Archive for the ‘music’ Category

The Pearl

This is just such a beautiful song by a great artist.  And the lyrics are haunting, real, and worshipful.

The best modern lament psalms are being written by “secular” artists. (by this I mean artists outside the Christian music industry)  Given CCM’s propensity to produce slick, attractive, packaged, mass-produced and easily cloned products — with profit as its primary goal — this comes as no surprise.

Yesterday, I found out about, a site invented by recovering former CCM musician Derek Webb. NoiseTrade is a “fair trade” music site, where artists (including Webb, his wife Sandra McCracken, and bands Sixpence None the Richer and Waterdeep, among others) provide their music for download in exchange for any amount of money the downloader wants to pay OR for free if he/she refers three friends to the site. All this is done sans record labels, by the way.  It’s a cool concept, and one that I’m sure will be replicated more and more in the future, given the growing open-source nature of music in emerging generations.

It’s nice to see gospel-infused music following many in the church back to the margins of society where it belongs, and out of the limelight, the center-stage, the profiteering.


a hauntingly beautiful prayer


Attention Music Lovers: Allow me to point you to two very important links.

Link #1:

If you click on the link above, you will have the opportunity (dare-I-say, “privilege”) of voting for my dear brother’s band in a contest to play at the world-famous Austin City Limits festival. Homer Hiccolm & the Rocketboys have made it to Round 3 of the contest, thanks in part to many of your votes.  But they have through Thursday, August 30, to be in the top 5 vote-getting bands, after which they’ll perform for live judges in Austin!  So, your job is pretty simple if you ask me: Vote once per day per e-mail today, tomorrow, and Thursday.  I thank you.  Homer Hiccolm thanks you.  God is watching.

Link #2:

Even if you’re not a “mySpacer,” you’ll want to click over to Homer Hiccolm’s page and check out the creative and hilarious short videos they are posting each day this week through Thursday.  Each video features a different member of the band, a Broadway-esque song-and-dance routine (seriously!), and a shameless plea to vote for them in the ACL contest.  I’m so convinced you’ll enjoy these videos, that if you don’t, I’ll refund 100% of the time it took you to click over and watch them.  That’s my promise to you, my faithful readers.


It occurs to me that many of you don’t know that come Friday evening, we’ll be on a plane to Tanzania, Africa, for 2 weeks!  We’ll be visiting our good friends in Moshi who have been searching out God activity in TZ for over a year now.  This is both of our first time in Africa, an adventure I lovingly call, “Operation: Diarrhea Avoidance.”

Needless to say, WiFi and hi-speed access are sparse around Africa, so I’m sure my blogging frequency over the next 2 weeks will follow suit. But I’ll be sure to check in if I can with a “we got here safely,” “I’m sick as a dog,” or a photo or two (not of the latter).

Prayers are, of course, appreciated.

(now, go vote!)

random [shaped] notes

I saw a pretty amazing rock show last night. The bands were headliner Anathallo and opening acts Page France and Denison Witmer. All three acts were worth the ticket price by themselves. Music connects on such a deep level with nearly everyone I know, and last night’s show edified me in ways I didn’t expect.

The audience heard the following powerful lyrics from Page France last night. The song is called “Jesus” and comes from the “Hello Dear Wind” album (I would recommend listening to the first two songs at — “Chariot” is amazing as well — or downloading the songs for a buck from iTunes):

i will sing a song to you
and you will shake the ground for me
and the birds and bees and old fruit trees
will spit out songs like gushing streams
and jesus will come through the ground so dirty
with worms in his hair and a hand so sturdy
to call us his magic we call him worthy
jesus came up through the ground so dirty
i will sing a song for to you
and you will stomp your feet for me
and the bears and bees and banana trees
will play kazoos and tambourines
and jesus will dance while we drink his wine
with soldiers and thieves and a sword in his side
and we will be joy and we will be right
jesus will dance while we drink his wine
jesus will come through the ground so dirty
with worms in his hair and a hand so sturdy
to call us his magic we call him worthy
jesus came up through the ground so dirty
jesus came up through the ground so dirty
jesus came up through the ground so dirty
jesus came up through the ground so dirty


A related item:

HHRB Xmas Card.jpg

Gives you the Christmas spirit, eh? (My bro is in the bottom left lookin’ spiff. Click on the photo to go to their mySpace.)

women, iJesus, prayer, practice

First off, let me go on the record as saying that the last few days’ conversation on this blog (and, to a lesser degree, on the blog of Drunken Tune) has been more thought provoking and rich than just about any conversation I’ve been a part of on the blogosphere. I think we all agree (as many have said) that the DT’s tone and spirit throughout this process — despite being the lone skeptic in a sea of “believers” — has been incredibly admirable.

You are welcome to continue to post comments on the entry below or over at Drunken Tune’s site. He has offered to continue the dialogue for anyone who would still like to, and you may want to consider moving the conversation to his blog; after all, he has been working all day (until after 8 p.m. some days), coming home, and spending several hours each evening responding in one continuous post to a dozen or so comments… yikes!). Like I said, comments are certainly not closed on the post below this one, so I hope you’ll continue to check back. If you came to this blog for the first time as one interested in this intriguing dialogue, welcome! Please consider poking your head back in from time to time; you’ll find that we like to address many tough issues pretty regularly around here. (and pre-packaged, warmed-over answers usually won’t suffice…)

A note to the Christian readers: This conversation should have taught us all something important. The lessons will be different for each person, but please be aware of what God may be saying to you through this dialogue. Also, I hope this dialogue (as limited as this medium may be) has demonstrated that intelligent, loving, non-judgmental conversation is possible with those who are not walking the same path as we are. There are opportunities for such conversations in each of our cities and towns — sometimes under our own roof!


