10 Tattoos Inspired By Lyrics

Happy National Tattoo Day! Tattoos can be a powerful way of telling our stories, of marking life events, of honoring the processes of our soul. For anyone who processes the world through the lens of music, the intersection of tattoos and songs just makes sense.

We asked you to share the stories of your lyrical tattoos. Here are your stories, your works of art.

The Song: “The Rose” by Memphis May Fire


Molly designed this piece with artist Spencer Minor, inspired by the Memphis May Fire lyric “we are the rose that grew from the crack in the concrete.”

The Song: “Times” by Tenth Avenue North


“A few months after my dad was killed in a traffic accident, I heard the song Times by Tenth Avenue North. My dad was a farmer that loved sunsets, and in the midst of the time of grief, and now in the time without my dad, God was and is still over under inside and in between.” – Dan

The Song: “Stars” by Skillet


“This is Inspired by the Skillet song Stars. I’m a huge long time fan, but I love the lyrics to this song and the story behind it…that God is there for you no matter what!” – Sharayah

The Song: “Dare You to Move” by Switchfoot


“‘Dare You To Move’ by Switchfoot has played a huge role in the last several years of my life. Wanted to get this as a reminder of where I’ve been (and all I’ve still yet to do.)” – Sarah

The Song: “Unbroken” by Disciple


“[This is] Disciple’s Attack album cover with the artist’s flare put on it.” – Courtney

The Band: Random Hero


“It wasn’t so much song lyrics, but it was inspired by Aaron from Random Hero message that he gives to the crowd at shows. He always stresses how we can not avoid pain, but can chose to be miserable or do something to change it.” – Jennifer

The Song: “Feed the Machine” by RED


“My ‘Feed the Machine’ tattoo inspired by the Red song of the same name.” – John

The Song: “Invisible” by Disciple


“This song came into my life during a broken time. I had been dumped by a not so serious boyfriend at the time in a very lousy way. I felt like I was undeserving, a vapor. I was crying every night feeling completely worthless, like I could never be loved and was all alone… When that Disciple album came out, I had set it aside and didn’t listen until one night I was driving home from picking up some of my belongings from my ex’s house. That song came on, and I had never felt God’s presence so harshly until that moment… I felt like he had just wrapped me in his arms, telling me that I am deserving and I’m not alone or invisible. To this day I still cannot listen to that song without crying because it reminds me of a time where God physically comforted me when I needed it. The Bible verse is what the song was inspired by straight from the CD booklet.” – Breanne

The Song: “I Am A Stone” by Demon Hunter


“DH has been a huge and important part of my life since they began and these lyrics are a daily reminder to me that God in his unshakeable love and faithfulness to me and his unending pursuit of me is and always will be by my side…even in the darkest moments when we tend to forget that He is there and we are not alone.” – Amy

The Band: Day of Fire


“This is Day of Fire’s logo. Got this done a few years ago by the former lead singer, Josh Brown. It’s supposed to represent the Holy Spirit.” – Jeremy

Do you have a special story about how a song has impacted you? You can share the story by clicking here!

Stories: ‘Control’ by The Protest

The Song: “Control” by The Protest


The Story: “I said for years I needed to stop drinking because it wasn’t good for me. Yet I never was able to,” Courtney shares. “Early 2015 God said it was time to put the bottle down. I told God I thought that was impossible. I told the creator of the universe something was impossible. Over and and over God told me I could do it and that it was time to put the bottle down. Over and over I ignored him.”

That’s where The Protest’s song came in. “I got The Protest’s Great Lengths album in mail. It felt like it came out of nowhere through friends. I stuck it in my car. I decided to drink before church because I thought I could endure it better. So I had a buzz at church on a Wednesday. I got in the car to leave and ‘Control’ came on.”

