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Archive for the ‘Musicians’ Category

Mid-Week Memo

In Books, Musicians, Pop Culture, Technology, Travel, Writers, Young Ones on October 14, 2009 at 10:20 am

It's been a while since I've done a random links post, so since it's mid-week and I'm always looking for an excuse not to grade something, here are a few items that might strike someone's fancy:

  • It's tough being married to a celebrity, as more and more people know me as "Megan's husband." This will probably continue for at least another month since I'm married to one of the six official members of the St. Louis Mom Squad. The cool part is the role comes with new wheels (temporarily, that is – click link for details).
  • As it was a slow day in the bookstore yesterday, I read the first 75 pages of Donald Miller's new book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. The first couple of chapters have some great quotables about understanding life as story, and the following chapters provide humorous illustration of the ideas. I liked it.
  • My wife and daughters are pretty excited that Owl City is coming to The Pageant in January. Megan is contemplating getting tickets for all of us to go as a family, which I'm presuming would probably be different from their normal crowd.
  • I've always wanted my own op-ed column in a newspaper; this opportunity with the Washington Post may be my big break (of course, it requires me writing something for consideration – any suggestions?).
  • In case you hadn't heard, I reluctantly started using Twitter a few weeks ago. While I'm still evaluating its real value (some general stats), I have enjoyed following/stalking a few people here and there (search for "SecondDrafts" to see whom, as well as to follow me if you like).

That's it for now. I need to finish well the day so as to get ready for the black tie/red carpet vehicle pick-up tonight with the Mrs. and Misses. Honestly, I don't mind being "the husband," but the paparazzi can be annoying.

U2: A Memoir

In Musicians on March 7, 2009 at 8:45 am

No Line on the Horizon I remember being sixteen in 1987 and standing in the middle of multiple four-foot-high stacks of black Joshua Tree LPs in a music store in Munich, Germany. People were going absolutely nuts to get their hands on the albums, but as I had not yet made the band's acquaintance, I just stood and watched for a while, wondering who these guys were and why they seemed to mean so much to my European counterparts. Finally touched by the madness, I bought a cassette and brought it back with me to the States.

That was all it took.

As I alluded in my earlier post this week, U2's music has played as a meaningful soundtrack to the second half of my life, especially the last 8-10 years. As is true for many fans, the albums through the 90's were not some of my favorites (though there were still some great songs, particularly on Achtung Baby), but when the band came back with All That You Can't Leave Behind in 2001, I remember feeling the way I did in Munich again. Who were these guys, and why did the music they made mean so much to me?

Much of my affection for U2 then had to do with where I was in life at the time. I'd just transitioned roles with The Navigators and was investigating a possible missionary opportunity in Uganda (the album served as the soundtrack for my first trip to Africa). Bono's lyrics to songs like "Walk On" were particularly motivating, as I wanted nothing more than to do what God wanted me to do long-term, but I just wasn't sure what exactly that was (though I was pretty sure it was along different lines than what I was doing then).

By the time the next album, How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, came out at the end of 2004, it was again the same feeling, both musically and in terms of ministry. Perhaps not surprisingly, it was right around this time that we decided to make the huge transition from Colorado Springs to St. Louis to begin seminary. Thankfully, Megan had come to love the band as well, and as we were moving to the Midwest in the spring and then to St. Louis that summer, we decided our last fling before I began Greek in June would be to see U2 in May in Chicago on the first leg of the Vertigo tour (which, by the way, got recorded as part of this).

Wow. We said it then and we still say it now: wow. Greatest concert ever.

Like every true U2 fan, we have all the albums and enjoy the "standards" from each, but the last two albums (along with Joshua Tree) hold the most meaning for me. I remember totaling my car in high school swatting at a fly while listening to "Where the Streets Have No Name" (consider the irony); I remember Megan and I deciding, after making up from yet another awful fight, that "With or Without You" was "our song" (in case you're wondering, it still is); I remember semi-seriously planning my funeral in my head in case I didn't make it back from Uganda the first time, wanting "Walk On" played for the benediction (thankfully, I safely returned); I remember standing alone in the middle of our seminary apartment that first summer listening to "Sometimes You Can't Make It On Your Own," literally weeping because of all the insecurity I was feeling (there was a lot of it).

