Archive for the ‘Music’ Category

On a recent ride home from Tampa, I listened to this disc for the first time in awhile.  I was reminded why I enjoyed it so much for such a long time.

If I recall correctly, Drowning with Land in Sight was the 77’s first release on Word, a “major” label.  It remains one of their most accessible releases.  This is odd since Gene Eugene and Ojo Taylor, though innovative and interesting musicians in their own right, weren’t exactly mainstream.  The 77’s struggled to maintain artistic integrity and the demands of the “mainstream” Christian music industry.  Derek Webb is currently fighting a bigger, uglier fight with his label.  But enough of that…

The album starts off with a  cover of Nobody’s Fault But Mine, to set the pace for this series of songs lamenting our role in all that is wrong in our world.  They do a very good job with this old blues standard, dragging it into the 90’s (the album was released in 1994).  This hard rocking beginning continues through Snowblind and Snake.  Snake was a major concession, with Mike Roe commenting on not liking the song in some live gigs captured on CD (It’s For You– which is great, simple record of his solo tour).  The first is also something of a lament about how temptation blinds us.  The second is about one of the sources of temptation.  While I enjoy the music, Snake is not one of Mike’s better lyrical and vocal performances.

Indian Winter marks a shift in direction for the album.  The chorus is slower, and there seem to be glimmers of hope.  There is some very nice guitar work during the solo.  The songs that follow are not quite as full-bore hard rock, but have a bit more space and deal mostly with relationships, and how sin and selfishness destroy them.  Film at 11 contains some of my favorite lyrics by Mike.  They are filled with longing and disappointment.

Mezzo is a guitar-focused instrumental  that has hints of surf rock among the layers.  An enjoyable, sad-tinged song.  Cold, Cold Night adds a bit more distortion, biting guitar licks and relational despair.  Mike Roe hits his stride.  Dave’s Blues returns to the theme of our guilt, moral confusion, and hope in the Savior.  Doesn’t hurt that it has some very good guitar work.

Sounds o’ Autumn is drummer Aaron Smith’s time to shine.  It is a subtle solo piece rather than over the top and bombastic.  It provides a short breather before the last 3 songs.

The Jig is Up is one of my favorite songs, a lament about a troubled man who walks alone.  When this album came out, I could identify with this song as I slogged through a very lengthy, difficult time.  This sad song gave me opportunity to grieve.  Alone Together is another of those haunting songs Mike Roe writes so well.  It is about the end of a relationship set in contrast with the great beginning.  It is strange how little things can add up, destroying good things unexpectedly- the slow drift…

The album ends with For Crying Out Loud, about looking for hope and help in the One above.  It is also about being honest with God, finally.  So ends of my favorite albums- one filled with great guitar work, honest, painful at times lyrics, and emotional openness.  How did they get this released on Word?  I’m glad they did.

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Yeah, still haven’t gotten the new U2 album.  One day, when we arrive in our new, as of now unknown, destination.  The new single is Magnificent.  I haven’t listened to it very much.  It is different from Get On Your Boots.  The lyrics are more overtly spiritual, however. It is a song of devotion, the mark that “love” leaves.  Bono seems nearly a Calvinist.

I found it an odd choice for a second single- but I’ve never been a multi-million album seller, or their manager.  I lack ‘pop’ sensibilities, so I  would prefer a more straight-forward hard rock song.  It has a less edgy sound.

And here is a live version from London.

Jars of Clay has also released a new record, which is on my “wish list” as well, The Long Fall Back to Earth.  It follows Good Monsters which is one of their best (with Jars of Clay and If I Left the Zoo), which I enjoyed on the way home from a preaching engagement.  Here they are talking about the new album:

Sadly, I missed their show at the House of Blues this weekend.  I very much wanted to be there.  Maybe next time.

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Window in the Skies is becoming one of my favorite U2 songs.  I don’t own the CD single.  But it pops up periodically on my Slacker Radio stations.  While working on other matters, the words seep into my soul.  That’s is what is getting to me.  Other songs of theirs are much better musically.  But the lyrics remind me of the hope I have.

The shackles are undone
The bullets quit the gun
The heat that’s in the sun
Will keep us when it’s done
The rule has been disproved
The stone, it has been moved
The grave is now a grove
All debts are removed

Bono rehearses the Gospel- Christ’s work for us.  Because of the empty tomb, our debts have been removed if we trust in Him.  We have freedom, the shackles of guilt, fear, shame and condemnation are done.

But Bono does not remain stuck in the vertical.  He brings this grace into our horizontal relationship.

Love makes strange enemies
Makes love where love may please
The soul and its striptease
Hate brought to its knees
The sky over our head
We can reach it from our bed
If you let me in your heart
And out of my head

The redemption purchased by Christ means the end of hate in those hearts captured by love.  Bono takes the voice of a man wanting to see reconciliation, admitting his failings.

Oh, can’t you see what love has done
What it’s doing to me

Oh, can’t you see what love has done
I know I hurt you and I made you cry
Oh, can’t you see what love has done
Did everything but murder you and I
Oh, can’t you see what love has done
But love left a window in the skies

This love (not that we loved God, but that He loved us and gave His Son as an atoning sacrifice- 1 John) is changing the man in the song.  He wants his lover see what love in doing in him.  He hurt her, nearly killing their relationship.  He wants to experience with her what he has experienced with God. 

