The Water Runs – story

I wrote The Water Runs in 2000 about a year after Nance and I built a home in the country some 10 kms north of Winnipeg in a region of Manitoba known as the Interlake.

We had found this wonderfully picturesque 5 acre property that was half wooded and half brush and decided to build a home that would serve as a refuge for me and a place where Nance could pursue her strong love of gardening, sunsets and prairiescapes.  My father-in-law, Ken, is a builder and came out from BC to oversee the building part and I took on the role of researching prices, resources, hiring of carpenters etc.


Of course, as these things go, right off the top several things went wrong. Within the first month Ken had broken his leg and project was already significantly over-budget. I spent the next six months in a perpetual state of anxiety knowing I was in way over my head.

One of the most memorable days of the build was the day they came to drill the well. It was fairly early in the project but already enough unwelcome surprises had occurred that I had a sense of dread about how this would play out.  Would there even be water?  How deep would they have to drill?  – the cost of the well was directly proportionate to the depth they would have to go.

It was a hot, hot prairie day. The rig came on site and I stood nervously beside as the huge bit bored easily through the topsoil until it hit bedrock and started to grind and groan its way down 30 – 40 – 50 feet.   The deeper it went, the more anxious I became until suddenly, somewhere around 80 feet, there was a abrupt lurch and within seconds a geyser of pure, cold, crystalline water came gushing past the overheated bit and spilled gorgeously about our feet in a silvery rush.  It’s easy to remember, but difficult to describe the corresponding joy that arose in me at the same time.  And with the joy came an overwhelming sense of gratefulness to God. “So it is true,” I marveled, “that underneath this bony dust runs a river of life-sustaining water!”  Honestly, it was difficult to hold back the tears and I’ve never viewed life or troubles the same since.

The house was eventually finished and we moved in on a cold, rainy spring day with the help of several friends.

A year later, one evening as I reclined peacefully in our back screened porch, listening to the wind rush through the aspens and poplars and puffing on a pipe that was a gift from a good friend, I recalled the fears and anxieties of the previous year and this song started to percolate.

Click here to view the lyrics for “The Water Runs”


Sample/Buy online from Signpost Music:

sample_audio_button cdn_buy_button us_buy_button

Production Notes:

The arrangement for this song came together at a demo session at Great Big Music in Toronto with Brent Barkman  playing the Wurlitzer (electric piano), Troy Feener on drums, Fergus Marsh on bass and Hugh Marsh on those great violin pizzicatos.  We spent several days there in advance of recording the project to take advantage of the collective intuition of such great players.

We then came back to Winnipeg to record the album at Signpost Studios.  The drums and bass were recorded on 2 inch, 24 track tape and then transfered to Pro-Tools for the completion. This turned out to be the last analog (tape) session at Signpost. Hugh”s violin was recorded at Glen Soderholm’s church in Campbleville Ontario, and lastly we sent the tracks back to Toronto where Brent Barkman added the  Hammond B3 organ track, which is, I think, as great a B3 track as I’ve ever heard.

Of all the songs I’ve recorded, this production is undoubtedly in the top 5 of my favourites.

6 thoughts on “The Water Runs – story

  1. Thanks for the background story. I always enjoy these features.

    I’d also enjoy hearing the story behind “Stay Awake,” fwiw…

  2. Steve, I can’t thank you enough for telling us the “story” behind your songs. Just reading about how this song came to be gave me an unexpressable joy of God’s faithfulness.

    I thank God for the talent and insight he has given you.

    Please keep telling us the stories behind your songs!

  3. This is one of my favorites too. I love the beat, and how it makes me want to move. I also find the notion of “the water” being “under it all” a great comfort. It’s easy to forget that living water is there for us all the time.

Comments are closed.