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New from Leonard Cohen: “You Want It Darker”

New from Leonard Cohen: “You Want It Darker”

This post comes to us from Matthew Wilkins.

Wednesday, musician/poet Leonard Cohen celebrated his 82nd birthday, and gave us a gift in the midst of this particularly saddening week by releasing the title track from his upcoming album “You Want it Darker.”

Cohen has never been one to shy away from religious themes in his music, even deeply Christian themes though he considers himself both Jewish and a Buddhist, and “You Want it Darker” is no exception.

Over a somewhat brooding backing track with well timed choral support, Cohen delves into questions of God, evil, and human suffering in a way that not only…

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September Playlist

The Meghan Trainor of Galilee

The Meghan Trainor of Galilee

Someone told me recently that at his church they invite everyone to receive Communion, even if they are not Christians (which is a theological debate for another time). What got me was his reasoning. “Everybody’s welcome,” he said, “because Jesus never said no to anyone.” He said it like it’s a thing. Like something that we all agree on. The way people say, “Episode V, amirite?”

The only problem is Jesus said no all the time.

He’s the Meghan Trainor of Galillee: “My name is… no! My sign is… no! My number is… no!”

Allow me license to paraphrase as we recall the…

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I Wanna Know What Hipness Is

TOP-Hipper-CoverI recently re-discovered a band that loomed over my childhood. Tower of Power, a brass-based soul-funk big band explosion used to make an annual headline performance each summer at the San Mateo County Fair when I was growing up. The band was local, from Oakland, which is across the Bay. As is often the case, lyrics of songs that washed over me when I was too young to understand often blow me away when I hear them again for the first time as a grown man.

Take for instance “What Is Hip” from Power’s Hipper Than Hip (Yesterday, Today, & Tomorrow) LP. The song could almost be a riff on the collect for the fifth Sunday in Lent (or the Fourth Sunday after Easter, depending on which Prayer Book you’re looking at): “Grant unto thy people that they may love the thing which thou commandest, and desire that which thou dost promise; that so, among the sundry and manifold changes of the world, our hearts may surely there be fixed where true joys are to be found.”

Power is tapping into the same idea on Hipper Than Hip, asking what actually is hip anyway (I wanna know). It’s really a perennial question, observation, and reality check. During a time when it seems everyone is an indie hipster creative, we ought to allow “What Is Hip” to live a second life. Watch this amazing recording of Lenny Williams leading the band in a live(ly) performance of the song on Don Cornelius’s Soul Train—hey, people all over the world, remember Soul Train!? Watch, listen, pay attention to the lyrics, and be convicted of your need for Jesus because “sometimes hipness is, what it ain’t.”

What is hip
Tell me, tell me, if you think you know
What is hip
If you’re really hip
The passing years will show
You’re into a hip trip
Maybe hipper than hip
What is hip

On This, the Anniversary of the King’s Death

On This, the Anniversary of the King’s Death

“You are either a Beatles person or an Elvis person,” was a phrase I remember hearing for the first time in high school. I was in that golden age of teenage years when music changes the way you see everything and so you are compelled to have very strong opinions about it. For me, the answer has never changed over the years. I am an Elvis person. I would listen to “Love Me Tender” over the chirpy “I Want to Hold Your Hand” any day of the week. But honestly if you try to compare Elvis to anyone else, I…

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“I Must Have Done Something Good”

“I Must Have Done Something Good”

When I was a little girl, our family’s acquisition of a VCR coincided with my older sister’s debut in several small town musical productions. This meant that I could watch Annie, The Sound of Music, Mary Poppins, and The Fiddler on the Roof to my heart’s content, when not elbowing my brother out of the way when he wanted to watch Star Wars. I watched the Fiddler on the Roof on VHS so many times that the tapes warped. We also had vinyl records of musical soundtracks, and hearing a needle hit the vinyl still makes my throat catch before I…

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August Playlist

Sittin’ in a River of Changing Faces, But I’m Lookin’ for an Ocean: What Joni Mitchell Taught Me About Love

Sittin’ in a River of Changing Faces, But I’m Lookin’ for an Ocean: What Joni Mitchell Taught Me About Love

This post comes to us from Sarabeth Weszely. 

We were lying on her bed, on our backs like we were stargazing, but we were only looking at the ceiling, with glasses of her parents’ wine held precariously in our hands. And Joni was there too, singin’:

You’re in my blood like holy wine
Taste so bitter and so sweet
Oh I could drink a case of you
And I’d still be on my feet

“It’s just so true,” we moaned. There was a well-blazed trail of teardrops running down her cheek, cried for her current love interest—the guy from her film class who wore paisley button downs…

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Sin and Grace in Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle

Sin and Grace in Julien Baker’s Sprained Ankle

This one comes to us from Cody Gainous. 

Julien Baker believes in God. So reads the title of Rachel Syme’s excellent piece on the Memphis, TN native for The New Yorker back in April. When I say that sin and grace are the themes of Julien’s debut Sprained Ankle, I’m not stretching, or even saying anything that Baker would not say herself. This is an album filled with explicitly Christian imagery, and the artist, born and raised in the Bible Belt, unapologetically claims Christianity and apparently attends Holy Cross Episcopal Church in Murfreesboro.

When I saw the New Yorker article, I immediately…

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PZ’s Podcast: Hey, Everybody

PZ’s Podcast: Hey, Everybody

EPISODE 219

Gosh, I like Tommy Roe!

But why?

Well, partly, because his songs are catchy and sweet, and especially “Everybody” (1963). But “Dizzy” (1969) also makes me… dizzy.

The real reason a person likes a song — or really likes a song — is that it speaks for them. Or speaks to them. Or speaks from them. The song “resonates”, to use the idiom, with you. In other words, it’s not just the song. It’s the part of you that connects to the song.

All these things we like so much (i.e., pop songs, videos, movies, novels, television shows, poems, paintings) draw something out…

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EpiscoDisco: The Documentary – Out Now!

Let’s face it–this is probably the single coolest thing Mockingbird has ever been involved with, or will ever be involved with. I’m talking about the short documentary on DJ JAZ and “The Episco Disco” that VICE (and their electronic music division Thump) filmed at our conference in NYC this year. A culmination of culminations! Of course, if it’s all downhill from here, at least our decline will have a killer soundtrack.

Those in the United States can click on the image below to watch ten of the greatest minutes of the year. Those in other countries will either have to get crafty, or wait til the video hits youtube later this year:

dothis

And if by some sad circumstance you missed the session John mentions in the clip, never fear: we got you covered.

July Playlist