Monday, September 9, 2013

Music for Your Heart - Interview with Ace Collins

I loved sitting down with Ace Collins at ICRS in June to talk about several of his projects. One of those books has an official release date of September 17 but is available now, and it is a delight. A portion of our chat follows the info about the book.

Music for Your Heart
Ace Collins
(Abingdon Press)
ISBN: 978-1426767272
September 2013/272 pages/$15.99

Best-selling author takes you behind the scenes of your favorite songs.

Have you ever had a song stuck in your head for days? Something abut its tune or lyrics impacts us and holds our attention. Why? How did the song come to be? Why was it written? And what does the song really mean? In Music for Your Heart, best-selling and award-winning author Ace Collins takes you behind the scenes of your favorite songs to show how the lyrics and music began. Through insider stories, artist bios, and inspiration from Scripture, Collins weaves stirring reflections on our adored and popular classics. Whether the featured song is a holiday carol, children’s worship tune, or love song, each short chapter will inspire curious music enthusiasts as well as those seeking a book for a devotional meditation. Digging deep into the words and history of the music, these uplifting and informative reflections will warm the heart—like the songs themselves.

Songs include:
- Jesus Loves Me
- You Are My Sunshine
- How Great Thou Art
- White Christmas
- Amazing Grace
- Sweet, Sweet Spirit
- Blue Moon
- Jingle Bells
- You Raise Me Up
- Deep and Wide
- I Will Always Love You
- Moon River


Ace Collins is the best-selling and award-winning author of more than 60 titles, including The Stories Behind The Best-Loved Songs of Christmas, Darkness Before Dawn, and Lassie: A Dog's Life. Ace frequently speaks across the country and on radio and has appeared on national television shows, including Good Morning America, The Today Show, CNN, Fox and Friends, Entertainment Tonight, The Early Show and more. When not writing, he works as a magazine editor and graphic designer, as well as host for a charity organization radio and television broadcast. Ace and his wife, Kathy, are based in Arkadelphia, Arkansas.


I love music, and I'm always fascinated by the stories behind songs. If that were all this book contained, it would be worth buying but Ace Collins has raised his own bar by connecting a spiritual lesson to each of the stories. And he has chosen some great classics to include in this book! So many of these songs are like dear friends, songs that I loved and sang as I was growing up. Both secular and sacred songs are included in this collection, and coupling each song with a relevant devotional provides a new perspective, especially for those times when the tunes get stuck in your head! The book can be browsed at leisure, used daily as a supplemental devotional, or read straight through. It's not to early to think about gift-giving; grab one for yourself as well as for someone you love!


You have a non-fiction coming out, Music for Your Heart. I love this cover and the title. I love stories about music and learning the background behind songs.

The stories behind these songs are in there and I coupled them with a verse and a charge. I've sold over a million Christmas books with the stories behind things in them. It gave me an opportunity to go back to non-fiction for a bit but also to do something I'd always wanted to do, which was write a devotional book. On Sunday night at my house at our college home group, I do this thing all the time, tell the story behind something to bring into a devotional. I realized that nobody had ever written a devotional book around popular music. We've written them around hymns. I thought, "We're missing the boat!" We do niche marketing with devotional books. We'll write a devotional book for mothers that have red hair and blue eyes. It's almost that bad! Why don't we write a devotional book that has no niche? Everybody sings. Everybody listens to songs. Let's take the best-loved or best-known songs in the world, those songs that, when you hear them in the morning, the tune is stuck in your head all day long. You're singing it all day long. And if someone has that tune stuck in their head, they're also going to remember the scripture and the charge that goes with it. Therefore, it became the ultimate hook in my mind. Give them a devotional that they'll actually think of all day long because that song is stuck in their head and they'll constantly come back to that positive lesson that you taught them. That's what I wanted to do. I work it with my [college group] kids all the time. Let's get them to read a story that they can't get out of their head. That's what this does. And there were so many surprises. Of course, we do Elvis and The Beatles. We do One Moment in Time by Whitney Houston. The oldest song in the book, I think is Turn, Turn, Turn because the lyrics are actually written by King Solomon, so that's the only pop song to hit #1 whose lyrics were written 3,000 years before it was released! When you think about that, you realize your words will have an impact, so you better be careful what you say!

Okay, quick! Mention another one before that one gets stuck in my brain all day!

A song that I really did enjoy getting the unique story behind, I'd always wondered about. The last Beatles song that was written before they broke up was Let it Be. A line in that song says Mother Mary calls to me, Speaking words of wisdom, Let it be. I thought that had some kind of religious overtone, some kind of allusion to the mother of Christ. In doing some interviews and reading the story behind it, when Paul McCartney wrote it, he was upset because the Beatles were about to break up. He could see it happening and it was costing him sleep. He didn't want them to break up. There were two others that wanted to break up. He did not want to and realized he was going to be outvoted. One night he was trying to sleep and finally fell asleep and had a dream. His mother, who had died of cancer when he was fourteen years old, had always told him when he got a problem that he couldn't solve, "Paul, just let it be." His mother's name was Mary. The person who came to him in a dream was the person who had died a decade and a half before. When you listen to the song that way--you can't stop the break-up, just let it be--then it blends into the most beautiful spiritual lessons.

And here I always thought it was some reference about praying to Mary.

Exactly! But it wasn't. It was about his mom. That's one of the stories in there. All of them have unique surprising elements about the stories behind them. One of the oldest American songs in there is Bicycle Built for Two, which used to be called Daisy Chain. Everybody knows that song, and it led to an incredibly neat devotional.

I had so much fun. I discovered the huge Elvis Presley song that became a hit all over again when American Idol teamed Celine Dion and Elvis singing If I Can Dream, that incredible thing that they did. If I Can Dream ended Elvis' 1968 Television Special and I thought, "What a wonderful song." It really has an incredible spiritual message that is also wrapped in a lot of what Dr. Martin Luther King said, so it gave us an opportunity to turn it into a devotional by telling, once again, the story behind it.

Each one is special. It's kind of fascinating. From You Are My Sunshine --

I sang that every night at bedtime to my kids!

When you have an opportunity to go through and read these--Auld Lang Syne, Smoke Gets in Your Eyes, and When You Wish Upon a Star, Secret Love, Raindrops Keep Falling on My Head, You're a Grand Old Flag, God Only Knows by the Beach Boys, His Eye is on the Sparrow, I Walk Alone--you find out the stories behind each one and you couple them to scripture and three or four paragraphs of inspiration. It was really a fun book to write. I want to write a whole series of them, as a matter of fact, so I hope it goes very well. Initial reaction, they told me awhile ago, has been maybe one of the best I've ever had in a book. People want to buy into this thing.

Oh that is so neat. I can't wait to read it!

(More from my interview with Ace Collins in the weeks ahead as his upcoming novel is released.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received an advanced copy of this book free from Ace Collins & Abingdon Press. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."


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