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