Valleys was written at a time when everything seemed to be falling apart at the same time for my family and me. We had just gotten back from a West Coast tour when our car broke down, then broke down again in a worse way. Both of our phones broke. A big check I was depending on from a show got stolen. Our second car broke down. A family member died. A quick repair turned into several hundred dollars more than promised. We were in the middle of buying a home, and there was an issue with our bank loan. All of these things happened within a few weeks, and my wife and I found ourselves lying awake at night wondering how we were going to pay our bills.
It was the morning after one of those nights that I got out of bed, sat down in a chair with my guitar, and started playing some simple melodies while praying. In the midst of that, I found hope in God’s assurance that whatever we were going through right then, it wasn’t permanent. In fact, Jesus had gone through nights crying knowing the pain that he was going to endure, but came out of it triumphant. It was like the feeling when you’ve got the flu and you’re on your knees clutching the toilet nearly wishing for death, but you know that sometime you’ll feel better and won’t even have the ghost of that feeling left in you. So that morning, with a strange mix of hope and despair, I wrote this song, “Valleys.”
When I got the chance to go to Nashville and co-write with David Leonard, I got the chance to re-examine the song with the goal of focusing on the theme of hope. As soon as we found a fresh perspective on the melody and lyric of the first verse, we took the idea and ran with it.
In the end, “Valleys” is the story of being absolutely desperate, but knowing that these things aren’t forever. We can rise up from a valley.