Sandi: (to listeners) Good afternoon! This is Sandi Brown continuing our coverage of GMA, live in Nashville, and our guest for the next couple of minutes is Rich Mullins.
Sandi: (to Rich) Rich, thanks for taking some time out for us!
Rich: Hey, I'd rather take time out for you than anyone I can think of right now.
Sandi: Well, thanks Rich, you're too kind! You were talking about how it's a rough week - we were conversing about who's more tired. We'll try and keep each other awake, okay?
Rich: Well, I think part of that is, you know how your dad would always come home tired, and so then you started thinking that being "tired" was the equivalent of being "useful"? (both laugh) So, sometimes I think, I pretend like I'm really, really tired so that I'll feel like I was useful - and I'm just not "useful" as much as I'm just "tired".
Sandi: (laughs) It's a rough week though! There's no doubt about it.
Sandi: There's a lot happening for artists. Give us a summary of what it's been like for you, or still what's to come.
Rich: Well, I have had interviews starting about ten o'clock every morning, and it goes through to about 7:30 in the evening. And then everyone goes to the Spectacular, which I've been skipping, (Sandi laughs) just 'cause I hear music all the time, you know?
Sandi: Yeah. Now, you were involved in one of the showcases, the Artists' showcases?
Rich: Yeah, New Artist. Which was really... you know, I really believe that if we're gonna keep any kind of vitality in Christian music it will be because people will be willing to listen to new artists... people will be willing to... give people an ear. You know? And I think, "Wow, let's get this going. Let's help people out."
Sandi: It's not been that long ago that "Rich Mullins" was a new name in Christian music, really. When did the first album come out? What, four?
Rich: I think about four years ago. Four. Or five years, maybe?
Sandi: There are some honest songs on there. You know, you've been termed now, and quite appropriately so, one of the greatest poets of our day, maybe!
Rich: (laughing)Yeah, that seems very funny to me.
Sandi: (laughing now) But you obviously know... I mean, all facades aside, you obviously know you are a talented songwriter.
Sandi: So what do you think about? When you sit down, do you think, "I'm gonna write a song now"? Or are they births from ideas that then result in songs? Or... how does songwriting come about for you?
Rich: Well, for me, I try to write, you know, I try to write maybe a couple songs a week.
Rich: Most of those get thrown away because they're no good. But I write a page of journal about every night. And you just write. If you're a writer, you write. You know, just like if you're a carpenter, you would drive nails. So, I'm a big believer that... it's kinda like... there's an old story about this man who walked into a... there's a real famous artist, and this guy said, "I need a picture of a rooster." And so the artist said, "Okay, well, I'll work on it. Come back in a month." And he came back in a month, and he wasn't done. And he said, "Well, I'll need it in a couple weeks." So he came back in a couple weeks, and he still wasn't done. He said, "Well, I'll come back in three days." So he came back in three days, and he still wasn't done. And he said, "Well, man, I've gotta have it now!" And so the artist just whipped right away, just whipped up this INCREDIBLE picture of a rooster. And the guy said, "That took you ten minutes to do. Why didn't you do it before?" And he said, "Well, look over in that trash can. It's full of roosters."
"You know I've been drawing and drawing and drawing. And this is what you get." You know? And you just write, and you write, and you write. And some things you write are not gonna be very good. Some things you write are gonna be very good. The ones that, generally, I feel real good about, are songs that do feel a little more inspired than just, you know, "Well it's time to sit down and write now."
There's songs that come out of a... I guess I write a lot out of my own experience... when you read something and it really knocks you upside the head or you see a movie or you hear a sermon or you talk to an old friend on the phone.
Sandi: I was going to ask you about that. How much of what we hear on your albums are really 'of you' or really 'of inspired?' You know, I was talking to Michael Card yesterday or the day before; and he was saying that he really enjoys sometimes going back and just listening to his music because then he realizes just how much it's 'not of him.' Do you ever come up with that?
Rich: I feel like my mine is pretty much 'of me.' (Sandi laughs) Um, I...
