Monday, November 17, 2008

christmas music

I admit it, I've already started listening to Christmas songs. It started with a chill in the air and the desire for campy "Baby, It's Cold Outside" listening and then I just wanted more.

Plus I've been getting emails about some exciting new albums (Alli Rogers has a Christmas EP coming out and apparently you can book her for a private Christmas concert?!! Why am I not rich? Oh yeah...).

Anyway, at they have free downloads of songs by Matt Maher and Steve Fee, both guys I like. Listening to Matt sing "Silent Night" reminds me of how much I love his voice- WHY?! I don't get it but it is so soothing. The Fee song is completely different but definitely very Fee. :) So go download!

Monday, September 22, 2008

it's the little things that make me a dork

There are several pairs of songs that I have either recently put next to each other on mix CDs or look forward to doing in the near future.

Jars of Clay: Ship Wreck and mewithoutYou: Messes of Men.
Because they are both about...ships.

The Khrusty Brothers: Sympathy for Jesus and The Hold Steady: How a Resurrection Really Feels
I recently put these in this order and I LOVE that they first one has the Hallelujah under their breath by the door seguing beautifully into the her parents named her Hallelujah but the kids all called her Holly.

Waterdeep: The Circus Song and Dog Named David: I Ran Away With the Circus
I mean, I was in the circus, two sweet acoustic indie Christian songs about the circus???

Sunday, September 14, 2008

How a Resurrection Really Feels

Thanks Michael and Fr. Phil (go Jesuits!) for the rec...

her parents named her halleluiah, the kids all called her holly. if she scared you then she's sorry. she's been stranded at these parties. these parties they start lovely but they get druggy and they get ugly and they get bloody.
the priest just kinda laughed. the deacon caught a draft. she crashed into the easter mass with her hair done up in broken glass. she was limping left on broken heels. when she said father can i tell your congregation how a resurrection really feels?

holly was a hoodrat. now you finally know that. she's been disappeared for years. today she finally came back. she said: st. louis had enslaved me. i guess santa ana saved me. st. peter had me on the queue. the st. paul saints they waved me thru.
i was all wrapped up in some video booth. when i heard her say i love you too.

she said i've laid beneath my lovers but i've never gotten laid. some nites she felt protected. some nites she felt afraid. she spent half last winter justa trying to get paid. from some guy she'd originally thought to be her saviour. they wrote her name in magic marks. on stopsigns and subway cars. they got a mural up on e.13th. that said halleluiah rest in peace. halleluiah was a hoodrat. and now you finally know that. she's been disappeared for years. today she finally came back.

walk on back. walk on back. she said don't turn me on again. i'd probably just go and get myself all gone again. holly was a sexy mess. she looked strung out but experienced. so we all got kind of curious.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008


Yesterday I drove out to Villanova under fast moving tarnished silver clouds and as the rain began to pelt, Patty Griffin began to sing and I thought, "Yes. Sometimes life really is sublime."

Sunday, September 7, 2008

hurricane party music

One of my friends came over for dinner last night and my roommate has been really excited about the prospect of "surviving" Hurricane Hanna. I'm from FL so I've been reminding here that by the time it hit us it was barely even a Tropical Storm. But I also explained the concept of a hurricane party (not that difficult, if the power goes out you have a party with the whole neighborhood and eat all the food in your fridge, plus drink the cold beer before it gets warm!).

When I was home last weekend my dad was listening to "No Shoes Radio" on XM which is apparently a monthly series they have which highlights one artist (in this case Kenny Chesney) and plays only that artist, plus artists who have influenced them, and artists they've influenced. This sounds like a great idea to me, but I doubt they ever highlight anyone I'm interested in. The cool thing about it is that you can't help but dig down to deeper cuts of an artist if you're playing them all the time. The fact that I really like "She thinks my tractor's sexy" aside, I had the chorus to Kenny's "Key Lime Pie" song in my head for several days and our attempt at a Hurricane Party definitely included me grabbing a pie myself. I would have made one but apparently key limes and/or their juice are hard to come by in Philly?

Other not-to-be missed Hurricane Party classics...

Cowboy Mouth- Hurricane Party

Jimmy Buffett- Trying to Reason with Hurricane Season

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

oh yeah, and something I'm REALLY excited about

So anyone familiar with this blog will know that Don Chaffer is my favorite songwriter but I've never seen him live. After Miles and Ruby were born he and Lori took a break from touring so I have missed the goodness of Waterdeep live. BUT NO LONGER.

Derek Webb.

Sandra McCracken.

Alli Rogers.


Eddie's Attic in Georgia. A venue I've always wanted to go to (the Indigo Girls play there fairly often).

Morgan and I are committed to going.

I'm also definitely going to the Art, Music, Justice tour with Sara Groves, Derek, and Sandra that's coming near me in PA. I've never seen Sara Groves though I love her songwriting and, come to think of it, that will be my first opportunity to hear Sandra live too which is totally exciting for me. So yay for concerts!

John Mayer

JM is just the artist I hate to love. He won me over in May of 2002 when my friend Kristin made me listen to a bootleg of him singing "Love Song for No One."

Now Morgan and I both discuss how we refuse to go see John Mayer in the venues he plays now- way too expensive to see a show with way too many people. We've agreed that we wouldn't pay more than $15 to see him with 10,000 people but would be willing to pay a lot more to see the John Mayer Trio in an intimate venue. (This is in a fictional alternate reality where I have money.) So that alone should tell you I much prefer his acoustic and Trio sets.

Anyway, I previously claimed that somehow JM managed to OWN a Tom Petty song, but here's the evidence. My favorite bit is 1:56ish, that guy on the right is my favorite, his harmony just adds a total dimension of awesomeness.

This is the other song I love- I immediately loved it for the harmonics he plays in the beginning and then just the whole song- ugh! It makes me want to do nothing but lie in bed staring at the ceiling with the fan on and drink iced tea and listen to this song on repeat. I could happily do just that for HOURS. It's that sublime and I HATE that I would use that word to describe John Mayer, but just listen and you'll know what I mean.

Monday, August 25, 2008

the promised summary

As usual in my musical wanderings I was prepared for an onslaught at what should have been the most anticipated theatrical release of the summer: the Remedy Club Tour, of course!
So Morgan and I went to get tickets, then we had dinner and became excited about Crowder. We had a great time with the, uh, 40 other people in the theater?! A few people clapped and randomly sang along quietly but overall we all just watched and had a low buzzing joy reverberating over our collective heads. :)
The dvd is great. I am definitely going to buy it at some point and make my friends watch it with me. The cinematography is good, the editing is pretty mindblowing (on one song the footage switches back and forth between ATL and NYC seamlessly, it's beautiful!), and of course the music is great!
The one sidenote is that I have never considered any of the members of the Crowder band particularly good-looking; talented, thoughtful, brilliant (bwack and his wizadry), artistic, etc but not so much attractive. THE CAMERA LOVES JACK. I had already thought about ten times, "geez, I never noticed how attractive Jack is!" when my sister leaned over and was like, "Who is that guitar player, again?!" and then we both started laughing hysterically. Anyway, way to go Jack, you definitely stole the good camera angles! Not to mention played a mean banjo.
So, yeah, you should give it a look-see.

the bright sadness

Today is my first day of (grad) school, I have no internet at my house.

But I have been listening, listening, listening. :)

Morgan bought John Mayer's "Where the Light Is" which includes a KILLER cover of "Free Fallin'" (I mean JM owns that song) and a newbie, "In Your Atmosphere" which I can't see ever becoming a radio hit but the harmonics and harmonies are so beautiful!

But what we've REALLy loved is Charlie Hall's new album, "The Bright Sadness." It's so good and so Charlie, worth the wait and well done through and through.

I thought this review from Christianity Today did a good overview.

Monday, August 18, 2008

Jars of Clay: Ship Wreck

Another "discovery" from Emily, this is a song from Jars' "Roots and Wings" EP. What a gorgeous and thoughtfully poignant song. I love it.

