A Good Night: Special Wednesday Edition

“Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring,
Of the endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring—What good amid these, O me, O life?

That you are here—that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse” (Walt Whitman, O Me! O Life!).

I did an abbreviated personal tour of Franklin this evening, hitting up all the usual haunts — McCreary’s Irish Pub, St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, and Frothy Monkey.

The reason I chose Wednesday for my tour is simple: I had a ticket to a singer-songwriter benefit concert for Preston Taylor Ministries. The main four were Barry Dean, Natalie Hemby, Luke Laird, and Lori McKenna.

I was already smitten by the music of Lori McKenna going in to the concert, but I was floored by all of them. These are people who know how to write good songs.

On a side note that has absolutely nothing to do with anything else in this post, I figured out one of the main reasons I can’t abide the current country music scene. Most of the songs are about as authentic as the fake twang that a vast majority of artists in the country music industry seem so fond of these days. I know I’m an old fogey. Get over it.

Still, it’s always a pleasure to witness four of the top songwriters doing what they do best. Generally speaking, I’ve found that it’s always a joy to see any kind of task done well by experts who love what they do, no matter what the field.

That’s what a watching world needs from you. They need to see you doing something that makes you come alive (to borrow from something Howard Thurman said), something that you are uniquely gifted to contribute– your verse to the great ongoing play of history.


My Report for August (Borrowed from TCM)

I’ve done this type of post before where I write about what I am listening to, reading, and watching in hopes that it might inspire you to share what you’re absorbing these days. Plus, if you’re stuck on ideas, these might be worth checking out at some point in the future.

Musicwise, I am obsessed with the songwriting of Lori McKenna. I’ve trekked home for two days successively with her albums Massachusetts and The Bird & The Rifle. Both are worth picking up if you happen to run across them in a record store. Both are filled with songs that remind me of why I fell in love with music in the first place.

Bookwise, I am about to embark on the latest in the Harry Potter universe with Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I’m curious to see how this entry matches the tone and feel of the other books in the series (seeing as how it’s actually a stage play authored by someone other than J. K. Rowling).  I’m also extremely stoked to finally have my hands on a little devotional book entitled Seven Sacred Pauses by Macrina Wiederkehr (which I am fully expecting to rock my world).

I’m revisiting the strange and wonderful world of Twin Peaks, the short-lived, quirky, sometimes bizarre series that is slated to finally get around to its third season 26 years after the last episode aired way back in 1991. Maybe this means that Firefly will have a much-belated second season at some point in the near future? A brown-coat can dream.

Moviewise, I seem to be stuck on a Ingmar Bergman kick. Lately, I’ve watched both Through a Glass Darkly and Winter Light, two out of a trilogy based on Bergman’s struggle with God and faith. I don’t necessarily agree with some of his conclusions, but I have to admire that he was a brilliant filmmaker who was much more interested in creating art with a message than mass-producing eye candy that sells a lot of movie tickets.

That wraps up my report for August. Stay tuned for the next time I get around to writing about all the media I’m consuming. As always, I’d love to hear what you’re listening to/reading/watching these days. I just may add it to my ever-growing list.


My Music Picks for April

Periodically, I like to share what I’m listening to with those of you brave readers out there. This is another one of those.

Lately, I find myself still going old-school in my musical selections. Here’s what I’ve been playing (or will very soon be playing) in the CD player of my Red Sled:

  1. Edith Piaf – The Voice of the Sparrow: The Very Best of Edith Piaf
  2. Van Morrison – Moondance (Expanded Edition)
  3. Tori Amos – Little Earthquakes
  4. Don Henley – Cass Country
  5. Lori McKenna – Pieces of Me
  6. Muddy Waters – The Complete Plantation Recordings
  7. Allman Brothers Band – Eat a Peach: Deluxe Edition
  8. Grateful Dead- Shakedown Street
  9. Bob Dylan – The Basement Tapes Raw & Another Self-Portrait
  10. Jeff Buckley – You and I

As you can tell, I have eclectic tastes that continue to expand as I get older. I don’t really care anymore if it’s pop or country, mainstream or indie, popular or not. I like what I like.

There may or may not be a follow-up report in May where I reveal further music that I’ve discovered. As always, I’m open to suggestions and recommendations from those of you who are not afraid of venturing out into musically uncharted waters.

That’s all for April. See you in May. Maybe.


More Musings About Music

So, I hear there was some kind of awards ceremony tonight for the music industry. Something called the Grannies? The Grammys? Something like that.

Anyway, I skipped it like I’ve skipped the last few. To my ears, the music that gets played on the radio sounds like a lot of ear candy– sorta like cotton candy set to a beat. If you like current top-40 music, more power to you. It just isn’t for me.

I like my music more off the beaten path. One of my favorite singer-songwriters is Lori McKenna, whose album Lorraine is (in my opinion) a clinic in what good songwriting sounds like. I highly recommend it. Now if I can only find it in my considerable collection of music.

I also like to go back and revisit music that I listened to in the past. I find that I hear it with a different set of ears and that I appreciate it in a new way.

I still think that nothing is more powerful than a song that tells my story and that speaks my thoughts. It’s sometimes almost like having my diary set to music. Sometimes it’s a little scary how close they get.

That’s why I think if I had to choose between movies, books, and music, I’d probably go with music. Music is the only media that affects every area of the brain. Or so I’ve read on the internet, so it must be true.

PS I found that Lori McKenna album. It will probably find its way into the rotation on my homeward commute at some point in the very near future.

More to come later on what I’m discovering and listening to in the wonderful world of music.