Tim Menzies Offers Exclusive Stories & Insights into His New Record "He Reminds Me"
He Reminds Me, the highly anticipated third Christian recording from GRAMMY®-nominated singer/songwriter and guitar virtuoso Tim Menzies, is set to bow March 3 (New Day Christian Distributors). Showcasing a dozen selections all penned or co-penned by Menzies---one of Nashville's most prolific songwriters---He Reminds Me was produced by Ben Isaacs (The Isaacs, The Oak Ridge Boys) and features collaborations with some of bluegrass and Gospel music's leading names.
Among the album's standout tracks is "The Church," a tender ballad honoring the eternal impact of a humble country congregation. With vocal contributions from The Isaacs' Ben Isaacs and multi-GRAMMY®, CMA and ACM Award-winning artist Ricky Skaggs, the song holds a deeply personal meaning for Menzies.
For more than four decades, Tim Menzies has written, recorded and performed with some of the biggest names in music. As a songwriter, his compositions have been recorded by George Jones, Tammy Wynette, Kenny Rogers, Reba McEntire, Trisha Yearwood, Randy Travis, Patty Loveless, Toby Keith, Shenandoah, Martina McBride and Trace Adkins, among others. He has been a sought-after session musician, having played guitar on recordings by Kenny Rogers, Tammy Wynette, Waylon Jennings and Willie Nelson, to name a few.
Q: Tim, thank you for doing this interview with us. Having had such a successful career in writing hit records for Reba McEntire, Mark Chesnutt, Doug Stone, and so many others, is it difficult to transition to writing Christian music?
Thank you for this invitation, and for including me in your ministry.
The transition to writing Christian music started decades ago. I was saved in 1991, which began the process of my writing becoming increasingly influenced by my love for the Holy Scriptures. By the time the Lord called me into full time ministry in 2013, the prospect of only writing Christian songs was creatively invigorating.
Q: Your previous album garnered you a Grammy nomination. Congratulations, does that give you added pressure in making your new album.
I think if I were younger and less familiar with the paths of God, I probably would feel some self-imposed pressure. At this point in my journey, I know the Grammy nomination was a gift from our Heavenly Father. As such, that gift has not created a future expectation. That being said, I would love for the new album to be welcomed and nominated, but that desire did not influence the spiritual and creative process of making "He Reminds Me."
Q: I was listening to an advance digital copy of your album and I love the stories you tell in your songs. Is the story behind "The Church" autobiographical? How is the church important in your life now?
I have always been attracted to stories, and I love creating images with language and melodies.
I grew up in my family's band playing country music in bars, and I do not recommend that by the way. My wife grew up in the Church. Her great, great grandfather helped build the country church where he is now awaiting the resurrection, "first headstone on the right." So "The Church" is my wife's story.
The Church, the Body of Christ, is fundamentally important to me, my wife, and our adult son. The second verse of "The Church" is part of my story: "I gave my heart to Jesus, learned The Word, and how to pray" in the Church. As I studied the Holy Scriptures and came to understand that God created the earthly Church to populate the Heavenly Church, the Bride of our Groom Jesus, I increasingly experience Church as a glimpse of our future Heavenly gathering.
Q: I love "I Dropped My Keys" -- it's such a powerful song. For our readers who have not heard, briefly tell us what the song is about. How did this song come about for you?
Thank you, I always love hearing that a song entrusted to me touched someone.
Proverbs 20:24 teaches us, "A man's steps are directed by the Lord. How then can anyone understand his own way?" In, "I Dropped My Keys," the singer thought dropping his keys while hurrying off to work was making him late. As the song unfolds, he spilled his coffee, got behind a slow-moving tractor on the road, and became increasingly anxious about falling behind schedule. Eventually, he sees a little boy chasing a puppy, running towards the street; the singer pulls over and stops the boy from running into the road. As soon as the singer sat the boy on the hood of his car, an eighteen-wheeler came barreling down the road right where the boy would have been. Then the singer understood, our omnipresent God had a divine schedule that morning, and the singer was right on time. "A man's steps are directed by the Lord..."
"I Dropped My Keys" was written about 20 years ago, when I was still writing country songs for a living. This is one of those songs heavily influenced by God's Word renewing my mind. (Romans 12:2)
Q: "Say Something" deeply moved me. Tell us more about how this song came about.
"Say Something" was written 23 years ago. Sonya Isaacs and I met and started writing together in the late 1990s, and around 2010 we wrote "Say Something." We were talking about the Christian experience of undoubtably knowing God the Creator is always present, but then having those times when you desperately want to hear from Him, and He is seemingly silent. David expressed this feeling many times in the Psalms. Through the struggle of praying, trusting, and waiting for God to speak, our faith becomes stronger, more reliable. The song ends with the singer still not having heard from the Lord, but through faith, vowing to wait for God to "Say Something." We read in Micah 7:7, "But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me."
A little side note: I had planned on recording "Say Something" on my second album, but we were blessed by Bradley Walker recording his beautiful version, resulting in my waiting until this current album. "A man's steps are directed by the Lord..."
Q: You have specifically chosen guests vocalists to sing with you on this record. Who are some of those who sang on this new record?
Ben Isaacs has produced all three of my Gospel albums. Ben, Becky, and Sonya blessed us by singing on several songs on this album. The Isaacs are some of the best singers in the world, and I am eternally grateful whenever they sing with me.
Ricky Skaggs and I have known each other for many years. Ricky has always been one of my favorite artists, and he was raised in the Church, so he was perfect, along with Ben, to sing on "The Church." I am so thankful Ricky said "yes." He is a committed Disciple of Jesus Christ.
Rebecca Lynn Howard is a gifted singer who blessed us on "River Of Sin." Rebecca makes her difficult harmony sound easy, but that's her gift.
My wife Brenda also blessed us on three songs. We have been married for 40 years, so we have been singing together through many stylistic changes. Brenda and Ben blend beautiful above my vocal, and I am thankful she shared her beautiful voice with us.
Rhonda Vincent and Dan Tyminski, known around the world for their bluegrass achievements, blessed us on "Sanding Off The Edges." I love Rhonda and Dan's vocals in any format, singing the melody or harmony.
Jason Crabb of course is one of the best known vocalist in Gospel music, but Jason can also sing in any format. He is a world class singer. I wrote "One More Reason" his father, the legendary Gerald Crabb, so this is a special component of the album.
Q: I believe your wife Brenda also sang backing vocals. Tell us more about her and how she got involved in the album.
Brenda and I met in March of 1980 in our native state of Virginia. My brother was playing drums in Brenda's band, one night I went to see him, and met her...of course my priorities immediately changed. We have been singing together ever since. A highlight of my life is the time Brenda, Ben Isaacs and I sang the old Ralph Stanley song, "The Darkest Hour Is Just Before Dawn," in the Garden of Gethsemane.
Q: How do you hope these new songs will impact the lives of your listeners?
My ultimate goal in writing, singing, and recording is to glorify our Heavenly Father, and point the listener to Jesus Christ. My prayer is that the hearts of non-believers would be softened, and believers' hearts would be reminded of the words and actions of our Lord Jesus. John 14:26 says, "But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My Name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you." This verse inspired the title song of our new album, "He Reminds Me."
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