Singer in the King's Service

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Audio excerpt: First chorus
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Lyrics & notes

3 Feb 1978

I haven't got no four-piece band
to accompany me across the land
I ain't no comedian
at times I'm hard to understand
I'm not gonna fool you, I'm no hockey player
and I sure ain't no big word sayer
I'm just from the run of the mill
I'm just an ordinary old taxpayer, but

I'm a singer in the King's service
I'm just gonna say what I know
I didn't come here to put on a show—no!
I'm a singer in the King's service
I've just got to sing what I've heard
the King is coming back to this world

I ain't got no limousine
to shuttle me from scene to scene
I don't dine on fine cuisine
what I am is what I seem
well, I may be just a plain and simple man
but I'm included in God's plan
and I will go wherever He leads me
you can come along
won't you give me your hand?

I'm a singer in the King's service
I'm just gonna say what I know
I didn't come here to put on a show—no!
I'm a singer in the King's service
I've just got to sing what I've found
Jesus is the best love in town

and I've got my dreams
yes, I've got some dreams
they're in between the lines
they're hiding in the rhymes

℗ © Love's Music 1979, assigned to Creative Measures (ASCAP)

1979 Notes:

This is a song about who I am, and who I am not.

A while back I was singing at a family camp and just before the concert began, a toe-headed little boy walked up to me and demanded, "Are you somebody famous?" He had caught me a little off guard and all I could manage for a reply was, "No...no, I'm not really very famous." Whereupon he looked me squarely in the eye and announced, "Then I'm not gonna listen to you."

Reminds me of one of my favorite Joni Mitchell songs, "Real Good for Free." One of the stanzas goes:

"Nobody stopped to hear him
though he played so sweet and high
They knew he'd never been on their T.V.
so they passed his good music by."

Really, though, sometimes I get so bombarded with what people think I am and expect me to be that I forget who I really am. I want to stand up and shout, "Look at me—I'm human! I've got flesh and blood. I've got some of the same problems you do, the same hang-ups, the same joys, the same dreams—and a few of my own, too."

Saw a Carole King concert a few years ago and was a little awed by the whole thing. Ever since then, it's been a dream of mine that someday I'd do a concert tour with a band—complete with lighting, sound equipment and the whole works. But for now, it's just me and my piano.

2007 Notes:

Still no four-piece band. Although I did have a shot at 55 members of the Royal Philharmonic when we recorded Hinds' Feet! (They declined to do a tour, however. Ha-ha.)

Reading over the original notes now, I start to smile a little at all my protestations. I think I overdid the humble thing a little. Not that I wasn't, but then there is that spotlight thing. I don't think I was quite as good at self-deprecation as it sometimes seemed. If any of you have seen the excellent movie, Shadowlands, about part of C. S. Lewis' life, you may remember the time when Joy challenges Jack at their first meeting (something she did often afterward). He is uncomfortable with Joy's rather conspicuous method of finding him in a crowded room and says, "I'm not what you'd call a public figure, Mrs. Gresham." To which she replies, "Oh, you're not? You mean you write all those books and give all those talks and everything just so everyone will leave you alone?" He had been found out, and I can relate to that awkward moment.

These days, though, I receive a lot fewer awe-struck looks than I used to. There are a lot fewer performances; a few more gray hairs, and quite a few extra pounds. Time has conspired, it seems, to teach me what it's like to be truly ordinary. But you know what? There's a real peace in being ordinary. You can make a lot of friends there, too. And, it turns out, there are some things you can learn there that you can't learn anywhere else.

And then there's the bridge. That cryptic, yet not-so-cryptic, lyric. Sort of like the bridge on "I Just Wanna Talk About Jesus," on Freed. And with good reason. I was trying to say the same thing. The "things aren't quite as simple as they seem" message. Yes, we are to be singers and tellers in the King's service, but we are human, too. It is multi-dimensional human beings God sends on this mission. And the more we are what we are, the more God can be seen for who He is. "We have this treasure in earthen vessels."