That experience became a turning point for Courtney in her process of defeating addiction, although it was still a process. “That song became God’s anthem to continue telling me to put the bottle down. I still didn’t listen. I put the album down for a while even because I couldn’t stand hearing God talking to me. July 2015, I finally decided to have faith that if God said I could quit drinking that it must mean I could. I dumped out what I had left of a bottle of Jack Daniels and gave it up.”

You can see some of Courtney’s art inspired by songs like this at Photography Art of an Eccentric Sheep.

If you have a story like this of ways a song has changed your life, visit our contact page or email directly to maryrosenikkel@gmail.com.

Panic! At The Disco Topped the Billboard 200. Here’s What That Means

Panic! At The Disco, one pillar of what is widely known as the “Emo Trinity” (the other two being Fall Out Boy and My Chemical Romance), recently scored their first debut at number 1 on the Billboard 200 chart. The album that finally landed that status is Pray for the Wicked, which dropped on June 22.

If I were writing this from the year 2000, this event would be more or less unremarkable: a band with 14 years of history and decent chart success nailing a number 1 album. But the fact is that the year is 2018, and for a band that gained its momentum and maturity in the alternative rock scene to be sitting atop the charts? That is enough of a novelty to pay attention to.

Panic!, now the sole property of frontman Brendon Urie, has shifted its sound from vaudeville-meets-emo to more of a brassy west coast pop sound. The guitars have become more muted, the melodies more hooky. But the influence of Urie’s alternative background remains: you can hear it in the clever, tongue-in-cheek lyricism that remains far more wordy than your standard pop fare. This is a classic emo trait.

What this means is that rock still has something valuable to offer the market at large. Even if some core aspects of rock shift or adapt with time, the key elements that forged a fiercely loyal following still have the ability to keep gaining new audiences. What Panic! At The Disco has proved is that you can grow up as a rock artist without losing the best of where you started, and there’s still a world out there who will (quite literally) buy it.

Granted, Pray for the Wicked is primarily a party album, with themes that only venture as deep as possible cautionary tales (“Roaring 20s,” “One of the Drunks,” “Dying in LA”). Some rock fans might hope for the days when weightier examples of their culture were in the spotlight again. A hope which is a distinct possibility; if we go back just a few years, this same general concept was upheld in 2015 with Breaking Benjamin’s The Dark Before the Dawn. The long-awaited return from Breaking Benjamin was piercingly spiritual, as most good rock tends to be in one form or another, and also extremely forthright in its aggressive musical style. In December of 2017, U2– who set the tone for this entire generation of conscious rock– secured their eighth career number 1 with Songs of Experience. The market is making a declaration to any rock and roll makers: we’re still listening.

Stories: ‘Watch it Burn’ by Disciple

The Song: “Watch it Burn” by Disciple

The Story: For Courtney, “Watch it Burn” became an anthem in the middle of extreme anxiety. “When I first started experiencing an allergic reaction to disposable gloves, it triggered immense anxiety and compulsions. I was terrified of dying. I worried about contamination and infection all day every day. I never felt clean. Yet I was working with urine samples in a lab that probably would glow like the sun in a black light. I was out of my mind with anxiety.”

“For some reason, Disciple’s song ‘Watch it Burn’ is the one that kept my sanity together,” Courtney shared. “It was just something about singing that line, ‘to all the hell inside that’s been controlling me, set it off, watch it all burn down,’ that got me through many bouts of panic.”

You can see some of Courtney’s art inspired by songs like this at Photography Art of an Eccentric Sheep.

If you have a story like this of ways a song has changed your life, visit our contact page or email directly to maryrosenikkel@gmail.com.


The Cause: Bro-Am Foundation

The Mission: The Bro-Am began as a yearly charity event hosted by Switchfoot in their home territory of Moonlight Beach in Encinitas, CA. Although originally the event benefited a multitude of charities supporting at risk youth in the California community, eventually the event would grow into a foundation all its own. Now in addition to the summer surf and music festival, the Bro-Am foundation is active year round in providing music lessons to at risk youth and providing homeless kids with resources and safety.

