The Song: A Movie About LoveSeptember 26, 2014
Great love stories make great movies. And this love story is no different. Pastor Kyle Idleman joins actor Alan Powell to talk about this music-driven love story The Song, based on the Song of Solomon, debuting in theatres today.
Great love stories make great movies. And this love story is no different. Pastor Kyle Idleman joins actor Alan Powell to talk about this music-driven love story The Song, based on the Song of Solomon, debuting in theatres today.
The Song: A Movie About Love
Bob: There’s a movie coming out in theaters this weekend based on two Old Testament books, the book of Ecclesiastes and the book of Song of Solomon. Pastor Kyle Idleman says this new movie, The Song, has a lot of contemporary relevance.
Kyle: Ecclesiastes is kind of Solomon’s journal. He talks about his pursuit to find meaning in life. By merging together his love story, in the Song of Solomon, and his journal, in Ecclesiastes, it takes us on, I think, a very personal journey of Solomon’s life. I don’t know of two books that are more relevant to our culture today than the books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 26th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. We’ll hear today from Pastor Kyle Idleman about a new movie called, The Song, based on the life of Solomon. We’ll meet the star of that movie, Alan Powell, today as well.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us. I’m just curious—the last time you went to a movie theater to watch a movie in the theater, did you—[Laughter]
Dennis: You take great delight—
Bob: I’m not asking you—
Dennis: —in humiliating me—
Bob: No, I just—
Dennis: —in my lack of attendance at the movie theater.
Bob: I’m sure this was probably the first Star Wars movie—that was the last time you were at—
Dennis: No! It’s been since then.
Bob: Did you get popcorn when you went?
Bob: You paid the inflated, high prices and got the popcorn?
Dennis: Yes. [Laughter]
Bob: I love movie popcorn! I hate paying the money, but I love getting the big tub. I can eat the whole thing myself.
Dennis: I would like to know how many calories are in the big tub. [Laughter] I’ll bet the guys, who are with us here in the studio, know the answer to this question—
Kyle: It’s not—you don’t want to know. You don’t want to know.
Dennis: —Alan Powell and Kyle Idleman.
Who knows the answer?
Alan: I’m going to guess. I would guess—if you ate the large tub—
Alan: —the big one—it’s easily over 2,000 calories. [Laughter]
Kyle: Yes, I don’t want to know any of that. I want plausible deniability—[Laughter]—just eat it and enjoy it.
Dennis: Welcome to the broadcast. No thanks to the guilt, I’m still going to have another one. Alan is the lead singer and songwriter for Anthem Lights, which is a popular band out of Nashville. Is that right?
Alan: Well, I’m not going to speak to the popular thing, but it is a band that is in Nashville. [Laughter]
Dennis: He is also Jed King. I’m going to read what Alan wrote about himself in the movie, The Song—
Alan: I don’t remember—
Dennis: —he stars in.
Alan: I don’t remember writing whatever he’s about to read—I just want to say. [Laughter]
Dennis: “…a young…charismatic (and wise beyond his years) singer/songwriter painfully overshadowed by the legendary musical accomplishments and catastrophic moral failures of his famous father, David King.”
Bob: Now, we need to stop right here. This is the movie—anybody—just thinking, for a minute, David King and his son, Jed. That ought to be ringing some bells with some Sunday school kids. [Laughter]
Dennis: Think Psalms and Bathsheba; okay?
Bob: Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon.
Dennis: And also joining us is Kyle Idleman. He is an author / pastor of Southeast Christian Church in Louisville—
Kyle: Well, done—Louisville.
Dennis: Louisville—I got that right. And he’s co-creator of The Song, which is a music drama that is a love story—as we’ve just mentioned—is inspired by King Solomon and David’s foolish choices.
Bob: And is in theaters starting tonight. We’re hoping listeners will plan to go see The Song. In fact, we’ve been talking about The Song at our I Still Do™ marriage events, back in Chicago and in Portland.
We showed the trailer to listeners and encouraged them to get out and see this. We’re going to talk about it again in Washington, DC, at the next I Still Do one-day marriage event, that we are hosting there, because we think it is a movie that gives people kind of a realistic picture of the issues that couples are facing in marriage.