I particularly like that line: love left a window in the skies.  God left a testimony of His love.  Faith opens the window that grace may blow like a breeze into this world and remove that funk that comes from a sealed home.  The time has come to air things out- repair & refresh the relationship with grace.

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It was a different week.  My brothers-in-law were away on a missions trip to Mississippi.  Not as much male interaction.  ESPN and ESPN 2 have not been available on the cable the last 5-6 days, so I’m suffering from the DTs.  I was also slowed down by a summer cold that started with sniffles => sore throat => running nose => cough.  A real pleasure.

I Need a Dentist

I Need a Dentist

On Wednesday and Friday we went to the Word of Life Ranch to visit the petting zoo.  The kids loved it.  They had goats, sheep, llamas (in desperate need of dental work), chickens, cows, horses, pigs, rabbits, guinea pigs and ferrets.  CavGirl’s priceless comment- “They’re stinky.  They need a bath.”  We were also able to spend time in the fort playground.  I pushed the kids on the tire swing, and they enjoyed the slides.  On Wednesday’s trip we had lunch at the WoL campground with some friends of CavWife who still work at Word of Life.  Both trips ended with rain shortening the stay.

Radio station options way up here are limited.  So for both rides to Schroon Lake, we ‘enjoyed’ the worst of the 80’s.  Lots of bad flashbacks, so I’m surprised we didn’t crash the SUV.  I hadn’t heard “Total Eclipse of the Heart” for many years, and heard it 2 times this past week.  Sigh.

CavParents arrived Thursday and stayed until Saturday.  They skipped the petting zoo.  Don’t blame them- smelly animals and poop-covered shoes.  It got pretty noisy around here though with up to 11 cousins running around.  Sometimes they played well together, and other times …. not quite.  The rainy week didn’t help matters.  CavBoy and his youngest cousin here are getting along famously.  Just like Frick & Frack now that she is feeling better.  This is good since CavGirl is able to enjoy her older cousins.  He doesn’t feel as left out now.

Friday night we all got together for dinner at Aunt Jane’s place at the bottom of the hill.  Mom’s lasaugna with meatballs & sausage, and Bernie’s eggplant parmesian (I passed on the eggplant) followed by ice cream.

Saturday I helped my sister-in-law work on their new home near the bottom of the hill.  I spackled over the screws in the drywall, helped move in some furniture, and helped with some staining of the trim.

On Sunday I preached at Calvary Bible Church in Wevertown.  I ended up choosing a shortened version of my sermon on adoption from Ephesians.  It went well.

I’m antsy … I want to become a productive member of society again.  Still no progress on any fronts.  It can eat at you if you have too much time on your hands, which, by definition, you do.

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Apparently CavBoy’s eardrums were rejecting his ear tubes.  They were the “old school” kind.  It was time to insert the ‘high tech’ kind (yeah, I have no idea what all that means).  Today was the day, and it started very early.  At 5 am the sounds of Charlie Peacock’s West Coast Diaries Vol. 1 woke me far earlier than I want to be awakened.  But we had to be in Orlando by 6:30, so I had to roll out of bed and stumble into the shower.  Yes, the no-longer-dripping shower.

At 5:30 we were out the door, CavBoy and me.  Early morning did not help me when it came to reading the directions later on.  This meant I went in circles for awhile, growing more frustrated by the moment.  In the hospital complex, they had less than adequate signage.  As a result, I ended up missing the reserved parking (thanks in part to a big truck blocking my view).

Paperwork was sure to follow, and it was.  In the paperwork I brought with me, I did not have all the answers I needed.  But, after a few quick calls home the preliminary round of paperwork was done.  Out to move the car and place the parking permit on the dash.  Since I had to drag CavSon with me … I was irritated.  The fact that I’m not a morning person didn’t help.

Next we went into a minuscule office so I could sign the release forms.  CavBoy has now perked up and it into just about everything in the tiny office.  I’m sure she had heard my “I think you need a bigger office” comment a few times.  Wrongly suspecting he’d made ‘boom-boom’ (as a friend says) I was looking for a bathroom to change him.  No need, I was escorted to his room for pre-op.  He was not happy to see the little heart rate monitor they attach to digits.  He hated having it attached to his thumb for his major surgery.  They put it on his toe this time to change it up.  But it was only on for a few moments.

The anesthesiologist came in to prep me.  They have him a valium-type liquid, turning him into a sloppy-drunk sailor.  He couldn’t stand or walk.  It was mildly amusing to me, but certainly not to him.  Time passed quickly in the private room as the surgeon showed up and soon he was off to have the procedure done.  It took about 15 minutes, of that.  They waited for him to wake up before bringing him back.

They should have kept him longer, but I don’t blame them.  He was like a raging drunk.  He was quite angry- like the return of the terror of the first 6 weeks or so.  He still couldn’t stand, but fought off a diaper change and change of clothes.  He repeatedly pushed me away and, of course, was screaming most of the time.

He seemed to keep the juice down, and totally pounded the second cup.  Still screaming and squirming, they escorted me out the door.  I wish they would have let us stay so he could calm down since it is a one hour drive with a screaming child.  But they wanted this to be a private nightmare.  I tossed him into the car seat and refilled his cup.  Since he then tried to rip it apart, I took it away which prompted more anger.  I think he started to turn green at one point.  This prompted me to call CavWife to ask for prayer.

