The Allman Brothers Band for the Road

One of the joys of having over 100 people a day move to Nashville is the most enjoyable and fun commutes I’ve been having [said with copious amounts of sarcasm].

I really enjoy creeping along I-40, then for a brief moment to speed up, only to run into more traffic and slow down again. I really have nothing better to do than idle in traffic for an eternity. [sarcasm continued].

The one glimmer of goodness in all the gridlock is that I have ample time to listen to quality music. It’s not like I have anywhere else I can go during that time, so I might as well put it to good use.

Today, I spent a lot of time with The Allman Brothers Band, specifically the deluxe edition of their second album, Idlewild South. There’s a 45-minute version of the song Mountain Jam that’s not for the musically faint of heart.

Their music is ideal for cruising down the highway with the windows rolled down and the summer breezes blowing in. It still works for windows rolled up and inching along the interstate, but really it makes me want to find a deserted two-lane road, throw the map out the window, and just drive wherever the road takes me. One day I just might do that very thing.

I do think good music is good for the soul. There’s something healing about hearing the right song at the right time that goes along way toward detoxing from the stresses of the work week. I recommend old-school country, southern rock, jazz, blues, or just about anything from the 70’s.

PS It helps a lot if you crank up the volume and roll down the windows (but not so much when it’s sweltering and humid outside). Then maybe just crank up the A/C.



Ryan Adams for the Road

I’m officially a fan of Ryan Adams. Well, his music anyway. I don’t really know Ryan Adams the human being, so I can’t really comment either way, but I’m working my way toward owning his entire music catalog.

I was listening to Heartbreaker in the car tonight. It’s one of those that I consider worthy road trip music. I almost felt like I needed to hit one of those open highways, roll down the windows, throw the road map out the window, and just drive.

I didn’t. Plus, I don’t really have an actual road map to throw out the window.

Ryan Adams is one of those rare artists whose music feels crafted rather than manufactured. It feels more like art painstakingly created by people than a commodity that’s mass produced by machines.

I’ve stopped caring whether the music is rock or country or jazz or pop or indie. I only care that it moves me on a deep soul-level and paints images in my mind and speaks to my condition.

I have a wide variety of musical tastes, not all of which fall into the hipster category (and some of which probably fall into the “I know, please don’t judge me” category).

I’m eagerly anticipating the new Ryan Adams album, due to arrive very shortly from the good people at Amazon. It will immediately go into heavy rotation in my Jeep.

I also look forward to the next Patty Griffin album, which I hope will arrive sooner than later. Fingers crossed.



That Longing Inside

till we have faces

“The sweetest thing in all my life has been the longing — to reach the Mountain, to find the place where all the beauty came from — my country, the place where I ought to have been born. Do you think it all meant nothing, all the longing? The longing for home? For indeed it now feels not like going, but like going back” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces).

It’s that longing. If you watch TV at all, you are led to believe that you can fill that longing with a new car or a new kitchen appliance. Or maybe if you drink the right beer or wear the right kind of sweaters. Just about anything and everything from fast food to cologne to mattresses will satisfy that deepest of longings inside of us, or so we’re told.

I think all of us have deep longings that nothing we do or buy or acquire can ever truly satisfy. For most of us, we’re unable to even name what that longing is or even pinpoint what it is that we truly desire.

That C. S. Lewis guy also said that if we have longings that nothing in this world can satisfy, then it means that we were created for another world. I think he was on to something.

I personally find myself longing more and more for a world I’ve never seen before, but one that I have dreamed about. I imagine it will look a whole lot like Mr. Lewis’ Narnia, especially the one described in toward the end of his book, The Last Battle.

“Death opens a door out of a little, dark room (that’s all the life we have known before it) into a great, real place where the true sun shines and we shall meet” (C.S. Lewis, Till We Have Faces).



Politics, Schmolitics

“The anything-goes passiveness of the religious and political Left is matched by the preachy moralism of the religious and political Right. The person who uncritically embraces any party line is guilty of an idolatrous surrender of her core identity as Abba’s Child. Neither liberal fairy dust nor conservative hardball addresses our ragged human dignity” (Brennan Manning, Abba’s Child: The Cry of the Heart for Intimate Belonging).

“All religious and political systems, Right and Left alike, are the work of human beings.  Abba’s children will not sell their birthright for any mess of pottage, conservative or liberal.  They hold fast to their freedom in Christ to live the gospel-uncontaminated by cultural junk, political wreckage, and the complex hypocrisies of a bullying religion” (Brennan Manning).

Yep. That sums it up.

I normally don’t post anything political on any of my social media sites because anything that smacks of politics tends to generate reactions rather than well-thought-out responses. These days most people seem to fall into one of two camps– either those who blindly support the current President and think he’s nearly divine or those who hate him and everything he does and have labeled him as the Anti-Christ. At least that’s the way it seems to me.

It was the same 8 years ago with the last President. For some he could do no wrong. For others, he could do nothing write.

I love the song that says that my hope isn’t in a flag or a President or a country, but in a King and a Kingdom. That’s where my ultimate allegiance lies. That’s where my ONLY allegiance lies.

True, the Bible does say to respect, honor, and obey those in power, but that service is done as to God Himself.

So yeah, I take all these comments I see on Facebook and Twitter with a grain of salt. A very, very large grain of salt. Ultimately, my future hope isn’t in this President or the next. It isn’t in a political party. It’s in the Jesus who was Lord before George Washington took office and will be Lord after the last President leaves office.

That’s my soapbox blog for the year, people.


EPSON DSC picture

I spent some time yesterday at some land that’s been in the family for a while. We affectionately call it The Farm, although it hasn’t really been used for farming in a very long time.

Still, for me it brings back so many memories. I remember coming there every summer as a child and playing with my sister and cousin. That was back when I was sure I’d find a secret cave or a buried Confederate treasure. I never did, but the memories I have of those days are much more valuable than any old coins I could have found.

More than anything, I’m haunted by the memory of people who I miss. I still expect to see them there, like they’re as much a part of the place as the old buildings and trees.

I expect to see my uncle ambling down the road, wondering what funny story he had for me.  Or my other uncle coming down the gravel driveway in his Ford Bronco. Or maybe my grandmother sitting on the porch, smiling and singing an old hymn. I’d give anything to be able to go outside in the middle of the night with my cousin and do nothing but look up at the sky lit up with stars.

I especially miss when the whole family would get together once a year for a family reunion and the food would taste better and the conversations would be sweeter on that day than any other.

Every blade of grass holds a memory and every leaf is a reminder of days passed. I can pass through those gates and feel exactly like I did when I was 10 years old and still obsessed with old coins and baseball cards.

I think C.S. Lewis was the one who said that a pleasure is not fully consummated until it is remembered. It’s too bad I couldn’t fully appreciate those days and the people for what they were– a gift. But I have memories now that make me smile. And that’s enough.