The Band: Switchfoot has masterminded the event and the foundation from day one. Over the years they have had a multitude of legendary artists get involved and share the stage with them at the event itself, and their own music studio in San Diego has hosted some of the year round work of the foundation. Switchfoot wrote their song “Dark Horses” (from 2011’s Vice Verses) as an anthem to the youth they have been partnering with for well over a decade.

Get Involved: You can volunteer to facilitate the event itself, sponsor the work directly supporting children, be a vendor at the event, or simply donate from wherever you are in the world. To learn more, visit broam.org/play-your-part.


Farewell, Third Day: A Look at the Legacy

Legacy. Priscilla Chan, a philanthropist and spouse to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg, is quoted as saying “We–the current generation–have a moral responsibility to make the world better for future generations.”

In the music industry, this has often been fulfilled over the course of time. We’ve seen legacies left and ways paved by many, from Elvis Presley and The Beatles to Larry Norman and Petra.

After time has passed, this generation will be able to reflect on the music and legacy left by a group of high school kids hailing from the Peach State (Atlanta, Georgia) who decided to form a band. Initially, singer Mac Powell and guitarist Mark Lee experimented with the band Nuclear Hoedown, but later initiated a southern rock band that would garner some impressive statistics: 1 American Music Award, 4 Grammys, 24 Dove Awards.

Over their 27 years as a band, Third Day has indeed left an indelible mark not only on the industry, but by leaving behind impactful songs that will transcend generations. For the majority of their tenure, Third Day was comprised of Mac Powell (a dude who was made with vocal chops for southern rock), Mark Lee (one of the most brilliant songwriters who happens to be a solid guitarist), David Carr on drums, Tai Anderson on bass and Brad Avery tickling the ivories. The lineup has changed a bit in the last few years, but Mark Lee and Mac Powell have been constants.

Among their many legacies, Third Day paved the way for the industry as we know it today, from their freshman self-titled debut through their final studio album. It may be too early to know the full impact of their legacy; only time will tell. However, it’s not too soon to reflect back on what they’ve meant to so many fans. Their early records were rooted in southern and grunge rock, with tunes like “Consuming Fire,” “Blackbird,” “You Make Me Mad,” “Alien” and “Sky Falls Down.” Their sophomore project, Conspiracy No. 5, garnered a Dove Award for Rock Album of the Year along with a Grammy nod for Best Rock Gospel Album, an award they’d later earn for Come Together and Wire. Over time, they updated their style to a more pop rock vibe on their later records, all along continuing to earn accolades, recognition and chart success.

Beyond their musical impact, Third Day was uniquely able to sing about some very challenging and soul-searching subject matters. Their lyrics contained themes of broken people in need of grace and hope, messages that can be found throughout rock and roll today thanks in part to their willingness to go deeper in their message than simply praise songs written for Sunday mornings (they found space for Sunday music, too–but more on that later).

“Thief” is a song from their debut record that tells the story of the cross from the forgiven thief’s point of view. “Cry Out to Jesus” and “I Need a Miracle” are songs with messages of hope for those going through a dark season; the latter was written because of the former. The story goes that the band met a couple in New Jersey after a concert whose son had been depressed and drove deep into the woods to end his life. But he turned on the radio to hear “Cry Out to Jesus,” which gave him encouragement to keep going.

Third Day also was one of the first rock/pop bands to release worship albums with Offerings and Offerings II, which led the way to an explosion of bands crossing over to worship (here’s looking at you, Newsboys). This became a trend in radio that shapes what is played in most Christian formats today: a blend of pop and worship, with very little room for music that pushes boundaries.

Their final album, then, is an ironic indication of the state of the industry they helped shape. In 2017, Third Day released Revival, a passion project in which the band returned to their southern rock roots. It is among their best work, filled with plenty of hooks, plenty of rock, and showing off those familiar vocal chops provided by Mac Powell. Though it is deserving of attention, Mac Powell put it best during their final show in Nashville: many folks haven’t heard of it because the founding members decided to do a project they would proud of. Unfortunately (and ironically), it is not music friendly to the radio format Third Day has helped usher in, so it is not a record that was recognized by many fans.