Back on the highway, still screaming, I soon heard the juice come back up.  Big decision…. pull over and prolong the nightmare or keep going to minimize this visit to Hades.  I took the Bad Parent Award and pressed on.  It was just juice folks.

At the 40-45 minute mark he finally stopped screaming and crying.  When we got him we was nearly himself.  Still wobbly, he was more interested in being comforted.  Then the ‘boom-boom’ came.  I didn’t care, I’d survived my visit to Hades, I mean Orlando, … and CavWife took care of this one.

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U2 Album in the Can

@U2 reports that producer Daniel Lanois told Le Journal de Montreal that U2 has finished recording their newest album.

“It’s going to be different in several ways, but I think it’s similar from one point of view, namely that it’s going to push the known limits in the sound arena, the way Achtung Baby did in the past.”

This is what U2 does to keep it fresh, reinventing themselves.  It sounds like the Edge has been playing with some new toys.  Great guitar is always a plus for me.  I will probably be plunking down my cash shortly after this one is released.

If you haven’t been over there, here are some of the songs mentioned, though the ones near the end of the list are less likely to appear on this album.

  • The Cedars of Lebanon – Daniel Lanois revealed this track in an interview with the Montreal magazine, Voir. He said the song was inspired by Jimi Hendrix.
  • Moment of Surrender – Brian Eno reportedly told fans about this song outside Hanover Quay studios in early June, 2008. Eno called it “the best thing” he’s recorded with U2.
  • For Your Love – a song title seen on the band’s white board, as described in this article from the Fez recording sessions
  • One Bird – a song title seen on the band’s white board, as described in this article from the Fez recording sessions
  • No Line On The Horizon – Bono and Edge played this song for a USA Today writer during an in-the-car interview at the Sundance Film Festival. On hearing it, writer Anthony Breznican says “heavy distortion fills the car,” and later adds: “The song is rough, weaving between brutal guitar blasts underscoring the mellow title refrain.” Edge explains that the song “It came out of a new distortion box that my guitar tech got.”
  • Unknown Title – in the same interview with Anthony Breznican, Bono and Edge played a second song whose opening lyric is, “It’s six o’clock…”. Bono tells Breznican that numbers are significant in each of the new songs.
  • If I Could Live My Life Again – Bono says this song is “inspired by the great Argentinian poet Jorge Luis Borges.” Bono said he had just begun the song while speaking with author Michka Assayas in December, 2005. Their interview appears as the extra material in the paperback version of Bono in Conversation with Michka Assayas.
  • Love Is All We Have Left – a song Bono named during his May, 2006, trip to Africa as one that he had recently written. “It’s like an old Broadway tune. I thought it was a Frank Sinatra song,” Bono said.
  • North Star,” a song from the How To Dismantle an Atomic Bomb sessions which included a guest organ appearance from Michael W. Smith. In this CCM article, Smith describes the song as a tribute to Johnny Cash.
  • Mercy“, one of the last songs to get cut from How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb, described in Blender magazine as “a six-and-a-half-minute outpouring of U2 at its most uninhibitedly U2-ish”
  • Lead Me In The Way I Should Go” — a contender for Atomic Bomb first mentioned in this February, 2003, interview with Bono in Grammy Magazine
  • You Can’t Give Away Your Heart” – a contender for Atomic Bomb first mentioned in SPIN magazine

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Although it has only been just over 5 months since CavWife brought CavBoy home from China, we just had our 6 month post-placement appointment with the social worker. It was a good time to remember how far he has come, and how far we have come as a family.
The first month was incredibly difficult on the whole family as he adjusted to everything and we adjusted to him. As I type, the kids are playing “going to the wedding”, a result of going to “Uncle” Morgan’s wedding last weekend. They packed their bags for the hotel room. The 2 of them usually play very well together as CavGirl revels in being the ring leader, I mean older sister. She has all the makings of a Red Leader 1.
Last night on the short ride home from a friend’s they were serenading us from the back seat. It was mostly nonsense. Last weekend, CavGirl was shouting song lyrics like “your love is better than life” (Newsboys) and “I am a friend of God” (from a worship CD CavWife plays often). CavBoy can’t quite do that yet, so it is interesting to hear them ‘sing’ together like some childish opera in a strange tongue.
CavBoy has grown 2 1/2 inches and gained 4 pounds in his 5+ months with us. This despite his liquid diet post-surgery. This is still a fistula in his palate which the surgeon thinks isn’t a major problem, but the speech therapist thinks is. They can duke it out … the surgeon is one of the most respected surgeons for this in Orlando so what do I know.
Speech therapy is going slowly. But this morning he was doing more of the noises in Mr. Brown Can Moo, Can You?. That is good news. He’s starting to try, which is a start. It takes him time to start trying something- climbing into his car seat, into his booster seat for meals, etc. I realized the other day that I tended to pull him out of his car seat. I thought, “Dude, the kid can climb out on his own!” and now he does. Now, if he can just start using those expulsive consonants…
That is the main area of improvement- trying things. He still seems overwhelmed with new experiences (he was utterly traumatized by the merry go round at Cypress Gardens) and places. But he’s beginning to try more things like climbing up a playset and going down the slide last night.
Another area of improvement is handling his anger. He had horrible tantrums at first. But his trantrums are now pretty sedate for a 2 year-old. We are so thankful since those tantrums made meal time in particular quite difficult. Now meal time is stressful because it takes forever for him to eat as he plays and procrastinates. At least he isn’t eating us out of house and home anymore (that’s now CavGirl’s job).
We have some concerns about his hearing. He tested with some minor hearing loss, but that might have been related to the fluid in his ear. The ear, throat & nose specialist wants to put in larger tubes. These tubes would not fall out, but would have to be removed. However, they should aid in relieving pressure on his ear drum and preserve his hearing (but probably not his singing).
When I think of all the doctor’s appointments and bills I can become overwhelmed at times. But I wouldn’t trade the time and money back. He’s our son and an important part of our family. The boy stays!