Ship Wreck
Jars of Clay

One two, one two

He put it in the bottle and he threw it out to sea
But the tide would not surrender and it floated to the beach
So the message of apology his love would never see
He walked around that island all shipwrecked and heavy

The scars of early childhood still showing on the skin
Necessary enemy so healing could begin
From the message of apology his heart might soon break free
For now he walks that island all shipwrecked and ready

Low beyond horizon lines, across the salty sea
A boat without a captain makes its way to some city
He prays that it would sail its course to lover or to kin
And fan a thirst for searching and finding him again
Finding him again, finding him again

Let us be the Remedy

So my sister and I got tickets to go see the Remedy Club Tour DVD on the big screen. For the uninformed, this new DVD is being released in movie theaters for one night. I find this fairly hilarious because I think the Crowder band excels at seeming really accessible and indulging super enthusiasts like myself with fun interactive things: think the Remedy summer scavenger hunt, the goodreader videos, the streaming video of their recording process, etc.

But this I think will be hilarious. I mean, usually I wouldn't wear a Crowder tshirt to a Crowder concer but, in this case, surrounded by other Crowder fanatics would it just be funny? Will we sing along like a real concert? Will we eat popcorn and raisinets like a movie?! I'll let you know how it goes...

i thought i said this but maybe not

Well it's a little late now, I thought I posted that I was going camping for a month- 14 National Parks in the Rocky Mountain region and then moving across the country and that is the reason I have been absent and haven't shared any musical excitement recently. So anyway, I just spent a month in a tent and driving a lot and therefore listening to a lot of music. This segues nicely because one of the happy surprises of Lifest was how much I enjoyed Switchfoot.

I really enjoyed their songs on the Walk to Remember soundtrack (never saw the movie but LOVED the soundtrack) and then when they "resurfaced" a few years ago I remember my friend Kate being like, "now is this the same Switchfoot that was that Christian band?!" I think I just shrugged. So I was looking forward to seeing them in concert and Anne really wanted to get over to see lead singer Jon Foreman play some of his solo stuff.

I think I was most impressed by how authentic they seemed despite being a band that has seen it's share of hype, in a sense. So when my friend Emily (companion of the epic camping trip) showed up with Jon Foreman's EPs to listen to while we drove I expected good. But it was really REALLY good. These songs are SO scriptural! I found myself on the verge of giggling because he does such a great job of artistically interpreting the scriptures he focuses on and giving them extra emotional tension. I like a lot of them and could listen to these EPs over and over (and have!) but the one that I latched on to immediately, turned up every time it came on and after listening to once told Emily I plan on listening to everyday for the rest of my life was the Amos inspired "Instead of a Show."

The verses he draws from haunt me often when I'm gathered with others to pray and sing so this reminder is really gutsy, I think, an indictment of guilt for all of us. But beautiful, beautiful, I genuinely wish every worship leader would open with this song.

Monday, July 14, 2008

a lot to say, new music, etc

So I just returned from Lifest and have a lot to share- some new discoveries some amazing music from some established faves, (OMG, OtR!), so I think it will come piece by piece. But first I just got an email saying that CHARLIE HALL'S new album, "The Bright Sadness" will be coming out August 19th!!!! I AM SO EXCITED!!! I just love his stuff, I am definitely writing that one on the calendar...

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

woo! is up and fully functional- I'm actually a bit surprised at only having to tell three friends. Three of the albums I already own and would like to tell ALL my friends. Check it out!!!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Almost Lover

I really like this song, some great images, beautiful sound, and poignant without being TOO sentimental.

Just today I was wondering if the title and main idea are in any way related to Emily Dickinson's phrase of "fleshless lover," which would make it even more interesting. (sourcetext!!!)

Both of those thought led me to ask people (mainly to Morgan since she's the one person I appear to influence via blog) what songs they would put on that CD, you know, that's part heartbreak and part trying-to-get-over-heartbreak.

Off the top of my head comes "Real Good Friends" by Blessid Union and "Last Tears" from the Indigo Girls.

Monday, June 30, 2008

Rock What You Got

Nothing to make me feel totally badass like sporting my new dreadlocks and blasting Superchic[k] from my car stereo.

Yet, there is a weird juxtaposition going on. I took my 13 year old cousin to see them on the "Cross the Line" tour over a month ago and we went down to the front with the other kids (I taught her well! She actually asked to go down this time!) and by the end of the show I couldn't help but ask myself that indidious question, "Am I too old for this?!"

It didn't hurt that out of the lineup the only bands that I liked were Disciple and Superchic[k]. My cousin liked KJ-52 who I hear enough good things about to doubt my own opinion but I couldn't help but think that unless he had a stellar off-stage persona he would, at the very least, drive me insane on the bus and was, like, 9 parts "entertainer" (and that's granting a lot) to 1 part musician (never really evident but I'll take his albums as some kind of evidence). Anyway, I was sort of tired by the time Tricia, Melissa, Dave, Matt, and Brandon took to the stage, and I have to say I like their commitment to "cool" in coordinating outfits and stunts. Their set was good but it had the faults of every set saddled with no less than FIVE opening acts- too short! I appreciated getting to hear a few songs off of the new album and, albeit, their later work is better than their earliest, but it was their first two albums that got me through high school! Standing a foot or so taller than all the junior high kids around me I wondered if my anomaly status means I should listen to their music primarily from the confines of my car, jerking and weaving with my earbuds in, or, more generally, alone.

I don't know. I'm just thinking that I've seen these guys three times now- and actually that in the last 12 months. The first time was great and I went by myself and danced like crazy and thoroughly enjoyed myself. I have NEVER again been so sore after a concert. Second time was at Lifest and was definitely amidst the much younger crowd and felt slightly out of place. That was intensified being packed among girls I felt like I might stomp all over if I were to dance and proceeded to chat through EVERY set.

So, am I old and curmudgeonly?? Who knows.

I like the new album, my only beef is that I pre-ordered it and it only came in the mail TODAY! I feel like that is just wrong! Seriously, their last three albums I bought the day they were released and this one I buy early and get a week later?!

Also I read a review that mentioned that really there was only 28 minutes of new material on this studio album that has taken three years to get. So roughly, ten minutes of work to show for each year...I'm pretty happy to have anything, myself. But I do see his point. I haven't gotten to dig into the album yet although I'm liking the veneer so far. I'm very interested because their past releases have come to me just when I needed it and I'm curious to see how the sound and writing will strike me now. When I popped their CD in I definitely did feel it.

I'm looking forward to seeing them next week at Lifest.

I also have a slight crush on Dave. :)

Friday, June 27, 2008


From Alli Rogers mass email update:
in November she's going to be out on the road with Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, and Waterdeep!!!

I'm excited to see Alli.

I'm excited to see Derek and Sandra.

But that PALES in comparison to how excited I am to see DON AND LORI!!!!

I have been really annoyed with myself recently for not packing my stuff for Kansas City for one of the FEW shows they've had since I've known of them and lived within 10 hours. But, seriously, I'm certain nothing is going to stop me come November....

Also HERE is an interview I wish I had gotten to have with Don. Fascinating.


I tend to be obsessive-compulsive. Hopefully not in any extreme or truly unhealthy way but it just runs in my family.

Case in point. My sister got really into the Master and Commander novels when we were in college and read all of them. This is not an easy piece of work, especially if you ask me. Napoleonic naval fiction complete with detailed ship geography and vocabulary? Anyway, a feature of the two main characters (some who have seen the movie may remember this) is that Aubrey plays the violin and Maturin plays the cello so many an evening on ship they will play together to pass the time. Morgan somehow got her hands on a CD that is a compilation of duets mentioned in Patrick O'Brien's series. Which she actually listens to.

Recently I watched Last of the Mohicans and then another book I was reading mentioned western frontier archetypes, particularly Fenimore Cooper's Natty Bumppo of the Leatherstocking Tales, so I found myself reading the book whilst listening to the movie soundtrack.

You may be wondering what the point of this post is and I tell you: HOUSE, MD.

Yes, ever since my college roommate introduced me to the joy and hilarity of BlackAdder and PG Wodehouse I have been a devoted fan of Hugh Laurie.

