Tenth Avenue North: A song-by-song rundown of the 'Over And Underneath' album

Thursday 17th April 2008

The rock worship band from Florida, TENTH AVENUE NORTH talk us through the tracks on their new album

Tenth Avenue North
Tenth Avenue North

In May Integrity-Provident will be releasing in the UK an album by a new band, Tenth Avenue North. The four members of the group met at Palm Beach Atlantic University in West Palm Beach, Florida. Said drummer Jason Jamison, "Tenth Avenue North started with Mike Donehey (lead vocalist/acoustic guitar) and I playing music together back in college. We have just continued on and since then we brought in Scott Sanders (bass guitar) and Jeff Owen (electric guitar). It's been amazing."

Donehey began sharing his songs while leading worship at a church in West Palm Beach, and after a while the band decided to hit the road, booking themselves in churches and at camps from Florida to Colorado. Said Donehey, "The first summer tour we did was interesting to say the least. We literally got a map out and said 'Alright, everyone point out a spot where you've never been and where you'd like to go.' That's not the way you should go about it. We borrowed a van from the college that we went to and it was fun. God provided for us. We met cool people and we ate lots of bologna."

Eventually the band came to the attention of Provident Records. The 'Over And Underneath' album was produced by Jason Ingram and Phillip LaRue. Said Donehey, "Most of the themes in our songs are about truth and about the struggle to believe it. I think we have to represent both sides of that coin. Jesus said, 'True worshipers will worship in spirit and in truth.' When we sit down to write a song, essentially we are dealing with two things: Truth and the struggle to accept that truth. Emotion without truth is just sentimental and truth without emotion becomes cruel. Hopefully in our music, we are talking about the truth of God, but marrying that with the struggle that is within every person to believe. I think it's a struggle that will last for our whole lives."

Donehey went through each of the songs on the forthcoming album.

"Love Is Here" - This is a song that was written in response to frustration of just hearing kid after kid after kid and adult after adult after adult just saying, "'You know, I would know that God loves me if. . ." - fill in the blank with whatever. But we run a dangerous game if we start asking God to prove things that he's already proven. Romans 5:8 says God demonstrates, present tense, his love, in how, while we are still sinners Christ died, past tense, died for us and basically with that verse he's saying, "Look God is proving his love for you today." Christ died on the cross and our responsibility is to simply fix our eyes on Jesus. Love is here. Everything we are longing for, whether we would say it this way or not, is really Jesus. Our hearts are made for him and our hearts are restless until they rest in him. That's what St Augustine said, so that song is just a call to anyone everywhere that the thing you want is here in the name of Jesus.

"Lift Us Up To Fall" - This is a prayer song that sort of takes a turn from where most people would go. At the end of the chorus it says, "Lift us up to fall before everything you are." God loves people and wants to have relationships with people in order that he might glorify himself for his name's sake. It says, "God we want you to heal us. We want you to fill us and satisfy us so that we might fall down and worship you."

"By Your Side" - There are a couple of lines in this track that to me really encapsulate the whole song. One is in the second verse that says, "Why are you looking for love?/Why are you still searching as if I'm not enough?/To where will you go child?/To where will you run?" And the last verse says, "Look at these hands and my side/They swallowed the grave on that night/When I drank the world's sin so that I could carry you in and give you life." "By Your Side" is just a call to anyone who's struggling or fighting against God thinking they have to work to earn it. It's calling them to stop looking for what you can do for God and fix your gaze upon what God has done for you. Let that motivate you. We love because he first loved us.

"Let It Go" - The Bible says some really strange things and one of those things is when Jesus basically appeals to the people and says, "You don't want to lose your life, do you? Well lose it and then you'll find it." It's a very strange sort of argument that Jesus makes, but "Let It Go" is a song about struggling to let go of being the captain of my own ship, of my own faith, which I think we all struggle with. A line in the chorus says, "Life is waiting for the ones who lose control." It's a call to say, "Man, if only I would really trust God, I would have far fewer aneurisms and stress than I put on myself."

"Break Me Down" - This is a call to say, "Look God, you need to change my heart because I've tried and I can't." Sometimes the Holy Spirit haunts us and I love that God is the one that moves, that God is the one that changes people's hearts, that the Spirit is the one who sanctified people. This is just a song to say, "Lord, I'm done, you've got to come and do this or I'm going to stay right where I'm at."

