You Have Been Set Free…

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At A Price

Every few months, I have the privilege of going to Lino Lakes Correctional Facility to sing for and with a group of men, at an event called “Friday Night at the Q”.  I think “Q” is the name of the building we are in.  It’s about 200 men who are on fire for Jesus, singing praises to Him together.  Nothing compares to this, as a musician or a worship leader.  I think it’s the closest I may get on earth to what it’ll be like some day singing before the throne of God…

There is a banner on the wall in this room, with the verse from Romans 6:

You have been set free from sin and have become slaves to righteousness (Romans 6:18)

I am always struck by this verse, as I’m in there.  These men are NOT free, physically.  They are prisoners.  But they are FREE, in ways many of us, even believers may not be.  So many of these men have truly laid their burdens down before the foot of the cross, and let Jesus take them.  Have you?  If not – why don’t you?

That question is for me, as much as it is for you.

If you ever get the chance – Ask these men about this freedom.  You’ll be amazed…

So – why become free, to then become a SLAVE again?  As this verse seems to indicate.  It doesn’t make sense???

Well – there is a difference here.  The “slave to righteousness” is voluntary.  Much like slavery in OT times was.  It was voluntary servitude.  Maybe to pay off a debt.  Sometimes, those who paid their debt, or were forgiven their debt (Look up the Jubliee), volunteered to remain servants – because they were so loved and taken care of – and they so loved their master.  This is the picture of we who are in Christ.  We are so much indebted to our Savior – and yet we willingly serve our loving Master.

Then – often even those who volunteered were turned into forced, tortured, captives.  Much like the slaves in Egypt.  Much like us, as we are slaves to sin.  We voluntarily sin, but we cannot get out…

But Jesus sets us free….

Do you know this?  Ask one of these men about it…

I wrote this song for these men, because they have changed MY life.  God is doing amazing things in and through their lives – ask them about it…

I took lyrics from the hymn, “Amazing Grace”, as it is probably the most fitting gospel song written by man.

You once were slaves to sin.  Now slaves to righteousness.  Do you know this?

At A Price
By blood
A hefty price
You’ve been won
Bought your life

Amazing grace
How sweet
The sound
That saved a wretch
Like me
I’m found…

I was
A slave to fear
I lay that down
You draw me near…

The Lord is good
To me
His will secure
My hope
And sheild

The earth
Will melt like snow
You’ll be my God

Song written:  February 26, March 6, 7, 2017
Song recorded:  April 7, 10, July 21, 2017
First released:  April 10, 2017
Songwriters:  Ted Hajnasiewicz, John Newton

Courtney Jayd – Backing Vocals

At A Price

You can pre-order my new record here!


Be Bold and Courageous!!!

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Bold As A Lion

I got into a swing of writing and recording in March.  I was banging out songs, like nobody’s business!  But each one was different, and each one was so deeply personal.  This was going to be a great record!

This one is for Cody, my son.  (My son-in-law, but that’s too many syllables, and he’s family to me in more than a “legal” sense, so…).  Cody is one of the bravest young men I know.  He has publically faced his darkness, struggles, pain – not for attention, not for gain, but for those who also struggle with the same debilitating daily mental and emotional turmoil that comes with depression.  Cody will spend his life doing this, because he loves Jesus and he loves people, and he’s real as real can be.  Bold as a lion.

I don’t think Cody would describe himself that way.  But I will (and I really, really hope that is ok – especially that I praise him in public…).  He’s an inspiration to me for certain.

So I wrote this song, after reading one of his heartbreaking, yet inspiring, posts/cries out to God.  I confess, I don’t know how to deal with mental illness, anxiety, depression, etc.  I think we as a people don’t – so we probably – avoid it.  Or label it.  Or hide from it (whether that be our own struggles, or those of loved ones).  The church has failed to address this.  This is because the church is filled with – humans.  But we need to repent, and move TOWARD those who feel emotionally crippled and crushed, and LOVE our brothers and sisters in Christ.  I think there will be much healing from it, when we do.  We don’t have to know HOW – we just need to do.  We’ll learn.  And we’ll heal together, and become more whole and holy.

Thank you Cody for your courage, and willingness to shed light in darkness, in my life for sure, and in the lives of so many others…

If you are one who struggles – know you are loved, more than could ever comprehend or maybe accept.  Know that YOU MATTER.  Know that you are not alone.  If you struggle with whether you should even be here – please reach out to someone.

Here is a great resource (There are MANY – I just know if this one):

And more important – TALK TO SOMEONE.  It’s so scary to be vulnerable, even with people you know and trust.  PLEASE be willing.  It will bless you, and the other person.  God works through our humility and vulnerability.

