The Local Show will be four years old this fall, and we’re having more fun than ever. This spring, filmmaker Karl Sutton caught up with three artists featured at the show to talk about where they’ve come from, how they approach the creative process, and what role community plays in their work. This “Part One: Origins.” Come back next week for part two. Read More ›
At the beginning of my twenty-ninth year, I got this crazy idea: to write a song from every book of the Bible before I turned thirty. But what began as a fun goal, perhaps just a way to end my twenties with a bang, changed the trajectory of my life.
As it turned out, I absolutely loved writing songs from the Bible: delving into a passage, putting myself in each character’s shoes, trying to understand how this one small story connects with the whole, then coming up with a way to communicate that story with melody and rhythm and lyric. The songs from that year of writing eventually turned into the Blood + the Breath, an album that traces the theme of redemption from creation to the second coming of Christ (a la Andrew Peterson’s Behold the Lamb but with an emphasis on Easter rather than Christmas).
Last week, I got to sit down with Buddy Greene and ask him all about his new retrospective record, Looking Back, as well as the narrative of his musical and spiritual life and how they have informed one another. Our conversation was a delight and I am pleased to share it with you here.
Sometimes, especially if you’ve grown up in the church, Scripture becomes so familiar that it’s easy to miss the beauty and poetry of those old words of life. So we look for ways to shift our focus—trying out a new translation, diving into an intense study, or learning ancient prayer practices that engage the text. And for the Psalms, there is nothing quite like hearing them sung.
The first time I heard the band Frightened Rabbit was eight years ago, on a cruise ship in the gulf of Mexico. My husband and I had joined another couple on a five day Carnival cruise. We spent one day on the beach in Cozumel, and another visiting ancient Mayan ruins in Progresso, but the rest of the time we were on the ship. The main attraction for most cruisers is the ocean view, but for those who aren’t interested in wild seascapes, there’s plenty of entertainment to be had inside. And from the casino, to the dining hall, to the nightly shows, there are always drinks to be had. But on this particular trip I was the only one who hadn’t committed to abstain from alcohol, so we never ordered any. Until the last night after dinner when we were walking around looking at the ocean (again) and I decided to treat myself. I got a pina colada and walked to the bow of the ship to drink it by myself. My husband gave me his iPod and earbuds, with the perfect song cued up for me, “Swim Until You Can’t See Land.”
This whole thing—and by that I mean all of creation, from the outermost galaxies to my kitchen table—swirls around a Jewish man from the first century. He was born of woman, was a refugee, was more or less homeless, and lived a relatively short life. But his presence on the planet all those years ago changed history, and I believe he was the incarnation of God himself.
Chances are, if you listen to much Christian music, you’ve come across Christa Wells’ songwriting without even knowing it. (She wrote Natalie Grant’s big hit “Held,” along with songs for Plumb and Ellie Holcomb.) But Christa has been quietly crafting her own singer/songwriter indie pop songs for years, even though she feels most at home behind the scenes.
I’ve been attending a liturgical church for the last several years, and it rings all my word-nerd bells. The language is so beautiful and rich, and every service rehearses the story of salvation, culminating in Communion.
An endorsement blurb from Johnny Cash graces the back side of Nashville Skyline, Bob Dylan’s 1969 album recorded in Music City: “Here-in is a hell of a poet,” said Cash. And for such poetry, a half century later, Dylan would receive the Nobel Laureate for literature.
But, really, so what? “What is poetry’s role when the world is burning?” asks no less a poet than Chris Wiman.
For some years now I have operated under the suspicion that people are lonely most of the time. I may be incorrect, and it would be a pleasant surprise to find the opposite is true. But I tend to hold my supposed rightness about things pretty close, so in any case it will take some convincing. When I sift through the moments in my life where I felt most supported, connected, known or loved by others, or when I participated in such nearness with someone else so they might feel such love, and when I realize the vast number of those moments despite their paradoxical inability to be usefully quantified, it’s unclear to me whether God is nourishing my belief that loneliness is dangerously prevalent and togetherness its cure, or whether He has been thwarting my understanding of reality from the start—or my start, anyway.
By now, many of you may know that the Internet blew up last weekend over Childish Gambino’s music video for his new song, “This Is America.” As of the time I’m typing this, five days after release, the video has racked up over 63 million views and probably about as many think pieces.