Dennis: Yes. Kyle, I want you to share with our listeners where the idea for The Song came from. I mean, you’re a pastor of what’s called the fifth largest church in America—20,000 people worship there every weekend. I mean, what inspired this?
Kyle: Well, you know I have, over the years, taught the Song of Solomon in a number of settings—I’ve taught it at church / I’ve taught it on college campuses.
Dennis: And this is how your church became 20,000 people. [Laughter]
Kyle: Yes—you talk about some of these issues enough—but you know—that really is true. It’s a very relevant book. It’s a very relevant topic. It’s something that we all care deeply about. So, when I would teach the Song of Solomon, I would see how attendance would go up.
People had a lot of questions.
When we talk about love/sex—these are all things that are dealt with all around us. Yet, we, oftentimes, don’t hear these things talked about in church in an honest way—in a raw way. Song of Solomon deals with the subjects genuinely. As I would teach in these different places, I just was, again and again, thinking, “This would be a great film if it was a modern-day adaptation of Solomon’s life.” In other words, if we took some of the same issues, being dealt with in the Song of Solomon, I think it could really speak to where a lot of people are at.
In our church, we are constantly dealing with these same themes—parents trying to figure out how to talk to their kids about sex; dads, like me, trying to figure out how they are going to talk to their daughters about dating; couples, who are married, but really their marriage has become a business relationship—
—they know who does what and they cover their responsibilities—but they don’t love each other anymore. They certainly don’t feel passionate about one another anymore.
What you see in the Song of Solomon is—God intended it to be a passionate love for one another—we can celebrate marriage. It speaks directly to this—so many of the subjects / so many of the challenges we have today.
Dennis: You mentioned the word, raw. I think that is an accurate word for this movie; don’t you, Bob?
Bob: I do; and not, in any way, inappropriate—
Bob: —but very honest and realistic.
Dennis: It deals with some tough issues but in a very tasteful way. Who is this for? What age group—if a parent was thinking of taking his kids to this?
Kyle: Well, as a father of four kids, I would feel comfortable taking my 13-, and 15-, and 16-year-olds to this movie.
You know, I think that is the right age, where they are going to be interested in what’s happening. It’s going to start some good conversations. The Song of Solomon, I believe, was not typically read by Hebrew children until they reached age 13. And so, I think the movie, probably, follows that same standard.
Bob: But there’s drug use in the movie.
Bob: There’s adultery in the movie because these were real aspects of the life of the King of Israel; right?
Kyle: That’s right. And you know, biblically—if you look at so much of the real estate in the Old Testament—you find that it is committed to telling us some of the dark side of our heroes of the faith. The Bible doesn’t try to make it sound like everything is good all the time. It shows us the raw side—sometimes the struggle. That is certainly true for Solomon’s life.
I think—sometimes, as preachers / sometimes, in filmmaking, as Christians—we want to make everything pretty—
—but in reality, when we see sin and darkness, we recognize the consequences. That’s when we also recognize that our need is a Savior—that our foundation needs to be God and His Word.
Bob: Alan, you have the lead in this film. It’s a modern-day telling of the life of Solomon. Kind of walk us through the story of The Song; will you?
Alan: Sure. In the beginning, just as we find in Scripture, the Solomon character, who is Jed—you get kind of an introduction into how his life began. You get a little bit of backstory—the David and Bathsheba kind of prologue—if you will. Then, when you move forward from there, it begins very quickly in Jed’s development as an artist. He’s frustrated with the huge shadow that is cast over him and his career in life, really.
Bob: Because his dad wrote a lot of songs.
Alan: His dad was very successful, and he wrote a lot of songs.
Alan: I see what you’re doing there.
Bob: Yes. That’s right. [Laughter]
Alan: But he made a lot of bad choices, as we—certainly, as we see in Scripture as well. He has to live with those choices. Every person that he interacts with has kind of got this presupposition about him and where he came from.
So, he’s dealing with all of those things and frustrated about those things. It’s certainly speaking into his artistry. He’s kind of an angry artist and, certainly, dealing with some forgiveness issues and those things.
Pretty quickly into the story, he meets Rose, who ends up being his wife. He falls pretty quickly in love with her. From then, we get to kind of see their dating relationship; and then, they get married. Then, we see—
Bob: Now, wait. I’ve just got to say, “What was the town in Indiana that Rose was from?”