If you are looking for ways to help the left-behinds, this is a great local (MN) organization (again – there are MANY):

Be bold and courageous – for God will never leave you nor forsake you…

Bold As A Lion
Make me bold as a lion
Cause I’m scared as a lamb

As my world is upside down
I’m reeling
And I have no up or down
I’m falling, will you catch me?
And I see the serpent’s head
He’s coiling
Will I stand and fight
Or will I stand and hide?

Make me bold as I lion
Cause I’m scared as a lamb

As I strive for honesty
I’m hiding
All my fears and failures
Will you make me new?
As I strive to be enough
You promise
That your grace is sufficient
Help me to press on…

Make me bold as a lion
Cause I’m scared as a lamb

And I will forget what lies behind…

Song written:  March 17, 18, 2017
Song recorded:  March 18, June 8, 2017 (and various forgotten dates in between)
Song first released:  March 21, 2017
Acoustic Prayer Version released:  June 8, 2017

Bold As A Lion

You can pre-order my new record here!

My Heart Is In Memphis…

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My Heart Is In Memphis

Almost a year ago, Adam and Kate were married.  What an amazing day, from the bluegrass band they had playing PRE-WEDDING, to the house the stayed in, to the yard they got married in two houses down, to the walk Adam led us on to HIS BRIDE, to the amazing (A- MAY- ZING!) food, to the dancing and laughter.  Beautiful, brilliant and wonderful.

One thing I loved, was watching Adam and his mama dancing late in the evening.  It really was sweet, and I could not take my eyes off them.  To see the joy in my wife’s face, dancing with her son…

Wanna see?  I am stealing this pic from someone, so I ask for forgiveness in advance…


Isn’t that just tremendously heart-warming?

So – P adores her kids.  And Adam and Kate are way too far away.  They moved to Seattle, then to Memphis – WAY TOO FAR AWAY.  It is such a wonderful time when we get to see them, and so crushing to my wife when we separate.

I wrote this song for Adam, from P’s perspective.  I tried to capture how she feels, and I kept thinking of the picture above, as I was writing.

My wife cries every time she hears it, and turns it off – she just can’t…

My friend Tony (the challenger…) suggested I find someone to play pedal steel on this.  So I did!  Toby Wilson lives in the UK, and offers his services (pedal steel, dobro, acoustic guitar, etc.) on a site called Fiverr.  I first learned of Fiverr from another friend of mine, Spencer Bernard, who suggested I look into it for musicians who play those instruments I cannot myself.  Great ideas Tony and Spencer!

I really, really love how this song turned out.  And there I go again with making my wife cry…

My Heart Is In Memphis
My child, don’t you worry
If you can’t make it for Christmas
I’ll keep the phone line open
Just to hear your voice again

My child, you’re all grown up…
And I can’t stop it if I try
Still you’ll always be my son
And I ain’t gonna lie

Oh and I
I wanna dance with you forever
And hear your laughter fill the room
It’s all these memories that I treasure as I long for you…
My heart is in memphis…

My child, don’t you stop
Love your woman
When times are harder than you thought
You would ever have to bear

My child you’re all grown up
And the pain is part of growin’
But the pain won’t kill your joy
Oh, you’ll always be my boy

Oh and I
I wanna dance with you forever
And hear your laughter fill the room
It’s all these memories that I treasure as I long for you…
My heart is in memphis…

Song written:  March 17, 2017
Song recorded:  March 17, April 7, 2017
Song first released:  March 18, 2017
Single released:  April 7, 2017

Toby Wilson – Pedal Steel Guitar

My Heart Is In Memphis

You can pre-order my new record here!


Religion Is Stupid…

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Eleanor Rigby

I will lay out the reason this song is even on the record.  “Tony”, in the story below, is Tony Preston, my good friend and musical companion.

March 18, 2017:

Tony:  I challenge you!!!  I throw down the gauntlet!!!

Me:  A duel?  Parcheze?  Staring contest?  Twister???

Tony:  You record a cover of my choice!!!  I record a cover your choice.  Bob Denver chooses the winner!!!

Me:  Can do it any way I want?  And same for u?  No winners tho – in war, nobody wins…

Tony:  Bob Denver is dead, sooooo… we won’t actually find out who wins until neither of us cares anyway, and yes!!!  Anyway we want!!!  Call it an exercise of creative freedom.

Me:  Deal.  Challenge accepted.  Here are the rules.  No hitting about the hair and face, and that’s it!!!

So that’s how it went down.  I chose “Fall in Philadelphia” by Daryl Hall and John Oates.  Tony was probably thinking, “What the h, H”.  Then he gives me “Eleanor Rigby“…  A freaking Beatles song.  And a hard one at that.  COME ON!!!

So Tony’s cover is incredible.  Here is a link, give it a listen!