This adequately sums up the state of the industry: there is a small subset of artists getting the bulk of the national airplay from radio, and a growing alternative and underground made up of independent rock and hip-hop artists, making music that still speaks to the deepest, darkest parts of our soul and gives us hope to carry on.

It is hard to be in a successful band for 25 years. After their recent hiatus, Third Day recently embarked on a 12 city farewell tour to say thank you to longtime fans. Perhaps it would be fitting, years from now, if we can reflect back on this moment as the beginning of a Revival in the music industry — a time when creativity is rewarded and lyrics are real and honest. That would be the most fitting legacy of all.

So thank you, Third Day, for staying true to your roots, and for leaving us with music that gives us hope to carry on through the toughest seasons of life.

This post was written by contributing writer Matt Durlin.

30 Seconds to Mars’ ‘Rescue Me’ And the Universal Cry For Help

[Content warning: suicide]

The of suicide has been painfully present in the news over the span of the past month. A few high profile losses paired with sobering news about the suicide rate from the CDC (in summary: it’s going up) have continued to open the window for questions to be asked with increasing urgency. How do we talk about depression, suicide, mental health? How do we help others? How do we help ourselves?

These are questions rock music has always been uniquely poised to speak into as a genre that builds itself on the raw, on the brutal, on the most pure passions and pain of human experience. Rock music’s “stick it to the man” ethos attracts the loners, the outcasts, the ones broken by a society that might not know what to do with them. And especially in the terrible void left by losing some of our own last year with the deaths of Chester Bennington and Chris Cornell, the rock community is offered a crucial opportunity.

It’s a moment 30 Seconds to Mars, the unstoppable rock force built by actor Jared Leto and his brother Shannon, has owned fully with their new music video for “Rescue Me.” The song is part of the band’s most recent album America, a project that explores different elements of this unique cultural moment in history. Part of that cultural moment is, undeniably, a desperate sense of need to be saved from ourselves. 30 Seconds to Mars tells that story by simply showing us intimate, emotional moments with people from a wide variety of backgrounds and contexts. You can watch the video below.


“Rescue Me is a song about pain, a song about empowerment, a song about faith, and a song about freedom,” Jared Leto shared in the video’s description. “Freedom from the wreckage of your past. Freedom from the bondage of self. And freedom to embrace all the promises that life has to offer. It’s also a song about the brutal war so many of us wage against fear, depression and anxiety in the hope that we might, one day, live a life filled with happiness and dreams. Pain does not discriminate. It can affect us all. In our bodies. Our hearts. Our minds. And often, when that pain is emotional or mental, we are afraid to speak up. None of us are ‘ok’ all the time. And there shouldn’t be a stigma when we aren’t. Both my brother and I have had our own intense personal battles and it has, and continues to be, life changing. I try to remember that just past the darkest days await the brightest and most rewarding moments. And that change is always right around the corner.”

The reality that that perspective could be voiced by someone in Leto’s position– an accomplished actor, musician, and cultural icon– speaks to the broader reality that the desire for salvation from the worst of our fears is universal. Leto has answered that desire one way. The answer for someone else might look entirely different. But the recognition that everyone is looking for it bridges divides, reminds us to be a little kinder to each other in incredibly polarizing times.

And maybe the answers to the hard questions begin with something as simple as that: an honest admission that no one is exempt, regardless of belief system or background or social status. Ownership of our own stories and the right to tell them with vulnerability. Recognition that rescue often involves reaching beyond ourselves.

If you need immediate help, you can contact the Crisis Text Line at 741741 or the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. For more resources and local longterm support, you can visit twloha.com/find-help

The Exodus Road

The Cause: The Exodus Road

The Mission: The Exodus Road exists to find and free victims of human trafficking. In addition to equipping and running reconnaissance missions, The Exodus Road works with local law enforcement to empower communities. They also follow up with rehabilitation.

