[Editor’s note: What follows is the text of Andrew’s commencement speech, which he gave last week to celebrate his daughter, Skye, on her graduation day. We offer it here for all of 2020’s graduates, and all […]
“…glad tears at last, not sad tears, tears at the hilarious unexpectedness of things rather than at their tragic expectedness.” – from Frederick Buechner’s Telling the Truth: The Gospel as Tragedy, Comedy & Fairy Tale
Prayed for y’all this morning, RR, that Christ would be preeminent in all.
Beautiful. True. Inspiring.
Thank you for sharing with us. When I hear, “well, what can I do now?” to address injustice, fear, anger in these “uncertain times” – I think this is a good place to put your heart to start planting flowers figuratively and literally to bring beauty to God’s painting. Come Lord Jesus, help us make things right.
Thank you for this. An unsought for and much needed blessing.
A few weeks ago, my seventeen-year-old daughter Skye told me she wanted to take a walk and listen to a complete album, top-to-bottom. She said she was tired of listening to singles, and, though she spins full […]
As one who hasn’t subscribed to a streaming service (for the all fogey reasons you mentioned) I still marvel at all that’s at your fingertips when I use my parent’s amazon echo. I’m happy to see this wise middle way. Thanks, brother.
Aye. Well said Andrew!
Some personal favorite ALBUMS to check out some time.
Bruce Cockburn – “The Charity of Night,” “Nothing But a Burning Light.”
Arcade Fire – “The Suburbs,” “Everything Now.”
Louise Hoffsten – “Kara Du.” (hard to find, but, oh! goodness…)
Joe Sealy – “Africville.”
Tara Jane O’Neal & Daniel Littleton – “Music For a Meteor Shower.”
Sigur Ros – “Valtari.”
U2 – “The Unforgettable Fire.”
(you already know the last two I’m sure!).
I’ve thought about this a lot as well, for the very same reasons you’ve mentioned. Sometimes it takes several listens for a truly rich, multilayered, extraordinary work of music to penetrate your mind and become a lifelong favorite, especially if that album is a marked departure from earlier work by the same artist and doesn’t match up to your initial expectations. Would I still be listening to Talk Talk’s “Spirit of Eden” and “Laughing Stock” albums, or David Sylvian’s “Gone to Earth”, if I hadn’t spent hard-earned money on them as a teenager and felt obligated to give them a fair chance? Probably not, because they’re challenging albums. But in 30+ years I’ve never grown tired of hearing them, which is a lot more than I can say for most of the more immediately catchy songs I’ve found on streaming music sites, listened to once or twice and then forgotten.
As a teen and in my twenties in California I would buy four records (LPs) from the mail order company County Sales in Virginia that cost me $40-something bucks with shipping, and they took two or three weeks to arrive. I listened to some of those records so many times the grooves were dug out – I still have them all. Scarcity – Joni MItchell sang of “the crazy you get from too much choice.”
I agree on the “buy” link after the third listen, and having a month or two wait after the record comes out before it hits streaming. It’s whacked in the head to give away something for free that costs thousands upon thousands of dollars to make, and takes thousands of hours of work on technique, songs, the record itself, and life experience.
In the current situation of no gigging, it might have been handy for musicians and labels to hang on to their intellectual property rights by not selling out for .0035¢ per play, which would take 3371 plays to make one hour of the average US worker’s minimum wage ($11.80 an hour).
A “buy” link and no streaming on initial release are not likely to happen. But then again, anything that shakes up any completely unjust system is unlikely – until it happens. One rock can start an avalanche.
Bonnie Raitt’s Fundamental record was one I didn’t like on first listen. I decided to listen to it while walking every day. Three days later it was one of my favorite recordings, and still is.
I love it when you write something new. I had been wishing for an AP RR post during quarantine. Thank you for this.
I forgot one. ALBUM.
Kelly Joe Phelps – “Brother Sinner & the Whale.”
A must for any guitar-finger-picker lover…
I grew up at the junction between CD and digital music. So I remember fondly the experience of listening to full albums while laying on my bed or driving as a family. Growing up, that meant Garth Brooks, REO Speedwagon, and Styx. But then I got lost in the digital music craze, and for years my music was bland and ordinary. I have had a slow rediscovery of the album over the past two years. At Christmas I got my first record player to cultivate a collection of great albums.
I will say, I have enjoyed continuing to use Spotify to overview artists that I feel are important (I spent the past month listening to the entire studio discography of the Beach Boys and Beatles). This has helped me decide what albums are worthy of purchase and which ones can be an occasional treat online.
Final thought: I would love to have someone else curate a list of albums for me to dive into one at time. To have someone with more wisdom amd musical knowledge say, “listen to this” seems like a great blessing!
Liner notes! Yes, I am still grieving that loss, and I can’t understand why record companies and the likes of BMI/ASCAP don’t demand them, given the ease of execution. I spent years as a young person perusing every album cover, cassette sleeve, and CD insert learning who these incredible writers and musicians were on my favorite albums. Plus, having the lyrics in print is like a book of poetry, especially if the art was well-done!