He's a musician. I just saw a snippet today of the episodes where Dave Mathews guest stars as a patient, who just so happens to be a musician, a classical musician on the show. And the interview cut back and forth to Hugh Laurie talking about how amazing Dave Mathews is and Dave Mathews commenting wryly that for the piano bits he had a hand double while Hugh had not. No one questioned their respective guitar skills. Although, the episode where House has spent all the time he's supposed to be hiring a new team learning Van Halen riffs is pretty amusing. But back to the show! And to Dave Mathews. I don't know who picks the music for this show but I always love it! Since I've been watching again it has struck me AGAIN how well selected it always is. Particularly whatever song is chosen to sum up the emotion at the end of the episode. I don't even remember what episode it was but I was led so far as to look up the song (Dave Mathews: Some Devil) and finding that it wasn't on iTunes and wasn't in any of the stores I visited in the next day or so I ended up having to buy the entire album on the internet- and NOT in mp3 format. Then wait forever for it to come in the mail. Geez.

It was worth it. This is a great song.

and a bonus of a Hugh Laurie original (he's SO funny):

Monday, June 16, 2008

song of the day

I'm Afraid I'm Not Supposed to Be Like This

Well I’m afraid I’m not supposed to be like this
Like I was born in a land where no serpent hissed
And I have waited a long time for Your kiss

Well I have felt that they’d all take offense at me
And so a fence I have built to protect the seed
But all the bricks will secure its mortality

I have been seated in circles and stood in disgrace
At the noted intention to be in place
And I have seen that one man saved the human race
But it took His life and it took His faith

I have risen from ashes and fed on flames
But even so I still fear I have played a game
And it seems no one else is as sick and depraved

I have heard that I’m not supposed to be this way
And still the stones that are lifted fall down to stay
But I keep doubting and think one will strike my face

He’s been promising me something more than pain
Where the cost is grace and my loss is gain
And I have chosen because there is no other way
I either wallow in shame
Or humble myself and be saved
And be saved

Sunday, June 15, 2008

a tribute playlist for my dad

After putting the obvious (to me) songs on this playlist I just typed in "father," mainly to peruse Justin McRoberts album of the same name, but it gave me pause as I saw Everclear's "Father of Mine" that most songs about fathers are about their absence rather than presence. Kelly Clarkson's "Because of You" comes to mind.

I think it's sad and is a good example of art imitating life. Tonight at church the sermon centered on fatherhood (it actually coincided well with the gospel from John of Jesus' feeling pity for the crowds who were like a sheep without a shepherd.) Our deacon, who preached today, talked about the role and importance of spiritual fatherhood to which I say Amen.

Tracklist of CD titled "Daddy Gi Gi the One" (hard g's, I actually have no idea where this nickname came from.)

1. Gonna Have a Party: Alabama
2. Here for the Party: Gretchen Wilson
3. When the Sun Goes Down: Kenny Chseney
4. Big Time: Big & Rich
5. Start Me Up: Rolling Stones
6. Cowboy: Kid Rock
7. Little Miss Magic: Jimmy Buffett
8. Country Road: James Taylor
9. My Love Will Keep: Adrienne Young and Little Sadie
10. Butterfly Kisses: Bob Carlisle
11. Daughters: John Mayer Trio
12. Iowa: Alli Rogers
13. Ca C'est Bon: L'Angelus
14. Sister Rosa: Neville Brothers
15. Wanna Be Loved: dc Talk
16. Growing Older But Not UP: Jimmy Buffett
17. Early in the Morning: Andrew Osenga
18. What a Wonderful World: Louis Armstrong

The first half is songs my dad likes or I grew up listening too, funny, things like perhaps "Sister Rosa" started me on social justice at a young age. I still love James Taylor (I gifted "One Man Band" to my dad for Christmas). When my sister and I were really into dc Talk in high school "Wanna Be Loved" was the song my dad liked. I'm embarassed to include "Butterfly Kisses" but really, I had to. I feel like the rest is musically self-explanatory. :)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

the kind of musical giddiness this blog is really for

Don Chaffer is insane. I mean that in the sense that he's doing something really crazy, all out, and I LOVE IT. I mean, it's conceptual, it's performance art, it's no-holds-barred, it's (literally) kind of epic. Don says this about the attempt within the context of his usual Christian audience (although I am loathe to label his audience "usual"),

"The broader problem with broad swaths of evangelical subculture is dishonesty at an emotional level," Chaffer adds. "I was at a point in my life where I couldn't afford that. I had to get this stuff down."

Let's back up, before I left on my trip I mentioned that I was going to commit some more time/effort to listening to Don Chaffer's latest offering "The Khrusty Brothers" (likeminded blogpost here).

The Khrusty brothers is a concept piece centered around a fictional group of brothers in Appalachia. Like most good art, you sort of have to get into it to understand. Eventually Don wants to turn the concept into an off broadway rock musical. The play sounds AMAZING. Not only does the whole idea just make my head want to explode but the songs are SO GREAT for this story, not to mention the story would incorporate "Both of Us Will Feel the Blast" which I was just reflecting on the other day what an amazing song that is. If you were here I would be jumping up and down and trying to incoherently explain why everything about this is so awesome.

This is one of those moments where my friends claim they feel a lot of pressure when I'm like, "LISTEN TO THIS SONG IT'S AMAZING." Then I rave about why I think it's utterly unique and indispensable to the human deposit of art and then just look at whoever it is. (Liz. Claire.) They look back at me, uncomfortable. "Um, it was a good song." I sigh.

But I do it anyway.


I LOVE THE BEGINNING. This song is funky from the beginning and draws you in right away, I think it captures the whole album the most easily if I had to pick a single song. The scene is set so well. Danny busts into the room and angels stop him in his sputtering anger.

Jesus says he can see him face to face if he thinks he's got the balls. YES! I love that! I really feel like that's true to Life! There is so much truth in this song!

The other part I think is just utterly wonderful is when Jesus pours himself a drink (I just shake my head in wonder at how artfully this is put together.) and explains that his fiancee is supposed to speak His mind and just doesn't get it. I so resonate with that, it's so earthy.

Then when Danny says he just gives up and the ANGELS SING IT UNDER THEIR BREATH- HALLELUJAH, HALLELUJAH. To me that little bit might be the most crafty part of the song because it's really the moment of revelation and the angels are rejoicing even though the narrator doesn't even really see what's going on.

With that you just have to try to appreciate it. This is from the CD release show including an intro from Cowboy Jesus (interestingly I've had a note on the side of my comp for a few years now to spark a poem and it just says "Jesus in red cowboy boots.") and then "Sympathy for Jesus" live.

I came stumbling into church with a hot gun in my hands.
I was ready to talk to Jesus, to tell him my demands.
Jesus ain't no fool, he's seen this kind of thing before,
And he had a couple of angels stop me at the front door

I said now come on, that ain't fair, you should be accessible to all.
He said, "everybody gets a secretary even just to take their phone calls.
So address me to my face if you think you've got the balls
but i ain't playing around boy at all."

Well this is not what i expected so i stiffened in my stance
and tried hard to remember every single shitty circumstance
then i quivered like a victim with his predator in sight
I was ready now to vindicate, I was ready to start a fight

Now you can stand right there and judge me.
Shoot, you can send me straight to hell.
I now you've got the power, I know that fact full well.
But before you do explain to me, why suffering? and why death?
and why did i pray all those years and waste all that good breath?

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

the angels sang it under their breath by the door

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I give up, I can't go on like this anymore.

"Well I appreciate your kind," he said, and then Jesus poured a drink.
For my face must have looked funny 'cause he said, "it's not like you think
you see I'm saddled with the job, oh, of interpreting my dad
to a bunch of frightened people, frightened or just mad."

"most of them think they've got it right,"
and then he threw some ice cubes in,
"but most of them are just dead wrong
about death and life and sin."

"And then I've got my fiancee, she's supposed to speak my mind,
sometimes she's just chicken and then she messes it up other times."

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

the angels sang it under their breath by the door.

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

Hallelujah, Hallelujah

I give up, I can't go on like this anymore.

A great article about the Khrusty Brothers live.

More evidence why I think you have to listen to any of Don's songs at least ten times before you can start to appreciate them. I've been listneing to "You Were At the Time for Love" recently. Between that and learning more about this album I decided I couldn't go any longer without having "What You Don't Know." Thoughts to come MUCH later (like after I've listened to the album at least ten times.)