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We are back in the Whinery after a few days sans kiddos.  CavWife and I flew the coop to visit with a search committee, and I met with the elders.  The kids got to stay home with a friend of ours.  They did very well.  She was a bit sad Friday night.  He was clingy before we left Friday morning, but we were able to slip away, and heading into our friend’s pool was distracting enough for him.

We flew up Friday afternoon.  We had a slight delay in our flight departure time.  A mere 20 minutes or something.  Oddly, it continued to say “On Time” even a few minutes after our departure time came and went.

A few members of the committee picked us up at the airport and drove us to town.  We were free to have dinner on our own, so we got a recommendation for a local establishment.  It was a very nice place.  We ate outside and enjoyed some of the local sights, and sounds (particularly the motorcycles).  Then we took a spin to see some of the local geography.  We located the YMCA (since CavWife is certified for spinning, and in process to be certified for step- and has a class 2x/week at the local Y), the movie theatre, library …  We also drove through some subdivisions near the church.  We aren’t sure if they will be in our price range, though.  The area looked far more beautiful than it did in March.

Exhausted, we crashed at the hotel.  We were up early the next morning, as I met with the Session all morning.  One of them saw my post on Adam Again, and gifted me with his copy of 10 Songs by Adam Again.  It got a good listen this morning!  Quite thankful.  Hmmm, I wonder if he has Outdoor Elvis by the Swirling Eddies….  Great to ponder having elders who have actually listened to some of the obscure bands I enjoy.  CavWife got a tour of the area by a committee member and talked about some of the pragmatic stuff about living in that community.


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Perfecta was the final release by Adam Again, if I remember correctly.  Similarly to the 77’s, I heard an early album (New World in Time) and was not very impressed.  In a store one day, a friend had me listen to some of their Dig album and I was sold.  As mentioned in an earlier post, I listened to it driving up to Orlando the other night.  Ah, the memories.

Gene Eugene liked metaphor, so many of his lyrics were not easy to interpret.  The average CCM band they were not.  Along with Daniel Amos, the 77’s, and the Choir, they led the alternative rock movement among Christian musicians.  It was no mistake that Gene would join with Terry Taylor, Mike Roe and Derry Daugherty from those respective bands to form The Lost Dogs.

Perfecta was not Adam Again’s best album but it was still a very good album.  I think this was following Gene’s divorce, and a fair amount of that sense of alienation comes through somehow.  It starts off with Stone, “and I try to forget the day I chased you away.”  The guitar has plenty of reverb, and it stays that way throughout the album.  There are plenty of songs with extended solos, or musical interludes.

Strobe is one of those songs where you just aren’t sure what Gene is trying to say.  The chorus is a bit repetitive, but it works for some reason.  All You Lucky People sounds like the complaint of a prisoner to me (“I’ve got nothing but time”).

Air is one of those songs short of lyrics, but long on musical interludes.  The first verse is about the electric company employee demanding he pay his bill.  He doesn’t have money, but he’s got friends coming over.  Dogjam is one of my favorite songs, which could be due to lines like “3-legged dog hobblin’ in the back yard/ I don’t mind at all/ 3-legged dog, cat chasing is hard/but I can’t forget that she paid for it all.”  Lots of good guitar going for it too.

Every Mother’s Way is the token slower, more gentle song.  Try Not to Try is almost as slow, and seems to be about the process of sanctification, but I could be wrong. 

But songs like Unfunny and Relapse have plenty of loud, alternative rock ‘n’ roll.

Like the rest of the Adam Again catalog, this is hard to find.  I’ve never been able to replace my stolen copy of 10 Songs, which I think is their best collection of songs.  This is unfortunate, because Gene and company sure could make some interesting music.

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Been a busy week here at the CavHome while I try to prepare for Sunday’s sermon.  We were delighted to have Dr. & Mrs. Probst join us for dinner on their visit to Florida.  They spent nearly 4 years in London while Chris worked on his Ph.D. in history.  It was great to see them again.  The last time we’d seen them in person, we told them we were expecting.  So this time they got to meet the 2 CavKids.  After putting the kids to sleep, we spent a few hours on the back porch catching up and telling stories.

Chris and I have a fairly long history together.  We’ve been on 2 mission trips together, co-lead a Bible study together, shared a house together, spent 2 weeks in England & Scotland together, I officiated the beginning of his wedding ceremony, he was one of my groomsmen and we enjoy some lively Boston/NY sports debates.  So, it was great catching up.

The next morning I brought CavSon to his appointment in Orlando, and gave the car-less Probsts a ride to Orlando.  CavSon really enjoyed them too, playing well with Mrs. Probst.  He cried when we dropped them off.

