“If you know anything about the story of Mars Hill [Church in Seattle],” says Bryan, “if you know the story of the downfall and disintegration of Mars Hill Church, the story of [the pastor’s] resignation, and the relationship between him and Dustin, then you’ll know what Dustin is singing about when you listen to ‘Gallows.’”

We listen.

And, frankly, even if I hadn’t heard testimonies of hurt and betrayal and loss from so many who experienced Mars Hill’s disintegration, I would sense that this is not a generic, all-purpose song about pride. It’s a song written with a real human being in mind.

Check out my latest edition of Listening Closer over at Christ and Pop Culture, and you can read all about my road-trip listening adventure with Bryan Zug, as we attended to new music by former Mars Hill worship leader and Thrice singer Dustin Kensrue. It was an eye-opening — or, better, an ear-opening — experience.

This edition is actually Part Two of a two-part reflections on the power of particularity in songwriting. You can read last week’s installment, Part One, which focused on new music by Josh Garrels, here.