The list could go on, but I won't bore you with my reminiscing. The good news is that we've got a new set of songs to play and play again – good songs with actual melodies we can sing and lyrics with real meaning we can take from and add to (in other words, what we've come to expect from and experience with U2 all these years).

The girls know and love U2's music and they all have their favorite tunes. One dream I have is to take them all to a first concert before they fly the coop. Will this album's tour be the one we all make? I don't know, but how cool for them if they could say, "My first concert was U2." Surely that experience would count for something when we're all sitting in family therapy ten years from now.

All that said, if you haven't picked up No Line on the Horizon, consider this a heartfelt recommendation – it's good and gets better with every listen. And, if you've got something to add from your own U2 experience, feel free to express yourself in the comments – always enjoy hearing the stories associated with this great band.

The Kids Are Growing Up

In Internet, Movies, Musicians, Thought, TV, Westminster on November 20, 2008 at 7:28 am

A thought crossed my mind this week that I’ll throw out to see if it sticks. For many of you, this may fall in the “I could care less” category, but since I spend a majority of my time with teenagers, I’m interested.

It seems to me there’s a major generational shift going on in the teen entertainment business. For instance, earlier this week, the MTV show TRL (Total Request Live) took a final bow after ten years of attracting the “biggest and hottest recording artists, actors and celebrities on most weekday afternoons,” all while playing “the most iconic videos of the day.” For better or for worse, a majority of the boy bands, pop tarts, and rappers of the past ten years got a whole lot of promotion via TRL, a fact wonderfully and cynically documented in the 2001 movie (not the 70s TV show) Josie and the Pussycats, one of my favorite commentaries on the youth culture of the time.

But that’s not all that makes me think about a shift occurring. This weekend, the movie Twilight – teen romance with unfortunate vampire issues – comes out, and the teen world all over will be filling theaters for weeks on end tomorrow to see it. I was intrigued by a comment one of the girls in my class made when, commenting on the “hot or not” looks of the movie’s Edward character (Jane Austen fans, imagine a teenage Mr. Darcy with fangs), she said, “He’s not even really that cute. All the cute guys – with the exception of Zac Ephron – are older.”


Finally, I don’t know if anyone’s seen the trailer for J.J. Abrams‘ new Star Trek movie, but there’s nary a recognizable face among the actors playing the new (and young – very young) versions of Kirk, Spock, Scotty, et. al. Granted, Abrams’ name is the draw (he of Alias and Lost fame), but with him at the helm, it’s interesting there isn’t more familiar young “star power” (notice I didn’t say “talent”) attached.

Is something going on here? Anyone have any thoughts, or am I just spending too much time with high schoolers? My interest is not in the fact that I’m getting older (I know that already), but in the fact that the youth culture of recent years seems to be.


In Musicians, Places & Spaces on September 12, 2008 at 2:15 pm

They’re coming…and I’m as excited about their music as I was the first time around.

(That is, not very.)

Taking a Break from Boxes Linkage

In Arts, Family, Movies, Musicians, Places, Places & Spaces, Pop Culture, Thought on July 11, 2008 at 10:59 am

It’s been a long while since I’ve posted some linkage, so in light of it being Friday, here you go:

We’re off to take a black lab named Bruce to his new home on the farm. Have a good weekend.

Over Halfway There: Update

In Family, Internet, Musicians on July 9, 2008 at 7:21 am

As Megan and I are six days away from closing on our house, several of you have asked about the latest on the Remember Not to Forget project. An update would seem in order. Currently:

  • The download page for the songs has had 116 visits.
  • We have $1167.49 in hand.
  • We are aware of at least another $350-400 on its way.
  • We can confidently say we’re halfway toward our goal of $3,000.

Though the $1,000+ jump since our last update is exciting, it hasn’t come through the kind of viral networking we’re still hoping for. While we had several hundred dollars’ worth of song purchases (thank you), we also had two major gifts ($500 and $250) that made up the bulk of the jump. This was great, but we think our idea still has yet to reach its full potential of taking over reaching the greater blogosphere.

That said, with some broad linkage (which still really hasn’t happened) and some good word of mouth about the songs and the difference ten little dollars can make here, we’re confident we’ll see what we need come in. But it needs to happen soon. Pray with us that it will (and, if you haven’t yet, buy the songs and link us up – check out KerriAshleyTim, and Jess for examples).

