the best job. And they are something(s) I've made in response to encounters with great mercy.

As for the title, "The Mercy Tapes"... it is a riff off an author whose work I read gratefully. Dr. Brene Brown talks about the "shame tapes" that play in our heads that say things like "You'll never be good enough," or on an occasion in which we might start to believe we could be, "Who do you think you are?!" I'm well acquainted with these tapes, as it seems many of us are. The shame that speaks these lies isolates us. Shame erodes our humanity & sense of worth; it breaks us apart when we're meant to do this together. Another way I've heard mercy defined is a "generous connectedness to the other." My hope is that rather than those all-too-familiar, all-too-divisive shame tapes we might have different words on repeat in our minds–words that remind us who we are and that we belong to each other and that move us to connect generously. Maybe those words would more appropriately be called "mercy tapes.” I don’t claim that the words found in these songs would function as those tapes for all of us, but they are words that I have pieced together in my journey from shame to mercy, from hidden to known, and from alone to together. And I hope they can be valuable to you in yours.

So, “may mercy make much of us as only mercy can"...time and time again,

-sd.

P.s. Lyrics and credits can be viewed below. (A PDF download of these files is included with your Noisetrade download...)

Influences: Sandra McCracken & Jordan Brooke Hamlin

I appreciate when other artists give us glimpses into the influences that undergird the work they're making, so I've decided to periodically offer you those glimpses of the things that comprise my creative process. Hope it's interesting or helpful to you in some way!

I can't deny the immense influence Sandra McCracken has had on my music and my development as an artist––and as a person for that matter. For almost 10 years now, I've followed her career closely and have gleaned wisdom, solace, challenge, and courage at each turn. I'm indebted and surely grateful to Sandra for all she's shared with us. Now in her mid-late 30s, Sandra is only making better and better work, and that is such a sign of hope to me as I go forward into the next decade of art-making and sharing. In fact, I thought just the other day that I have no idea how she'll top her last record, "Desire Like Dynamite," but the momentum would suggest that she will, and I can't wait to hear whatever form the next record takes.

Sandra is a calm, gentle presence (I've had the slightly-intimidating privilege of meeting her) with a subtle strength and energy that seems to pulse under the surface and come forth so clearly in the depth and richness of her songs. I appreciate the honesty and innovation that she's been brave enough to bring to the table. It's a gift to all of us who get to receive it. If you haven't heard Sandra's work, or if you have and are ready for more, check out the video above! I found it recently on Vimeo, and it's a high-quality, 25-minute concert documentary complete with live song performances and brief interviews in between.

Jordan Brooke Hamlin backs Sandra in the video. Jordan has also been a huge influence of mine, as she not only produces records and plays auxiliary instruments/vocals with numerous artists, but also does visual art & graphic design for album covers and other projects. Charting her growth as a successful multimedia artist has been quite empowering to me. I'd love to meet her and pick her brain someday.

In addition to the music, Sandra does some writing for the Art House America blog. Check out her latest piece here. Sandra's artist bio on the blog reads as follows:

Sandra McCracken is a singer, songwriter, and producer from Nashville, TN. Over the course of eight critically acclaimed studio albums, Sandra has developed a body of work that encompasses hook-driven melodic pop, No Depression-style Americana, contemporary recastings of classic hymns, and even children’s music as part of the Nashville alt-folk super-group Rain For Roots. Her music has been featured on ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy; her 2013 solo record, Desire Like Dynamite, charted as one of Billboard’s Top 50 Heatseekers; and she is currently at work on a new album for 2014.
— Art House America Blog

Sandra is also a part of A Rocha international's work in Nashville––a community seeking to integrate faith, creation care and hospitality.

Thanks for reading! (And hopefully for listening/watching the video;)

sd.