Friday night I took a road trip up to Orlando (Winter Park, precisely) to join the Probsts, Stephens, Smiths, Tom & Mitch for dinner at PRs (a Mexican place).  For 3 1/2 hours we laughed and enjoyed each others company.  All of us guys were in the same Bible study for years, and I heard about “how long we were in Genesis” among other things.  Tom remembered the odd messages I would have on our answering machine even way back then.  4 of the 5 guys also went on Mission trips together too.  So, we’ve got some good history together.  I really miss being in a ‘band of brothers’ like that.  That has been harder here in Winter Haven.  Many of my pastor friends moved away, and there aren’t many guys my age.

I was a “joy stealer”.  A few of them were excited about the inroad the movie Facing the Giants was making.  It was made for almost nothing and has grossed about $30 million.  It’s even being shown on a Turkish airline.  That doesn’t make it a good movie, just an influential one.  It (inadvertantly?) communicates that all will go well if you just give your life to Jesus.  The coach goes from having a disgustin house, dying car, barren wife and horrible team to an improved house, new car, pregnant wife and winning team because he re-commits himself to Jesus.  Yes, I’m cynical… but there are some false expectations that are created there.  You can like the movie and still be my friend 🙂

Anticipating lots of traffic, I took CavWife’s car so I had access to a CD player.  On the way to Orlando I was able to enjoy Perfecta by Adam Again.  Very good, though not their best album (probably that honor belongs to 10 Songs By or Dig).  Lots of loud guitars and extended songs with jamming.  Gene Eugene’s lyrics here are mostly indecipherable, at least to me.  But there are some very good songs.

On the way home I tried to listen to the Celtics-Pistons game.  Reception was sketchy until it finally became unrecognizable.  So I turned to Tonio K’s Notes from the Lost Civilization.  This was his 2nd post-conversion album and was produced by T-Bone Burnett.  It has lots of surf music guitar and Hammond B-3 organ on it.  His humor is less acerbic, it was a very enjoyable album.  I wish someone would have picked Tonio up after What? Records went under.  I was supposed to see him in Boston after the release of this album, for $1.04 (it was sponsered by FM104 WBCN which used to be a great rock radio station in Boston).  I guess 1.04 people bought tickets, because the venue seemed closed.  Great disappointment, especially after hearing of his wild stage shows.

CavDaughter has been experiencing all kinds of head trauma.  Yesterday afternoon, just before her nap, she was singing “Ring Around the Rosie” while spinning around when her head slammed into the corner of the end table.  Just missed her eye, but it swelled up and is a nicely colored bruise.  Then this morning she was not paying attention while eating breakfast.  She tumbled off the chair and the back of her head slammed into the low-lying marble window sill that is common here in FL.  Lots more crying and drama!

The laptop’s issues have returned- the screen flickers on & off.  Since this is the 4th time- it is declared a lemon.  Back to Best Buy to pick up a replacement, just as the extended warrentee expires.  But I needed to delve into new technology so I could back it up.  Yes, a new external hard drive.  But then the wireless card disappeared.  Coincidence or causation?  I don’t know.  But I’ll have to set up the new laptop.  So … I’m not sure when I shall post next.  Here’s to finding one that still has XP instead of Vista!!!

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John Newton has a few hymns based on Hebrews 4.  I wish we could have sung them when I preached on this text.

Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat

Approach, my soul, the mercy seat where Jesus answers prayer; there humbly fall before his feet, for none can perish there.

Thy promise is my only plea; with this I venture nigh: thou callest burdened souls to thee, and such, O Lord, am I.

Bowed down beneath a load of sin, by Satan sorely pressed, by war without and fears within, I come to thee for rest.

Be thou my shield and hiding place, that, sheltered near thy side, I may my fiercest accuser face, and tell thou hast died.

O wondrous love! to bleed and die, to bear the cross and shame, that guilty sinners, such as I, might plead thy gracious name!

 Here is the RUF arraingment of the song by Kevin Twit.  They have some chord charts and piano music available.  Here is a quote they have from Luther about the content of the hymn:

“You should tell the devil “Just by telling me that I am a miserable, great sinner you are placing a sword and a weapon into my hand with which I can decisively overcome you; yea, with your own weapon I can kill and floor you.

For if you tell me that I am a poor sinner, I, on the other hand, can tell you that Christ dies for sinners and is their Intercessor… You remind me of the boundless, great faithfulness and benefaction of my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

The burden of my sins and all the trouble and misery that were to oppress me eternally He very gladly took upon His shoulders and suffered the bitter death on the cross for them.

To Him I direct you. You may accuse and condemn Him. Let me rest in peace, for on His shoulders, not on mine, lie all my sins and the sins of all the world.” Martin Luther

Behold the Throne of Grace!

Behold the throne of grace!  The promise calls me near: there Jesus shows a smiling face, and waits to answer prayer.

My soul, ask what thou wilt; thou canst not be too bold; since his own blood for thee was spilt, what else can he withhold?

Thine image, Lord, bestow, they presence and thy love; I ask to serve thee here below, and reign with thee above.

Teach me to live by faith; conform my will to thine; let me victorious be in death, and then in glory shine.


As I said, great stuff which we should sing fairly often.  Newton had a good grasp of grace, and it is evident in his hymns.  It is this grace-centeredness that needs to be a bigger part of our worship services.

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My daughter pulled my copy of the 77’s Sticks and Stones out this morning and asked to listen to it.  My heart skipped a beat in joy.  But I’m not sure she really understands the greatness that is this album.