The Band: Remedy Drive has transformed their band into a vehicle for justice. The work of rescue is the subject of their songs, the purpose of any proceeds raised at concerts and from merchandise. Lead singer David Zach has personally been a part of several overseas rescue missions, and he shares his experiences speaking at universities across the country.

You can hear one of Remedy Drive’s justice anthems along with a first hand story of Zach’s experiences in Southeast Asia in the video below.


On Underoath, From a Longtime (Christian) Fan

This post originally appeared on Threads of Stars.

Recently Underoath, one of the most crucial catalysts for hardcore as we know it, returned to the music scene with the announcement that they had an album done– and we’d be hearing it soon. However, this was not the reason why they instantly became a trending topic in Christian music circles. The bigger news was that they’d come back with songs requiring an “explicit” mark on iTunes.

Underoath was formed by church kids in the late 90s, or else the conversation never would have bent this way. The band was in the Tooth & Nail family, a label that has historically signed bands with spiritual roots who choose not to confine themselves to one market. Underoath had a few songs that had notable spiritual undertones, particularly through the influence of original lead singer Dallas Taylor and the then-teenaged firebrand drummer and backup vocalist Aaron Gillespie. But the shift to lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain, the focus on mainstream markets for touring, and the eventual infamous year that Underoath was pulled from Warped Tour amid drug abuse rumors quickly signaled that the band was becoming something different. A few years later, they began to say so openly in interviews, in performances, in conversations, to anyone who would ask: they were not a “Christian” band. They were six men of diverse beliefs and positions in life, making music they all mutually enjoyed. Listeners were welcome to resonate with that music, wherever they came from.

Over ten years passed– then entered “On My Teeth.” The attention span of the internet is unfortunately short. Listeners who remembered Underoath from youth group but missed the decade since found themselves (understandably) stunned by what they heard. And I, as a known Underoath fan who both works in Christian music and also attends Warped Tour every year, found myself in countless conversations about the whole thing.

The situation has been a fascinating case study to me on how those who identify as Christians respond to those who believe differently– especially those who have left Christianity. And that is indeed the route that a few of the individual Underoath members have taken, the professional marketing decision aside.

In light of that, I’ve been perplexed by an adamant requirement many Christians have voiced that the members of Underoath should still adhere to Christian principles and value statements. I have intense theological discomfort with that notion, and in fact I think it contradicts what even the most conservative Evangelical Christianity purports to teach. “It’s not religion, it’s a relationship” is a phrase that has been repeated until it has practically lost useful meaning, but the core intent behind it is sound: any behavioral requirements of Christianity, under the new covenant as established by the first century Jewish rabbi Jesus, are only supposed to be lived as a natural outworking of receiving the grace of God. This is why the answer to the “works or faith?” question is simply “yes.” They come together, or not at all. Behavior modification without the Spirit is essentially worthless. Worse, it’s the exact kind of thing Jesus repeatedly corrected. The entire sermon on the mount, one of the most crucial accounts we have of Jesus’s primary teachings, is about taking moral codes and dismantling them, reframing unity with God as being about who we are instead of what we do.

So to require men who may or may not be Christians (by traditionalist definitions) to act in accordance with Christian values is actually a kind of insidious heresy that undermines the very core of the gospel. My language is strong here for a reason; any ideology that places certain moral codes above a heart encounter with the person of Jesus, Grace and Love and It-Is-Finished-Redemption Himself, ceases to be Christian.

“Ah, BUT,” some have said, “Aaron Gillespie at the very least still identifies as a Christian. Can we just excuse him for being a part of a band that would use profanity in a song?”

The caveat I would offer here would be that not all Christians actually believe swearing to be innately a sin. But that aside, if you are not in that camp, this brings us to the core question I mentioned earlier: how do we interact with people who believe differently than us, who may have even walked away from what we believe after years of standing in agreement with us?