While it’s harder to listen to albums in full nowadays, it’s definitely still doable. I’d argue that when we were young, the “whole album” crowd was still a minority of the music listening audience. Most people just consumed top40 radio (or the top40 of their genre of choice). I do desperately miss liner notes… I purchase most of my music online now just for the convenience of NOT having to carry around a collection and try to remember where I’ve left that one CD I love, and liner notes are much harder to get access to.
You mention letting those less-liked songs get into your head and heart – I think that this particular point mirrors so many things in life. It’s easy to surround ourselves with “comfort” items – people who agree with me, the style of music I like, the preacher who says what I already believe, the Yes Men who think all my ideas are great, even the food that makes me happy. Our consumer culture works to make it easier and easier to get us straight from our dollars to our comfort, because that will be what motivates us to pursue more comfort – but at the end of the day comfort isn’t exactly what we need. We need to explore, to hear the thoughts and hearts of those who see the world differently, to understand why people might disagree with us, to see the world through the eyes of someone with a different life experience than we have. Sometimes when I hear a song that either doesn’t click, or actually repels me that’s a good signal I need to wrestle with it some to understand what I don’t understand, or to think through what is it that I can’t get past.
God, please open our ears, our eyes, our hearts to all that you have blessed us with, not just what we feel makes us comfortable!!
I’ve begun to feel this about many things. We eat fruit around the calendar year with lowered expectations rather than focus on the seasonal because it’s available. It loses its “specialness”. That analogy can be applied in so many areas. Listening, learning to appreciate, reading liner notes to better understand the vision of the artist and the army of people who helped make the music happen and waiting in joyful anticipation – all have been replaced by “ubiquity” as you call it. And you are right about memories, AP. I had Yes’s Fragile and Close to the Edge on constant play in the background as I read The Lord of the Rings for the first time. Those songs evoke so many memories of reading those books. At the time, the Hildebrandt brothers did the LOTR calendars and were the only pictorial representation I had seen. Those paired with the music were magical in making the stories come alive (not that the books weren’t enough).
Back in February, I was in Target early, just after it opened, buying a release-day Blu-ray. I was surprised to see little groups of teenage girls—maybe three of them—making their way to that electronics area at the back of the store. The clerk there was ready. He handed each one a white box about the size of, say, Springsteen’s Live box set. And each one, as soon as they touched it, did that little wiggle and squeal of anticipation that only teenage girls can do. I had no idea what the big deal was, so I peeked. There was a big “7” on the front, and I realized this was the new album from BTS. I was so happy to see an actual release day with a physical copy of music that warranted an early trip to the store and a wiggle and squeal. Maybe those days are not lost.
Yes, the vacation music. Totally with you on how music can imprint a particular geography for life. It was 30 years ago, but an early listen to Phil Keaggy’s “Wind & The Wheat” while driving solo thru the desert of SW Oregon as the sun came up would be one memory forever branded to my brain. Now, Alison Krause, that’s another matter. I went from from completely unfamiliar to a sold-out fan in about 30 seconds of hearing her twangy cover of Todd Rundgren one afternoon wandering a Barnes & Noble.
@markgeil I love that. My 13 year old niece spent so much birthday and Christmas money on BTS albums that she was legit embarrassed. I think it’s fun. 🙂
Thanks for this, AP! I definitely resonate with the experience of growing to love albums over time. Several of my all-time favorite records were CDs that I picked up at thrift stores and kept coming back to. August & Everything After has been one of those slow-burning albums for me. I wasn’t sure what to make of it initially, but it’s grown on me with repeat listens, and I think I need to keep at it. I’d love to hear your thoughts on why it’s one of the great albums sometime.
This reminds me of the road tape my dad would put on for our trips from Oklahoma down to East Texas. That road tape was typically New Grass Revival and to this day I still think about riding in the back of that old Suburban with the back seat taken out and my sister and I just laying down, resting, and listening. Another one was Southern Pacific, which my dad and I still belt out when we listen to it together. I often think of the chronology of my life through music; for instance, I too had a Counting Crows stage.
These days I still tend to buy full albums on iTunes, even though there are one or two heavily looped, popular songs on there. As you say, there is a strong effort in song order and arrangement, one which I respect, and come to expect! On that 9th or 10th listen, your soul knows the next song’s beat and the expectation is great. My wife and I have what we call ‘Vinyl Tuesday’ ever week, where we let the kids open up an old chestnut hope chest and pick an album to put on the record player. We then commence to dance to Side A, and if we’re really rolling, flip that thing over and hit the B Side. We also look at the album cover and inside pictures and notes. My kids are 3 and 6, so they just want to dance like crazy people and they get energy out before bed, but I hope I’m instilling in them the art, the value of listening.
While the landscape of listening may change, the soul of the listener may not. It can adapt, if willing.
“Cause I know the thirsty listen and down to the waters come” -Rich
This resonated with me today! After the kids went to bed, I started to work on writing some music and realized my well was dry. I was saddened by how long it had been since I sat down and listened to an entire album. I came across Son of Laughter in my archives and listened through all of his songs. It was so life-giving to pause and fill my mind with the product of someone’s thoughtful and beautiful creativity. I told myself that I had to take time out each week to do this because my soul needed it. There are songs from my childhood that if played today, it would take me to the backseat of my parent’s van on the way to Oklahoma. The exact feelings and thoughts I had at 16 are bottled up along with By the Tree’s “Invade My Soul” or Third Day’s Come together album. Music and vivid memories are intertwined as closely as memories are tied to smell.