I had listened to Ping Pong Over the Abyss as a new Christian back in ’86 or ’87.  I didn’t like it.  I wrote them off.  Then, on my initial visit to RTS Orlando, a guy named Andy Graham gave me a tape of Sticks and Stones.  I was converted.  It was alternative enough to be ‘cool’ and ‘pop’ enough to be accessible.  Sticks and Stones is a compilation of sorts featuring 14 hits, cast offs and unreleased takes.  There is plenty of great music here.

The album starts off with 3 alt-pop-rock numbers featuring some good guitar work.  Make that very good.  The focus of MT, Nowhere Else and This is the Way Love Is seems to be a relationship with Christ. 

The sound and subject matter shift with Perfect Blues.  It is a more blues oriented number about how none of us meets the standards of others in relationships.  It is about the struggle of relationships and expectations.  Once again Mike Roe provides some nice guitar work.

I had this album for years before I realized what Don’t, This Way was about.  I had thought it was about a failed relationship.  I was cranking the album in my apartment when the truth hit me like a ton of bricks.  It is, as the liner notes say, the saddest song ever.  It is about a lover looking over the dead body of their beloved.  It is a return to a more alt-pop-rock sound, but the music matches the lyrics to create a nearly perfect song.  There is plenty of mournful guitar to set the mood.  It nearly brings me to tears when I listen.  Some might find the length of song (7:22) excessive, but I don’t.  I love some of the extended jams on this disc.


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Since I don’t buy new music very often, I thought I’d bring up some of my favorite old albums when I listen to them.  The recent commercial for cashews caused me to pull Songs of the Heart sung by Daniel Amos out.  The cover art is reminiscent of old gospel albums- quite tongue-in-cheek considering the music found therein.  Daniel Amos is one of my favorite bands.  They are the fathers of Christian alternative music.  I once described their Fearful Symmetry album to one of my bosses as David Bowie on acid.  They were too far out there for most Christians.  One of my great regrets was never seeing them in concert.  They played just around the corner from my college dorm a few months before I learned who they were.

The album starts on with the song from the cashew commercial- Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You.  This makes sense when you remember that they album is meant to chronicle Bud and Irma Akendorf’s spiritual journey (fictional folks).  It is a “musical film”, and this reflects their initial romance.  This is a great version of a classic song with plenty of distortion.  I was supposed to sing this song at the rehearsal dinner for my wedding.  Thankfully for everyone else there, it never happened.  CavWife and I share this joke together from time to time.


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Unforgettable Fire: The Past, Present and Future- the Definitive Biography of U2 has been sitting on my shelf for at least a decade.  I bought it on a discount shelf while I lived in Orlando.  I’ve been meaning to read it, and decided to finally invest the time to read Eamon Dunphy’s book.

Eamon spends plenty of time covering the childhood of the band members, and what Dublin was like in those days.  I’m someone who appreciates these things.  I like knowing the events that shape the soul of people.

The book essentially covers up to the release of The Joshua Tree when they finally hit the last measure of success in the music world- #1 singles.  You definitely get the sense of how difficult it was for them to make it out of Dublin.  They came an hour away from absolute failure.  They were on the last show of the “let’s get a contract tour” without a contract.  They were broke, and Paul McGuinness’ strategy seemed ready to fail.  It was at that concert that they won over Island records.  There were lots of people who were impressed by their presence, integrity and commitment.  These people were instrumental in helping them go from unknown band to being able to develop a reputation in the U.S.

One of the other big obstacles was their relationship with Shalom, a charismatic group in Dublin.  This Christian fellowship was instrumental in many ways.  It helped cultivate the desire for them to build community as how they did business.  But Shalom, in focusing on surrendering the ego, lost sight of vocation.  They wanted U2 to quit, fearing the role of ego in the music business.  They failed to consider what these young men were called to do with their lives.  They failed to learn from biblical characters like Daniel who lived out their faith in the midst of a corrupt community.  So their influence on the members of U2 was mixed.

The faith of Bono, Edge and Larry was also a problem on their early tours.  It built a barrier in their relationship with Adam and Paul.  At the time, Adam didn’t share their faith.  As they huddled in the back of the bus to read the Bible, pray, sing and talk, Adam was left out.  He feared being kicked out of the band for a few years.  And the band was all he had.  As the 3 men matured in their faith, they realized they had an obligation to Adam (Paul helped them see how many people they were responsible for), to love him and accept him.  When it would have made sense of Bono to ask Edge or Larry to be his best man, he asked Adam in an attempt to bridge the gap he had helped build.

As the book moves on, and new people are brought into the U2 family, he also gives their brief biography as well.  And this is one of the things that sets U2 apart from the vast majority of rock bands.  They built a community of people invested in their vision and values.  I guess I summarized their values as: Respect the Fans, Respect the Crew, and Respect One Another.

The only “flaw” in the book would be the prevelant use of the F-word.  In their culture, Eamon is also from Dublin, this is common (as it was where I grew up).  As the book crosses cultures, it may not be as accepted particularly as fodder for teens.  If this is the worst you can get on U2, that is great.  There are no groupie stories or drunken/drug binges.  They sought to integrate their faith with their music, not by singing hymns but by how they treated people.  Eamon is certainly a fan, but doesn’t cover all their blemishes.  You see some of their immaturity, their weaknesses of character as well as their strengths.  He just doesn’t dwell on them, which is a good thing.

All in all, this makes good reading for someone wanting to learn more about the band members’ childhood, and their early years together.