Friday, June 13, 2008

humanity unfolding: Holly Sienty

When Holly sat down at the grand piano her lithe figure and beamy mango-coloured dress set a contrast to the bulky black instrument dominating stage left. In a single convulsive wave of breath and motion, though, she managed forge a connection that held the room enthralled at her surprisingly boozy voice and personal sound.

She played two songs she's recently written, "My Dinah" and "Jubilee." I admit to preferring the former at first, it was in response to an assignment to create a song from a newspaper article. Holly saw this article about camel breeding in Saudi Arabia and wrote a song about it. Something about that in itself strikes me as incredibly lovely and poignantly quirky. I love the point of view she takes, the intensity with which she treats her subject, the wonderful images (deserts in bloom, camels with long neck and lashes, solitary trails...), and not least the sultry tone the whole song takes.

However, upon further listening I think the long-term favorite of the evening will be "Jubilee." I am already eyeing this song for my Lent09 CD to point to God's faithfulness when despair seems inevitable. I love this song on its own merits, not just because I like Holly's sensibilities; the hopelessness transformed into a vision of freedom. Again Holly's strength as a writer shines through with the strong internal rhymes while still painting a vivid picture of withering fruit trees and dusty forlorn faces. "Jubilee" manages to be soulful, mournful, soothing, and redemptive all at once.


I wish you could know Holly so that her unassuming and impish personality could cause you to wonder at her versatility and genuine artistry as a songwriter. Proud to call her a friend. :)

mix cd goodness

I made this CD for a friend I'd been out of touch with for a while,so I had to catch him up. Here's the tracklist with some explanations.

1. I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time: Over the Rhine
I love Over the Rhine, they are unbelievable writers, Karin has this amazing unique voice and they have a great sound. This is the opening track of their most recent album and both times I've seen them live they've opened with it and, well, I have a hard time these days NOT opening a CD with this song because it's so perfect! I don't want to waste your time! And I LOVE the "when it comes to what is real there's no such thing as greed." The whole impetus behind this song of wanting their music to MEAN something- that just completely resonates with me.

2. Swing Life Away: Rise Against
My friend Eli put this song on a mix CD she made me and for some reason I just really like it. There's something carefree and simple about it, something basic and joyful and I love that. I also just love the image of swinging on a front porch, getting by on minimum wage, and sharing each others woundedness. It's a good thing.

3. Used to Love: Judd & Maggie
Judd & Maggie are a Catholic brother/sister duo who actually Mario introduced me to a few years back. I think their music just keeps getting better, they have this great artistic indie sound, to me, and they're just cool. I went to see them and Steven Delopoulos at this little coffee shop near my neighborhood in Chicago and got to hang out with them for like an hour and they're ridiculously Catholic and really true to their unique voice. I think the combination is really winning. I love this song because it's *so* love-and-responsibility, personalistic, theology-of-the-body, etc. Plus it's catchy. :)

4. Even in the Darkness: Rue Royale
A band I randomly saw at the same aforementioned coffee shop, this time husband and wife duo and despite their Postal Service-esque sound, they really do sound like this live which is impressive. I love the imagery of this song and relate to it.

5. To Be Alone With You: Sufjan Stevens
For some reason this became my Advent/Christmas theme song. I think it's really Incarnational- what Jesus did to be "alone" with us. Plus this whole album has this fantastic surreal feel to it.

6. In the Secret of His Presence: Sandra McCracken
So this song is actually based off of a 200 year old hymn by Isaac Watts (who is one of my songwriting heroes) but I think it captures Eucharistic adoration perfectly. It really expresses exactly how I feel, not to mention Sandra has such a lovely voice and I love this arrangement, it's so sparse and beautiful.

7. Who Can Ascend: Jon Shirley
I became obsessed with this song during Lent07. Well, I guess it's an extension of my obsession with Psalm 24. But anyway, it's pretty clear why someone desperate to climb the mountain of the Lord and see His face would love this song. And that's why I love it. Plus I think it builds really well and I think it is a true worship song in the sense that it really is a cry out to the Lord.

8. All I know: 100 Portraits (Ben and Robin Pasley)

9. Father of My Dreams: Nick Carleton Band
Okay, admittedly this song is slightly cheesy (mainly the title, I'm sure they could have thought of a better one) but who DOESN'T relate to it?! "You gave me Jesus and I fight to pray"?! I was won over right there. This is a local Colorado band and I went to see them live at a coffeeshop here and was BLOWN AWAY, really. The guy singing, you can't tell so much in this song but he has an incredible range! Anyway, simple as the lyrics are I think they say something profound and jubilant nonetheless.

10. Servant of All: Misty Edwards

11. He Loves Me (at this point called the "ooh ooh song"): Enter the Worship Circle (VERY rough demo)
This is an excerpt from their podcast to demonstrate some of the qualities I love the most about the Pasleys- they just take something and RUN with it! Seriously being in a room where music and prayer are just bouncing around off the walls, they're so great. All of their songs have this great raw edge and it's all super-acoustic: hand drums, guitars, random stuff. I love the part of this little thing where they are literally just throwing stuff out, "and now Robin sings!" and I love the part where Ben's voice goes crazy and where he says "he freaks out and pours good stuff all over my head." Now THAT'S a great interpretation of the psalms...

12. He Loves Me: Enter the Worship Circle (Ben and Robin Pasley)
So here is the version on the album and I still love the intimacy of it. The lyrics are great- just the discussion of God's totally undeserved and unreserved love for us. Their songs really make me want to yell the words along, LET'S GO WITH HE LOVES ME!

13. Everything Glorious: David Crowder Band
So this song just won a GMA award for, like, best worship song of 2007 or something. Funnily enough I fell in love with it in the summer of '06 when Claire and I drove all over the western united states (GRAND CANYON! possibly my favorite place in America...) but everywhere we went I had to confront exactly what Crowder says here "you make everything glorious...and I am Yours. What does that make me?" Because everything WAS so so so glorious... on a dorky sidenote the part that says "my eyes are small but they have seen the beauty of enormous things," I later heard mewithoutYou say something very similar on the song you'll hear later and realized I think both songs are actually referencing the same Rumi poem. SHARED SOURCETEXT, WOO!

14. For the Morning: Alli Rogers
I love Alli Rogers. This is one of those songs that sort of defies description: it's poetic and evocative, scriptural and personal, awe-filled and emotional, it is just so... I don't know, it is so easy to get lost in. To pray with, to inspire hope, just great.

15. This Too Shall Be Made Right: Derek Webb
I saw Derek in Chicago and he opened with this song from his newest album (which hadn't been released yet at the time) and I was like...."yup, this is why I LOVE Derek Webb."

16. When the Saints: Sara Groves
If I didn't try to hold it back, this song would make me weep every time I hear it. Maybe it's because all of the examples she gives of modern sainthood- I feel like I know people doing those things and just the beauty of it overwhelms me. On Matt Maher's new album I really like the "Shine like the Sun" song for the same reason- the hands and feet of those who serve the poor are SO BEAUTIFUL and the places they work and live in's like, that's the kingdom- IT'S AMONG US NOW! And so often we are SO caught up in other totally unimportant things that we miss it, at least I do, and this song reminds me that there is a place for me among that cloud of witnesses, I just have to have faith and finish the race. Really, it's so inspiring to me.

17. Good Good End: Waterdeep
Ah, Waterdeep. From the opening second this song is so eclectic and totally owned by Don and Lori Chaffer. I just love the heart of this song "it's a long hard road with a good good end." Just the kind of nonplussed wonder as we get to join them in stepping back and being amazed by life and our own eternity.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

theme songs

So I've spent five nights at Rocky Mountain National Park in the past 13 days, before that was catching up with friends in Florida and now am trying to catch my breath so that I can plan a month-long camping trip with Emily and pack to move to Pennsylvania. But that's not why you're here!!!