"Hold My Heart" - I wrote this track with two friends, Phillip LaRue and Jason Ingram. Phillip and I at the time were both going through separate situations, but a really rough time. [We were] just grappling to understand why God would let certain things happen. We had lunch that day and were talking about it and the conclusion we came to is really what the bridge says. It says, "There's so many questions without answers, but your promises remain." Basically what that is saying is, you know what? Sometimes we aren't going to get the answers we want, but we still have God's promises and the tough part of that is when Jesus said to us, "I will never leave you nor forsake you," but your whole world feels like he's done exactly that, it is no small thing to hold onto the truth and cling to that truth. "Hold My Heart" is a psalm. It's like Psalm 13, it's saying, "God I'm clinging and holding on and I just don't know how much longer I can go, so come and hold my heart."

"Times" - This is a song reminding us that the Bible is a story about failures. It's not a story about a bunch of moral heroes. Look at David and you look at Peter and you look at Abraham. These are failures that God has redeemed. So the song is just a prayer because we're all struggling. Then God just speaks his answer and says, "You know what, my love is going to carry you through. I began this good work in you and I will be faithful to carry it out in completion."

"Beloved" - The Bible is filled with wedding metaphors. When it talks about Christ and his Church, it uses the analogy of a husband and a wife. In fact you could even argue that the reason marriage exists is to point to the greater reality of Christ. Over and over and over again, Christ calls the Church, not just his wife, but his wayward wife. I was thinking one day, I wondered what it would sound like if Christ gave his wedding vows to me, as his Church, as his bride and what those would sound like. So "Beloved" is Jesus making vows to a wayward wife and the beautiful thing about Jesus is that when you're his bride, divorce is not an option.

"You Are" - I wrote the chorus during a worship time at a little house worship gathering. I sang this chorus, "I give you all of me for all you are, here I am, take me apart," which isn't a reference to amputation, it's just a metaphor. I just started thinking, "I give you all of me for all you are." Then I thought, "Well, who is God?" So the rest of the song is just saying, this is who God is and in light of that reality, do whatever you want with me because the more I believe that God is who he says he is, the more eager I will be to come to him and say, "Do whatever you want because I believe." The caring father will never cause his child a needless tear.

"Satisfy" - This is a prayer. It's saying, "Look God, you need to satisfy me because everything I want, whether I realise it or not, is you. If you don't come and satisfy me, I'm afraid that I'm going to do exactly what I don't want to do which is I'm going to run to other things." That's what the second verse says. It says, "I just might run back to the things I hate, unless you satisfy me." So that's the prayer.

"Hallelujah" - For me, [this song expresses] a need to understand the Gospel. The chorus is a phrase in Revelation that says, "The Church will sing for ever and ever" which is hallelujah for the blood of the Lamb that was slain. The very end of the bridge says, "Inside your wounds we hide away." So this song is just a reminder that if God is who he says he is, if he's holy, we should be really scared, unless someone gets in between the glory of God and us little simple humans. The beauty of that song is we have a Savior that has come in between the wrath of God and us. CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.

Reader Comments

Posted by Monica Guirguis in Duluth, GA @ 18:24 on Oct 19 2010

It is so incredibly unbelievable to me how God has used you all (Tenth Avenue North) to spread the life that God wants all of us to experience. You have used the gifts that God so very much blessed you with and used it to the fullest of proclaiming to the world His name. I cannot even begin to describe to you how much your music has changed my life. I became a mediocre christian to one who finally realizes that all I do is part of living for Jesus. That prayer is not just when I'm in my room spending personal time with God, but also every single step I take throughout my day, every meal I eat, every step I take, every book I read, every single breath I breathe, and every struggle I face. How beautifully you have depicted the love and life that God has for us is beyond words. And because they are beyond words, means that they are coming straight from the mouth of the Father Himself. Because He is above all knowledge and understanding. Continuously seeking this beauty and love that is indescribable is how I keep living everyday without ever getting bored! Just like Mike said, choosing to believe is something that will be a life long journey. My fellow brothers and sisters, how often are we lost because of continuously seeking temporary satisfaction? I encourage us all to look to something that will make us feel more beautiful, full, and satisfied beyond our wildest dreams- Jesus Christ. God bless you all for proclaiming to the world the name of Jesus.

Posted by TG in U.S. - New Jersey @ 14:12 on Apr 26 2008

One cannot listen through the words contained in each of these songs without clearly recognizing the ONE whom they are about. Out of the mouth comes what is in the heart. Clearly these words reveal the heart of individuals who don't just sing about someone they've heard about- but One whom they have met and heard from. . It's all by Him and for Him. My prayer--stay at Him!

The opinions expressed in the Reader Comments are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms.

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