(Note: If you’re leery of recommending songs without hearing them or don’t have $10 to spare, go ahead and download them, listen, and (if you feel good doing so), link us up. I’d also love to post a review or two here (check out Ken’s brief comment), so if anyone has more time than money, download the songs, listen to and write about them, and send me your thoughts (and no, you don’t have to love – or even like – every song). I’ll post your review as is, I promise.)

Three easy ways to buy:

  1. For those who would like to pay online, go to Revolution MoneyExchange, log in, click “Send Money,” and enter my email address (cmdunham [@] (Note: If you don’t have an RME account, it’s a nice thing to have; just click below to sign up – it’s free – and we’ll also get a $10 referral fee.)
    Refer A Friend using Revolution Money Exchange
  2. For those who would prefer to pay by PayPal (sorry: non-credit, non-debit payments only), log in, click “Send Money,” and enter Megan’s email address (halfpinthouse [at]
  3. For those who would rather just send something, please make a check out to Craig Dunham and mail to 8827 Litzsinger Road, Brentwood, MO, 63144.

In the Air Tonight

In Friends, Musicians, Pop Culture on July 6, 2008 at 8:45 am

Brian Rutland, my first drummer (no, he didn’t die the death of a Spinal Tap drummer) is now a pastor in Littleton, CO, and sent me this clip. We used to “cover” Phil Collins’s “In the Air Tonight” using lyrics I rewrote from more of an eschatological perspective (“I can feel Him coming in the air tonight” – yeah, it sounds hokey, but it so worked live). The kids (and Brian) would go nuts when he came in with the big drums, and guitarist Dan Madison and I rocked out with him for minutes on end. I laughed long and hard at this one.

Review: Hideaway by The Weepies

In Musicians on April 30, 2008 at 2:00 am

It would be easy enough to relegate The Weepies to little more than a soundtrack band innocuously featured (as they have been) on TV shows like Gossip Girl and One Tree Hill. After all, Deb Talan’s voice is just pretty enough to be ignored and Steve Tannen’s melodies seem simple and familiar, all of which works well to pad any magical moment when a plot turns, a kiss is shared, and the sun sets over the ocean at just the right time.

But weeping for The Weepies and any supposed demotion to primetime teen/twentysomething television is not necessary, especially when their new project, Hideaway, is what it is – an album of melancholy and meaning that maintains a healthy equilibrium between the two without falling headlong over itself in doing so.

Hideaway’s title track is a chronicle of sorts of The Weepies’ past couple years of being stars in the spotlight. “We were empty,” says Talan (on their website). “We both felt dark after being in the bright lights for a year. We were looking to reconnect with what moved us about music in the first place. We needed to hide out and write.” Or, to put it another way: "Take the sky / for example / a canvas of a billion suns / but our local hero / shines them out by day / save for the winking of a Venus or Mars / even the stars / sometimes fade to gray / even the stars / hideaway.”

One thing I appreciate about The Weepies’ songwriting is what seems a genuine curiosity about (and struggle with) life – from “Little Bird”: “Sometimes it’s hard to tell the truth from the lies / nobody knows what’s in the hold of your minds”; from “Takes So Long”: “Sam and Libby / Lib and Sam / made a little one of them / a baby's born a man to die / I don't know why / I don't know why”; from “Lighting Candles”: "Trying not to hope too hard / for what I want / trying not to go too far / with all the dreaming / all the disappointment / so hard to handle / I’m still in the dark / lighting candles.”

Relationships (good/not so good) are another songwriting theme, with plenty of good songs about the challenge of living with and loving others – from “Wish I Could Forget”: "Standing in the sun / smoking quiet cigarettes / just before I let you down / funny how a heart shatters all at once /seems like it should make a sound.” “All Good Things,” a tune about a break-up, resists bitterness and offers blessing (despite a wee bit of fatalism – “all good things come to an end”) instead: "I was accustomed to showing you / all good things (all good things) / oh I wish you / all good things (all good things) / come to an end / all good things (all good things) / oh I wish you well.”

Personally, I didn’t care that much for “Old Coyote” or “Just Blue,” as they seem the weaker of the 14 songs both musically and lyrically; still, while not the strongest of songs melodically, they don’t take away from the overall tone in terms of feel – from “Just Blue”: “Look into the window / see what's caught my eye / duck in to avoid the rain / a baby wants to cry / so do I / so do I.” Again, perhaps a bit melodramatic on its own, but within the context of the song and the album, it fits, just as another rainy day in an overly rainy week sometimes feels even though its all too familiar (and we’ve all had days and weeks like those before).