Now, onto weightier matters. (tongue implanted firmly in cheek…) This story about a Baptist church in New York state was sent my way by Lantern Bearer (thanks!) a few days back. It made me think, though, how grateful I am that Churches of Christ figured out solutions to these types of problems long ago. (cough…cough…)


It’s no secret that Jesus is a frequent subject in the lyrics of many “secular” (for the sake of time, I won’t go into why I reject many things about the common dichotomy between “sacred things” and “secular things”) music artists and bands. (IMHO, some of the more provocative images of Jesus come from “secular” artists, not the Christian music industry) A.V. Club has a pretty good list of songs that feature our Lord, some in serious tones and some in less-than-serious tones:

The A.V. Club’s Definitive Mixlist: The New Adventures Of Jesus


Speaking of provocative, this is one of the more provocative (in a good way) God-related things I’ve seen in a while. This was done by the folks at Seattle Metro Church, which was planted by several couples from Harding University. If you have any interest at all in the spirituality of those who do not claim to be Christians, you’ll want to watch this.


Finally, take a look at JMH’s post about “practicing the kingdom of God.” Simple, powerful stuff.


I’m convinced that more often than not, they see it better than we do. “They” meaning those who do not even claim to be Christians, and “it” referring to the inconsistencies between our lives and the one we claim to follow.

Ben Folds is one of these “theys” who has gotten it right with his song, “Jesusland” (IMHO). It’s been out for a while now, but I just “got it” recently.

For the best experience, watch the music video by clicking here and then going to “footage.” Here are the lyrics as well. These words are convicting. Notice all the things he associates with Christianity.

Take a walk246882.jpg
out the gate you go and never stop
past dollar stores and wig shops
quarter in a cup for every block
and watch the buildings grow
smaller as you go

Down the tracks
beautiful McMansions on a hill
that overlook a highway
with riverboat casinos and you still
have yet to see a soul


Town to town
broadcast to each house, they drop your name
but no one knows your face
Billboards quoting things you’d never said
you hang your head and pray

for Jesusland

Miles and miles
and the sun’s goin’ down
Pulses glow
from their homes
You’re not alone
Lights come on
as you lay your weary head on their lawn

Parking lots
cracked and growing grass you see it all
from offices to farms
crosses flying high above the malls
Along the walk

through Jesusland

An Evening With Garrison Keillor

18.jpgIt was a feeling akin to the one that comes when you meet someone — a long, lost relative, let’s say — whom you’ve never met but always heard about. It was the flesh-and-bone version of the silky, baritone voice that previously existed only in myths we joined as they unfolded between six and eight on Saturday evenings.

This was my make-a-wish moment.

With just a few rows of chairs separating me from radio icon Garrison Keillor on Wednesday evening, it was as if my story was finally intersecting with those of radio “private eye” Guy Noir, the emotionless Lutherans of Lake Wobegon and the rest of the Prairie Home Companion variety ensemble. But as Dorothy might have said were she in my seat on Wednesday, “We’re not in radio anymore, Toto.”

Wednesday’s live show at the South Shore Music Circus in Cohasset was one of many stops on Keillor’s current cross-country gallivant lovingly named “The Rhubarb Tour” after the garden vegetable he has so shamelessly promoted on his show through the years. The tour also includes the traditional live recordings of A Prairie Home Companion in different U.S. cities each Saturday night, including Saturday’s season finale and Independence Day Special at the Koussevitzky Music Shed at Tanglewood in Western Massachusetts.

For me, seeing the live show on Wednesday meant much more than just seeing how Fred Newman creates a world with sound effects during radio theater segments, though this was fascinating. Let me offer a couple metaphors for what this night meant. It was the first time I walked through Gate B on Yawkee Way after years of listening to Sox games on the radio. It was a week in the home of my grandparents, about whom I had been told countless stories. It was me as a twentysomething colliding with me as a five-, ten-, and 13-year-old boy.

I have never grown tired of Keillor’s affinity for the four-part harmony, skillful instrumentation and hauntingly beautiful gospel that have remained the backbone of the show for 32 years. The variety show is really an extension of its host, of course, seen in Keillor’s gliding across the stage during a tune he fancies or his lulling but passionate tales about life in small town Minnesota.

This fact is crystal clear, though: Keillor clearly enjoys each performance as much as the capacity crowds at each venue he plays. It is as if he himself travels to the “better-than-reality” worlds he helps create each Saturday night, and at times one sees his eyes close and head start to sway to a particularly gripping song, and one wonders if he will snap out of it in time to finish the show.

For so many Saturdays over the last 23 years and for two hours on Wednesday in Cohasset, I was transported into this world of Keillor’s — a good world — where hope replaces faithlessness, where laughter replaces tears, and, of course, “where all the women are strong, the men are good-looking, and all the children are above average.”

It’s A Prairie Home Companion — the last substantive American radio program and a snapshot (and sound bite) of heaven, on Earth.