How is it possible to fall apart
What a mess from the start
But there’s some hope for me
If I can only see
when the smoke clears
You’re right in front of me
When CJ Lambert sings these lyrics from “Firefly,” the song that he wrote, performed all the instruments and vocals, as well as produced, people think he’s singing about his son, Hudson, who has Down Syndrome.
And they’d only be partly right.
As many already know, CJ was so overwhelmed by Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center Charitable Fund’s ability to assist him and his wife in finding resources to help pay off most of Hudson’s medical bills, that he and his friends, Chris Lah and Toby Christensen, started Hear The Hope to help raise funds to assist more families like his all over the country.
While CJ wrote “Firefly” to help support the fund, the song is actually about his dad, who CJ lost a year ago this March. “My dad helped me so I could navigate a life with a son with Down Syndrome. He raised me to be who I am. And everything in this song is about him. He was the light that showed me the way. He still is.”
When doctors first told CJ and his wife that their son had Down Syndrome they experienced a wide range of emotions -- from shock to utter devastation to accepting and then eventually cherishing the experience. “Back in the beginning when we found out about Hudson’s diagnosis,” he said, “we got the same reaction from everyone, which was basically: I’m sorry. I am so sorry for you. But, my dad didn’t have that reaction. He was my rock. He knew I’d be fine, and that we’d all be fine.”
CJ’s father became an inspiration to him during those early difficult days when he and his wife were just learning about the diagnosis. And he knows that faith played an important role in what made his own father so strong and hopeful. “My dad was a monk for fifteen years and my mom was a nun for six. They left a religious life and started a family, raising five kids,” CJ said. His dad’s faith and his optimistic outlook on life as well as his approach to parenting through life’s highs and lows stayed with CJ. “One of the things I admired most in my father was that his focus was always on being happy with who you are and doing the best at whatever you do. He didn’t care what you did or even if you won or lost, he just wanted you to do your best every single time.” He believed every human being has a unique journey and, CJ says, “He believed that whatever was right for you is your path and your journey.”
It was this unwavering belief that one’s path is unique and could be a light to others that informed not only CJ’s writing of the song, but his approach to parenting Hudson. “I look back on all those times when people said, ‘I’m so sorry’ to me and I think now: Are you kidding me? Hudson has more joy than anyone I ever met. It’s not the wrong path. It’s the perfect path. It’s the right path. It’s ours. It’s his,” CJ says. “My dad helped me see that first.”
And just as CJ’s dad filled him with faith, hope, and confidence for his own life’s journey, CJ wants the same for Hudson. “I want Hudson to always be confident and know that I am always there, like my dad was always there for me -- like he still is.”
CJ said the chorus came to him one night while he was out walking his dog in the woods around his house. It was pitch dark, but there were fireflies surrounding him, clearing a path for him. “It was as if they were these reminders that even though I won’t ever see my dad again, he’ll always be there beside me, lighting the way.” And the words just came to him:
I see a path for me that leads the way
Burning brightly full of change
And all I need to do is believe
You’re the flashing light right in front of me
You’re the firefly dancing in the night
Light my way back to you
You’re the shooting star burning bright and far
Hoping I will catch you
To see you again
It’s never the end for
A love of life you can’t keep down
You’re the flashing light
You’re the stars at night
You’re my firefly
Over the course of the next week, the entire song came together. CJ was able to write the lyrics in just under 45 minutes. “I didn’t even have to think about it,” CJ says, “they were just inside me.” CJ also plays the guitars, the bass, the drums, and put all the vocals over it. And as a final sweet surprise, little Hudson plays the maracas. “It’s like me, my Dad, and Husdon are all together in one song.”
When asked what he hopes people will feel when they hear the song, CJ’s response is simple; “I want them to Hear the Hope, like I do. I want them to know they’re not alone. There is always someone out there. And there’s also always an opportunity for you to be someone’s light, too.”
What’s Up Next?
Even though CJ is busy helping run Hear The Hope, he is working on his own album which will have around twelve songs. He will release it by early next year. Stay tuned.
Discover more about CJ!
CJ is the creator of The Musician's Survival Guide, which is an info product developed to assist aspiring musicians in experiencing success in the music business. He also performs live and is busy working on Hear The Hope. You can learn more at his website www.cjlambert.com