Waterdeep Song

One of my favourite unknown bands of all-time is Waterdeep. They were known amongst youth and young adult Christians in Memphis, where I grew up. They would play every few months at the famous 704B and then over at The Chi. So I was drawn to not only love their music, but them as people.

Last night, my wife and I, as well as our friend, Ben Webb, played a little acoustic show at Nerocafe in Hoeilaart-Brussels.

One song we played was Waterdeep’s 18 Bullet Holes. With Waterdeep being one of my favourite unknown bands, this is one of my favourite unknown songs. Don and Lori Chaffer are great poetic song-writers. And as such, I think this song below captures the essence of almost 2 decades of songwriting. I have also added a video so that you can listen to and catch the feel of the whole song.

18 Bullet Holes
Eighteen bullet holes in the body of a priest.
They say he was eating a hotdog when the ammunition was released.
They said he was always fat and lazy, but he was an awfully nice guy.
Just one more death to show you, you never know when you’re gonna die.
You might be facing the beast.

Well sometimes God I feel like I’m living in a bone-grinding mill.
And every time I hear the sound I can barely stand still.
It’s a thing I can’t quite make out sometimes, but it keeps on getting louder.
One more body from the valley of the dry bones,
Getting ground up into powder against Your Holy will.

But Oh God it hurts so bad to love anybody down here.
Why don’t you come and help me out ’cause I can’t even see clear.

The funny thing about a way a girl get’s destroyed,
about the way that deal goes down.
Is that everybody pretty much sees it coming
from the system from all the way across town.
Yeah, she isn’t always blinded. She isn’t always far astray.
She just might not be thinking. She might be having a bad day.
When you choose you choose. And when you drown, you drown.

But oh God it hurts so bad to love anybody down here.
Why don’t you come and help me out ’cause I can’t even see clear.

Last night I dreamed that You swallowed me into Yourself
and I was floating on the sea inside.
And when I landed on the shore I saw all these people that I thought had died.
I hadn’t seen some of them for ages, they had left without a single word.
And when I said something to them, not a single one of them heard.
They were all staring right through everything, like it wasn’t even there.
Some were full of anger, and some were full of fear.
And then I recognized that something very sad,
But very beautiful was happening right here.
We were all caught outside standing alone in a very heavy rain.
And when a raindrop landed on my tongue I didn’t need you to explain,
These were Your tears.

But Oh God it hurts so bad to love anybody down here.
Why don’t you come and help me out ’cause I can’t even see clear.
Oh God it hurts so bad to love anybody down here.
But oh, that’s right, You know so well…
One thorny crown, three nails and a spear.
One thorny crown, three nails and a spear.

Ode to Don Chaffer and Waterdeep

As I reported last week, I am on holiday (vacation) in the States, mainly coming over for my sister’s wedding. Tonight, my wife and I are off to the UK for a few days before landing back in our beloved Belgium. It has been a great delight to be with family and friends for these nine days in Memphis.

My sister’s wedding was absolutely a wonderful day, though she did have somewhat of a fever on her wedding day, was taken to the emergency room for a shot of antibiotics with her and her husband missing their flight for the honeymoon. Nevertheless, the day was a great success and they would tell you that oversleeping their 4.00am cab ride to the airport was actually a blessing. And, in the end, they were able to head out to Jamaica two days later.

It was also good to see all that God was doing with Lifelink church and Visible School, and He is definitely doing great things. I think it would be fair to concur with the psalmist in quoting these words:

Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised,and his greatness is unsearchable. (Psalm 145:3)

Yet, there was another special event I wanted to mention that took place on my last evening in my southern hometown of Memphis, Tennessee. This was a definite treat for the soul. I was able to attend a small concert by Don Chaffer in The Abbey Cafe of the newly acquired building of Lifelink church. The building is located right in the heart of midtown Memphis, which, oddly enough, was also the venue where Johnny Cash played his first concert ever. Mind you, it wasn’t called The Abbey Cafe, nor was it Lifelink’s building. But Johnny Cash did play in that concert hall in that building. So, it was a little bit of an historic night as well, or kind of. Anyways, back to Don Chaffer…

Don Chaffer is lead singer and songwriter of the band Waterdeep. This band, out of Kansas City, has had many connections with Memphis over the past two decades, for many Memphian Christians will remember their concerts at the original 704B and later on at The Chi. And, though the whole band wasn’t able to make it down for the commencement of The Abbey Cafe, I must say there is probably no better person to play the first show in this small concert hall than Don Chaffer of Waterdeep.

He must be, by far, one of the best songwriters in all of America, maybe even the world. ‘What,’ you might ask?! ‘One of the greatest songwriters in the world?!’ Well, I believe it is those hidden gems that are usually the best, even though they might not be as well known. It is Chaffer’s Dylan-esque poetic heart, authenticity, and honest words that come forth in every lyric and chord strummed on the guitar. And that, my friends, is what makes him one of the best, not to mention his creative ability in utilizing very minimal musical instruments in the crafting of his songs.

It’s been a while since I have heard Waterdeep and Don Chaffer (I think they took a little Sabbatical from traveling). Thus, I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs he performed last night. But the songs still rang with that same Chaffer and Waterdeep heart that has existed for almost two decades now. The stories told with rhyme, drawing you in to the greater story. Again, for me, that is one of the qualities of a great songwriter.

And so, I am very much grateful for my opportunity to share in a concert with Don Chaffer last evening. It brought back many memories of my early Christian years, and, it was no doubt a beautiful opportunity for me to soak up some songs with my friends.

Don Chaffer and Waterdeep are always welcome in Memphis. When they come, they will not draw in the crowds like Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, The Foo Fighters or any number of other well-known, platinum selling artists. But they will draw in a faithful crowd and, even more, they will, in their own unique and beautiful way, impart truth and poetic hope that will send us away knowing we heard a little bit of the Father’s heart, and even after we, possibly, shed a few tears.

So, here is my ode and thanks to Don Chaffer (and Waterdeep) for making it down to Memphis. I know Don had no idea I would show up, nor does he even know my name, though we have met a couple of times in life. But God knew what He was doing on a cool and rainy Tuesday evening in the heart of midtown Memphis. God had a little something special planned.

Check out Waterdeep’s new album – Pink & Blue.