Styles: Indie Folk, Spoken Word, Singer/Songwriter
Location: Fort Smith, AK
Christian label: N/A
Category: The Message whats this?
In 2004, my brother and a few of his friends met me in Dallas, TX to see a show at one of the local venues. The bill had mewithoutYou and Blindside as the headliners, and there was the usual array of local openers and bands I had never heard of before either of them were to hit the stage later in the evening. During one of the band changes, a skinny, small little man walked up onto stage and picked up the mic. He was easily the same weight as my gymnast girlfriend (now wife), and his tight, thrift store worn clothes didn’t help the illusion. He walked to the front of the stage, smile at every body, said a very polite “hello”, looked down, and in a huge voice proclaimed” I AM HAARRDD-CORE!“. For the next minute or so, this little man delivered a passionate, funny, and intelligent rant/poem about the state of hardcore scene that was prevalent in the Dallas area at the time. I was shocked, it was spoken word poetry, at a hard rock show, and….it was great. The crowd erupted with applause when he was finished, and over the course of the night he treated us to more of his bizarrely passionate poetry in between the music. I, like so many have since, had been introduced to Bradley Hathaway.
Bradley Hathaway is a 26 year old former University Of Arkansas student, who quit school in the middle of his time there to manage a local music venue called The Gate. It was there that he not only met many of the bands that made up the Christian hardcore, metal, and indie scene, but also saw poet Clayton Scott perform. Hathaway was so moved by Scott’s performance, that he wrote his first poem soon after, which eventually led to many others. He soon began to tour with hardcore and metal bands, delighting crowds all over the nation with his unique takes on faith, love, fear, and the world as he saw it. Bradley’s poems are spoken word, but he has a present rhythm that exists on each song. For him, the words are only half of it, the way you emphasize and pronounce those words are what give meaning to people and allow the poems to stick in people’s heads.
It is crazy to see a few hundred people “sing” along with a poem the same way they would a song on the radio. There are few as popular to sing along with than Bradley’s social commentary on masculinity, “Manly Man”, illustrated beautifully here by Relevent Magazine.
Like many artists though, Hathaway was not content to continue to do the same thing over and over again. After beginning to integrate musical elements into his poetry, he decided to flip the table and integrate poetry elements into music. Calling on a wide array of friends and trusted collaborators, Bradley Hathaway recorded Mouth Of Dust, a stripped down folk/singer-songwriter album that demonstrates his ability to adapt his almost child-like faith into song.
Here is Bradley Hathaway performing one of the lead songs from that CD, “Look Up”
There is not much you can say about Bradley Hathaway that is bad. He is a great man seeking God’s heart through his poetry, music, and his life. It just doesn’t seem right to close this post any other way than sharing one of his poems.
This is “The Hug Poem”
I read about how you touched them and they were healed
Or even if someone just touched your cloak they were forever changed
You let a broken women bathe your feet in her tears
And you washed your best friend’s feet
I am just wondering though did you just ever hug people
I mean I know that it is a silly question and all I am sure you would have why wouldn’t you
But its one of those things that was never mentioned that got me thinking about it
And how whenever there was a touch from you sins were forgiven and sickness fell
I think I’m caught up in my sins last time I checked all my body parts were properly working, nothing special here
I am just a kid with a heavy heart these passing sunrises and sunsets
I don’t think our encounter would have ended up in the gospels or anything
Because all I really need is a hug
That is ok for me to imagine right
That’s not going to be conflicting with any sort of theology is it
Ok good, then hug me
But not one of these side ways one arm around the neck type hugs
Or the ghetto right hand clasp fists elbows to chest pit pat on the back back
Or you put your right arm over my right arm and I put my left arm over your left arm and we make this weird sort of diagonal thing
Nah none of those
BEAR HUG ME MAN!!
Take your old school carpenter arms and throw them over my upper body leaving my arms dangling underneath yours somewhere and I can barely move them because your squeezing so hard
But don’t pick me up and make my back pop because I hate it when people do that
And hold me, hold me here in your arms until I start to cry because
I WANT TO CRY
But I just can’t seem to do it on my own
I have been teary eyed once recently but not even enough for a drip down my cheek
There’s just hurt in my soul that needs to be purged so hold me in this hold pose until the pain is flowing from my eyes and nose
You can get Bradley Hathaway‘s music digitally on and Amazon
You can also get his CDs on Amazon:
All The Hits So Far
The Thing That Poets Write About, The Thing That Singers Sing About