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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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