Wow, what a great review of a great bunch of songs. Thank you, J, and thank you Drew.
A few years ago I had lunch with a friend in Chattanooga. His name is Chris Slaten, and he’s an excellent songwriter, performing under the name Son of Laughter. I’m envious of his beard. I asked him how his son […]
Years ago I was helping out in a Sunday School class, and the teacher asked the boys and girls what I thought was an unfortunate question.
The Scripture passage that morning was from Joshua 3, when the […]
Being a writer doesn’t just mean writing. It means finishing. I’ve heard it said that a song is never finished, only abandoned. That’s not true for me. To the contrary, I can’t wait to be done with the thing, […]
“Take thy thoughts captive. Put them to music. Fling them away from yourself. Love your neighbor as yourself.”
I hear God saying to me, “Take your words and your songs. Bury them in the backyard. Ask Me for the impossible.” Like George Matheson said, “O Cross that liftest up my head, I dare not ask to fly from Thee, I lay in dust life’s glory, dead. And from the ground there blossoms red, Life that shall endless be.”- O Love That Will Not Let Me Go (for which song I re-wrote the melody)
I have suffered from the cancer, like you said, of not working on my songs…for arrogantly thinking they are “done”. You couldn’t have used a more fitting description (nest of roaches) to compel me into being thoroughly disgusted by this habit. I loathe roaches.
Just finished this. So good and so needed. And, yes, I left a review on Amazon, even though I bought my copy here. Thank you, Andrew.
I wanted to share something about the Linnea flower. You probably already know this, but it is a flower that needs community. It is self-infertile and will not make viable seed without cross-pollination from another species.
“Unfortunately Linnaea borealis is a self-incompatible species which requires cross-pollination to produce viable seeds; together with the loss of habitat, this has contributed for it to become a species of conservation concern in the UK and in some of its southern limits in the USA” (source: http://botanicallyinclined.org/seeds-shop/linnaea-borealis-ssp-borealis-buy-seeds/)
I love this this book—it tore me up and put me back together.
You mumble a phrase. It’s gibberish, but it suggests a melody. You’ve gotten melodies in your head before, but this one feels different, like it’s made of something stronger and older. You notice this becau […]
October 15th simply can’t get here soon enough! I loved this sentence: “Since we were made to glorify God, worship happens when someone is doing exactly what he or she was made to do.” What an absolutely beautiful and true way to think about creating, but also the seemingly more “hum-drum” acts of life. I am eager to read more!
i love this so much, Andrew.
I’m late to the party. : ( Will “Linnea” be released later?
It’s time at last to announce some mind-blowingly good news: the North Wind Manor fundraising is complete. Thanks to a lot of extremely generous people (this means you), we were able to meet our goal just a few […]
i love you people. i love us, together. Hallelujah.
Man this is very, very exciting!!
Everything sad really IS beginning to come untrue. <3
This is so lovely from foundation to rooftop. We’ll keep scouring the Shire with you!
The marathon analogy was more than perfect. Crying happy. Save me a seat on the porch.
He is faithful.
Super Exciting! Congrats on the hard work and push through!
this is awesome! congrats and well done!
WE DID IT! Thrilling news, indeed. God is faithful!
We’re so honored to work with you, Jonny. And I can’t wait to see this whole saga cross the finish line.
A year ago my family and I played a concert in Sheffield, England. After it was over we stood in a circle with four British friends and prayed. They were fans and supporters of the Rabbit Room, and we talked […]
Having been fed by Rebecca’s daily facebook updates, it became evident to me that, 1) I miss Oxford, though in reality I visited it for under three hours as part of a day tour from London over 20 years ago, and 2) I should attend if there were to ever be another Hutchmoot U.K. I am putting the wheels in motion to attend next year. In the meantime, I grow more and more excited about attending my first Hutchmoot Nashville this fall. Thanks for this coverage, Andrew. Best, Steve
Sometimes (just occasionally) dreams do come true…
I’m on the verge of tears reading this (and the comments!), and I haven’t (yet) been to any Hutchmoot. This is beautiful. I sincerely hope and pray for an opportunity to be part of this in the future.
Thanks for this, John. These guys have been such a huge part of my musical imagination since that first record. And how about that VH1 Live record!? The fact that they came up with new arrangements of almost all the songs was so brilliant. One of my favorite memories was playing 1492 for Aedan when he was little and talking about how Adam’s sense…[Read more]
Andrew Peterson commented on the post, The Snap of Thanos and the God Who Flooded Humanity 1 year, 1 month ago
RR, by which I mean, “Rebecca Reynolds.” And, come to think of it, “The Rabbit Room,” too.
Andrew Peterson commented on the post, The Snap of Thanos and the God Who Flooded Humanity 1 year, 1 month ago
My goodness. Thank you, RR.
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