“How You Survived the War” obviously has some kind of back story I’d be interested to know more about to better understand the song, so I hope that comes up in future interviews, as it’s a little vague without more background.

Some will complain that Hideaway is too “produced” to truly be pop “folk,” but you’ll get no complaints from me; the layers (strings, pads, Rhodes, piano) surrounding the clean acoustic and rhythm guitars are tasteful and subtle as the musicians backing the duo make good use of the stereo spectrum. While the artists are not afraid to use a little more reverb than most in the genre might (palpable more through headphones than speakers), it’s appropriate in keeping the vocals (especially the harmonies, which are unusual and exact) from being too painfully dry.

Some songs are better mixed than others (“Orbiting” is too squishy with reverb, even for me), but I like Talan’s voice layered over and over to create backgrounds with personality (though I’m not a fan of her voice molted – or doubled – on some of the leads as it makes her sound a little too non-human). Tannen’s voice is plain but accessible on the songs he sings lead on (I especially like him on “Can’t Go Back Now” and “Not Dead Yet”) but his singing is best suited to the tight backgrounds on songs like “Antarctica,” which is the catchiest tune on the disc.

The song’s last track, “All This Beauty,” is a cheery reminder of our human need to find and embrace beauty wherever and whenever we can: “All this beauty / you might have to close your eyes / and slowly open wide / all this beauty / we traveled all night / we drank the ocean dry / and watched the sun rise.” This positive parting thought is set to music that would fit well on any road trip mix, playfully (but purposefully) reminding us that in a world as broken as ours, sometimes the pursuit of beauty is, indeed, a pursuit.

That said, whether pursuing the beauty of creation or the messages within The Weepies' Hideaway, either way “it's a matter of getting deeper in / anyway you can.”


We Aren’t the World

In Musicians on February 10, 2008 at 5:38 pm

In case you were wondering, the 50th annual Grammy Awards are tonight on CBS. I’m not planning to watch, so let me know what you think if you do. Maybe I’m just getting old, but the idea of watching four hours of a drawn-out awards show for music that does nothing for me seems somewhat masochistic. Besides, I’ve got papers to grade.

I don’t really enjoy music these days. Let me qualify: I don’t really enjoy new music these days. I’ve felt this way for a while now (that is, at least 8-10 years), and the stagnation of our music library here at home is a product of my perspective. Practically, we have no budget allocated for new music, but even if we did, I wouldn’t know what to spend it on – there’s just so little new out there that really appeals to me anymore.

With all this in mind, I was intrigued by Nick Marino’s lead article in the just-out March issue of Paste magazine. Titled “What I Miss About Michael Jackson” and reflecting on the 25th anniversary of Jackson’s 1982 album Thriller (a strange content choice for Paste‘s focus on “organic and eclectic music“), Marino’s article reads:

“[Jackson] was a pop star of almost unparalleled popularity. After Elvis and The Beatles, he was it – the biggest. I miss the shared cultural experience that only a star of this magnitude could create. I miss the way MTV used to hype Michael Jackson videos, and the way everyone used to crowd around the TV to watch them. The short film Michael released in conjunction with “Thriller” is certainly the most influential music video of all time, the one that thrust videos into the realm of art, the catalyst that completed the transition of music from an audio medium to an audio-visual medium.”

“Michael also changed the notion of superstardom. He blew it up bigger than anyone in his generation, and bigger than anyone after…stardom of that magnitude isn’t necessarily healthy for an artist. For fans, though, it creates a sense of awe – or, I should say, it created a sense of awe. Celebrities don’t really make us awestruck anymore. They annoy us with this ubiquity, like mosquitoes. In a weird way, they’re not famous enough. We now have more stars than ever before, but fewer megastars…there’s something awesome about the whole world singing the same song or watching the same video, worshipping at the same altar.”

Paste editor Josh Jackson, perhaps bracing for the inevitable barrage of mail that’s coming in light of his editorial decision to lead with Marino’s pop piece, qualifies the March issue:

“My tendency is to fight bleary-eyed nostalgia in all things music-related. I get tired of aging boomers proclaiming that all music was great in the ’60s or the ’80s and everything sucks now, when we live in a uniquely exhilarating time for music and enjoy a growing number of ways to discover it.”