Whilst camping these last few weeks I realized an indispensable part of camping is music- on round 2 at RMNP I brought my ipod speakers and it was wonderful. I have been mentally creating a playlist for my trip with Emily but these past few days brought to mind songs that have been definitive for trips in the past

Cross Country with my mom and sister, circa 1995- ALABAMA'S GREATEST HITS (i.e. the compromise between my mom wanting to listen to Hootie and the Blowfish and my sister and I wanting to listen to Alanis Morisette, now I think I would choose EITHER over Alabama but their music is sentimental to me now, so there you go.)

Driving up to Camp Skyline with Morgan this song MUST be played up Lookout Mountain, 2001 to present- Sheryl Crow: Kiss That Girl
(ignore the anime, in fact go to a different screen and think about growing up and driving up a mountain when the air starts to smell like who you really are)

Epic Roadtrip with Claire, summer 2006- David Crowder Band: Everything Glorious

Camping trip with Claire, two weeks ago- Jars of Clay: Love Song for a Savior

Camping trip with Lola and Kat, just returned- Kansas: Carry On My Wayward Son

Friday, May 23, 2008

get out the map!

I flew to Orlando on Wednesday. While flying I continued to read my amazing book whilst listening to the new mix cd I made (will post contents later) as well as deciding to listen to the Khrusty Brothers again (it's an album that requires some attention).

Now I'm about to drive to Jacksonville for a retreat for the weekend. I haven't gotten to inundate my college roommate, Liz, with new music for almost a year now so I've already made her listen, intermittently, to Misty Edwards, Alli Rogers, Ingrid Michaelson, Over the Rhine, Colbie Callait, well, it's been a lot. So I'll be off for a few days but blogs to look forward to when I get back:

-a way overdue review of seeing Superchick with my cousin
-Holly's singer/songwriter workshop (sort of waiting till I have mp3s of her songs)
-actual review of Misty Edwards' "Relentless"
-surely more thoughts on worship after the weekend and last week's "Logos"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

i love louie

really, this is just genius.

I wouldn't trade this girl for a soul

This is a song for Lau, who I will see in less than 24 hours!!!

we cried over boys and we laughed over beers...

Monday, May 19, 2008

books & music

I just got an email from the library saying that this book was ready for me to pick it up! I am so excited to read it, I've been eyeing it for close to two years now, it had better be good!!!!

note: I'm back and have just read the first chapter and I'm already blown away. Part of me is like, "why didn't I read this years ago?!" and another part of me thinks, as accessible as its goal is to be, I still wouldn't have been ready until now. It's amazing. Go grab this right now and start reading.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

a trio of songs for trinity sunday

first the complement to Misty Edwards' biblical usage: the first time I heard this song it was to run an errand for my friend Aleya and the CD just happened to be in the player. I was all, "Jennifer Knapp, how did you KNOW those were all my favorite verses?!"

The song is called "Trinity"

I went and saw the new Narnia movie tonight and it was actually a lot better than I expected. The song at the end was really good so I'm going to share it. It's Regina Spektor which is a sort of pleasant surprise.

I don't have a youtube for this last one; it's a song I've loved dearly since I first heard it and it just felt right tonight.

All I know
100 Portraits

today if there's ever been a day when I needed a rescue
I've been digging with all three hands a hole that I can't climb out from
someone throw me a rope
woven with the rounds of history
something I can believe in

someone told me a lie
someone told me
I should climb, so I tried
but I'm not that strong

someone found me, yeah
someone found me
He came down, pulled me out, bandaged me

Oh, all I know is
Love found me broken
Oh, all I know is
the Healer has freed me
from all of my shame
legs that were withered
are under me walking
I'm leaving this pain that I built with my pride
hands that were broken, now are waving goodbye

someone sold me a lie
someone told me
I should be in myself, but I'm not that tall
someone showed me
someone showed me
that I fall down
and call out, He will rescue me

Oh, all I know is
Love found me broken
Oh, all I know is
the Healer has freed me
from all of my shame
legs that were withered
are under me walking
I'm leaving this pain that I built with my pride
hands that were broken, now are waving goodbye

Oh, all I know is
Love found me broken
Oh, all I know is
the Healer has freed me
from all of my shame
legs that were twisted
are under me walking
I'm leaving this pain that I built with my pride
hands that were broken, now are waving goodbye
They are waving goodbye.

and the Hands that just healed me
draw me close to His side

I was broken, I was broken
Oh, this Hand has healed me, came and touched me, came and made me whole.
I said now I have to dance!
I lift it up
Oh now, all of my life I will sing!
Oh now, join me, join me, join me
Oh now, join me, join me, join me

Oh, all I know is
Love found me broken
Oh, all I know is goodbye lonely!
Goodbye, goodbye broken!
Goodbye, goodbye to blackness!
Goodbye to lonely!
Goodbye to hear my sin all in my mind
This Hand come around my left and
this Hand come around my right and
draw me close to the face of God!
I feel the kisses, I feel the holy something, the kisses from the mouth of my God!
And the sweet tears rolling and they hold me closer, sweet tears roll, hold me now.

Friday, May 16, 2008


If anyone knows me they know that 48 hours is more than enough time for me to become totally into something new. MISTY EDWARDS. I can't speak for the weird dance going on but this song is SO UNBELIEVABLE. It seriously makes me want to freak out- not many songs make me want to kickbox and pray in tongues at the same time, in fact this might be the only one. It's like some of the most powerful ideas and scriptures all rolled into one song. You have to listen to it to understand how crazy incredible it is.

People Get Ready
Misty Edwards

I can hear the rhythm
of the Lion of the tribe of Judah

He's doing a new thing
So we're singing a new song

He's not a baby in a manger anymore
He's not a broken man on a cross
He didn't stay in the grave
And He's not staying in heaven forever!

He's alive
He's alive
He's alive
He's alive!

People get ready!
Jesus is coming!

We join in the song of the ages
It's a new song
It's a new song
It's a new song

We say to the One who was slain,
"You have proven Your love,
And You have shown us, shown us
That You can be trusted."

So take the scroll and open
And open, and open the seals
We trust You, Jesus
And we want you to come back
So take the scroll and open the seals
So take the scroll and open the seals

I can hear the rhythm
of the Lion of the tribe of Judah

He's doing a new thing
So we're singing a new song

He's not a baby in a manger anymore
He's not a broken man on a cross
He didn't stay in the grave
And He's not staying in heaven forever!

He's alive
He's alive
He's alive
He's alive!

People get ready!
Jesus is coming!

People walking around
With their fingers in the their ears
Singing, "Da da da da da."
"I don't want to hear the sound of the coming King."

But He says, he says,
"Well, I have held my peace for
A long, long, long, long time
And in my silence you thought
That i was all together like you.
And in your heart you were settled in complacency
You said, 'He won't even respond.'
You said, 'He's not interested."
You said, 'He's dead and gone."
But I've been silent for such
A long, long, long, long time
But I'm about to gasp, to pant,
To cry out, to cry out,
I'm going to shout!"

Once again I'm going to shake
Everything that can be shaken
Once again I'm going to break
Everything that can be broken

Are you ready?
Are you ready for this?

Are you ready?
Are you ready?

People get ready!
Jesus is coming!

He's coming!
He's coming!
He's coming!
He's coming!!!

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

songs that stick

New Shiny Shoes
Sandra McCracken

It's been almost two years now since I saw you last
Sorry I remember you anyway 'cause you won't escort me out of your past
So you'd better just leave me here
'Cause I knew you when
Just take your new shiny shoes
You don't have to be my friend

Go ahead and walk away
Sever these last ties
I am nothing but a breath
And you're nothing but a lie

You got the last word when you left
to put me in my place
and you went off to your wild dreams
gone without a trace

While you follow that yellow brick road
to thine own self be true
and when you choose to go that way
in the end there is only you

Go ahead and walk away
Sever these last ties
I am nothing but a breath
And you're nothing but a lie

high on the sound of your own name
and this fleeting fanfare
the common ground is falling down
as if it was never there

while I'm still wearing this same old dress
my heart has come alive
and i will wait for your return
if you'll ever change your mind

Go ahead and walk away
Sever these last ties
I am nothing but a breath
And you're nothing but a lie

I wish I could find a way for you to actually hear this song
. Don't you love (and sometimes hate?) when there are songs that wrench on you again and again? Sometimes because they're too close to home and other times because it's so far from where you are?

