Category Archives: Music

Hurting Each Other

You may remember when I first mentioned The Civil Wars. They had an intense form of music, with the emphasis on the two very talented singers. This would be typical of one of their songs:

I found their obvious talent to be a big draw, but I didn’t buy their CD, because they were still just playing around. Joy would be up there dancing cheerfully to the glummest songs, and she and John Paul would drag out words through all sorts of auditory acrobatics together, just because they could. I wanted to see what would happen when they settled down a little.

They didn’t show many signs of settling down; their tour schedule was brutal, and it there didn’t seem to be much of a hurry of putting out another CD. I waited.

Joy and her husband Nate had a baby boy. No new CD. The Civil Wars went touring in Europe, leaving John Paul’s wife and children back in the states. No CD.

Abruptly (almost in the middle of a show), the band canceled the remaining tours and put their status on indefinite hiatus due to “irreconcilable differences.”

I was sorry, but not surprised. Of course both of their respective marriages had to be strained–how could they not be? Of course all parties involved were facing serious burn-out. How could they not be?

What infuriated me was the general public’s response, their entitled response that Joy and John Paul had no right to be in falling out, had no right to deprive their fans of continuing music, and, in general, were both acting like a bunch of babies who were engaging in needless drama to increase their fame.

The land of “fandom” (ha) continues to engage in wild speculation, attempts to find one or the other to blame, demands answers, and, generally, is making far more drama out of it than either Joy or John Paul ever did or likely ever will. Yes, Joy and John Paul aren’t speaking. But when Joy granted a rare interview, she didn’t blame or accuse or explain away. She acknowledged tension, and didn’t throw anyone under the bus. John Paul has yet to speak, allowing many to therefore decry that he must be the guilty party and he needs to hurry up and come around.

Really? A man who is unhappy enough with his life choices that he publicly apologizes to his wife for being such a jerk is not likely to be a man who wants to “talk about it.” It is far more likely that he is filled with his own regret, and has more important things to deal with then some people who think they’re entitled to entertainment, be it musically or by getting the dish on whoever it is they want the dish on.

It was nearly a given that Joy would be the one who would be able to speak, even if just something gracious and oblique. She has been in the better position. She was touring with her husband; John Paul had to leave his family behind. She was basking in the glow of being a new mother; his wife, I’m sure, saw plenty of the public speculation that John Paul and Joy were romantically involved. How hard must it be to be separated from your husband who is off on a tour of fame with a pretty lady who everyone thinks he’s an item with?

They did their best to honor their commitments, including offering to pay people their travel costs for arrangements they’d made previously to attend their concerts. They also finished the CD that they’d been working on, even though the tension was high. Here’s a song off of that.

This CD I might have to buy.

On the first CD, they were pretending. They agreed on what made good music, and they made music. On their second CD, they’re raw. The songs are more real to them, and they’re singing from the gut, not playing with their talent. I hear the difference, and it means more. And they know it, too.

I am grateful for the music, but I hurt for them, because their hurt is real. But there are so many people trashing them and bashing them for–hurting.

And that, in itself, is a reason to hurt. People are pretty screwed up.

Thank you for the postcard!

Kingdom Comes

When anger fills your heart
When in your pain and hurt
You find the strength to stop
You bless instead of curse

When doubting floods your soul
Though all things feel unjust
You open up your heart
You find a way to trust

That’s a little stone that’s a little mortar
That’s a little seed that’s a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom’s coming

When fear engulfs your mind
Says you protect your own
You still extend your hand
You open up your home

When sorrow fills your life
When in your grief and pain
You choose again to rise
You choose to bless the name

That’s a little stone that’s a little mortar
That’s a little seed that’s a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom’s coming

In the mundane tasks of living
In the pouring out and giving
In the waking up and trying
In the laying down and dying

That’s a little stone that’s a little mortar
That’s a little seed that’s a little water
In the hearts of the sons and the daughters
The kingdom’s coming

Sara Groves

We undervalue an encouraging word. Not in the getting, of course, but in the giving. How many times have you not even said anything, because there was nothing you could do? But an encouraging word is like a cup of cold water.

Someone thanked me today for a postcard. I stared at her stupidly, not remembering. . .and then, from the depths of mundane moments not worth recording, I managed to pull a brief flash of a picture. Generic, pre-printed, commercial post card with a form message on it. A blank space for a name, the secretary’s neat handwriting filling in names of patients no longer being treated. The few minutes found to look over the cards and scribble in brief messages to anyone I recognized. A sentence, maybe two. What did I even say? “Keep up the good work”? I don’t remember.

