What I’m Listening to #intimeslikethese

I swear if I see one more commercial that starts with some somber woman intoning the words “In difficult times like these…” I think I might pop. This is a time in which we are all seeking comfort, but I don’t look for or need it from a Subaru advertisement. God help me if I ever do.

Where I actually find a lot of solace is in things like prayer and family. And music. Music is big for me. I have no actual talent in the creation or performance of music whatsoever, so the listening of it is something I do purely for pleasure, not for examination or study.

I recently came to the conclusion that the song No Hard Feelings by The Avett Brothers (see below to listen) is perhaps the most beautiful song released in the last couple decades or so. (Argue with me if you want, but that just means you haven’t heard it.)  It’s a song that didn’t strike me immediately on first listen, but my appreciation of it has grown and grown over the years. I’m sure a lot of it has to do with the lyrical content, which (to me) is about the relief waiting for us in the next life when old hurts and regrets are wiped away and we are reunited with our loved ones and our Savior, with whom we will “shake hands laughing.” It’s just gorgeous.

My cousin Carly added the song to her “Being Held” playlist, the idea of which I quite like. There is a need to reach beyond this virus and all the turmoil it’s causing in our hearts and in our streets and in our hospitals. I think we’d all like to “be held” right now. And, as a person of faith, I’d like God to do the holding. Metaphorically speaking, I believe He is, and a playlist that reminds me He is there and always present is a good thing.

So, here’s my “Being Held” playlist. All of these songs are either about God or make me think of Him. They may not have been intended as such, but that’s what they are to me. And, when it comes to music, I think what it means to me is the most important thing.

Maybe you’ll find a few gems in here that will help you, too.

(Note: If you build this for yourself, I recommend not hitting shuffle. I sequenced this sucker!)

  1. Slow Your Breath Down – Future of Forestry. A good reminder, especially #intimeslikethese.

2. No Hard Feelings – The Avett Brothers. Chills every time it reaches the climax.

3. This Road – Jars of Clay. You’re gonna see a lot of Jars of Clay on this list. This song is like a warm blanket.

4. Before You Were Young – Travis. Not hard to imagine who is singing this song.

5. Open Arms – Elbow. Makes me tear up. This is what I want God to say when I return home.

6. Hymn – Jars of Clay. “So melt my pride that I may in your house but live…”

7. Division – Moby. No lyrics, just a vibe.

8. Help Me – Johnny Cash. This is speaking to God from a desperate place. A prayer given by a man at the end of his life who has said a lot of them.

9. I Don’t Mind – Phantom Planet. Whatever the Lord needs to inflict upon me, I’ll take it because I know it’s worth it. I don’t mind.

10. Oh My God – Jars of Clay. Now, in almost every instance I view exclaiming “Oh my God” as using the Lord’s name in vain. This is Jars of Clay crafting an entire song around the idea that there actually is a circumstance in which using that phrase is appropriate. What they come up with is absolutely devastating. This lays me flat every time, and it’s in my personal Top 3 favorite songs.

11. I’ve Been High – R.E.M. This always, always lifts me up.

12. Let Your Heart Hold Fast – Fort Atlantic. “For this soon shall pass like the high tide takes the sand…”

13. Morning Light – The Hunts. This song, sadly, is not available on YouTube, and is even difficult to find commercially. It’s worth tracking down though, believe me. A sweet song about turning the “darkest night into the morning light.” (A huge theme in a lot of my writing.)

14. Worlds Apart (Live) – Jars of Clay. A plea to God to “take my world apart,” which is a good thing to do when your world is bad. (Find the live version off their “Furthermore” album, if you can.)

15. Outro – M83. I think it’s a synth, but I wish the organs in our churches sound like this.

16. Bathed in Sunlight – Fort Atlantic. Wouldn’t we all like to be? Even I, who prefers dark rooms to the outdoors, want that sunlight.

17. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – Jars of Clay. Probably my favorite hymn, and this is the best rendition of it.

18. Til Kingdom Come – Coldplay. Coldplay actually did a straight up, no-holds-barred Christian song, and I feel like people forgot about it. More overt than anything U2 ever put out.