I once went to a poetry reading to raise money for the situation in Darfur and two poets quoted Czeslaw Milosz, "Poetry doesn't change anything." Both poets, of course, attempting to disagree. I have to say perhaps the highest aim of art is to do just that: change something. Sometimes it's a subtle change in the way we approach something, sometimes it's picking up the phone to fight seeming inevitability, sometimes it leads us to more art or prayer, or conversation, and the ripples continue.

This song does all of that for me.

Monday, May 12, 2008

even if your hands are shaking: john mayer and more thoughts on conventional romantic ideas...

So part of me really likes this song. I mean, oftentimes I find it incomprehensible when people don't like the same music I do so maybe that should be taken into account but really it's a theme commonly expressed in the young(ish) and angsty- it's better to say too much than to never say what you need to say

And I couldn't disagree more, John. I will go ahead and speak as a young(ish) and angsty person and declare that I have often really resonated with this sentiment: I don't believe in having regrets, I'm probably more passionate about things than is prudent, and I'm (sometimes brutally) honest to a fault. So I speak from experience when I say that, really, sometimes, it is better to keep your mouth shut. Seriously, not everything that we feel like NEEDS to be shared, really needs to be shared. I genuinely think we have an unhealthy societal obsession with the dramatic, romantic, last-ditch, everything-hangs-on-this-moment, sort of confrontations and monologues that make for good TELEVISION. Not so good real life. Why have relationships and communication deteriorated to the point where this is necessary?

I'm not totally against the sentiment in "Say." Once you've screwed up a relationship and need to apologize or have been untruthful in some way, sometimes it does come to the point where you have to risk something for things to be made right. If your brother has something against you and you are getting ready to make a sacrifice- go leave your sacrifice and make amends with your brother.

But there is still something about this song that feels emotionally manipulative. Actually maybe I just resent that John Mayer feels emotionally manipulative. He is a classic example of why I usually steer clear of reading interviews with musicians/actors of a certain celebrity: I always end up disliking them. Or worse, sometimes they come off as someone cool who you might have a good conversation with, drink a few beers on the swing and really connect. Then you have this good feeling toward them and then the next interview you read you're like, ONLY A JERK WOULD SAY THAT, YOU ARE SUCH A JERK! Is consistency too much to ask?

Or perhaps that's the whole crux of any kind of artist: the first person you portray in your music isn't necessarily "you." Even the "I" of one's own work isn't necessarily "me." It's who I choose to be, it's what I choose to portray, and most of us prefer to portray ourselves with our best foot forward. Maybe that's why I like really confessional songwriters, because it resonates as more authentic or something.

While I'm in the vein of pop music of a confessional nature, maybe the aforementioned is why I like Kelly Clarkson. As a group of my friends used to tell each other with mock-serious, knowing looks, "Kelly understands." This song DEFINITELY qualifies as emotionally manipulative, but DAMN, if you're going to manipulate me the dizzying changes of keys and octaves HAS to be the way to do it.

I think these songs have some dialogue together. Listen to both of them- am I the only one who thinks there are threads woven between the subjects?

Saturday, May 10, 2008

high fidelity, natasha bedingfield, and "soul mates"

What came first, the music or the misery? People worry about kids playing with guns, or watching violent videos, that some sort of culture of violence will take them over. Nobody worries about kids listening to thousands, literally thousands of songs about heartbreak, rejection, pain, misery and loss. Did I listen to pop music because I was miserable? Or was I miserable because I listened to pop music? (Nick Hornby's "High Fidelity")

(full video here, it's interesting actually.)

I read an article at the other day about the obsession in our culture with finding your "soul mate". I was intrigued by the discussion, statistics cited, etc. Back when my sister got me to listen to Natasha Bedingfield's hilarious and all-too-true "I Wanna Have Your Babies" I made my friend Marci listen to it because it's so ridiculous and yet hits close to home (if you knew what I was thinking/it would make you like, "whoa!") and she was looking at the other videos from Natasha's new album and said that she liked "Soul Mate" better. I watched the video (v. intelligent, imo) and listened to the words and found myself more disturbed than entertained. I think the chorus kind of says it all:

who doesn't long for someone to hold?
who knows how to love you without being told?
oh somebody tell me, why I'm on my own
if there's a soul mate for everyone?
It's a difficult lyric because I think Ms. Bedingfield speaks the truth: who doesn't want those things? At the same time the other half sort of infuriates me; the suggestion that there is someone out there who can love you effortlessly, "without being told." I'm sorry, my general idealism loses out for a moment, this is just pure fantasy. Relationships take time and effort. My friend Nick holds that anyone can marry anyone else because love is a decision (he also claims his two non-negotiables for a wife are that she doesn't want a diamond and will let him wear jeans to the wedding, but I digress.) I won't go so far as Nick but I believe there is a grain of wisdom in his thinking here. Love IS a decision and requires sacrifice, so the idea that there is this ONE person out there who it will be easy to love. None of us are easy to really love.

Anyway, all this came back to mind because I heard this song overhead while reading at a Barnes & Nobles and I was just thinking in the midst of stupid "chick lit," unbelievably improbable romantic comedies, ADVERTISING, and just the whole facade our culture tells us is the "good life"I wonder how much we buy into it. How much we should buy into it. I speak from the middle, I think. Any friend of mine can tell you how vehement I am against girls "settling" for relationships that aren't good for them but at the same time expecting perfection from ANYONE (including oneself) is just a recipe for disaster. On the other hand I am one of those lovers of books like "A Severe Mercy" and really believe in the tremendous power of two people becoming one person.

One of the questions the article brought up was how comfortable you are with being someone else's "soul mate." The object, I suppose you could say, as opposed to the subject of such a tight relationship. I thought that was an interesting question. Lots of pressure, huh?

I told my friend Lauren last night and concluded by saying that I think the idea of seeking out "The One" (as LG says, we're really looking for "The Two" anyway) is totally unrealistic and this is the crux of my issue with the "Soul Mate" song. I genuinely believe in a relationship of becoming with the other. One of my favorite people, TomNeal, who taught me Christian Tradition in college gave us one Friday off because he and his wife were going away to celebrate their (12th?) anniversary and he commented that the more he knows his wife the more of a beautiful mystery she is. Now that's what I'm talking about.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

if Lindsay influenced the liturgy...

I would have somehow worked Over the Rhine's song "The Trumpet Child" into the mass for today's feast of the Ascension.

more mix CD goodness

I met a Catholic musician recently who expressed his frustration with the lack of artistry and authenticity in most Christian music, a genre he's pretty much given up on. I decided to make him a mix CD to remedy this. He's primarily a pianist, and I knew he liked Burlap to Cashmere and admired Rich Mullins. So here's what I came up with:

1. I Don't Wanna Waste Your Time: Over the Rhine
2. The Dress Looks Nice on You: Sufjan Stevens
3. The Things We Can and Cannot Keep: Alli Rogers
4. She Held My Hand: Steven Delopoulos
5. Mercy Moves Me: 100 Portraits
6. Springtime Indiana: Sandra McCracken
7. Mansions: Steven Delopoulos (from his live album)
8. On a Night That Felt Outdated: Waterdeep
9. May I Always Keep My Feet Upon the Ground: Steven Delopoulos
10. A Savior on Capitol Hill: Derek Webb
11. Have You Fallen on the Cornerstone: Don Chaffer
12. Eve: Sandra McCracken
13. Work to Be Done: Steven Delopoulos
14. Used to Love: Judd & Maggie
15. Lonely Sometimes: Waterdeep
16. For the Morning: Alli Rogers (from "At Sea")
17. Ohio: Over the Rhine
18. To Be Alone With You: Sufjan Stevens
19. Pieces: Enter the Worship Circle
20. 18 Bullet Holes: Waterdeep

Friday, May 2, 2008

which leads us to.... chair and microphone, vol 1 review

I downloaded Chair and Microphone, Vol 1 from about a week ago and, gosh, the more I listen to Robin and Ben Pasley what they do... the more I like them.

