When Matthew West asked fans to send in their stories for his new record, The Story of Your Life, he had no idea what he was in for. “I was blown away by the stories that people submitted,” says West. “One of the things that struck me the most from the very beginning—all the way through every one of the thousands of stories that I read—was the honesty and vulnerability that people displayed in sharing the stories of their lives with me.”
Although The Story of Your Life doesn’t release until Oct. 5, the first single is available on iTunes now. Called “My Own Little World,” the song is West’s direct response to the story gathering experience.
“Every song is inspired by the stories of real lives that people sent to me,” West explains. “Some of the songs are inspired by one specific story. But this particular song is inspired by the entire experience. I allowed myself one song on the album that really served as my response to how all of these stories have impacted me. It really changed the way I look at the world.”
West felt “My Own Little World” would be the perfect first radio song for this album “because it really is what God has shown me through reading all of these stories of people’s lives.” He hopes that as people listen to the songs, they will realize “there’s a great big world outside our door and it’s a world in need of help and in need of hope.”
Too often, says West, we protect ourselves, build up walls, and live inside our own little worlds. “That’s why this song says, ‘My own little world; population me.’ It really kind of challenges me, and hopefully all who hear it, that such thinking is not good enough. God calls us beyond our own little worlds to change the world in need. That’s really the heart behind this song.”
To be entrusted with heartfelt, personal details from his fans, and to be able to translate those stories into songs, is an honor, says West. “Many people chose to share stories from chapters in the stories of their lives that they are not proud of—a time in their past when they really struggled, stories of addiction, stories of abuse, stories of family problems, stories of illness.”
Many of the stories started with, “I’ve never told anybody what I am about to tell you. But I heard about this record you are making and something is telling me I need to write to you. If my story can inspire a song, then maybe it can encourage somebody else who is going through what I have been through.”
“I sat many days in the cabin just completely overwhelmed by that thought,” West says. “Suddenly, I felt this great sense of responsibility. Instead of just being a singer and songwriter, I had been moved into this new position of a messenger.
“I was being trusted with this very real story of somebody’s life, somebody’s trial, somebody’s struggle,” he adds, quietly. “And I was being asked to write a song that will, hopefully, turn around and encourage somebody who is going through the same thing.”
West is looking forward to the day the album releases. “I can’t wait for the people who sent the stories to hear the songs. They inspired this. These are the stories of their lives. I want them to know by them taking that brave step of writing their story down, and telling me their story, now their story will have a chance to go on and impact many more.
“To me,” he adds, “that is just a glimpse of how God can use the story of all of our lives.”
For more Info on the single and the tour:
You can purchase Matthew West’s single, “My Own Little World,” on iTunes today. On September 16, he kicks off The Story of Your Life concert tour, sponsored by Operation Christmas Child. We’ll bring you more details early next month! Visit matthewwest.com for dates near you.