There is little doubt your church has used songs written by worship artist Cody Carnes in its services. In the past two years, two of his songs have climbed the charts and are consistently downloaded. Both “Nothing Else” and “Run to the Father” appear on Cody’s newest album, also named Run to the Father.
In a time when we are in the midst of a global pandemic, it seems the album title and title song provide the most sensible instruction – run to the Father. I talked with Cody recently about his new album and what he’s been doing at home while in quarantine.
Kimberly Carr: Tell me a little bit about your new album Run to the Father. I have a lot of questions, but I want to hear what you have to say first.
Cody Carnes: Yeah. You know, this album is a collection of songs that are super close to my heart. They all came out of moments, encounters that I have with God. They’re very, very broad and honest and I hope that there’s authenticity that’s very evident in them, you know, just a relationship with God. I’ve been in a season of my life where I’ve been capturing some moments with God that songs have come out of and writing and putting those moments on paper. And so that’s really what this album is – collection of that. “Run to the Father,” the title track, is about the goodness of God the Father and how I’ve experienced it in my own life.
It really is just the gospel, a song of God sending his son Jesus to die for us so that we could be in relationship with Him. We have that relationship with him as a father. He’s a father that’s close and He’s a healer, like a surgeon. He’s near in every situation and he walks with us hand in hand and every situation like a friend. And so really, the whole album is that just a picture of this, the goodness of God, relationship with God and how good that is.
Carr: I was looking at your Instagram feed and what you wrote about each song. One that definitely struck me first was “Nothing Else” and the inspiration behind that. Can you share more about that?
Carnes: Yeah. “Nothing Else” was the first song that was written in these batch of songs. Now when I look back at all the songs and the journey, it had to be first because that was the song that I really – it was a song repentance. It was a song of resetting my heart on the heart of God instead of the hand of God. I was going through a season where I was becoming so obsessed, as we can do so often. You can just start to stray away a little bit, become so obsessed with what you’re getting from God and how He’s answering prayers and how He’s not answering certain prayers the way you want Him to. I was so frustrated in my life because I wasn’t seeing things the way I wanted to and I wasn’t seeing certain things come to me – things I was asking for.
I really just realized it. And when I realized it was the day that I wrote this song. It came out of my heart. It was like my heart knew I needed to sing it before I even did. It was before my mind even did, you know? I’m having this moment with God where, ‘I’m so sorry, God, I’m so sorry that I’ve lost sight of you.’ As the song says, ‘I’m not here for blessings. Jesus, you don’t owe me anything more than anything that you can do. I just want you.’ I got set free in that moment. I’ve been a different person ever since then. I’ve been so thankful that I have a relationship with Jesus and I’ve been thankful for the blessings that He is giving me, instead of being so focused on the ones that I wasn’t getting. That was the first song, and that really just started everything that purified my heart, to be able to hear and receive these other songs and communicate them.
Carr: In those moments when you’re writing or you’re having those personal worship moments, do you think, ‘Wait, this could be for an album, or this could be for a service, or I need to share this with people?’
Carnes: Sometimes a lot of moments aren’t like that, but the moments that are, I could start seeing people singing it. I think that’s probably consistent, where I’ll be writing something or I’ll just be singing and worshiping and I can see people. It’s almost like the Lord showing me that it needs to be sung by other people. It needs to be shared. The revelation is something that He’s giving me as a songwriter for the church to share with people, you know? There’s often a burden that I feel with that, like a good burden. I feel a responsibility to put this down in a way that the church can see it and so that people can have the same encounter that I had with God.
Carr: On Instagram, you mentioned a dream about Johnny Cash. Is he one of your musical influences or was he just a surprise guest star in your dream?
Carnes: You know, he definitely is a musical influence, but before this dream, it wouldn’t be an obvious. It’s not like I have a Johnny Cash poster on my wall. I’m a fan, but I think what Johnny Cash said to me is what makes it significant – why God used him. Essentially in the dream, he told me that I needed to let the songs sing themselves the way they wrote themselves. And in my mind, there’s no one better that does that as far as someone just picking up the guitar and singing a song with a guitar and it just be so emotive and it be everything that it needs to be.
I think what God was telling me was, ‘I want you just to go back to basics on this album.’ And for me, that was sitting at the piano leading worship. That’s where I’ve been most comfortable. That’s where I’ve learned how to lead worship. I’ve spent a lot of time growing up leading worship that way. God was just saying ‘Hey, just sit down and sing a song the way it’s written and don’t try to add anything to it and that will be enough.’ You know? And I think He knew that if Johnny Cash told me, that I would, I was, listen.. And that’s a reflection. If you listen to “Nothing Else, or “Run to the Father” and some of these other songs, a lot of it feels very much like just me sitting at a piano leading worship.
Carr: I just want to walk through a couple of the other songs that stood out to me. And one of my favorites is “All My Delight.” It’s like this wild little club track that will have people dancing. I read a funny story along with that as well.
