In March, as spiritual pop-smith Chris Taylor cruised Twitter, he stumbled upon a world-wide song-writing contest held by Dave Stewart. Stewart sought a musician to write lyrics and vocals to a piece of music he had already composed. The co-founder of the Eurythmics and producer of No Doubt, U2, and Mick Jagger, happened to be one of Taylor’s lifelong influences. So the veteran 42-year-old musician downloaded Stewart’s work-in-progress, gave it two listens, and wrote the breezy, sweet “Here and Gone (But Everlasting).”
“I’m like, ‘I got 20 minutes to kill,’” Taylor explained in a corner of a Northside Starbucks. “I didn’t even have a microphone, so I just sang into the `MacBook` mic.”
Taylor won the contest two weeks later, but the serendipity didn’t end there. In May, Taylor went to Nashville to submit his illustrations for a children’s book. Stewart happened to be in town, recording his first record in nearly a decade. Taylor met up with the producer and rubbed elbows with national players, including country superstar Martina McBride. Then Stewart proudly played his new acquaintances his collaboration with Taylor. “When you’re a songwriter, `it doesn’t` get any better than this,” Taylor said.
Here at home, Taylor’s job duties now include “worship leader,” “weekend do-gooder,” and “recovering near-celebrity.” Back in 2001, he attended the Dove Awards, the Christian music world’s Grammys. His solo debut, Worthless Pursuit of Things on the Earth, earned him a nomination for “Rock Album of the Year.” Taylor was amused because he never expected the national industry to care about a San Antonio songwriter. He still went to the show, but not in the standard tuxedo. He opted for a t-shirt and jeans.
“I was going through a separation with my ex-wife,” Taylor said. “I was so uncomfortable … it just seemed appropriate. You know, it was a nice t-shirt.” The shirt was handmade, with a message reading “I Need a Hug,” a sartorial cue of the emotional turbulence to come.
In 1993, Taylor led Love Coma, an alt-rock Christian group. They toured nationally in support of two full-length albums but quickly grew frustrated with the Christian music industry’s focus on evangelism over expression.
“It seemed like once you got on a Christian record label, they geared you towards the youth,” Taylor told UTSA’s Paisano in 2008. “I didn’t want to become a big Christian car salesman. I wanted to write mysterious songs that had a sort of truth to them, but the sort of truth that anyone could relate to, whether they believe in God or whether they believe in themselves.”
As Love Coma struggled with major label expectations, members started jumping ship. Guitarist Matt Slocum joined Sixpence None the Richer. Drummer Chris Dodds joined Two Tons of Steel. Taylor went solo and eventually produced his Dove-nominated record, not without some temporary bitterness about his former bandmates’ success. Then his divorce happened, with September 11, 2001 following shortly thereafter, prompting Taylor to do some major soul-searching.
He turned to a life of service, eventually becoming a worship leader at Rock Hills Church. On weekends, he does laborious charity: moving furniture, cleaning bathrooms, handing out food and water, and supporting inner-city San Antonio. In the last decade, he’s stayed with writing his universalized, spiritual tunes and hoping God doesn’t think they suck. Taylor also married again. Despite a professional music career nearing 20 years, the brushes with fame (or the famous) still sparkle for Taylor, as when Stewart leaned over to tell him something while they listened to their song in the Nashville studio.
“`Stewart said` ‘The other night I was in France and I played the song for The Edge `of U2` and he loved it,” Taylor said. “So for four minutes, I had The Edge’s undivided attention. I’m glad I wasn’t there because I probably would have wet myself.” •
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