in 1978, I boarded a plane from Bismarck North Dakota that was headed for Los Angeles, California. I was to begin my new job as Director of Publishing for the fledgling record company, Sparrow Records, which is now Capitol Christian Music Group. Pam would drive out to California with Sarah a month later.
Billy Ray Hearn was Sparrow’s founder, and he would school me in the realities of the record business. This all was a huge learning curve for me. Within that two year stint at Sparrow, I learned that I had a tremendous affection for songs and songwriters, but did not have the processing abilities to deal with the intricacies of a record company. It was then that I knew for sure that I was a hopeless creative.
Coming to grips with who I was in the creative world, moving from North Dakota to the wilds of California and trying to reassure Pam that everything was going to be OK in this topsy-turvy environment was unsettling to say the least. My greatest aim was to make sure that what I was doing what was pleasing to God and that my wife would be at peace in this transition. She is my rock on this earth.
It was at this time I became aware of a song entitled, “Garden Song”. This David Mallett song was recorded by Noel Paul Stookey, who was of course, the Paul, from “Peter Paul and Mary”. Paul had recorded the album, “Real To Reel” for Sparrow and visited our offices from time to time. I so enjoyed him because of his brilliance not only as an artist and asongwriter, but as a thinker and caretaker for the contemporary social issues of the day.
“Garden Somg” helped me make sense of everything spinning around me. It was a message of simple active faith. By evangelical sensibilities, this was no gospel song to be sure, but it was talking to me. The message was to take quiet steps, and be patient with life in all of its careening uncertainty. But most of all, to give myself the grace to enjoy watching God do what only He can do.
That song brought great solace back then. It brings me great peace in these present times as well.
Inch by inch, row by row
Gonna make this garden grow
All it takes is a rake and a hoe
And a piece of fertile ground
Inch by inch, row by row
Someone bless these seeds I sow
Someone warm them from below
Till the rain comes tumbling down
Pulling weeds and picking stones
Man is made of dreams and bones
Feel the need to grow my own
Cause the time is close at hand
Painful rain, sun and rain
Find my way in nature’s chain
Tune my body and my brain
To the music from the land
Plant your rows straight and long
Temper them with prayer and song
Mother Earth will make you strong
If you give her love and care
Old crow watching hungrily
From his perch in yonder tree
In my garden I’m as free
As that feathered thief up there
Songwriter: David Mallett
Garden Song lyrics © Reservoir Media Management