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.



Taking a Break from Reality

I had some quality old-school music playing on my trek home this afternoon. I have the smooth, velvety baritone voice of Johnny Hartman singing me home.

I confess I know next to nothing about this artist. I know that he made a fantastic album with John Coltrane and apparently had a lengthy recording career that started around 1947 and lasted until his death in 1983.

I’m all for staying current with world events and being informed when it comes to issues and politics, but I firmly believe that occasionally we all need a break from reality. As in a good fantasy novel or a fun movie or, in my case, old school jazz crooner music.

I suppose if I had to pick between music, books, and movies, I’d go with music. Nothing seems to calm and quiet my soul quite like the right song at the right time. Especially when driving on a warm summer night with the windows rolled down and the volume cranked up. It’s magical.

There’s also the therapeutic effect of having a cat (or a dog) camp out on your lap. If you don’t have one, you should definitely look into it. They’re great for lowering blood pressure and reducing stress and generally helping you to find peace.

My advice is to limit your news intake. First of all, I’m not convinced that what you’re seeing is accurately represented of what’s actually happening out there in the real world. Second, a steady dose of it can only serve to stress you out and make you angry.

Find your medium that relaxes you. Set aside time for to read or Netflix and chill or to put on the headphones and let the music carry you away, even if it’s only for when you’re driving to and from work.

You won’t regret it.


More About Me

Since I have run out of ideas of what to write about, I thought I’d share a few tidbits about yours truly, i.e. me.

Some of this may be new and some may be old. Or it may all be old. I don’t really know. I’ve lost track after 2,149 blogs over almost 6 years.

  1. If I had to choose just one album to listen to for the rest of my life, I think it’d be Miles Davis’ A Kind of Blue. That album still takes me to a tranquil and happy place.
  2. I’m still not 100% decided, but I think if I had to choose just one kind of food to eat from now on, it would probably be sushi (or if I’m allowed to cheat a little, sushi and Thai). I’ve become a serious fan.
  3. I still wish I could go back in time, if only for a day, and have conversations with people I love who have passed. Especially my two uncles. I know we’d talk about music the entire time.
  4. If I could pick any place to live, I think I’d like to live on Fair Street in Franklin. It’s like a fairy tale street and all the houses remind me of something out of a George MacDonald fantasy novel.
  5. The older I get, the older my music tends to get. Currently, I’m into country and acoustic blues from the 20’s and 30’s. In my opinion, it doesn’t get any more authentic than that.
  6. I still believe the healthiest place to be is to live in an others-centered way. The less you make life about you and your drama, the better. The more you focus on helping and serving others (and most of all serving God), the less time you have for drifting into a kind of narcissism where everything that happens in life ends up being about you. The absolute best way to deal with depression and grief is to find someone else with a need that you can meet and to go meet that need.
  7. Chocolate is still my favorite in the dessert world but there’s something about hot drinks with vanilla or vanilla-scented anything that takes me to a Calgon-like happy place.

I think that about covers it for now.

The Joy of the Small

“It’s the joy of the small that can make life large, and all wonder and worship can only grow out of small and humble things” (Ann Voskamp, 1000 Gifts).

One of my favorite small things is riding in my Jeep with the sun going down and just the right music playing to set the mood. I’m a big believer that certain types of music fit certain times of the day.

One of my favorites (which I wrote a blog about previously), is the eponymous album by Eastmountainsouth, which just so happens to lend itself to driving in the car at dusk. It has a laid-back ambiance which just fits perfectly the close of a good day.

I also love the soft feeling of my pillow and blankets after a long day of work. I read this on the interwebs and thought it seemed appropriate for me: I’m good in bed; I can sleep for days. True story.

Most of all, I know that in the midst of the fears that can suddenly arise and encompass me unawares, I am always surrounded by the Abba Father whose perfect love casts out all fear. I am held by the Immanuel who is always with me, no matter how long and how far I wander.

I love that no matter how much I listen to and follow the wrong voices, I can’t lose the Father’s love for me. It is an impossibility that God in Jesus’ love for me should ever wane or grow cold. In fact, God’s perfect nature means that He can never love me less than completely with an unconditional love that I will never come close to fathoming with my finite mind.

I also think that old-school jazz, a la Red Garland and early John Coltrane, is best for listening to with headphones on in the middle of the night. But not this night. I plan on sleeping like a champ tonight.


