Talk to singer/songwriter Josh Wilson for very long, and you’re bound to get a laugh. He infuses humor into even the minor details—like the “No Thanks” section of his liner notes, in which he calls out high gas prices, cavities, pop-up ads, and the Black Smoke Monster from “Lost.” That deadpan sense of humor, not to mention a crop of cleverly constructed songs, definitely makes Josh stand out in a crowd.
It was Henry Wadsworth Longfellow who once said that “music is the universal language of mankind.” And for Josh Wilson, writing songs has always been the easiest, most therapeutic way of expressing exactly what’s on his mind.
Growing up in Lubbock, Texas, he rarely remembers a day that didn’t involve playing music. And by age 7, Josh’s voracious appetite for all things musical wasn’t simply limited to one instrument. After taking piano lessons, he also added drums and guitar to his growing repertoire.
As he continued to hone his skills, it didn’t surprise anyone, (including himself), when he moved to Nashville for further musical training. “I’ve always been a big believer in pursuing what you’re passionate about,” Josh shares. “I think God gives us all passions and talents, and ultimately, He wants us to use those for His glory. And since I happen to love music, I guess I always knew I’d do something with it.”
While Josh wasn’t exactly sure what that “something” would entail, he pursued a music business degree at Belmont University. After one semester of commercial guitar, Josh quickly ruled out a career as a studio musician (“everyone else was sooo over-the-top talented,” Josh quips. “I mean how can you compete with that?”) and eventually discovered a deep connection with the craft of writing lyrics. Even today, Josh is a self-proclaimed “lyrics guy” who wholeheartedly enjoys the sometimes-painstaking process of choosing the just right combination of words to coincide with his multi-faceted pop/rock sound.
And his use of vivid lyrical imagery, not to mention a funny, easygoing stage presence (case in point: his spot-on love/hate letter to finances in “Dear Money”) quickly earned Josh an enviable grassroots following during college. While studying for classes and writing papers, the multitasking student moonlighted as a traveling musician during the weekends and summer break. Then after playing a showcase for his peers (and music industry execs), Josh’s thoughtful reflections on life and faith, as well as his guy-next-door banter from stage, piqued the interest of EMI Music Group.
Now with his major-label, critically acclaimed debut, Trying to Fit the Ocean in a Cup, Josh continues to communicate what’s on his heart with 11 unique songs that he hopes will inspire and challenge fellow believers.
“When I’m writing, I have the Church in mind,” Josh says. “Our hope is in Christ and we need to consistently be pressing into the Gospel to learn what it really means to be a Christian. I want to encourage believers to hang on through the struggles because life isn’t always good when we’re living in a fallen world.”
When it comes to writing about deep subject matter in a poppy, three-minute format, even a wordsmith like Josh admits it can be tricky—hence the inspiration for his catchy first single, “3 Minute Song.”
“Sometimes when you’re writing about God, fitting big ideas into a little song can be complicated,” Josh shares. “That challenge is actually where the imagery for the album’s title came from. It’s like trying to fit an ocean in a cup. Trying to say something that hasn’t already been said before about matters of faith or the God of the universe is a huge challenge. But I think as long as we’re asking questions and not trying to provide all the answers, I think people can relate to that.”
Josh’s refreshing honesty in a time of sorrow is also what makes a moving track like “Savior Please” so accessible to listeners.
“When I wrote this song, I had a really close friend who’d just been diagnosed with cancer. Another friend lost a job, and things in my life weren’t going particularly well either,” Josh remembers. “I’d been reading a lot in Psalms and was really resonating with all the times that David was basically saying ‘I’m not okay, life is not good right now, God where are you? I need you to save and deliver me.’ So with all of these things swirling around in my mind, I wrote a song that is a plea for Christ to carry me through. It’s hard not to have all the answers—I wish I did. But I don’t.”
And when your target audience is the often-fickle college crowd, that universal message is music to their ears, which makes Josh such an engaging, much-needed addition to the Christian music scene.
For more information on Josh, check out www.myspace.com/joshwilson.