“Thanks for the postcard. It was very encouraging!”

She got cancer and had her lower leg amputated off.

I sent her a postcard.

What difference does it make?

Why It Matters

Sit with me and tell me once again
Of the story that’s been told us
Of the power that will hold us
Of the beauty, of the beauty
Why it matters

Speak to me until I understand
Why our thinking and creating
Why our efforts of narrating
About the beauty, of the beauty
And why it matters

Like the statue in the park
Of this war torn town
And it’s protest of the darkness
And the chaos all around
With its beauty, how it matters
How it matters

Show me the love that never fails
The compassion and attention
Midst confusion and dissention
Like small ramparts for the soul
How it matters

Like a single cup of water
How it matters

(Why It Matters, Sara Groves)

Sounds


. . . and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. . . And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice. . .Now all the people witnessed the thunderings, the lightning flashes, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking; and when the people saw it, they trembled. . .

I went to see an orchestra playing, and this passage surged through my mind. Even advanced sound systems cannot compare to every instrument coming from it’s own unique location. The urgency of the music is amplified by half a dozen violin bows, in synchrony, jerking through the air. Tension in the sound is further emphasized by more than a dozen musicians preparing to play on the same note. The eye of the drummer is not fixed on his own drum, but rather fastened unwaveringly at the conductor, the drummer’s whole body poised to act. Parts of whole.

There is no background. There is no ignoring. The music must be heard. Not just heard, listened too.

This, from a community orchestra.

What, then, when the Son of God returns in all His glory?

Joy. Victory. Completion; resolution.

The voice of the angels, ten thousand times ten thousand, singing out.

“Blessing and honor and glory and power
Be to Him who sits on the throne,
And to the Lamb, forever and ever!”

Amen.

What Do I Know

I made You promises a thousand times
I tried to hear from Heaven
But I talked the whole time
I think I made You too small
I never feared You at all No
If You touched my face would I know You?
Looked into my eyes could I behold You?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

I guess I thought that I had figured You out
I knew all the stories and I learned to talk about
How You were mighty to save
Those were only empty words on a page
Then I caught a glimpse of who You might be
The slightest hint of You brought me down to my knees

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

(CHORUS 2)
What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of wounds that will heal my shame?
And a God who gave life “its” name?
What do I know of Holy?
Of the One who the angels praise?
All creation knows Your name
On earth and heaven above
What do I know of this love?

(CHORUS)
What do I know of You
Who spoke me into motion?
Where have I even stood
But the shore along Your ocean?
Are You fire? Are You fury?
Are You sacred? Are You beautiful?
What do I know? What do I know of Holy?

What do I know of Holy?
What do I know of Holy?

Artist: Addison Road

Album: Addison Road

Songwriters: Allison L Rogers, Jennifer Ann Simmons

Friday morning I left for work. I knew there was a chance of slippery spots, so I went slow. But unbeknownst to me, I would have to cross a stretch of road that was covered in black ice as far as the eye could see. As I slid toward the guardrail and the ravine filled with rocks and trees, I thought about how it might feel, how much it might hurt. I kissed the rail with the rim of my front wheel and slid toward the ditch on the other side of the road, full of large rocks. Now I thought about my car. And about stopping.

Thanks to the large rocks that took the tire right off the rim, I did stop. The ice continued far beyond my resting place. I promptly turned off the engine, and literally saw the handwritten figures in my notebook, telling me how many dollars left I had to pay on my car, and how long that would be, and what kind of car would I even be able to find on short notice? I reached for my cell-phone, and suddenly. . .this happened for a reason.

I am not going to pretend that it took me less than 5 hours to stop shaking. I won’t deny that that thoughts of my car, the repair bill or the replacement, the remaining debt and the crunching, jolting, grinding noise as I used a bunch of boulders to stop my uncontrolled descent continued to play through my mind.

But underneath it all, I was happy.

God was out of the box.

Not that I was every really keeping Him there, or even intended to put Him there. But when everything seems to be going according to plan, to my expectations. . .somehow God is marginalized. It’s not a happy place, but somehow it is easier to accidentally put Him in a box than it is to deliberately draw Him out.

Sliding around like a hockey puck was NOT in my plans. God is here. I have no idea what He’s doing or why, but His very presence is a comfort.