Kyle: Yes, I just thought we had to throw that in there.
Alan: Yes, we have a lot of little—
Bob: You guys—there’s a lot of little stuff in there! [Laughter]
Alan: A lot of little gifts for those biblical scholars.
Alan: So, it’s fun to kind of watch those and pick up on those. There are still some that I don’t know if everybody has caught onto them—I keep waiting. I mean, obviously, I had an inside track.
Alan: So, it’ll be fun to see all that come to fruition. But he meets her / falls in love with her. They get married. And then, he writes a song that—the film is called The Song.
He is kind of a frustrated artist up until this point, and when he falls in love and meets Rose, that’s kind of what unlocks his ability to write and to be an artist. So, he writes this song for her on their wedding night.
Bob: Not just any song. It is the song—
Alan: That’s right.
Bob: —of songs; right? [Laughter]
Alan: Well-done. This is going to be—all day. I like this.
Kyle: Yes, he’s picking it up.
Alan: So, he writes this song that propels him to stardom. The rest of the story is about the struggles of that; right?—the struggles of being away from your family and the priority of family, in light of his life—but our lives, in general—kind of regardless of what your life looks like. I think that’s a balance.
I’ve been married eight years, myself. Regardless of where we are at—our phase of life—there is always a balance of life—or vocation or things that life is calling you to do—versus your priority to your marriage and what that looks like. So, the rest of the film is about that struggle, really.
Bob: In fact, there is a scene in the film—and it was one of the most riveting scenes. Jed has come home from doing this very successful tour. He has had an opening artist, who has been with him on the tour.
He has started to experience a little bit of temptation because this opening artist started flirting with him and just kind of drawing him out a little bit. He comes home—and without saying anything about the temptation to his wife—he really wants her to come out on the road with him; right?
Alan: He does, yes. He really kind of comes home and says: “Man. Okay. This is a real struggle. Something is happening that I don’t want to be happening.” Matter of fact, he takes an overnight flight—flies home. The first thing she asks him is “Did something get canceled?” He says, “No, I just had to come home.”
And so, there is this story—he’s coming home, and he asks her to come with him. Literally, without saying it—like you said, he begs her—like: “There is something happening. I just need you to come out with me. I need you to be with me. I need—this distance needs to go away.”
What I really applaud about this story and this film is that it’s not just a husband, who is gone all the time—and, you know, poor victim wife. I think problems in relationships—there are always two sides to every story, and everybody is playing their part. And she doesn’t go with him.
She prioritizes something over their relationship—in the same way that he does. To me, that brings a real sense of genuine struggle in a relationship.
Bob: He goes back out on the road—
Alan: He has to—yes.
Bob: —and falls right into the temptations; doesn’t he?
Alan: Not yet; but he’s—it continues to progress. So, after that, it continues to progress. The temptation gets worse, and more, and stronger. Then, when he comes back again and asks her to go—again, after that, she’s still not doing that. Eventually, it gets to—
Dennis: And I think you’ve got to stop there. You’re going to give away the whole plot. [Laughter]
Bob: Good point.
Bob: Although I read the story—I know where this things going!
Dennis: Yes, you know what it is; but the point is—you are dramatizing what a lot of people are facing in this temptation-rich world that we all live in.
Kyle, you rattled off several groups of people this is for—for young people, teenagers growing up with a lot of temptations, for single people, for marrieds, for parents, for people who are busy—
—and then, who you star in the movie, Jed—who is at the top of his game, reading his own press reports, full of himself, and steps off the edge of the cliff and makes some serious mistakes that really ultimately show the consequences of sin. That’s what you are trying to do here—is you are not trying to sugar-coat how our choices make an impact on our lives or others.
Kyle: Well, Solomon’s life teaches us that we are free to make our choices; but we are not free to choose our consequences. We see that come full circle in his life, and that plays out in the movie. One of the things you see—with the husband and wife dynamic, in the movie—that I appreciated was the honest way they dealt with conflict.
I think, to that end, it can help someone, who is not yet married, have some realistic expectations. One of the most dangerous threats to marriages today would be these unrealistic expectations—again, in the same areas of sex, and money, and time.
