[This transcript is excerpted from an Art of the Song interview as broadcast nationally on Public Radio. Click here to listen to the complete show with music.]
Viv: Is your spiritual connection at the core of your work? Is writing and sharing that connection at the core of your work?
Adler: I don’t think so; I think it might be a really strong underpinning to everything. We both have this background of being Gospel singers but we don’t like to call ourselves Christian music artists.
Hearne: Yeah, being labeled and being put in a box and all that is more difficult for me now than it was ten or twenty years ago. I want to be my own person. I want to have my own thoughts. I don’t want people to think, “Well if I’m a Christian, I have to be put in this box.” I don’t feel comfortable being labeled as a Gospel singer because that’s not what I am. That’s not what we are. We happen to be Christians but we’re folk singers.
Adler: We don’t feel like we have all the answers and we’re open to diversity. We have a lot of friends who are atheists, and Jewish, and Buddhists. We like singing in sacred spaces and we’re comfortable going into a lot of different kinds of churches and spiritual communities and sharing our songs with those people and those communities. We’re not exclusive in that way. This new CD is a perfect example of the diversity of where we come from as music-makers and songwriters in the world. There’s some pretty sparky songs on this record.
Alder: I say sparky.
Hearne: That’s the first time I’ve ever heard you use that word with our songs.
Adler: Well, what can I say? Anyway, sends sparks flying, the kind of love songs with some edge to them. They’re on the same record as the song, “Send Them Love” which is a song that was written to facilitate there being a time in our live concerts as well as being a time on a recording or listening experience for someone listening to this new project of ours to have a connection to the bigger world. We can get so caught up in our own dramas or our own joy in life and sometimes just get so self-focused that we loose touch with a sense of connection to the greater world that is hurting or having major things go on. We want to send our energy and our love, for what it’s worth, out there into the universe. The song kind of facilitates that vibe. “People all over the world are crying tonight” is our opening line and then the answer to that is “Send them love, send them love, send them love”. There’s that element on the new CD as well.
John: Do you guys write together or separately, or how does it work for you?
Hearne: All the ways.
Adler: It happens all the ways. We were solo artists before we became a duo and so we were solo songwriters. I think Lindy’s had definitely more collaborating experience than I have. It’s been easier for him to collaborate. For me, it’s been more of a struggle.
Hearne: An example of that is that we wrote our first song in the early eighties and we wrote our second song twenty years later.
Adler: Our first collaboration.
Hearne: Well the first collaboration, yeah.
John: There’ s hope for us.
Hearne: Sometimes it’s hard, but a lot of times we’ll come to each other with an idea. The song “Send Them Love” from the newest album is one that you came up with the idea and then we collaborated on that. Sometimes it comes real easy and then sometimes… We have songs that we’ve worked on that we’ve been working on for maybe ten years that are not finished yet. Our main co-writer is Hal Greenwood who is an Episcopal priest. Lives in Oklahoma City. I’ve been writing with Hal since we worked on a youth event back in 1989 or 1990. We have never, I can’t remember ever sitting in a room to write a song together. He emails lyrics and for years I worked on them. I came up with songs. Then, more recently, in the last few years, Lynn has collaborated on some too so the three of us write together. I’m an introvert but he’s an ultra-introvert, I guess. We just can’t sit in the same room and write. We have to be in separate states apparently to come up with a song. But we’ve written hundreds of songs. I think at least half of the songs on this new CD are co-written with him.
Adler: We dedicated this CD to Hal Greenwood because just of our history of song-making together. The title song “Second Nature” is one of the several songs on the CD that was co-written with Hal.
Hearne: An example of how we write together: One time Hal and I won a song writing competition, the Best Children’s Song, in Oklahoma at this Oklahoma writing contest. We went up to accept our award and he whispered to me, he said, “Lindy I have never heard this song.” He had sent me the lyrics, I had written the music, and never sent him back the finished product and we had submitted it and won. So I said, “Well I hope you like it!” And he did.
Adler: That was “The Fly and the Spider”.