Michael W. Smith Wants People to Talk More, Starts the “Conversation”

“Bring me into the conversation,” pleads Michael W. Smith’s song Conversation. The esteemed artist and composer said he originally released the song in 2018, but in wake of recent tumultuous events specifically around racial tension and awareness raised for injustices that still permeate American culture, he wanted to re-release the track using a visual medium. 

The resulting music video follows the story of multiple characters, their difficulties in various ‘conversations,’ followed by some scenes of resolution, and hope. Smith unpacked for American Songwriter why he chose to present the topic of the song in this format, and how he hopes viewers are impacted. 

What is the story behind the song, and the video?
I think basically what I’m trying to say through the song and video is that we don’t talk anymore. All of us, if we will be honest, have been judgmental of others who maybe have a different viewpoint than we do on various topics. Social media is a big danger and people just rant and say whatever they want, it’s very hateful and it’s time for that to end.

Why did you choose to present this song through this particular medium?
I believe the song speaks for itself, the lyrics are very powerful, but I always felt like there needed to be a video that expressed what I was feeling inside. Especially with so much turmoil in the country – the racial tensions escalating – I thought it was time.

Are there aspects of the video you feel communicate the message better visually, then simply through the audio track? 
I always think visuals can connect deeper on many levels, especially when it deals with something so critical. I guess I would say, an emergency. I think we are in a critical time in America where so much needs to be addressed.

What inspired the actual visual elements of the video? 
I just conveyed to the director that (the video) needed to be powerful. It needed to have a lot of images that really made you think, that brought awareness to the horrific situation that we are in but also brought a resolution – something that I believe is doable in this year of 2020.

What does “Conversation” mean to you? 
It simply means that you can sit down and have a conversation with anybody. Especially a conversation with someone who believes completely differently than you do, and you leave with respect for the other that believes differently. In the end, love rules the day. 

Why did you choose to put it out now? 
Conversation was actually released in 2018, on the A Million Lights album. I always knew it was a special song, and I was very passionate about it even the year it was released. I think the urgency of what has happened in 2020, on so many levels, made me rethink about how to actually re-release the song. (I wanted to) strip away the production, make it raw, and hopefully people really hear the song and what it’s really saying, and it would resonate with people’s hearts in the midst of all the chaos and division.

Do you anticipate doing future projects like this, both in lyrical content and video style? 
I am always aware of what’s going on in our world, especially in America, this country that I love. I will always address things that I believe are urgent and that I am called to, especially if I believe I have a voice to speak into the situation and hopefully offer some solutions.

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