I hope that it will help couples deal with some of these very real conflicts in a healthy way. I also hope that it will help people, who are not yet married, talk through some of these things before they get married.
Bob: Kyle, one of the things I liked about the film was that, while it’s portraying this songwriter writing the song of songs, we see him go into his Ecclesiastes phase in his life; don’t we?
Kyle: Yes. This movie draws heavily upon Ecclesiastes, as well, which, of course, Ecclesiastes is kind of Solomon’s journal. He talks about his pursuit to find meaning in life. Merging together his love story, in the Song of Solomon, and his journal, in Ecclesiastes—it takes us on, I think, a very personal journey of Solomon’s life. I don’t know of two books that are more relevant to our culture today—
Kyle: —than the books of Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon.
Dennis: And what I want to applaud—now, I already told you guys this; but I want our listeners to hear it too—you guys did it really well. I mean, I don’t like Christian-cheese. Somebody is saying, “Where do you buy Christian-cheese?” I want to tell you, “There is a lot of places where Christian-cheese shows up!” This movie is not Christian-cheese, and I love it that a church is producing it.
Bob: How were you involved in it—because you don’t have an acting role in the film; right?
Kyle: Then, it would get into the Christian-cheese. [Laughter] You don’t want me acting.
Bob: What was—
Alan: He was in it, though. Don’t sell yourself short, Kyle. I stood next to you for a whole day, I think, when we were filming this thing.
Kyle: I don’t think I have any speaking lines.
Bob: You have a cameo in here, just like Hitchcock did in all of his movies. What was your participation in helping to shepherd this project?
Kyle: Well, initially, it was just getting it going. I just really believed in the message—and in Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon to relate to people’s lives.
And then—in the storyline, initially, we talked through, “How can we maintain kind of the poetic dynamic of Song of Solomon in a movie today?” In other words, if we are going to tell this as a modern-day retelling—how can we keep some of that metaphor / some of the poetry that really makes things like love, and sex, and intimacy—makes these things so beautiful—how can we maintain that? That’s when we began to develop the concept of a musician and how that could play in with poetry.
But from there, I didn’t have a lot to do with it other than just working on the scripts and kind of giving my notes, and edits, and things like that.
Bob: You were making sure, though, that the story was aligned with what the Scriptures teach.
Kyle: Right, and what we want to do—like you’ve talked about the Rose of Sharon—we want it to be a movie where, if you are a Christian and you go see this movie, you’re going to know what you are watching.
Kyle: There is going to be a lot of different connecting points, where you’re like, “Oh, I can draw that line.” But, if you are not a Christian and you are watching the movie, you don’t realize what you’re missing.
Bob: You’re watching a movie about a country singer who—
Bob: —cheated on his wife; right?
Kyle: Yes. And it will—and then, it will open the door to “Well, here is the story from Scripture.”
Dennis: We’ve had some other movie producers, here on FamilyLife Today. I happen to know you guys, comparatively speaking, didn’t spend as much money as Hollywood normally spends on a movie like this. In that production, God supplies some great talent / some great situations at some extremely low cost. You got any stories you could share with our listeners of how God provided?
Kyle: Let me jump in and just to say, “God provided Alan in that way.” My only big concern before this movie—
Bob: Wait, wait. Free or ridiculously low—which was it? [Laughter]
Kyle: Not so much free, but the right person. You know—my big concern, when we first put this script together is: “If we find someone who has the acting talent / the musical talent to play this role—
Dennis: They’ve got to have the values too.
Kyle: —“and if they don’t have the values—if they are going to go out and talk on behalf of this movie, when it comes to love, and sex, and marriage, and that’s not reflected in their life—that we are going to get in trouble really quickly.” I was a little skeptical because this role, that he plays, is so demanding. It requires a really unique gift-mix—I just wasn’t sure if that person was out there.
And so, when Alan—when I first saw some of his reading and audition, I was just amazed that God had brought the right person for the right place—to the right place at the right time.
Bob: Alan, how about your background? Have you done other feature films?
Alan: No. This was my first film. The story of how God kind of brought this all together, to me, is such an example of His providence—
—and kind of speaking to what you’re talking about. I’m not going to say whether or not it was this super-talented performance—but I will say that I remember getting the email. I had an agency there in Nashville—that was a film agent—but I had never done any acting. I was in Nashville for music, and—maybe you guys have had something like this happen in your life, where you just kind of knew.