Sandi (interrupting): What role, then, does God play in that, though? I mean, obviously you're giving Him credit, still?
Rich: Right. The same role that He played when He gave carpenters arms. That man, part of our identity is our work. That God created man, which makes man a spiritual being. That God gave man work to do, which makes man a working being, a creative being... and God gave man sexuality. One third of our identity, as we can understand it from the first chapter of Genesis, is that we work. And so, I think God created me with the need to work, He created me with talent to work with. And so I offer the very best that I can come up with, up to God. And I think He gets a big jar out of it. Not 'cause it's great, but because I'm His kid. And He goes, "Wow, look! He's working! He's doing what I created him to do!"
Sandi: That's a neat. I've never heard that explanation of it before. But that's real neat.
I'll never forget something you said, Rich, one time when you were in St. Louis, about your songwriting, and about the fact that some of it... you talk about how you write all these songs, some of it's good, some of it's not. Some of it's appropriate to share with the Body of Christ, some of it isn't. I'll never forget that. That there are some songs that you mentioned - maybe you want to expand on that again today - that you would just never think of putting on a Christian album or one of your albums.
Sandi: Why? Or, reiterate that.
Rich: Well, because I figure, on an album, you've got about ten shots at saying something to somebody. And so I think, I look at the songs that I've written, and I say, "If I only had ten things that I could say to my audience, would this be one of those ten things?" And there are a lot of songs I go, "No, this is a neat song" or "This is a song that's really meaningful to me," but if I could only say ten things, this wouldn't be one of 'em.
Rich: Well, I think that's the whole... the whole book of Job is about a man who suffered. And I think it's very interesting that Job endured all that suffering and did not complain - that the only thing that drove Job over the brink was the consolation of his friends.
Sandi: 'Friends', right.
Rich: And then he went to God and wanted to know why the righteous suffer. And Beuchner points out, God never gave him an answer. That God merely gave him Himself. And when Job had encountered the Almighty, the questions lost their power over him. And I think that a lot of us are real interested in some easy answers, and some "Wow, if I can, if we can come up with some kind of an easy answer to make life comfortable..." We're much more interested in answers than we are in the Truth. And the Truth is always going to be a mystery. It will always be a paradox. It will always be a little beyond our grasp. And if we're uncomfortable with that, that's okay, because a little bit of discomfort will keep us moving. (humble laugh)
Sandi: Yeah, I'm glad sometimes that He doesn't give me an easy answer; but just that He does, as you've pointed out, give me Himself...
Sandi: Rich, they're saying you've got to go. You've got some other responsibilities and things to do.
Rich: Yeah, what a drag! Responsibility, ooooh, who can handle it?
Sandi: But, we just want to say... you know, you and I were talking before we turned the mic back on - St. Louis loves you. And I don't say that lightly. We've really embraced you. You've come there quite a few times in the last couple of years. You're always welcome. We hope to see you sometime this year.
Rich: Well, I love comin'. And you know what? I just want to say you guys in St. Louis, you are very fortunate to have WCBW there. And you guys have been great to me. And I hope we can keep workin' together a lot.
Sandi: Absolutely! Rich, I know you've got to run. We'll let you run out the door. Leslie with Reunion, thanks for bringing him by. Again, we wish you the best. I'll shake your hand while you head out the door.
Sandi: Thanks, Rich, we appreciate it.
Rich: Yeah, too bad this isn't on video. (He laughs, then Sandi laughs. Sounds like a hug instead of a handshake.)
Sandi: (to Rich) There you go. (They laugh again.)
Sandi: (to listeners) Rich Mullins, one of our guests here for GMA Live. We're gonna take care of some business and then we're gonna hear the song, "Awesome God", which is nominated for Song of the Year. Stay tuned, GMA Live, brought to you by The Christian Bookstore in Fairview Heights, on 104.9 WCBW.
Interview transcibed by Robin Woodson,
used with permission from
A Tribute to the music
and message of Rich Mullins