CCM: That helps us out a lot!
MM: Yeah [laughs]. Now, it’s like every artist has to be a professor, a salesman, and a marketing guy—it’s just dangerous! Yeah, …The record, it’s responding to human suffering of every kind. I think it’s doing so in a way that’s trying to reflect things that I’ve heard—not necessarily things that I’ve primarily thought for the first time, and it’s all stuff that I’ve heard growing up, or being thrown in my face. There’s a really fancy word called “catechesis,” which basically means, “passing-on the faith.” And I think the point of the title is that: How do we pass-on things that are worth holding onto? And, in particular, this album is sort-of using the context of suffering as the antagonist, in a way.
CCM: Take us through the creation of “Picket Signs,” and was there an “a-ha” moment that formed the cover art?
MM: That goes back a long ways, to before I made Saints & Sinners. I actually wanted to make a record called “Prophets And Protesters,” and in some ways to coincide with the 500-year anniversary of the Reformation—lots of people talked me out of that.
You know, the word protest comes from the Latin word “protestari,” which literally means, “to testify.” So at some point, to protest something meant to testify to something. And then it more and more became associated with an objection of things. So it was more defined by the things you were standing against than so much things you were standing up for.
So, the death of my father kind-of made me stop and look at the songs that I had. I had just written a batch of these songs and a bunch of them were inspired by him. And when I dug a little deeper into these songs like “What A Friend We Have in Jesus,”…that hymn, right? It was written by Joseph Scriven to comfort his mother who was terribly ill. All of this in between falling in love, being engaged, and then his first fiancee fell off a horse and died. And his second one had pneumonia and died…but was basically known in his town as a guy who would help you no matter what was going on.
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