Watch/Listen to “Legendary”:
My family has been extremely supportive since I started this custom songwriting business. In fact, several of my nearest and dearest have even hired me to write a song for their special occasions, the latest being my sister-in-law, Janet. Her son (and my nephew) Alek recently graduated from UNC Charlotte, and she hired me to write a song and create a video in his honor (see above).
The process was a bit hectic. I interviewed Alek’s younger brother (and my other nephew) Aaron, along with Alek’s girlfriend, Kiersten, first. My plan was to meet with Janet if I ended up needing any additional information. She is so busy that it was difficult for us to coordinate a time to meet. But Aaron and Kiersten gave me such useful info that I wrote the song within hours of my interview with them and was convinced it wouldn’t need much, if any, revision after that.
When I met with Aaron and Kiersten, they told me that Alek’s current favorite TV show is How I Met Your Mother, a light-hearted sitcom starring Neil Patrick Harris, who says this line in many episodes: “This is gonna be legend … wait for it … dary.”
Alek has adopted this line for himself, quoting it frequently in the presence of family and friends, and they were hoping that I could frame the song with it. They envisioned the lyrics with the opening line as, “this is gonna be legend…” with “wait for it” thrown into the middle somewhere, and “dary” as the final word. I was hesitant at first, but I decided to go with it.
Hold on to your hat my dear,
Cause what you are about to hear is gonna be legend…
Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…
I’ve known Alek since the year he was born; I was six years old. He is a sensitive person with a big heart. He’s the type of person who knows how to make you feel better when you’re going through tough times. He never hangs up the phone without saying “I love you.” He never leaves a room without giving you a hug and saying bye. When Janet is sad and calls her oldest son, she is sure to receive comforting words like “you’re the greatest mom I could ever ask for.” This knowledge brought the inspiration for the first verse and chorus of the song:
You always seem to know the right things to say
When one of us is sad or having a bad day
But as you go into this next phase of life,
It’s our turn to make you smile.
Oh… how much we love you.
Oh… we’re so proud of you.
We spent a lot of time together when he and Aaron were young. In fact, one summer I was “hired” to babysit them during the week. Of course, babysitting, as defined by me (I was 12 at the time) included sleeping until 2 p.m. and letting them make breakfast for themselves. Aaron told me of all the times Alek would lift him up onto the counter so he could reach the cereal bowls. But there was one story that Aaron told that really stood out to me:
“One day, Alek came home from school – and I’ll never forget this. He said, ‘I want to teach you this game I learned today. It’s called football.’ I said, ‘okay’. Alek took the ball and said, ‘you have to get this ball over here, into the end zone.’ So I took the ball and I threw it into the imaginary ‘end zone’. And Alek said, ‘no, no, no. You have to get yourself AND the ball into the end zone.’ ”
Alek and his brother have always been very competitive when it comes to playing games – so competitive that when they were younger, they would literally throw a fit of tears if they lost to the other person. When Aaron told me the football story, and I recalled their competitive natures, the second verse came almost immediately:
All those times your brother beat you at a game,
You could walk away still knowing that you tried.
And give yourself a high five, cause he never forgot
That it was you who taught him how to play the first time.
Toward the end of the interview, I asked the question, “what does Alek want to be when he grows up?” Kiersten’s reply was that I shouldn’t say anything about that in the song, because he doesn’t know what he wants to do, and it really bothers him. So, of course, I ended up making that the crux of the entire song. But I made sure to do it in such a way that it would be encouraging to him. I wanted the song’s overall message to assure Alek that there is no need for him to worry about his future, because God has it in His hands. The same God who spoke to him about servanthood on a hot summer day years ago – when the last thing he wanted to be doing at the time was helping his grandfather mow the lawn – will be there as he struggles to figure out his future after graduation. All Alek has to do is ask, and God will answer him. And that became the part of the song known as the “bridge”:
You may not have it all figured out – where you’re gonna go from here,
But God knows what your life is all about, and you’ve got nothing to fear.
He speaks to you when it comes to little things, like mowing your neighbor’s grass,
And He’ll be there too, for all your bigger dreams. All you have to do is ask…
And hold on to your hat my dear, cause the answer you will hear is gonna be legend…
Wait for it, wait for it, wait for it…
Wait for the answer and it will come.
Oh, how much He loves you.
Oh, He’s so proud of you.
Imagine being Alek’s mom and receiving the lyrics to this song by e-mail with no music and very little explanation as to what it means. Her reaction taught me a good lesson about responding to criticism, especially within a business/client relationship. Basically, she wasn’t quite as thrilled with it as I was when I wrote it. She said that so far it was a great song from brother and girlfriend, but she envisioned more of a “mom-and-dad” gift that would bring him to tears. So, we ended up meeting after all, and she told me about the day Alek turned 9, and how she cried because she said that her time with him was already halfway gone if he moved out when he turned 18, and how his dad said that no matter how old he got, he’d always be their little “nookems.” With that, I added one more verse to the song:
Mama cried the day that you turned 9,
‘Cause she said her time with you was halfway over;
But Daddy said, ‘He’ll always be that little boy to me,
Even though he will continue to grow older.’
Congratulations, Alek, on your college graduation. We love you so much, and are so proud of the man you have become.
And the life you’re gonna lead… we all know it’s gonna be… Legendary.