19. On the Nature of Daylight – Max Richter. No lyrics, but the feeling this song evokes is extraordinary. I find myself thinking in cycles, life and death, that sort of thing. I think about God.

That’s it, those are the songs I’m drawing the most comfort from right now. Anything you would add to it? What are you listening to that’s bringing you to a better place?

Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

New Music – November, 2011

I buy a lot of new music. Well, as much as my budget will allow. I buy music for the feeling it creates within me and the thoughts it inspires. You should know I have no musical talent. When I say I play music, I literally mean I’m hitting “play.” You should not take this to mean that I don’t know what I’m talking about. My taste rules. Here’s what I’ve picked up recently:

ALBUMS:

Coldplay – Mylo Xyloto – Coldplay and I have had an on again/off again relationship over the years. I’ve never understood the hate they engender, but there is a quality to some of their songs that does tend to grate on me. Translation: they can get whiny. I’m happy to report that with their latest effort they’ve gotten decidedly more cheery. There’s a real joy that permeates Mylo Xyloto. Unfortunately, I’d say this is their weakest effort melodically. With the exception of Every Teardrop is a Waterfall and the Rihanna part in Princess of China, it’s hard to identify a standout moment. There’s no Viva La Vida or Clocks or Kingdom Comehere. All that said, I play it through about once a day. I like cheery. Grade: B-

Grouplove – Never Trust a Happy Song – This band came out of nowhere for me. Lead single Colours does a neat trick where certain words get repeated like they’re stuck in a grove on a record and it never gets not fun. Every track sounds like a single from a different era of music, but all filtered through Grouplove’s particular sensibility. A fun, fun record that I could not recommend more. Other standout tracks: Love Will Save Your Soul (Elora’s current favorite song), Itchin’ on a PhotographTongue TiedGrade: A-

Angels & Airwaves – Love Pts. 1 & 2 – It’s hard to not love AVA. They rock, but their message is all positive. If you need darkness and sadness in your music, best to move along. These guys are looking to inspire you and they will. not. stop. until they do. This two-part release suffers from a bit of sameyness, but when it works, it works. Single Surrender is a stand out, as are tracks The Flight of Apollo and We Are All That We Are. Honestly, there’s so much here that I’m still digesting it. I admire it more than love it right now. Grade: B-

Mates of State – Mountaintops – I love Mates of State, but this record just kind of fell flat for me. They’re a husband and wife duo, and, honestly, sometimes I wish the dude would just shut up. His voice can get super annoying, but usually the melodies win out. I loved this record the first two times I heard it, but after that I’ve been getting diminishing returns. Sad, that. Stand out tracks include: Palomino, DesireGrade: C

SINGLES:

Mumford & Sons – Hold on to What You Believe  Not a single so much as a new song I grabbed off their new live album. They lyric is what sells it for me, which includes the lines Hold on to what you believed/In the light/When the darkness has robbed you of all your sight. As a person of faith, that’s a powerful message. It doesn’t hurt that the song is pretty awesome.Grade: A

The Rifles – Long Walk Back – A fun stomper/hand clapper that will make you get up and move your feet to it’s rootsy backbeat. Seriously, you can’t go wrong with this one. I’m not a huge Rifles fan, but this is what great singles are made of.Grade: A

R.E.M. – We All Go Back to Where We Belong – This is R.E.M.’s final single and while I appreciate the appropriateness of the lyric, the Burt Bacharach horns and vibe makes this song feel out of place with the rest of their catalog and not a great capper to a fantastic career. I’m even one of those weirdos who thinks late period R.E.M. is pretty great and I can’t really recommend this song to anyone buy die hards like me. Grade: C+

Real Estate – It’s Real – Real Estate is the new IT band. A mix of surf and indie sensibilities, this is the kind of music that just puts me to sleep but that gets hailed by critics as amazing. I don’t get it. Grade: C-

Fun. – We Are Young (feat. Janelle Monae)  I don’t know how this isn’t all over the radio. Maybe it is, actually. I don’t listen to the radio. One of the catchiest singalong choruses to come along in a while. It’s kind of dumb, but I can’t deny how great it is. Grade: B+

Have you heard anything great lately? Tell me about it!