Another guest playlist this month, this time from long-time Mbird friend Taylor Foran. Fully annotated too!
Prelude—“For my Lord, for my Lord”
1. Workin’ on a Building….. Blue Ridge Rangers
Chapter One—“‘Nuthin’ & Nobody”
2. Introduction……Tom Lehrer
3. Dreams……The Cranberries
4. Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard (Live)…….Simon & Garfunkel
5. Lobachevscky…….Tom Lehrer
6. This Must Be The Place……Miles Fisher
7. I’ll Do For You Anything You Want Me To……..Barry White
Chapter Two—“When I Drink Alone, I Prefer to Be by Myself”
8. I Got It From Agnes………Tom Lehrer
9. Get a Haircut……….George Thorogood & The Destroyers
10. (Teleological) Barbershop………Artist Unknown [Headphones and Eyes Shut For Best Effect]
11. I Drink Alone…….George Thorogood & The Destroyers
12. A Vegas Story…….The Lost Dogs
Chapter Three—“Watergate Happened For You”
13. Angels We Have Heard On High…….Sufjan Stevens
14. Christmas Must Be Tonight……..The Band
15. Why Are We Here/ Ticket to Heaven…….Tim Keller feat. Dire Straits
16. Weapon of Prayer………The Notting Hillbillies
17. Wake Me Up On Judgment Day……..Steve Winwood
Epilogue—“Sounds Like the Mormon Tubercular Choir”
18. 30,000 Pounds of Bananas (Live)…….Harry Chapin
In celebrating Christmas, the Incarnation, we celebrate the arrival of Immanuel, God With Us. With that in mind, we realize Christmas can be understood as a story of relationships. In fact, all redemptive history can be viewed as a story of relationships. The plot goes like this: Relationships Forged, Forsaken, Forgotten, and Fixed. This alliterative group formed the framework out of which the following playlist developed.
We see in the Prologue how things ought to be, a community of people, like spokes in a wheel, rightly related to one another because of their right relationship to the Hub of Hubs, God.
Yet, Chapter One casts a stark contrast. No longer bound by a right relationship, this motley crew claims to be beholden to “Nuthin’ & Nobody.” Arrogance, Discontent, and Dishonesty are the means, while self-indulgence is the chief end.
Chapter Two considers the social costs. The tear from God has spread to a rift within fabric of humanity. Though the Teleological Barbershop calls for all who have ears to hear, the hope for something bigger goes unnoticed as The Destroyers return for a riotous encore. Alone, ashamed, and destitute, the singer of A Vegas Story recognizes that on his own he is “dead.” And with this realization, he cries out in the final verse, “Oh Lord my soul redeem!”
In the Advent Season, the Lost Dogs’ longing is our own. With Christmas, we celebrate God’s answer. The otherworldly opening of Chapter Three is quite apropos as that is exactly where our salvation needs to originate—from afar. Riding the coattails of the angels, The Band delivers a carol of celestial brilliance. Then Muggeridge’s quip “sublimely simple” finds an illustration in Keller’s monologue, with the ambient support of Dire Straits. What remains then, was best put forth by Alexander Dumas’ final words in The Count of Monte Cristo, “Until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words—Wait and hope.”
But what does it all mean? Why an Epilogue? The Incarnation led to the act by which God restored and reinstated a community. Yet, in many ways we still sound like the “Mormon Tubercular Choir” (which is less a jab at residents of Utah, and more a reference to pulmonary illness). But despite being cosmically tone deaf, God doesn’t hear our weak, flat, sorry howling. Instead, our strains find their tune in the powerful voice of the only God who ever dared to be with us, Our Immanuel. Merry Christmas.