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A Long Strange Trip through Death to Life

A Long Strange Trip through Death to Life

This was written by Deadhead, Luke Roland. 

The highly anticipated documentary on The Grateful Dead, Long Strange Trip, is now on Amazon Prime.  I have previously written about the effect that the music of The Grateful Dead has had on me for Mockingbird, and in light of the documentary I thought it would be a great time to revisit them in a Mockingbirdian context.  

The Grateful Dead have had a positive influence on American culture, and continue to do so. They could be the most important American band in our history. I realize that is a tall statement, but think about…

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"Please Come Save Me": An Interview with Evan Thomas Way

“Please Come Save Me”: An Interview with Evan Thomas Way

This one comes to us from Daniel Melvill Jones.

The Parson Red Heads are a beloved West Coast indie band with a cult following and consistent critical acclaim. They are known for their harmony-rich psychedelic sound, rooted in the American folk and rock traditions. Evan Thomas Way, with his wife Brett, have led the band over the past decade, but on a day-to-day basis Evan serves as the worship pastor of Portland’s Door of Hope church. Door of Hope is remarkable for the many celebrated creatives that have been part of its community, including Josh Garrels, Liz Vice, Wesley Randolph Eader, and…

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Das Heimliche Lied (The Secret Song)

Das Heimliche Lied (The Secret Song)

The following comes to us from our friend, Luke Ferraguti:

As an accompanist, I occasionally stumble across a brilliant piece of poetry in vocal music. I recently discovered Louis Spohr’s Six German Songs, composed in 1837. Spohr wrote the poems and composed the music himself. The fifth song of the set, Das Heimliche Lied (The Secret Song), was particularly heavy-hitting — thanks be to God, our forgiving Confidant.

Das Heimliche Lied (The Secret Song)

There are secret pains
Whose lament is never tongued;
Borne deep in the heart
They are unknown to the world.

There is a secret longing
That always shies from the light;
There are hidden tears
A…

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No Ugly Babies: An Interview with Micah Bournes

No Ugly Babies: An Interview with Micah Bournes

This post was written by Daniel Melvill Jones.

Micah Bournes is a hip-hop artist and spoken word poet. He doesn’t play any instrument, yet last year he released No Ugly Babies, an album of original blues songs. The songs are contagious, constantly forcing me to sing along. Yet their lyrics provoke perspectives that challenge my everyday attitudes and actions. For an artist who’s built his career around spoken word performances, spending four years in an unfamiliar medium was a significant financial and creative risk. To learn about why this was necessary, I spoke to Micah over the phone.

Micah sees himself not as…

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Ryan Adams and the Benefits of Being a Mockingbird

Ryan Adams and the Benefits of Being a Mockingbird

This one comes to us from John Alexander.

Ryan Adams has a layered reputation.

First of all, he’s prolific. Since his 2000 debut Heartbreaker he has released 15 full-length albums in addition to a pile of EPs and a mountain of orphaned singles.

Secondly, his work is notably diverse. Adams’ first few releases pinned him as an alt-country artist, but he soon crossed into straightforward rock with 2003’s Rock N Roll, then spent a double album channeling The Grateful Dead with 2005’s Cold Roses before turning to pure country (no alt-) with Jacksonville City Nights. He has criss-crossed that circuit ever since, with…

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Healing Wings on Highway Winds: An Interview with Wesley Randolph Eader

Healing Wings on Highway Winds: An Interview with Wesley Randolph Eader

This review comes to us from Daniel Melvill Jones.

Several dozen children were gathered around an upright piano in our church’s basement. They were loudly singing a song that succinctly describes the life of Christ with melody and words so well fitted that they could pierce the listener’s heart. The children performed the song at our annual Christmas concert and since then, I’ve lost track of the number of parents who’ve told me how it’s impacted their family and have asked for more details.

The song came from a collection of old-time hymns written by Portland, Oregon’s Wesley Randolph Eader and featured on his…

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Dear Evan Hansen, I'm Missing Richard Simmons from S-Town, or: A Note from the Outcast

Dear Evan Hansen, I’m Missing Richard Simmons from S-Town, or: A Note from the Outcast

I saw the emotional avalanche that is Dear Evan Hansen two weeks ago, on a yearly childless pilgrimage my husband and I make to the city where we fell in love, and conveniently, where Mockingbird holds an annual conference. Maybe it’s the range and sincerity displayed by headliner Ben Platt, with whose image I am considering adorning my bedroom walls (I think my husband will be fine with it; considering our age difference, it would be more of a proud Teen Mom situation). Maybe it’s the poignant and earworm-ridden soundtrack. Maybe it’s the tendency of the cast to depart from the…

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DJ JAZ and the Church of Episco-Disco

While we were in NYC, as if on cue, the good people at Vice/Thump finally shared this with the world beyond the app where it made its debut last year. Too bad they missed this year’s cameo by the NY Fire Department:

May Playlist

Those who attended JAZ’s breakout session in NYC may recognize a few numbers:

p.s. Anyone interested in worship music would do well to check out that Andy Squyres record, Cherry Blossoms – holy moly it’s good.

A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

A New Musical, an Old Story: Amélie on Broadway

Readers of the blog may be familiar with the 2001 French film Amélie, an indie love story powered by actor Audrey Tautou’s impish smile and director Jean-Pierre Jeunet’s whimsical storytelling. It’s on Netflix right now–if you’ve got time this week, put the kids to bed, snuggle up with a loved one, pop open a bottle of wine, and enjoy a bit of that inimitable French joie de vivre. 

Once you’ve caught up by seeing the movie, you can join the rest of the viewers in confusion over the reality that Amélie is now a musical. Attendees at last week’s NYC conference could have taken the N train to…

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Exploring the Oddball World of Leftfield Christian Music 1973-87, Pt. 2: A Mockingbird Breakout Preview

At last year’s NY Conference we mined deep, but there’s a ton more to share. In this breakout, we will continue to explore the world of obscure Christian funk and electronic music from yesteryear. We will learn about why early Christian hip-hop floundered so after its inception (hint: the reason is theological). And we’ll remember how radical it is to introduce a Moog into your worship band, in 1974 (!!). Then there’s Mr. T’s song about the Ten Commandments. Are you wondering what happened to Jimmy Mamou when he read the Bible in Hawaii? What about the nu-wave album that Gary Numan’s favorite guitarist made about the Holy Ghost? Or what Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s poetry sounds like when read aloud over a funky, clavinet-heavy groove? (note: Germany will be making a strong showing this year).  I can’t wait to share it all with you… Praise the Lord!

Today is the last day to pre-register online!

All the Grief We Can’t Relieve: A Meditation on Pearl Jam and Holy Saturday

All the Grief We Can’t Relieve: A Meditation on Pearl Jam and Holy Saturday

Holy Saturday may have come and gone, but its meaning and importance remain ever with us. This moving piece was written by John Alexander.

My friend Dave died in a car accident in 2007. The ten-year anniversary of his death roughly coincides with the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame induction of Pearl Jam, a band that is inseparable from Dave’s life and times. Their debut album Ten recently turned 25 years old (the Hall of Fame’s minimum age requirement for a band’s nomination), which was Dave’s age when he died. Their induction ceremony was held in Brooklyn last weekend, on…

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