Carnes: So that that’s like the fun, upbeat song, just the joyful song of the album. The heart of it was to portray joy. Every time when I was recording it or I’d listen to it, I just couldn’t help but smile. It has this celebratory, joyful spirit to it. When we were in production out with the producer, I was like, ‘Man, I really feel like there needs to be a chant in one part of this song, the big musical interlude. We just need to get gang vocals and chant joy, joy, joy, joy! I wanted it to be this big joy party celebration.
And so he’s like, ‘Okay, cool, let’s do it.’ And so we tracked it, you know, and we have this chant going and we send it off to get mixed. We got the mix back and it didn’t really translate the way I thought it would because it, it just kind of sounded like the group of people was saying ‘chug, chug, chug, chug! and I was like – uhhh – that may actually not be exactly what I want it to feel like… So we couldn’t really find a way to make it work where it made sense. Actually it’s still in there, but we just turned it down, so it’s kind of like subliminal messaging. I’m just believing that you still feel the joy chant.
Carr: So I always have to ask this. What’s your favorite song from the album, for any reason?
Carnes: Oh man, I can’t pinpoint a song! That’s kind of like asking you ‘Who’s your favorite child?’ You can’t say that you love them all for different reasons and they’re special. Every song has something so special. These songs are written out of encounters with God. I can remember that moment in God’s presence and what was happening in my heart and just how much I was being overcome by His goodness and His grace and His love. You know? And so they’re like monuments to me, to remember what God did in that moment. I’m proud of every one of these songs. I really wanted an album that I really believed in and loved every song and I didn’t feel like any song was a throw away.
Carr: Another one that stood out was “The Vow.” You said the song ends the record exactly the way you’ve been dreaming about it for a while. Can you talk more about that?
Carnes: For whatever reason, I had this idea in my mind that I wanted to end the album with this very beautiful cinematic strings song. When I wrote this song, I instantly knew that this is the one. The heart of the song is based similar to “Nothing Else.” The chorus says ‘I need nothing but you, Jesus. All I’m after is your heart, destination doesn’t matter when the journey’s where you are’ We’re in this journey with Jesus and this relationship with Jesus and it’s such a valuable thing.
Carr: We can’t talk about a journey without talking about what is it like to promote an album during quarantine and an international pandemic.
Carnes: It’s kind of strange. I can’t really tell if it’s giving people more time to like actually listen to the album or if it’s just distracting everyone away from it. I have to just give that to the Lord I guess. We’re getting a ton of requests to do interviews and videos, to the point where I’m having to say ‘No,’ and I feel like people are like, ‘But you’re in quarantine. How do you not have time for this?’ Man if you only knew the different things people are asking us to do because they think that we’re just doing nothing! We’re just trying to take it as it goes. We’re so thankful for technology. We can actually produce content and interviews and videos because of technology and we’re still able to connect.
Carnes: That was wild. Literally had never met Steph until Kari and I popped up on his Instagram live, you know? So that was a crazy, crazy thing. But that’s all Steph and his wife Ayesha. They have a heart for God and they wanted to open up their platform to encourage people with the hope of Jesus.
You’re seeing people in pop culture right now that do believe in God but maybe haven’t always been super vocal about it. This crisis is bringing about a time where people really need hope. And what we’re seeing is hope in anything but Jesus is just falling away like a house built on the sand, and the hope of Jesus is the thing that’s standing strong. The good news of the gospel is the thing that people are gravitating towards.
But now that we’re all isolated by ourselves in our homes, people are actually having to deal with ‘Where am I putting my hope and where am I building my house?’ As hard as that is, and as scary as something like this is, it’s a beautiful thing to see people running to God. Also to see people that have a lot of influence, that do believe in the hope of Jesus, saying, ‘Hey, here’s where the hope is. Here’s where you can run to.’ I love seeing that all over the world.
Carr: And another thing you’re doing is a church stream worship sets for people to use at home.
Carnes: Yes. Kari and I have been praying about what we are supposed to do in this time to help the church. We really feel like God gave us this vision to record a couple of worship sets at our house, and really felt like God said, ‘I want you to give that away for free and I don’t want you to have strings attached in any way. Just give it out.’ It’s on Kari’s website or go to our Instagram.
You’re welcome to download them and upload them into your church’s stream any weekend if you want to have us lead. We would love to. If you’re a church leader listening to this and that would help your team have a week off and would help encourage your community then please go download those and use them however you see fit.
Carr: Was there anything else that you wanted to mention about the album or any encouragement you want to give?
Carnes: I pray that with this album that people are invited into a moment with Jesus in every song. They came out of moments with Jesus with me. And I believe that those moments that I had are captured in those songs. Invite conversations with you and God and into how good He is and how much He loves you and how much He’s for you. He’s the hope that we’re clinging to in this time and we can get through anything.
You can catch Cody on tour along with his wife Kari Jobe on the Hillsong Worship “Awake Tour” 2020. Click here for updated tour information, and check out the live performance of “Run to the Father” below!