I went to the audition—and everything—from the guy, behind me canceling and not showing up, so I had an extra 30 minutes with the casting director. We talked about our faith, and we talked about family. We talked about everything except the audition for half an hour. Finally, she was like, “Well, I guess we should read something.” I finally just read the audition. At the callback, I got to meet the director, and the executive producers, and the guy who is in charge of music.
I definitely didn’t feel equipped enough / talented enough, if you will; but I did know that I was supposed to be the guy. So, there was a confidence, going into that, knowing that God had me there for a reason—that certainly wasn’t in me and my ability because I’d never done it before—
—but just the confidence to know too that God had me at that time and that place with those people for that role because I feel like He always asks us to do things that are above and beyond what we can do so that people will know it was Him. That was certainly a big experience for me.
Dennis: Yes, He wants to stretch our faith muscle.
Alan: Yes, absolutely.
Dennis: He really does. I think you guys are to be applauded for your courage and stepping out. I want to challenge our listeners to—first of all, those of you who have complained about movies not coming out that reinforce the values that you hold in your marriages / your family, that you were raised around—here is your chance to go vote, with a ten dollar bill, and take some other folks with you, and vote for this movie, and enjoy it. I promise you—you will.
You’re going to hear a very important message out of that movie—and that is, there is a payday someday.
This movie paints life—warts, scars, blemishes, and all—and it is a great reminder that we are accountable to God for our choices. If we didn’t learn it from the story of David in the Bible, we’re going to hear it in a fresh way from you guys. Thanks for sharing that story.
Kyle: And I think the nice part of the story, as well, is that it holds the promise of redemption.
Kyle: My prayer is that this movie would deal honestly with a lot of the struggles we may face in marriage, but it would also fill us with hope that it’s not too late—
Kyle: —that as broken as things may seem, right now—that God has the power to put the pieces back together. My favorite thing about God is that He can redeem anything. In all things, He can work together for good. So, I think the story of Solomon tells the truth about the consequences of sin; but it also gives us hope that God can redeem whatever situation we are in.
Bob: Without giving away the end, you do walk away with some hope as you are watching this film.
Dennis: It’s hurting Bob not to tell people—
Bob: To give away—
Dennis: —how it ended, at this point.
Bob: Here is how you can find out how it ends. Go to your local movie theater. The Song is playing in theaters right now. If you’d like to see the trailer or the preview of the movie, go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen. The trailer for the movie is available on our website. Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and make plans to see The Song, while it’s in theaters. Help support this film.
I think we ought to wrap up the week with a shout-out to some friends of ours who are celebrating their anniversary today—16 years of marriage. They live in Greer, South Carolina—Phil and Kerry Davis—“Congratulations on your wedding anniversary!” and “Thank you guys for being partners with us, here at FamilyLife.” We appreciate your support of this ministry and your support of the mission of FamilyLife.
We want to effectively develop godly families because we believe godly marriages / godly families will change the world, one home at a time. And I know you guys believe that as well. Again: “Happy anniversary! Congratulations!”
I want to encourage our listeners: “Would you consider supporting this ministry? Would you be part of the team that makes all that we are doing at FamilyLife possible?” All you have to do is go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper right-hand corner that says, “I Care,” and make an online donation.
When you do, we’d be happy to send you, as a thank-you gift, our “2015 Spirit-filled Year” calendar—focuses on the fruit of the Spirit. Actually, it starts in October. So, you can put this up as soon as it arrives. Again, when you make a donation, just request the calendar. You can also request the calendar when you call 1-800-FL-TODAY and make a donation over the phone; or you can request it in writing when you mail a donation to FamilyLife Today at P O Box 7111, Little Rock, AR. And our zip code is 72223.
And we hope you have a great weekend. Hope you and your family are able to worship together this weekend. And I hope you can join us back on Monday. We’re going to introduce you to a remarkable couple—a couple who, well, their marriage / their family—it’s amazing that they are doing as well as they are doing, considering how things started. We’ll introduce you to Domingo and Irene Garcia next week and hear their story. Hope you can join us for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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