So I went to work on my rendition of a classic.  I hate you Tony…

I actually like how it turned out!  My wife disagrees.  But hey, can’t win ’em all…

As I listened to the lyrics – lyrics I’d heard so many times before, but never paid much attention to – I was saddened.  This is what we have turned a relationship with Jesus into…  A charade…  A lie… A sham…

It seems so many walk away from Christ, because we Christians so often show how God can’t be real – because we live and act as if He isn’t…  That’s what I hear in these sad, lonely lyrics…

Yeah – religion is stupid.  God is good, and so much bigger than any dumb man-made religious activity.

Eleanor Rigby
Eleanor Rigby
Picks up the rice in a church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window
Wearing the face that she keeps in a jar by the door
Who is it for?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Father Mackenzie
Writing the words of a sermon that no one will hear
No one comes near
Look at him working
Donning his socks in the night when there’s nobody there
What does he care?

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people…

Eleanor Rigby
Died in the church and was buried along with her name
Nobody came
Father Mackenzie
Wiping the dirt from his hands as he walks from the grave
No one was saved…

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

Ah, look at all the lonely people…

Song written:  Some time in 1966 (Paul McCartney and John Lennon)
Song recorded:  March 16, 2017
Song first released:  March 17 2017
Songwriters:  Paul McCartney, John Lennon

Eleanor Rigby

You can pre-order my new record here!


That’s What Friends Are For…

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I Miss You

I have this old friend – we’ll call him Mike.  Because – his name is really Mike.  Mike and I were besties, before people who use the word besties were people.  From around 5th to 8th grade, we were almost inseparable.  His parents took me with them on outings, as if I were the third sibling.

Mike and I used to collect comic books.  We’d go on this adventure bike ride to some guys house, who sold every kind of comic book from a room in his home.  This, before comic book shops were a common thing.  And this, before we knew anything about child abductions – man if our folks knew what we were doing…).  We bought EVERYTHING we could afford and CONSUMED them.

And we wrote our own stories.  Tons of them.  I don’t think either of us has any of them anymore – bummer, would’ve been cool to share with our kiddos.

Mike and I used to love wrestling too.  We created our own championship belts, and had All Star Wresting matches in his back yard.  Mom, no worries, we were both pretty mild and meek, so nobody got hurt.  We just “pretended” to be violent.

We used to sneak the tv on late at night to watch SNL.  I remember “Chopping Broccoli!”, laughing our buts off.  Quietly, of course…  🙂

We did EVERYTHING together.

Until girls.  Then I sorta pushed Mike to the back burner.  He was a year younger, and I was in middle school when he was still in elementary.  And we just sorta – grew apart.

I remember, one summer we were both on the same softball team.  Mike was just out of 5th grade, I just out of 6th.  Neither of us was any good.  But for some reason, HE was singled out by the coach, to be benched.  To the point where it wasn’t fruitful to remain on the team.  I remember Mike’s dad having it out with our coach, and he and Mike walked off the field.  I thought I should really follow, because he’s my BEST friend.

But I didn’t….

Mike broke his leg in wrestling, in middle school.  in practice.  A team-mate did it.  By accident.  But it was horrible!  I remember watching my best friend writing in pain, and there was nothing I could do about it.

And then some on the team made fun of Mike – as if any of them would be able to handle that kind of pain…  Yet – I don’t think I did much to defend my friend…

I remember all these things that I should have done or said.  It’s funny – Mike heard this song, as I wrote about all this, and wondered, “Why are you so hard on yourself?”  He was so kind, he never once thought I wasn’t a good friend.  What a good guy…

I really, really liked that guy.  He was the real deal, even at such a young age, when people started to become fake.  He introduced me to Bruce Springsteen.  He let me tag along to everything – and never said a word when I did not reciprocate.

Recently, I re-connected with Mike on Facebook.  I am friends with his sister, and I’d ask her from time to time, “How is Mike doing?”  He finally got on, and we got to chat a bit.  Super nice, super sweet, and what social media was intended for.  I really hope he comes up to MN some time, and we can get coffee, or go buy comics together.

For you Mike.  I do miss you…

I Miss You
Remember Saturday Nights
We laughed so hard we cried
Then a girl got in the middle
Or maybe it was my pride
I miss you…

Remember all the title bouts
Armbars and sleeper holds, what was that about?
But then you broke your leg, not a word was said
When they laughed behind your back
I miss you…

All those stories we shared
They vanished, as if into thin air
You weren’t invited to my wedding
I really wish you could’ve been there
I miss you…

I wish I was a better friend
I should’ve walked with you when your baseball dreams
Came to an end
All those things I can’t undo
Now it’s too late to pretend
I miss you…

Song written:  March 7
Song recorded:  March 7
First released:  March 7

I Miss You

You can pre-order my new record here!

