With his latest release, singer and songwriter Jason Gray rolls out new music in a fashion never done before in the CCM genre. To best share the stories he's been experiencing and learning recently, Gray will release the Order Disorder Reorder project in three volumes, giving each song room to breathe, giving us all time to pause and truly listen to each season. Because our ongoing transformation through Christ is only possible through all three.
First up is Order, a collection of five songs from the place of solid ground, when life's directions make sense to our own understanding at the time. Lead single "I'm Gonna Let It Go" has been of Gray's quickest impacts at radio, receiving the biggest first week of adds (over 40!) in his career. The song continues to make a fast climb up the charts. This follows Grays' previous hits, including two Number 1 singles, plus an additional three Top 5.
Q: Jason thanks for doing this interview with us. Congratulations on your new album, why did you choose to release the record in three installments?
There were several reasons, but the main one for me was to give focused attention on each aspect of the transformational journey of order, disorder, and reorder. Releasing one part at a time gives the listener the opportunity to reflect and go deeper with the concept if they choose to engage with it that way.
A buddy of mine and I came up with a phrase many years ago to describe the kind of music we were making. We called it "foreground music" meaning we weren't interested in building songs for the purpose of being played in the background while you do other things. Maybe the songs can work in that context, but when we built them we hoped people would really pay attention and engage the songs emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and even physically. It's something like, "the more you give to it the more you'll get out of it." That's the hope, anyway, and breaking the project into three volumes hopefully sets the table for the listener to have meaningful engagement with each step in the journey I hope to take them on.
There's also a spiritual discipline called "statio" that I've always found helpful. The idea is that you pause and practice closure with one moment before moving on to the next. It is the act of being present to "now", receiving all it has for you, before letting your attention run off to something else. I'd like to think that we've made space for the discipline of statio in the way we're releasing this project.
Q: The first part is "Order." What does order refer to? How are we to respond in times of order?
Order is basically when things are going the way we expect and hope. And that's good! Order is realized when we are making good use of all that we've learned so far in life. However... there's always more to learn and sooner or later we'll come to the limits of what we know today, so order is not permanent. Another problem is that we rarely learn anything new in seasons of order. But don't worry--chaos is always around the corner to throw us into disorder, which is the perfect environment to learn what we need to know next. On the other side of all of that, of course, is reorder where we emerge from our trial wiser, kinder, more loving, and stronger.
Q: Can you describe a time in your own life where you experience "order"?
I would say the early years of having a family was a season of order for me. There were certainly challenges! But for the most part I had enough of a handle on how life worked so that I could move forward--building a family, a ministry/career, a spiritual walk and personal identity. You can begin to have too much of a sense that you're on top of things, though. And there's a kind of certainty about how everything works and what truth is that can settle in and harden your thinking. Order gone wrong can lead a person to become very set in their ways and self-righteous. I experienced a degree of that, and the hardness of my thinking had to get busted up.
Q: You have already released a couple of singles off the first set. Let's talk about them. What's the story behind "I'm Gonna Let It Go"?
I thought "Order" would be the hardest concept to convey and I really had to think about it! I came to the conclusion that today's order is yesterday's reorder. So this first song cycle represents early, fundamental wisdom that can be built on and updated as you go through life. "I'm Gonna Let It Go" is a song about living surrendered, trusting in God's goodness more than trusting in the wild voices in our heard that tempt us to be anxious. It's about living life with an open hand. And even though it's a fundamental and basic idea, I find in my own life that I have to keep returning to it!
Just last week, I literally had three sleepless nights over a conflict in my life. I couldn't stop rehearsing speeches I'd never give to a person who nonchalantly cancelled an event on short notice, throwing me into some mild financial chaos. I was so angry and it kept me up at night! Then I sang my song at another event and my own lyric got me: "I've been losing my sleep, I've been losing my cool, I can feel my heart go boom boom boom... staring at the ceiling feeling like fool..." Yep... that was me. And all of a sudden it was clear that I needed to let all that go.
Q: I must say I love the song "Order Disorder Reorder." How did this song come about?
Thank you! I heard those words in a podcast interview with Richard Rohr. I thought it was the most succinct and clear way of describing the journey of transformation that I'd ever heard. It helped me so much. For most of my life I would panic whenever the storms of life would hit, and I'd be tempted to think one of three things: 1) I must've done something wrong and God is either punishing me or allowing this to happen, or 2) He doesn't care about my life, or 3) He doesn't exist.
I now recognize the storms as the place where God makes me stronger than the storms, which means they don't cause me panic anymore, or at least not the way they used to. So it helps me to stay open, be led, and receive what the Lord might have for me. Instead of cowering in a corner in fear when life's storms hit, I have a sense of anticipation for the thing I'm about to learn that will change me forever and that one day I will be so grateful for.
The language of order, disorder, reorder really helped me get to a surrendered place of trust. I knew I wanted to share that language with others, hoping it might help them, too.
Q: When will the other two installments be released? What can we expect from them?
Over the course of the next year, 6 months apart. I believe that this is the first time a project has been released like this, so everybody on the team is very excited.
Q: Here's something fun: I read that you can blow balloons with your nose and one balloon on each. How did you get to learn to do this?
Hahaha! Yes, yes... it's true. You learn a lot of tricks when you're in youth ministry like I was for 7 years.