Jackson (Josh, not Michael) then hits the nail on the head of what I’ve been feeling:

“Despite the self-satisfaction that comes with the idea that mainstream culture is too dim for the music we love, the mass communal aspect that came with those great bands of the ’60s – the experience of discovering The Beatles, the Stones or Dylan along with the rest of the country – is dead…

Now our attention is split a thousand ways. Music no longer has primacy in our culture, and celebrity doesn’t bother with actual music anymore; it feeds itself. There are still plenty of celebrities who sing, but most of them are more famous for being famous than for their songs. We don’t know their music. We only know who they’re dating and what they wore to the Grammys. And audiences remain splintered, not just among genres but among the thousands of indie bands posting to MySpace and YouTube.”

I have to agree with protest rocker Neil Young, who late last week said, “I know that the time when music could change the world is past. I really doubt that a single song can make a difference. It is a reality.” Sad, isn’t it? I think so. It’s that potential – that one song could really change the world – that I find myself missing and lamenting in today’s “I write for me and me alone” brand of music. This is why I buy so little of it anymore…and why I listen to even less.

Michigan, Smichigan

In Arts, Musicians, Pop Culture, Technology, Thought on January 16, 2008 at 2:00 am

Yes, I know the Republicans just had their third winner in three primaries and I should probably have thoughts, but I'm a little politicked out. These links seem more interesting:

The King Turns 73

In Musicians, Politics on January 8, 2008 at 10:02 am

Me: “Happy birthday, Elvis.”

Elvis: “Thank you, thank you, thank you very much.”

At The Pageant Tonight

In Musicians, Places, Places & Spaces on October 12, 2007 at 6:17 am

Megan and the girls are heading out of town to visit my sister and her family in Tremont, IL, and I’ve got four free tickets to the The Pageant tonight for the Ticketmaster New Music Spotlight show with local/regional bands The Feed, Red Water Revival, John Henry & the Engine, and Caleb Travers & Big City Lights.

Doors open at 7 and the show starts at 8, but I probably won’t get there until at least 9 (if not later) as I’m taking a class this weekend at Covenant. As far as I know, my friend Caleb (who I’m really going to see) doesn’t go on until last anyway, so I’m hoping to show up just as he and his band take the stage.

Anybody want to go? You don’t have to wait to go late with me (if, that is, we can figure out how to arrange a ticket drop sometime today). First come, first served (and yes, if someone wants all three tickets, that’s fine – as long as you go). Leave a comment to get in line.

Just trying to share the love…

Music Project

In Musicians, Westminster on September 26, 2007 at 2:00 am

For the past week in my three Biblical Ethics sections, we've taken a short break from studying morality and the ancient philosophers of the world and consulted the more contemporary ones my students know – the songs and various musicians on their iPods.

The assignment was pretty simple: each student was to bring in a song, pass out copies of the lyrics, and the class would, listen, and evaluate the morality (or lack thereof) of the songs. Each student facilitated the discussion/debate of his or her song, and then presented his or her own perspective along with any research done on the artist.

The object of the lesson was to help students listen more critically to their music, analyze it in the context of community, and then figure what (if any) response each of them as individuals might need to consider as well as how and why to hold that particular conviction. Romans 14 was a key passage I walked through with them as we evaluated the experience together today.

In case anyone's interested, here's their songlist (not meant as any kind of endorsement):