The first time I was mesmerized by their style of music and worship was through the songs "save me" and "improv" from their collaboration with Waterdeep on the first "Enter the Worship Circle" album. The improv song left a big impression on me- especially when I learned that its title says it all; it's literally an improvised song that wanders through some of the best bits of Song of Songs, Isaiah, and Hosea. Then it weaves that with personal responses to the promises offered in those places, really poignant and more beautiful for its spontaneity.

So, back to the project at hand (it's not newly released or anything, just new to me, I've been eyeing it for a while now) the song that stands out the most is the first one, "Pieces." The imagery is wonderful, it immediately caught my attention with the first line I swallowed the key/to the door painted red/that leads to the big room filled with regrets. I just love how concrete it is, and poetic.

I suppose that highlights one of the Pasleys talents which is managing to make really strong emotional connections with really specific images while at the same time constructing choruses that are accessible but not trite.

My other favorite tracks are probably "Rescue Me Deep", "Wedding Days" (I like the straightforward simile running through the song), and "Answer Me." I also really love the whole construction of "Crown Him."

But in the vein I've come to expect from these projects almost all the songs speak to me in different ways, at different levels as they play through.

They really have managed to continuously capture the spirit of the psalms. I say that in the sense of containing pieces of your personal journey even if it's not where you are at the moment. The Catholic Church participates in the ancient Christian tradition of praying the psalms everyday and we all pray the same psalms. Obviously the millions of people praying the same psalms are not all in the same place in their emotional and spiritual lives and yet these words resonate with all of us somehow. So to say that Ben and Robin have managed to create pieces of art that can have that effect is high praise.

wikipedia lets me down again

no entry for "100 portraits", "enter the worship circle", OR "ben/robin pasley" as individuals?! WHAT THE HECK??

I am LOVING this song recently. I actually really really love the random version of them just getting the idea out there. Their voices are just amazing and unique. Makes me happy.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

nytimes blog on music & lyrics

Once again Morgan pulling through for me... she gchatted me this article by Rosanne Cash about songwriting: craft, art, poetic license and other good things.

Also good notes for wannabe music interviewer like myself...

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Judd & Maggie: Not Quite

I keep playing this song over and over.

Oh no, not again.
Start to feel abandoned
and my good intentions
are paving the long way
that gets longer every day.

Not enough, I'm never enough
when all the love you give me is a bluff
and I spend time on the meaningless stuff.
It's not enough.

Oh no, not again.
Trippin' me on my journey
and my hands stutter to explain
the same problem all over again.

I'm not enough, I'm never enough
when all the love you give me is a bluff
and I spend time on the meaningless stuff.
It's not enough.

Oh, it's not enough.

It's you only, or I'm lonely.
It's you only, or I'm lonely.

And I spend time on the meaningless stuff,
it's not enough.

It's not enough, never enough,
when all the love you give me is a bluff
and I spend time on the meaningless stuff.
It's not enough.

Oh, it's not enough.
(It's you only, or I'm lonely)
It's you only, or I'm lonely.
It's you only, or I'm lonely.

good sounds

At my Starbucks every once in a while I hear a song that rings familiar and it's never on a playlist that I can pull up on the system- annoying! But recently I have heard Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek) floating over to the bar and I asked my friend Holly (a gifted musician and songwriter in her own right) if she was familiar with their music. She wasn't so I made her a mix CD of some of my faves with a few bonus tracks thrown on. The playlist was:

1. This Side: Nickel Creek
2. Let it Fall: Sean Watkins
3. Doubting Thomas: Nickel Creek
4. When You Come Back Down: Nickel Creek
5. Reasons Why: Nickel Creek
6. The Lighthouse Tale: Nickel Creek
7. Run Away Girl: Sean Watkins
8. Spit on a Stranger: Nickel Creek
9. No Lighted Windows: Sean Watkins
10. When in Rome: Nickel Creek
11. House of Tom Bombadil: Nickel Creek
12. The Fox: Nickel Creek
13. Art of Virtue: Adrienne Young and Little Sadie
14. The Things We Can and Cannot Keep: Alli Rogers
15. I Boast No More: Sandra McCracken
16. Wedding Dress: Derek Webb
17. Pieces: Enter the Worship Circle
18. Kingdom of Noise: Judd & Maggie
19. And: Waterdeep

so proud of my sissy...

I like to share the things I love. Part of it is just enjoying being right but also when you love something you share it, right? In addition to brainwashing my sister into appreciating the music I love she has written about the two concerts she just went to (the "same" show twice that is) and it's scarily like something I would write.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Derek Webb, Sandra McCracken, Alli Rogers

My sister went to see the aforementioned trio Friday night and wrote about it on her blog. In typical "us" fashion she decided to drive to West Virginia this evening to do it all over again...

Thursday, April 24, 2008

David Crowder @ GMA Awards

I just love the Crowder band. I can't help it. They are awesome and hilarious.

*Hogan rocking the violin, just makes me unreasonably happy.
*Jack's hair is almost as crazy as Crowder's beard. (which apparently it was suggested that he band it whilst filming new song cafes, a la Charlie Hall- he declined)

Full Dove Awards Listings

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

"real" reviews

I don't know how people work with a deadline. I mean, I *do* I have worked with deadlines before and created art under them but for some reason music seems different. For example, when I first downloaded Derek Webb and Sandra McCracken's Ampersand EP on Valentine's Day I had this great idea about a review; except it was really complicated and involved a compare/contrast with the Indigo Girls' "All That We Let In" as well as reflections on seeing a couple renewing their wedding vows at daily mass. So it never happened. Then I got a mysterious CD in the mail the other day and when I opened it I was surprised to see the actual hardcopy of the EP, although I guess somewhere in my head I knew it was coming. But the review still hasn't happened, though if anyone (MORGAN) would like to anticipate what the connection between the aforementioned songs would have been, please feel free to share.

Also, I have been meaning to listen/think about/review several new albums: the mix CD Trey made me, the new stuff I've downloaded. But instead I've felt a driving necessity to listen to weird things like Rich Mullins-> Andrew Peterson or wake up and listen to Kelly Clarkson-> Saving Jane. Yeah.

So how to "real" reviewers do it? Phew.

Rita Springer: I Have to Believe

So the cool thing about is that for a monthly rate you get a whole slew of songs and, unlike a napster type service, it's DRM free. Sweet. I read the stats on the website and they say something like (because the lowest membership level is $10/30 songs a month) their users typically download 30 songs a month compared to an itunes user downloading 2 or 3 songs a month. I don't even WANT to track my monthly itunes spending but I know that for $10 I only get ten songs, not thirty, so their claim that their users are more likely to branch out and experiment with more music seems pretty well founded.

Case in point, I downloaded Rita Springer's new album, "I Have to Believe." I bought it based off of a few reviews I read that were positive and the fact that she sings "Freedom Reigns," a song I LOVE, and her song "Like You Jesus" was one I also really connected with and put on my Lent07 playlist.

So I decided to listen to the whole thing and although I don't know that this album will become one I come back to in its entirety time after time there are definitely songs that I think will reach that status, most notably "Rise Up." Anyone familiar with Neil Anderson's books would probably have the same immediate reference point but her lyrics really bring to mind his powerful Biblical statements of "Who I am in Christ."

I am blessed among the people
I am blessed among the nations
I am blessed because I am loved by You

I am loved and highly favored
Saved by the grace of a mighty Savior
I am blessed because I am loved by You

No weapon formed against me will prosper
No curse can ever take His promise from me

When hope is gone and the darkness has fallen
I will still believe, I will still believe

I`m will rise up, I`m will rise up
I`m will rise up and call myself blessed
I`m will rise up, I`m will rise up
I`m will rise up and call myself blessed

I also really like the track "O God Of Mine." I think it's gutsy to open a song by saying, O God of mine, I'll have no idols. I appreciate that.

Overall it sounds slightly more like something my Aunt Melody would like (nothing wrong with that, we just don't listen to TONS of the same stuff) than I normally listen to but there is an intensity and authenticity laced throughout which makes the songs truly inhabitable.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

this just in

I am addicted to

more from the steaming bean

Friday I went to Parker again to see a band at the Steaming Bean. A couple that is part of the larger band, Second Chance, did an opening acoustic set and it was painful for me. They weren't really that bad they just sang songs like "Wind Beneath My Wings" as well as some cringe-inducing covers of both Matt Redman and George Strait?!