Sunday Song: Tender Love

It’s a tender love that’s gonna bring you through,
Whispering to your heart
So that you’ll know what to do.
It’s a tender love not about to let you go,
It’s a tender love and there’s
So much more to know.

Love that’s holding me, tender and true,
Love that’s molding me, seeing me through.
I’ve stood in true amazement
Of all you’ve done for me,
My faith so small, but you do it all,
You give it all for free.

It’s a tender love that’s gonna bring you through,
Whispering to your heart
So that you’ll know what to do.
It’s a tender love not about to let you go,
It’s a tender love and there’s
So much more to know.

Let go of the past, get up off the ground.
This love will last, this love I’ve found.
I stand in true amazement of what you do in me,
I’m in a daze, yes I’m amazed,
Embracing the change, I’m free.

It’s a tender love that’s gonna bring you through,
Whispering to your heart
So that you’ll know what to do.
It’s a tender love not about to let you go,
It’s a tender love and there’s
So much more to know.

It’s a tender love that’s gonna bring you through,
Whispering to your heart
So that you’ll know what to do.
It’s a tender love not about to let you go,
It’s a tender love and there’s
So much more to know.

Phil Keaggy

Sometimes we need songs like this.

New album

One of my favored artists, Sandra McCracken, is putting out a new album.

From You To Me from jeff venable on Vimeo.

For a limited time, you can download this song free from here:

http://noisetrade.com/tnep

(Yes, it really is past midnight, and yes, I really should be getting to bed)

(wanna know something else? That thar girl singing is Joy Williams. I wouldna known if someone hadn’t told)

Oops

I forgot to write this post. . .the frustrating thing is that I knew what I wanted to write at 4 pm, and, since I didn’t jot myself a note at that point, I now have no idea what I wanted to grace y’all with.

I suppose I can begin with the beginning. . . a song playing in my head this morning:

I will run – I will fly
I will live to be a sacrifice
Through it all I’ll rise above
Unafraid I will face what comes
I will run – I will fly
And for my faith I’ll live & die
I’ll be strong – I will press on
For the sake of Your beautiful
name
Your beautiful name

Should all life cease to grow
Should chaos take control
The only hope we know is You will save us

There’s stuff I could say, of course, it’s just that at this time of night, I can’t seem to remember anything more than the bare facts, facts which I think I are boring, and of which I’ve said the gist of them before. I could talk about my grades (boring), my analysis of school (likewise), complain about what I didn’t do today (pathetic), . . .in general, when my writing seems to reflect little more than the tedium of my tediousness, it becomes rather boring to write. That leaves me grasping; what can I write that isn’t boring and tedious?

There are some people who always seem to have a spark of life in them, that laughing light in their eyes that says “Yes, I know this is a perfectly normal, but can’t you see how special it is?” Those people are few and far between, but somehow that’s what I’m reaching for. That spark of wonder or delight that doesn’t see their surroundings in monochrome. I know they don’t have a different life; they just have a different way of looking. I just want to remember to look.

Sunday Song: Quoting Deuteronomy to the Devil

John the Baptizer
By the Jordan brook
Up comes this brood of vipers
Just to take a look
John says, “There’s a comin’ of glory
There’s a comin’ of wrath,
Some mighty things are comin’
Comin’ to pass

Peter was a-preachin’
At the Pentecost
Says you must turn around
And you must be washed
‘Cause there’s a comin’ of glory,
There’s a comin’ of wrath,
There’s some mighty
things a-comin’ to pass
Comin’ to pass

Lord God Almighty
Came as a preacher man
Fastin’ down in the wilderness
Quotin’ Deuteronomy to the Devil
And then He set His face like a flint
Toward Jerusalem

Well they tried to silence Stephen
With the sticks and stones
But his voice is still ringin’
You can hear it in a gospel song
Singin’ there’s a comin’ of glory,
And there’s a comin’ of wrath,
There’s some mighty things comin’
Lord they’re comin’ to pass
There’s a comin of glory,
There’s a comin’ of wrath,
There’s some mighty things comin’
Comin’ to pass

Rich Mullins and Beaker

My sister asked me how I come up with a song every week. Truth be told, a song often pops in my head during our family discussion on Saturdays. Those who were there may understand why reading the second and third chapters of Ezekiel made this song pop into my head, but I doubt anyone else would see the connect. Here’s your hint:

. . .And then He set His face like a flint toward Jerusalem. . .