  • "All the Small Things" – Blink 182
  • "All Falls Down" – Kanye West
  • "Amish Paradise" – Weird Al Yankovich
  • "Banana Phone" – Raffi
  • "Be My Escape" – Relient K
  • "Before He Cheats" – Carrie Underwood
  • "Better Than Drugs" – Skillet
  • "Bukowski" – Modest Mouse
  • "B.Y.O.B." – System of the Down
  • "Coffee Shop" – Yung Joc Feat and Gorilla Zoe
  • "College Kids" – Relient K
  • "Construct and Collapse" – Becoming the Archetype
  • "Crank That Batman" – P.O.B. (Pop It Off Boyz)
  • "Crazy 8s" – MAE
  • "Dance Inside" – The All-American Rejects
  • "Down on the Farm" – Tim McGraw
  • "Forever Young" – Rod Stewart
  • "Girl Next Door" – Saving Jane
  • "Give Me Novacaine" – Green Day
  • "Glamorous" – Fergie
  • "Gospel" – The National
  • "Grace Kelly" – Mika
  • "Hate Every Beautiful Day" – Sugarcult
  • "Heal Over" – K.T. Tunsell
  • "How Far We've Come" – Matchbox 20
  • "If Everyone Cared" – Nickelback
  • "I'll Be Missing You" – Puff Daddy/P. Diddy and Faith Evans
  • "Imma Shine" – Youngbloodz
  • "Industry" – Jon McLaughlin
  • "Iris" – The Goo Goo Dolls
  • "Jesus of Suburbia" – Green Day
  • "Jesus, Take the Wheel" – Carrie Underwood
  • "King Kong" – Jibbs (featuring Chamillionaire)
  • "Less Talk, More Rokk" – Freezepop
  • "Like a Boy" – Ciara
  • "Love Don't Love Me" – Eric Benet
  • "Midnight Bottle" – Colbie Caillat
  • "Mistakes" – Kutless
  • "New Slang" – The Shins
  • "On the Turning Away" – Pink Floyd
  • "Photograph" – Nickelback
  • "Potential Break Up Song" – Aly & AJ
  • "The Riddle" – Fire for Fighting
  • "The Setting Sun" – Switchfoot
  • "Smile" – Lily Allen
  • "Shut Up and Drive" – Rihanna
  • "Snow (Hey Oh)" – Red Hot Chili Peppers
  • "Sorry, Blame It on Me" – Akon
  • "S.O.S." – Rihanna
  • "Technologic" – Daft Punk
  • "Umbrella" – Rihanna (featuring Jay-Z)
  • "Untitled" – Nathan Talley
  • "Video Killed the Radio Star" – The Presidents of the United States of America (originally written and recorded by The Buggles)
  • "Videos" – Flame
  • "Vultures" – John Mayer
  • "Wake Up Call" – Maroon 5
  • "Wasted" – Carrie Underwood
  • "When I'm Sixty-Four" – The Beatles
  • "When It Rains" – Gretchen Wilson
  • "You Can't Always Get What You Want" – The Rolling Stones
  • "You're My Best Friend" – Queen
  • "You're Not Alone" – Saosin

The Mancrush Continues

In Musicians on August 31, 2007 at 4:20 pm

Apparently, U2’s new album is already written. Not sure on the release date, but it will be good to hear from the boys again. I just wish Bono would return my calls.

The mancrush continues…

Rockin’ the Casbah

In Church, Musicians on July 23, 2007 at 7:54 am

I played piano and sang during the offertory in church yesterday – the first time in our two years at Memorial, and the first in a very long time of singing my own song anywhere. The grand piano felt and sounded great, and my performance was as good as I could have hoped for considering the time that had passed since last playing (not to mention the little practicing I’d done – I hate rehearsing).

Most importantly, people seemed to love the idea of Scripture stories set to rock piano, so that was cool, especially when encouraging comments came afterward from folks of all ages (the song is kind of an Elton John meets Keith Green tune about Caleb and Joshua and their different response from the ten spies after scouting out Canaan in the Old Testament). My five-year-old’s evaluation was perhaps the most flattering (if biased): “Daddy, you rocked it!” This means a lot coming from the one member of our family most given to hip-hop.

It’s been so long since I’ve experienced a sense of connection with people through music; I had almost forgotten what it felt like. What was even more interesting was playing a song only on piano that was one of the most “produced” tunes I’d recorded, complete with a Phil Collins-esque drum track and horn arrangement, background vocals, and a killer piano track I could never play (Mike, my studio engineer and resident musical genius, played it on the album). If you’d like to hear the original, click here (keep in mind, this was 12 years ago).

When we were in the studio back in the day (mid-90’s), Lori, my producer, used to say that the great songs are the ones that translate regardless of arrangement, and it was affirming yesterday that that’s what seemed to happen with “Into the Promised Land”. I don’t know if it’s a “great” song in the “great song” sense, but I wouldn’t say it blows chunks, either.

While it doesn’t need to be soon, I hope to do something like that again. It was nice to play for people who knew me as part of their community (and weren’t just with me for a short weekend conference); it was also nice to play an original song for a receptive congregation rather than have to play someone else’s song in hopes that it would at least be “familiar” to an audience. That always felt like selling out, and I’m grateful not to have struggled under that expectation yesterday. For those who were there, thanks for that. It was a very meaningful thing.