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I decided to drop the music review page to simplify the blog some.  So here are some older reviews of albums.  They were from my first foray into blogging.  Shortly after starting this blog, I changed my approach.  So here they are.

Redemption Songs by Jars of Clay.  This CD was inevitable.  In their work with the City on a Hill projects they reworked some hymns such as The Comforter Has Come & Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.  Artists and worship leaders are creating new arraignments or music to accompany these time-tested words.  This comes from the desire of the Emerging Church to treasure our tradition even as we live in touch with the world around us.

This CD is unique.  Jars of Clay has put their own unique sound over these words from our common heritage as followers of Jesus.  Some of the songs like God Be Merciful to Me (Psalm 51), and On Jordan’s Stormy Banks I Stand come from the music ministry of Reformed University Fellowship.  Others, like It is Well with My Soul and I Need Thee Every Hour, have music, and sometimes refrains, written by Jars of Clay.  The overwhelming focus of this disc is Redemption.  This is music for sinners who need to be reminded of God’s overwhelming love expressed in Jesus.  It is remarkably focused on the weight of our sin, and therefore the glory of our redemption.  This is something grotesquely missing in most ‘worship’ music today (well, the last 100 years or so).

The songs tend to be sad, yet hopeful as a result.  They carry the signature Jars of Clay folksy rock sound.  They give a new life to these grand old songs, and a new audience.   As such it is a valuable resource.  It is useful for reminding this sinner of my new life in Christ.  It gives words to the longings and frustrations of my heart.  This is not pop fluff.  The arraignments help the impact of the words instead of detracting from the meaning of the words.  In their desire to move into the future without forsaking our heritage, Jars of Clay has done us a great service.  They offer the church a more substantial form of Christianity than is typically found on our bookshelves and CD racks.

Nothing is Sound by Switchfoot.  This is a great follow-up to their double platinum smash.  Lyrically it continues in a similar vein.  They talk about the lie of materialism (Lonely Nation), the things we substitute for love (Easier than Love) and our tendency to dig cisterns instead of going to the spring of living water (Happy is a Yuppy Word).  They also talk about how we are woefully bent and wounded (The Setting Sun, The Fatal Wound).  As such, it has a dark feel to it.

But there is hope in the mix in songs like Stars, and The Shadow Proves the Sunshine.

This sounds a bit like John Owen’s take on resisting temptation.  “The pouring of contempt upon the great men and great things of the world, with all the enjoyments of it.  He hath discovered the nakedness of all earthly things, in overturning, overturning, overturning, both men and things, to make way for the things that cannot be shaken.”

Musically the overall feel to me is more aggressive.  I do miss the prominence of the bass (though Lonely Nation has a great bass line).  Or maybe I need to hook up the subwoofer.

Kickin’ music- YES!

Memorable lines- YES!  (”We are slaves of what we want”, “I’ve got a wound that does not heal”)

Buy it- YES! 


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In my earlier post on With One Voice by Reggie Kidd, I summarized Bach, Bubba & the Blues Brothers.  I wanted that to function as a book review of sorts.  Now I want to expand those summaries of Reggie Kidd’s ideas and play with the concepts abit.  I’ll interact with material from the book and throw in a few ideas of my own.

Bach- Some Christians have the time, aptitude and resources to fully appreciate classical culture.  I say fully because I appreciate classical culture though it is not where I live.  It is like a vacation spot where I am spoiled at times by Mozart, Bach, Rossini, Tchaikovsky and others.  I haven’t spent the time to study their background and the origins of the various pieces.  I enjoy them, but I don’t have a full appreciation of their work.  But some of my fellow Christians do fully appreciate them.

Classical culture points us to the transcendent.  It is largely about the quest for truth and beauty.  It requires the highest of skills to play/perform.  This is what makes it beyond the reach of most congregations except on special occasions (like a “vacation”).  We need to venture to a performance of Handel’s Messiah periodically to get a taste of beauty and transcendence.  Some of the greatest hymns have been set to music by these musical giants as well.

But I love what Reggie says: “Now, Jesus loves Bach’s music and that of his aesthetic kin- of this I am certain.  I am equally sure, however, that he finds their most elevated and demanding stuff to be but nursery tunes.”  Even in our heights we fall far short of the bar set by our Creator.  Let us not think our worship is better because our songs are more elegant or deeper.  All our praises need to be purified by the blood of Jesus.

But the lush music is a pointer for our longings as well.  Reggie notes the disagreement between Ambrose of Milan and his disciple Augustine of Hippo (you may have heard of him).  Ambrose loved lush music in worship.  Augustine feared it, thinking it would distract him from the text.  They should work together!  A rich text may require rich, lush music.  Music is to capture the meaning of the text, amplifying it so we are lost in wonder at the Redemeer’s love for such as us.  Reggie puts it this way: “there is an expansiveness of spirit Christ would inculcate in us and which art of this kind fosters.”


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Reggie Kidd was one of my professors at RTS Orlando.  He, like Dr. Nicole, is a first-class procrastinator when it comes to writing books.  Both men have so much the church needs to hear, but other duties and/or pleasures keep their writing to amounts far less than people like me would like to see.

Reggie is not one to overwhelm you with his charisma or sheer brilliance.  He is one who gently calls you to deeper places with the Savior.  He’s the professor you fondly remember because he exudes humility and character.  With One Voice is a welcome addition to my library which I’ve put off reading for far too long.

