A few years ago I was headed out on a long road trip and grabbed several CDs from my collection as “music for the road.” Yes, it was CDs at the time. I had not yet made the leap to an iPod that allows one to take almost all of their musical collection along for the ride. I loaded the multi-player with the maximum six CDs and started out. A few hours into the drive I realized that five of the six albums I had loaded into the car stereo had a direct connection to Wayne Kirkpatrick. You may not think you know this name but chances are you have heard his music.

Wayne Kirkpatrick is a singer songwriter with an extensive collection of songs he has written. Most of his songs have been recorded by other performers and the list of those who have used his songs is very impressive. He co-wrote the Grammy award winning song “Change the World” with Gordon Kennedy and Tommy Simms which was recorded by Eric Clapton (1996)1. He received a Dove award for producer of the year in 1994 2 and his songs have been recorded by an eclectic group of artists: Garth Brooks (“Wrapped Up In You” and “You Move Me”), Susan Ashton (“You Move Me,” “Blind Side,” “Body and Soul,” “Crooked Man,” “Spinning Like a Wheel,” “Lonely River,” and “Love Profound”) Eric Clapton (“Change the World”), Garth Brooks in his Chris Gaines persona (“Lost In You,” “It Don’t Matter to the Sun,” “Unsigned Letter,” “Main Street,” “White Flag,” “Digging For Gold,” and “My Love Tells Me So”3), Faith Hill (“Love Will Always Win”), Amy Grant (“Lead Me On,” “House of Love,” “Lucky One,” “Takes a Little Time,” and “Straight Ahead”), Martina McBride (“Anything and Everything”), Trisha Yearwood (“Love Will Always Win”), Little Big Town (all songs on the “A Place To Land” album and all but one song on the “The Road To Here” album), Kathy Mattea (“Grand Canyon”), Wynonna Judd (“What the World Needs Now is Love”), Bonnie Raitt (“Silver Lining” and “Slipstream”), Casting Crowns (“God is With Us”), and Michael W. Smith (“Place in This World” which won a Dove award for song of the year)4.

Have I convinced you that you should know this man? Despite all of the success and awards, Wayne Kirkpatrick remains relatively unknown. He is the man behind others; the man in the wings. If you saw him back-stage and asked him who he was he might simply answer with the title of a song he wrote for Little Big Town . . . “I’m With the Band.” Few speak of the genius of Kirkpatrick. Paul Zollo’s massive book, Songwriters on Songwriting 5 makes no reference to him. It would seem that Kirkpatrick is quite content to be the man in the background and leave the lime-light of performing and the fame of song-writing to others.

One of the best ways to get to know the man behind the mystery might be to simply listen to the music he has written and particularly the songs he has saved for his own performances. See if you can find his little known album “The Maple Room.” Wayne Kirkpatrick wrote, produced, and performed the songs on this album (released in the year 2000). The songs offer us a window into the life of this amazing songwriter. The liner notes for the song “Window In That Wall” offer this explanation about the song: “I’ve never been able to put a face with this song but I feel as though I have come in contact with this person. Sometimes I wonder if I wrote it about myself.” The lyrics to the tune follow.

Window In That Wall

I can’t read you
That book is closed
But aren’t you lonely
In your cell
Share a secret
I won’t tell

And you don’t have to bare your soul
Or find your tears and lose control
You don’t have to scale your fortress or let it fall
Just put a window in that wall

Do I know you?
Yes and no
There’re places you won’t let me go
But maybe time will help you see
That you can put your trust in me

And you don’t have to let me in
Or throw your caution to the wind
You don’t have to open up and expose it all
Just put a window in that wall

’cause you sit along the side and hear the music play
But you fear the dance
Well, you may learn to love it
If you’d give it half a chance

I’m not asking to be a part
Of every fragment of your guarded heart
I’m just asking for a place to begin, that’s all
Just put a window in that wall

© 1997, Warner Chappell/Sell The Cow Music/BMI 

Ah, there we have it, the self-isolated artist who has created a fortress to guard his soul. Yet, he will give us a window that allows us to see inside. His music, his lyrics, his art are that window that allows us to get to know this man. I encourage you to get to know Wayne Kirkpatrick.

I leave you with one last thought. The first page of the liner notes for “The Maple Room” contains a few words from Vincent Van Gogh. “. . . I want to progress so far that they will say of my work: he feels deeply, he feels tenderly – notwithstanding my so-called roughness or perhaps even because of it.” These are worthy words by which we all might live.

1 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Change_the_World
2 http://www.doveawards.com/history.php?x=artist
3 http://music.aol.ca/album/garth-brooks/in-the-life-of-chris-gaines/350647
4 http://www.doveawards.com/history.php?x=artist
5 http://www.amazon.ca/Songwriters-Songwriting-Expanded-Paul-Zollo/dp/0306812657/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1333132997&sr=8-1

Websites used in this research:

Dive in!

Join The Great Journey with KeithShields.ca subscribers, and see new posts as they happen.

We promise we’ll never spam.