My Idea of Nirvana on a Spring Evening


Last night, it was on the brisk side, if not chilly, and overcast. As much as I’ve grown to covet sunshine these days, I didn’t mind too much. I had a picture come to mind of what I’d like to be doing at that moment. It’s not the most exciting or thrilling of possibilities, but it works for me.

I’d be at a local coffee shop, sipping on some organic tea (or maybe some kind of chai or an exotic latte if the mood strikes). I’d have a good book in hand, maybe a British murder-mystery or a book of poetry, and there’d be some mellow folksy music playing in the background (think Joni Mitchell, Peter Bradley Adams, or Carole King-type tunes). Or maybe some old-school jazz in the tradition of Miles Davis, Red Garland, or Wes Montgomery.

That would be my idea of peace and tranquility and a good time. Not watching a 24-hour news channel ad nauseum. Don’t get me wrong. If you watch Fox News or CNN non-stop, then go for it. I just get tired of talking heads talking about the same things for hours upon hours without variation. The same goes for most talk radio I’ve experienced in my life. Fiction, especially of the fantasy kind, is infinitely more interesting to me. I like my television to be as non-realistic as possible.

I like my Starbucks like the rest, but I’m thinking this needs to be a more local-type place, like Eighth and Roast or Edgehill Cafe. Actually, now that I think about it, sitting outside the Edgehill Cafe with my tea and my book and occasionally glancing up to watch the people passing by sounds perfect.

If I ever get the notion, you’re more than welcome to join me. I might even put my book down and we could have ourselves a good conversation.


Things I Love 20: Still Living the Miracle

island hammock

“And when I give thanks for the seemingly microscopic, I make a place for God to grow within me” (Ann Voskamp).

That’s what it’s all about, in case you’ve missed the first 19 of this blog series. It’s about naming and giving thanks for little things that most people would take for granted and not give a second thought to. I’m moving away from a very American sense of entitlement to one of gratitude where I see everything in my life, both the good and bad, the easy and difficult, as gifts and grace. All of it is emptying and enlarging me so that I can be filled with more of Jesus.

So I start with #516

516) That cold glass of water that perfectly quenches my thirst.

517) Waving at strangers in Radner Lake State Park (and having them wave back).

518) A perfect albeit unusually cool summer evening for hiking.

519) Bare feet on a sand volleyball court.

520) Drinking right out of a hose and feeling like I’m 10 years old all over again.

521) My Monday men’s small group where we all share joys and sorrows and do life together.

522) Seeing older pictures of me and realizing how much weight I’ve lost.

523) That I’ve seen The Princess Bride on VHS, DVD, and blu ray (and too many times to count).

524) Whenever TVLand has a marathon of Friends episodes.

525) Being able to pray for someone who’s constantly on my mind instead of obsessing over them.

526) Any of the black and white episodes of The Andy Griffith Show (especially the ones with Don Knotts).

527) Real authentic Christianity with answers that don’t fit on a bumper sticker.

528) Rescuing turtles from becoming roadkill.

529) Finding money in the pockets of clothing I hadn’t worn in a while.

530) The part of that Friends episode where Monica tells Phoebe not to get the sucker mixed up with the home pregnancy test ’cause that would be really bad for the sucker.

531) Really being able to relate to a character in a movie or TV show or in a book.

532) Song lyrics that speak the language of my heart.

533) The way the evening sunlight reflected off of Radner Lake and made it sparkle.

534) All the old Miles Davis jazz albums.

535) Finding out about a new Charles Martin book.

536) A tall glass of orange juice (but not after just having brushed my teeth– blech!)

537) Finding out that friends from different parts and places in my life know each other.

538) William Powell and Myrna Loy in all those Thin Man movies.

539) That Grease is still the word.

540) The steadfast love of the Lord that never ceases.

541) The perfect blend of sweet tea and lemonade.

542) The adventure of picking out a new book to read.

543) The turnip greens from Kleer-Vu in Murfreesboro.

544) Turning actual pages of an actual book and the feel of the paper in my hands.

545) The Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong version of Porgy & Bess. It’s the best.

546) Wearing my cowboy boots to church.

547) Being cold and crawling under warm blankets.

548) When a good song gives me  the good kind of chills.

549) Random memories of my old black lab Murphy.

550) Those chairs at Costco that give the best back massages.