So I didn't have high hopes for the whole lot of them despite seeing a chipper youngish pregnant lady soundchecking with her electric violin (that was encouraging to me, thanks to Hogan.). They ended up being really good! No, I probably wouldn't go out of my way to see them again but their frontman could seriously belt it out and I appreciate a group whose members are all pushing past middle age. There were a lot of those members too- about eight if I remember correctly. Two electric guitars, bass, drums, keys, violin, and a guy with a sax and soprano sax. That would make seven. I was close. So they were surprisingly southern rock influenced, reminded me strongly of the Muzic Mafia crew.

All in all a nice low-key evening. :)

Ed Cash

My sister actually alerted me to this. I was excited for him. :)

Thursday, April 17, 2008

variations on a theme

I am so small I can barely be seen.
How can this great love be inside me?

Look at your eyes. They are small,
but they see enormous things.

- Rumi

I heard this line in the middle of mewithoutYou's song, "Four Word Letter, Pt 2," and immediately thought of David Crowder's "Everything Glorious."

My eyes are small but they have seen
the glory of enormous things
which leads me to believe
there's light enough to see that

you make everything glorious
you make everything glorious
you make everything glorious
what does that make me?
I have to admit that I'm dorky enough to really appreciate things like shared source texts. I feel the same way about little musical riffs that just-maybe pay homage to each other, allusions to other artists or people in songs, or songs that complement each other in terms of lyrical growth or theme. I think this is why I like making themed playlists- I really like to sythesize and connect the dots.

For example I love Psalm 24, here are some of my fave songs that reference it.

Jon Shirley: Who Can Ascend?
Chris Tomlin/Charlie Hall: Give Us Clean Hands
Rich Mullins: My One Thing
Matt Redman: Lead Us Up the Mountain, Did You Feel the Mountains Tremble?

"new" music

There has been a recent influx.
  • My friend Trey made me a mix CD- review coming, it's NOT my usual fare!
  • Rediscovering mewithoutYou's new album (I love Brother, Sister so much it's hard to even branch out to their other stuff!)
  • I just joined and have therefore downloaded Watermark's "A Grateful People," Enter the Worship Circle "Chair and Microphone," Rita Springer's "I Have to Believe," and some of Judd & Maggie's songs that I didn't have.
  • Joia and Brad gave me an iTunes giftcard for my birthday and I haven't gotten a single song yet! I am always perplexed despite usually having a mental list. I need to write it down because of course now I can't remember what albums I wanted to buy.
  • LOVING the Rich Mullins' records Mr. Clayton lent me.
  • Also I was behind on the podcasts I listen to.
What's a girl to do?!

Monday, April 14, 2008

You And The Evening Sky

So Alli's new album officially releases tomorrow and I hope that many people get to interact with her words, music, and emotion.

You and the Evening Sky opens with the kind of electone organ drama which is sure to ignite the excitement that any fan of Alli’s is sure to be feeling when they slip this CD into their car or computer. And the record lives up to its beginning.

The songwriting is a bit different than on her other albums which makes me curious about the ways she is evolving as a songwriter- are we seeing a truer voice, simply a movement away from conventionality, the influence of co-writers?

I think the reason I love Ms. Rogers’ songwriting is her strong use of imagery. In the interviews included on the bonus downloads from Alli and Don discuss their differences as songwriters and Don mentions that Alli is a very visual songwriter. I would be interested to unpack that a little more (because Don Chaffer can conjure an image more realistically than any illusionist) because I think this album is even more poetic than her others. Poetic in the sense that images tell the stories and the songs are further stripped of narration than some of her previous. I think this works in varying degrees; it really works on “How Long Until We Get There” but (as I have already discussed ad nauseum) I think it detracts in “New Today.”

Not to say her songs are spastic leaps from vision to vision- some have explicit narrative progression (“Baby I Believe in You”) and my favorite marriage of ecstatic imagery and clear narrative has to be “Things We Can and Cannot Keep.”

I wanted to display some snippets of image but perusing the lyrics I’m delighted to say I don’t think it works to pull them out of context- this is so pleasing because it makes me feel like these songs are really tightly woven. In the interview with Don she talks a lot about the emotions poured into the songs and evoked in their completion and I think that gets more to the core of Alli’s songs- they resonate in ways that are abundant, the way the word “sun” barely captures the thing that warms and enlivens our planet, the way “wind” scarcely covers the phenomenon both of a warm and gentle caress of air and also the destructive power that can rip buildings apart and trees up by the roots.

I've been mulling over this record for a few weeks now and the more I listen to it the more I like it. It's artistic, thoughtful, and it's poetry continues to impress me more the more I get to engage it.

Carry A Light: Firstly, I want to know if the line about a ,i>gift on the riverbank is a reference to Moses or if I am (as usual) reading too much into it.

I love the images and ideas here, it's like skipping stones across water and ripples in the same way. I can't help but think of Galadriel's phial for Frodo, the dark places in all of our lives and how to bring the light there, I love the memory of this song. Also the hopefulness- that's what light is, right?!

Don't Wash Your Hands of Me: I like the narrative of this song; it's sort of ambiguous and I like that. Also! Includes a section of "lalalaladada"s that I like. The lyric that stands out is I don't need you to feel my pain/I just need you to know my name. I also appreciate the boldness of saying I am innocence and I am truth.

Closer to the Moon: Besides being on my own Buechner kick which makes me appreciate this song, I like the conversational tone. It's full of strong imagery and word choice, when the silence gets accusing, the word "accuse" just has such heft to it.

I like the stars as a sign, the way the music in the song changes- it actually reminds me of some of Don's songs, I love the way it sort of wanders. I love the building background vocals of a kind of chanting, I love the piano interlude, I like the lack of words following the questioning and gives the listener time to respond.

At Sea: As a FL girl living in two different COLD places these past few years I love the bend of the song- it reminds me of A Severe Mercy, there are some great adjectives and turns of phrase.

This was another song that was on the live album but immediately I noticed the SWEET addition of mandolin! I'm a total sucker. :)

Things We Can and Cannot Keep: WHAT WILL SHINE LIKE GOLD WHEN THE STORY'S TOLD- that is a great lyric and such a beautiful, important statement. We all are so starved for meaning- this is where I want Buechner's journey to have an influence. It's a great song of self-discovery. I like the homage to Tim O'Brien and the strangeness of what we end up keeping- what shines like gold retrospectively. To take the analogy further it tends to be the times where, as Christians, we might say we are bing "refined," always a surprise.

PLUS, the writing is so tight! The line breaks are so well engineered, I also like the musing spirit, in a way. WHY ARE THESE THINGS THE ONES WE KEEP? I like the combo of question and answer, authority and apprenticeship.

I Caught Sight: I love to come to songs like these!! It REALLY CAPTURES the joy of unexpected glimpses of divinity, childlike in a way; delighted. I like the bits of vocal padding- it really is working. The vocals have a splendid exuberance to them.

Baby I Believe in You: My only complaint about this song is that it is totally MARRED by the "boys" making fun of it on the bonus sections! :) I think I like the use of the word "sexy" in songs like this (see Derek Webb). I love the idea of being led into the sea, something is great in that.

More sweet mandolin. And Alli's brother (Michael?) does a great job on percussion. I also like the you're a good man. I want to pray that part alone over so many of my brothers- I deeply appreciate the underlying confidence in the song.

How Long Until We Get There: This song is downright seductive. In the best way possible; a great example of Alli's emotional vocal range. I love the simile, head bowed like a child reciting grace.

I'm not always like this/I can't always find something this good

As an artist, I LOVE that line, for some reason that lyric just condenses this whole song- it's so HEADY, the strings take it over the top.

Come Now, My Love: I'm really into the use of the first person in this song- something about the perspective is slightly different and challenging.

there's nothing to keep you from me sort of changes the perspective as an invitation not an invasion. It's a genuine love (agape) song, I like that I feel it could be about marriage or Jesus could be sweetly singing this into each of our hearts.

Go listen.