The Title Songs…

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If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow (Electric)

If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow (Acoustic)

So I had this opportunity to submit a song to some Nashville studio, where musicians would record it.  Joe Gilder is the man who organized this – he does a ton of tutorials on home recording, mixing, mastering, etc.  An all around good guy, great teacher and musician, funny as all get out (Watch some of his Gilder Cam videos, they are great!).

So I had about a month, maybe less, to get a song together and submitted for this recording session.  What am I going to write about???

I started to formulate the idea of writing songs in different locations – sorta like the Foo Fighters did for their HBO special and record Sonic Highways.  I knew we were going to be going to Seattle, and hopefully Memphis during the year.  And this song would be recorded in Nashville (even if I wasn’t AT those recording sessions).

But I wasn’t a fan of trying to make something, that was cool for the foos, into something really not so cool for me.  So I scrapped that, and wrote about – the fact that I’d never really BEEN anywhere.  And more notable – haven’t yet been where I want to be, home with my Father…

I wrote this song, intending to do two version from the get-go.  One with the Nashville backing band, one solo acoustic.  I recorded a scrap demo version to send to Joe and team, on February 7.  Recording in Nashville was slated for March 9.

The March 9 date went well, but apparently the disk failed that had all the files.  So they had to reschedule.

So March 21st, all but Joe’s acoustic parts were recorded.  I got the raw tracks, and thought, “Wow!  This sounds NOTHING like I intended – and I love it!”  It has a sort of Tom Petty vibe.  I LOVE Tom Petty, and have tried without success to write like him.  These guys nailed it – and how did they know???

But what should I do with Joe’s acoustic part, which I don’t even think I need?

So I used his part (recorded on March 28) for the acoustic version.

I laid my vocal tracks to each version, and had my friend Kate Stiglicz come in and play cello on the acoustic version – sounds amazing.  I trust you will agree.

So – after this song was done, I started to think maybe I should put a record together…

If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow
If I could leave this place tomorrow
With suitcase under my arm
I’ve never really been
But really, what’s the harm?

I’ve got no place to run to
No place I’m running from
But life keeps moving on

I’ve got my roots planted firmly
But I’ve a runaway heart
If I’d only started early
Now it seems much too late to start…

But you tell me that You’re for me
And You’ve known me all along
And we’ll keep moving on
Life keeps moving on

Now I know where I’m heading
This place is not my own
So I’ll keep moving on

And never will You leave me
And I’ll be Yours forever
Life keeps moving on

Song written:  January 27, 30, February 7, 2017
Song recorded (Nashville):  March 9, 21, 28
Song recorded (MN):  February 7, March 30, July 19, 2017
Song first released:  February 7, 2017
Single released:  March 31, 2017

Musicians (Electric Version):
Jason Roller – lead and rhythm guitars
Matt McGee – bass guitar
Steve Peffer – Hammond B3, Wurlitzer
Tim Horsley – drums

Musicians (Acoustic Version):
Joe Gilder – acoustic guitar
Steve Peffer – Wurlitzer
Kate Stiglicz – cello

If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow (Electric)

If I Could Leave This Place Tomorrow (Acoustic)

You can pre-order my new record here!

For Devon…

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God Be With Me

This is the first song I wrote for this collection.  The story goes like this:

Some time in December, our nephew Devon, stationed in San Diego CA, asked my wife, “Tell Ted I’d like him to write me a song.  Make it a country song”.

At first, I was a bit intimidated.  I have never written a song on demand.  And a country song?

Then I thought, why not?

I quickly tossed the country song idea – would love to write country songs, but I don’t think I can intentionally write one.  This made it easier to just put something down – the result being “God Be With Me”, or the working title, “For Devon”.

I wrote the song in one sitting, and recorded and mixed over three days.  The song was finished and delivered to Devon on New Year’s Day, January 1, 2017.  I made his mom and my wife cry.  I too write the songs that make the young girls cry…

I really like this song, and I really really like Devon.  He’s a good egg.  A bit wild, a bit rebellious.  But good people all the same.

A note:  Devon was discharged from the Marines, due to back issues.  Total bummer.  But he’ll always be a Marine to me.  Semper Fi, young man!

God Be With Me
Out on a mission
From boy to man
Family I’m missing
In this foreign land

God before me
My brothers behind me
God be with me

My father, he worries
My mother, she cries
But the world is a dark place
And my oath is right

God before me
My brothers behind me
God be with me

Tell my mama she don’t have to cry
I’ll be home soon
And you say, “Semper Fi”

God before me
God behind me
God be with me

Song written:  December 23, 2016
Song recorded:  December 29, 30, 31, 2016
Song first released:  January 1, 2017

God Be With Me

You can pre-order my new record here!