This book was a long time in being birthed, and one friend from another class recalls it originally being titled The Singing Savior.  This was a nod to his beloved professor, Edmund Clowney, whose idea he takes up for most of this book.  It is a worship book about Jesus.  In typical Reggie fashion, he takes his time to get to the point.  He works his way through Psalms to help us get a big picture view of its movement theologically.  In parallels David’s life in many ways.  He gets to the point when he gets to Psalm 22.  This Psalm is about David’s struggles, but also in a way that points to Messiah’s suffering and eventual exaltation.

Reggie wants us to see that Jesus is the Last & Greatest Lead Worshipper.  He is not only the object of our worship, but He sings over us and with us.  Those who listen find themselves transformed.  But Jesus is also building a new temple of singing stones (1 Peter 2), those who believe.  We sing because He sings.  He leads us in redemptions songs.

It is within this biblical concept that Reggie introduces us to Bach, Bubba and the Blues Brothers.  Building on Psalm 22, Reggie notes that though we sing with one voice, we sing differently.  The rich and the poor are welcome in His presence, and they sing different songs.  This section of the book is born from teaching Worship for years and being dissatisfied with thinking of culture simply in terms of classical culture & pop culture.  Reggie argued for the existence of folk culture as well.

Bach is for the rich & refined.  It is high culture.  There is nothing wrong with high culture.  It has its place at the table.  It has a rich heritage.  This music reflects Jesus’ “grandeur and royalty and urbanity” and gives “expression to Christ’s loftiness and majesty.”

Bubba is Reggie’s shorthand for folk music, the culturally less refined.  It emerges from the the NT vision of the Family of God.  It reflects Jesus’ humility in taking on flesh and bone, coming in the form of a slave.  It captures His suffering, and our longing.  We sing about our Brother who has come to deliver us.

The Blues Brothers reflect our voice as the Friends of God.  We enlist the dialect of our greater surrounding culture to serve redemptive ends.  Jesus is not averse to the hoi polloi- the masses.  He sings so they may hear as well.

The Worship Wars pit these 3 styles of music against one another.  Jesus has other ideas.  He longs to put all 3 at His service and reveal His redemptive purposes.  Each has a place in the living temple.  We mustn’t exalt our preferences in such a way that divides the City of God, the Family of God or the Friends of God.  While we may appreciate one more than the others, we are to affirm that Christ can transform all 3 to His glory- and does.  We need each of these, in my opinion, to keep us balanced in our focus lest we suffer from an over-realized or under-realized eschatology.

This is another gentle, humble call from my professor.  He points us beyond our preferences to Jesus, the One who sings and calls us to sing.  He is able to weave the various songs we sing into a beautiful symphony of redemptive sound.  Yes, Reggie takes the scenic route but it is a journey worth taking with him.

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We sang this one 2 Sundays ago, and it fit in very well with my sermon.  And for my place in life.  It is on Chris Tomlin’s most recent album See the Morning, but was written by Brenton Brown and Ken Riley.  The song is Everlasting God, and it is a mediation on Isaiah 40.

Strength will rise as we wait upon the Lord

We will wait upon the LordWe will wait upon the Lord. 

Our God, You reign forever

Our hope, our Strong Deliverer

You are the everlasting God

The everlasting God

You do not faintYou won’t grow weary. 

You’re the defender of the weak

You comfort those in need

You lift us up on wings like eagles.

This song has some great truths to keep in mind as you wait upon the Lord.  He does provide strength as we wait.  Our God does not change, and that means he continues to reign and continues to deliver his people from earthly and eternal trials.  Though we grow faint and weary, he does not.  Instead he continues to defend the weak and comfort us in our times of need.  In due time, we will be lifted up.  Some great truth to ponder while we wait.  And singing it helps!

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Keith and Kristyn Getty (along with Stuart Townend) are among some of the best worship song writers today.  They write music that bridges the gap between traditional hymns and modern worship with what has been called “modern hymns”.

Keith: “I don’t think of music as only teaching, but I do think that what we sing profoundly affects how we think. It profoundly affects how we feel. It affects, therefore, our emotional and our didactic relationship with God. But what we sing is for people of all ages.”

This is what I like to hear from a musician- he senses a great need to be responsible for properly shaping the life of churches.  Music does affect us emotionally, and so should worship.  It is best to have our emotions stirred by deep truth (Edwards would call this religious affections).  The best church music stirs hearts AND minds.

Keith: “The radical thing about a church service is that people of every age and every wealth bracket and every background come together and sing together. So we write these quasi-folk melodies that everyone can sing, and we hope there’s an enduring quality to them.”

It is more than the “personal worship experience”, but corporate worship- adoring Christ together as the One who has brought us together in union with Himself by faith.

Kristyn talks about how they work with pastors and theologians so they don’t go astray theologically.  What a great idea!  It also shows great humility on their part.  They are the type of songwriters we need (and there are others out there) producing music for the church to use in its times of public worship. 

You might want to check out the rest of interview.

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Former CCM “bad boy” Steve Taylor will get his second opportunity to direct a movie.  And it will be one of my favorite books of the last few years- Blue Like Jazz.  How, you might ask, can you turn a collection of essays into a movie?  I wondered too.  Donald Miller answers that and other questions on the Belmont Foundation blog.  Maybe Steve will find the time to write some cool music for the movie.

I just couldn’t find a more recent photo except on The Second Chance web site, but it was in Flash Player 9.  Sorry, Steve.

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