Does someone who we do not agree with on some things still have anything to offer that we can enjoy? Who is there room for at the table of the Kingdom of God?

I would never want to undermine the importance of personal convictions; again, that is not even what is at stake here. The question is that of interacting with someone whose convictions are quite different, even at odds with, your own. This is a question we navigate daily. For example, most Christians watch movies with varying levels of conflict with their value system. I can also almost guarantee that there are at least one or two people on the staff of every single movie like that who would identify in some way with the person of Jesus Christ. Are they at fault? Or what about working retail for a massive corporation with questionable values, a company that exploits the labor of slaves to increase their profits? Would we feel as much unease with that as we would with a Christian in a mainstream market band? In short: these kinds of conflicts are inevitable and everywhere, and the answers are often on a case-by-case basis.

If you’ve grown up in the Church, in all likelihood you’ve also experienced watching someone you loved very deeply, someone you maybe even went on mission trips with, evolve in their belief system until they no longer identified as Christian. That loss of common ground, the fear of their soul being lost, is terrifying, and I think it is part of what has made the Underoath scenario difficult for many. There is a real sense of grief, and I believe that’s normal. I’ve actually heard the same grief echoed by my friends who do not identify as religious when one of their friends converts to Christianity; losing something that was once shared is always something that causes some heart pain, and that’s human and allowed. But the question is what we do with that pain, whether we let it become a knee-jerk rejection of the person who the pain is centered around– or whether we do the hard work of staying, of finding new ways to relate, of affirming that we value them as a person, not just a walking talking ideological checklist. I am grateful beyond words for all of the friends who have done that kind of process with me as we’ve grown up together.

Because here is another truth, one I have seen outlined over and over professionally in particular: imagine that someone is deeply, terribly wounded, and they go to a hospital emergency room. They sit there for days bleeding out, but no one can get the wound closed. They’ll inevitably say “hey, I have to try going somewhere else to get healed or I’ll die.” Now imagine that the doctors and nurses in the ER, those who claimed to be healers, actually actively shot the wounded person in the back the whole time they were trying to drag themselves out to find help. What do you think the likelihood is that that patient would ever return to that hospital?

And of course we don’t agree with all the reasons why someone would leave our particular belief. If we did agree with them, we’d be joining them. But there’s room within that disagreement for grace– in fact, I would say that it’s required of us.

If we are who we say we are as followers of Jesus, we are always required to show the most grace. If we are who we say we are, we never have an excuse to avoid the high road (even when it’s harder). If we are who we say we are, we never get to use our own grief as a weapon against another person. If we are who we say we are, we are equipped and called to radical acceptance, to listening, to empathy– to grieving someone’s wounds, even when (especially when) they came at the hands of our own spiritual family.

And it’s in that light that, although I don’t know anymore more about the individual stories of the band members aside from what they’ve shared publicly, I can respect and honor Spencer Chamberlain’s fight to claim sobriety, a fight echoed in Underoath’s new music. It’s in that light that I resonate with what Aaron Gillespie has shared about entering new understandings of Christianity. It’s in that light that I delight in some really well-written music. It’s in that light that I can let go of what doesn’t ring true for me, but still enjoy what does.

It’s in that light also that I respect anyone for whom listening to music like this isn’t healthy for their souls. I have been the person who could not listen to anything but Christian music because of where I was in my spiritual process. I have also been the person who avoided religious music as part of my healing process. I can empathize with both, and both are valid. But my hope for myself is that, wherever I am on that spectrum, I can be compassionate more than critical and see human beings clearer than the issues on which we disagree.

So I’ve preordered Erase Me, and I’ll be headbanging along. And whether you can join me in that or not, I hope you’ll join me in the road to compassion– a road I’ll be on for the rest of my life.

“Hey unfaithful, I will teach you
to be stronger.
Hey ungraceful, I will teach you
to forgive one another.
Hey unloving–
I will love you.”

“Some Will Seek Forgiveness, Others Escape,” Underoath, circa 2004


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