Now Taking Recommendations

In Musicians on June 19, 2007 at 10:03 pm

I’ve got a $10 iTunes gift certificate burning a hole in my pocket and am now taking recommendations for one album (no partials) of ten songs worthy of such redemption.

Post your recommended album title, artist, and demo link (as well as a sentence or two why this album and not another) here between now and Friday. Winner gets my musical gratitude.

Musical Comfort Food

In Musicians, Poetry on June 15, 2007 at 11:13 pm

On the heels of a paper on predestination and a long week of way too much theological reading (yes, there is such a thing), I put on an old CD late this afternoon and remembered how much I miss the melody and meaning of one Rich Mullins. Mullins wrote musical comfort food, and it’s hard to believe he’ll have been gone ten years this September. Here’s “Hard to Get”:

You who live in heaven
Hear the prayers of those of us who live on earth
Who are afraid of being left by those we love
And who get hardened in the hurt

Do you remember when You lived down here where we all scrape
To find the faith to ask for daily bread
Did You forget about us after You had flown away
Well I memorized every word You said
Still I’m so scared, I’m holding my breath
While You’re up there just playing hard to get

You who live in radiance
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in skin
We have a love that’s not as patient as Yours was
Still we do love now and then

Did You ever know loneliness
Did You ever know need
Do You remember just how long a night can get?
When You were barely holding on
And Your friends fall asleep
And don’t see the blood that’s running in Your sweat
Will those who mourn be left uncomforted
While You’re up there just playing hard to get?

And I know you bore our sorrows
And I know you feel our pain
And I know that it would not hurt any less
Even if it could be explained
And I know that I am only lashing out
At the One who loves me most
And after I have figured this somehow
What I really need to know

Is if You who live in eternity
Hear the prayers of those of us who live in time
We can’t see what’s ahead
And we cannot get free from what we’ve left behind

I’m reeling from these voices that keep screaming in my ears
All the words of shame and doubt, blame and regret
I can’t see how You’re leading me unless You’ve led me here
Where I’m lost enough to let myself be led
And so You’ve been here all along I guess
It’s just Your ways and You are just plain hard to get

Thanks, Rich. Miss you.

Lawnmower Shuffle (classic mix)

In Musicians on March 26, 2007 at 6:18 pm

Part of our “deal” in living in our house is the privilege of mowing the yard, which I did Sunday afternoon. I have many fond memories of lawnmowing from my youth, when mowing the yard on the farm was the equivalent of four solid hours of riding my Dad’s John Deere riding mower, never without with my imitation Sony Walkman blaring the hits.

I always felt I did some of my best thinking on the lawnmower, but the best part of mowing (both then and especially now) is the instant progress one makes in doing it. The size of our lawn here in St. Louis doesn’t demand a riding mower by any means, but it did take a good 45 minutes or so with a used push mower we got off Craig’s List to do the job.

I’ve evolved from listening to music on cassettes, but not from the joy of listening to music while walking the weeds (er, grass). In alphabetical order by song title, and with the task of tending God’s creation in mind, here’s my official iPod Lawnmower Shuffle (classic mix) from yesterday:

  • Beautiful Day – U2
  • Blowin’ In The Wind – Bob Dylan
  • (The) Color Green – Rich Mullins
  • I Am A Man Of Constant Sorrow – The Soggy Bottom Boys
  • I Walk The Line – Johnny Cash
  • MMMBop – Hanson
  • Never Is Enough – Barenaked Ladies
  • Our House – Madness
  • Pink Houses – John Mellencamp
  • Pray For Rain – PFR
  • Roam – The B-52’s
  • Suburbia – Pet Shop Boys
  • Summer Nights – Van Halen
  • Summer Of ’69 – Bryan Adams
  • Sunny Day – Mary Cutrufello
  • Walk Of Life – Dire Straits

Good times, good times.

1984 Never Sounded So Good

In Musicians on February 4, 2007 at 8:31 pm

I could care less about the game (and the commercials have been lame so far), but Prince‘s Super Bowl halftime performance was un-stinking-believable. Was “Purple Rain” as a closer not totally redeeming of the bad weather in Miami? I don’t mean to ooze, but oh my…

Matthews Chapel Concert: Yeah, Baby

In Musicians on August 19, 2006 at 11:34 pm


Took Megan and the little ladies to the show – good time had by all. Thanks to Caleb and Jude for a nice evening. (To see more of Megan’s cool concert pics from the night, click above.)