Little white lies on a mirror,
Cut neatly in a row
The medicine that kept me
from lookin’ in my soul
I thought you were the answer
to all of my despair
You almost had me six feet down
but I’m still breathin’ air…
From the cradle to the grave,
temptations all around
But no matter how good the fix,
it’s gonna take you down
Now some call it a weakness,
some call it a sin
But it’s all the same behind each game
I see your evil grin…
But you’re not my god,
And you’re not my friend
You’re not the one that I will walk with in the end
You’re not the truth,
You’re a temporary shot
You ruin people’s lives and you don’t give a second thought
You’re not my god.
– Lyrics (partial) to ‘You’re Not My God’ by David Upton. Written by Keith Urban, Paul Jefferson
Singer David Upton recently sat down to do our interview and immediately pretends to be a rock star diva. He makes the camera man laugh and myself chuckle hard and I know right away that I have a new friend.
He talks about the natural progression to his third record, UnRaveled, and this Christian country rocker who lost his father to a heroin overdose when he was a small child shares how he feels led to deliver his music to everyone seeking help with addictions. Upton told me he wants to focus more on ministry work with his music and on Celebrate Recovery (Christ-centered program), in order to, as the founders say, help those with “hurts, hang-ups, and habits.”
“I’ve been a musician my whole life, but I actually started my musical ministry with Celebrate Recovery,” Upton said. “Ministry and music combined for the very first time on the stage of a Celebrate Recovery meeting. They happened to need a guitar player at the time, and I had been trying so hard to get involved with the music ministry at Saddleback Church (Lake Forest, California), and so the first people that ever called me were from Celebrate Recovery.”
FULL INTERVIEW ON VIDEO BELOW
He plans to share his music with those who admit they need the help from a “Higher Power” in their struggles with addictions and problems. Upton wants to tour the U.S., visiting the thousands of churches and other locations that host Celebrate Recovery.
His first gig with the program at Saddleback Church began “something inside” him.
“I never really understood what Celebrate Recovery was at the time,” Upton shared. “When I walked into that room and we played our music and I started meeting some of the people I realized, wait a minute, there’s something radically different about these people. Interestingly enough, something that I really like about these people. It was just a realness.”
He explained the CR program, that was founded by John Baker and Rick Warren of Saddleback Church as a “new spin on the 12-step recovery program” and as a celebration of the fact that “God really is going to deliver us from our problems.”
Upton added, “It’s this whole concept of a ‘higher power,’ but there really is only one higher power. The higher power is Jesus, period.”
Almost three years ago, he wrote the song ‘Unraveled,’ and he said it set the tone for the direction he wanted to go.
“There’s a lot of songs that talk about what it’s like to be hurting and yearning and wanting more of God, but there were not a lot of things that, to me, as I got to know the Celebrate Recovery world, really actually make sense from their vantage point,” he explained. “So, I had this idea, what if we could sort of build a soundtrack for recovery, for recovery-minded people without sort of caring whether it applied to anyone else?”
An interesting thing happened on the way to producing the “soundtrack for recovery,” Upton said. He enlisted other song writers for the first time in his career.
“We’re ending (creative sessions) in tears and prayers, we’re taking breaks just to talk about everything that’s happened in this particular song writer’s life,” he said. “None of those people were in Celebrate Recovery or a formal recovery group.
“By the time we got done writing this record and interacting with different industry folks, and everything that it took to put this record together, we realized that there really isn’t any difference between all of those people that I love and that I’ve gotten to know walking in and out of Celebrate Recovery meetings or other recovery groups and all the people who aren’t. We’re all the same. The reality is that I don’t think we’ll be able to find one single person that doesn’t have a hurt, and habit, or a hang-up that they’d like to ditch, that’s got too much control over who they are.”
“At the end, we realize it’s not just a soundtrack for recovery, it’s a soundtrack for life, for people willing to recognize what’s real.”