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February Playlist

Click here to listen on Spotify (minus a couple tracks, unfortunately, one of which being the extra special Faith & Doubt gem from Dion).

Liturgical Folk, vol. 4: LENT (Out Now!)

Liturgical Folk, vol. 4: LENT (Out Now!)

Liturgical Folk’s new album, Lent, is out today, and it’s beautiful. Quiet, contemplative, comforting, these songs are devotional works of art. The album offers ten songs and hymns for the upcoming season, from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday. Based on collects from the Book of Common Prayer, these songs are extended prayers, with all the […]

PZ's Podcast: Tip for a Happy Marriage & Surprise, Surprise

PZ’s Podcast: Tip for a Happy Marriage & Surprise, Surprise

EPISODE 264: Tip for a Happy Marriage Justin Hayward is a sort of archivist for romantic relationships. He is 72 and still going strong. Two ‘Live’ performances book-end this cast, which is intended as fresh therapy towards a happy marriage. Appeals to grace, forgiveness, and empathy in relating to this impossibly different person with whom […]

You Can "Go Your Own Way" (And Surely Will)

You Can “Go Your Own Way” (And Surely Will)

I’ve listened to this podcast about Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way” from Song Exploder a half dozen times already, and I know I’m not done with it. If you’re not familiar, Song Exploder is a podcast “where musicians take apart their songs, and piece by piece, tell the story of how they were made.” To […]

January Playlist


Listen on Spotify by clicking here.

Please Come Home for Christmas

This one comes to us from none other than Alan Jacobs.

Christmas, properly understood from an adult perspective, is always tinged with melancholy. If we don’t grasp this instinctively, Advent will teach it to us. The church’s year begins with Advent, and Advent begins, really, at that moment when God says that Eve’s offspring will one day crunch the head of the serpent who tempted her. That’s when the waiting starts, and what we’re waiting for is someone to come fix the mess we’ve made of the things that were put in our trust. That He eventually comes is wonderful beyond hope; that we so desperately needed Him to come … well, that’s where the melancholy comes in.

And that’s why the best Christmas song, for me, will always be Charles Brown’s “Please Come Home for Christmas.”

The song begins with three peals of a bell, and for all we know it could be a funeral bell, what used to be called a “passing bell,” so slow and measured is the pealing. We may be encouraged when Charles tells us, straight off, that not just this bell but all the bells are ringing “the glad glad news” — except that Charles isn’t glad. He is loveless and friendless, and while he doesn’t say so explicitly, you get the sense that much of the blame for his condition is his own. Certainly he doesn’t condemn anyone else.

He has only one hope — or maybe not even that, maybe just a plea: Please come home for Christmas. If that happens … well, let’s just say that what he wishes for places a great weight on one person’s shoulders, more weight than a mere mortal can bear. But if it’s a certain person — if it’s One who can indeed make all things right — then the plea becomes hope, and the hope comes to be fulfilled. In that case the last words of the song will be the best words of all:

There’ll be no more sorrow
no grief and pain
‘cause I’ll be happy at Christmas once again

And then one last peal of the bell, a peal — no doubt this time — for the glad glad news.

A Son Is Born

A Son Is Born

WARNING: Spoilers for the film A Star Is Born ahead. Read at your own risk, while remembering this movie has been made four times so if you don’t already know the ending then that’s really on you. In the beginning of the film A Star Is Born, just after Jackson’s raucous opening number, he sits […]

I Have No Gift to Bring: Me and the Little Drummer Boy

I Have No Gift to Bring: Me and the Little Drummer Boy

Ever since I can remember, “The Little Drummer Boy” has been a Christmas favorite. When I was a kid, the fantasy of a cute boy drumming for Jesus made my pre-teen heart go rum-pum-pum-pum. I’ve always had a thing for musicians and he was just the sort of heartthrob Tiger Beat would have covered and […]

December Playlist: Happy Birthday Baby Jesus, 2018

Bonding time: the Nativity in Townsville. Jan Hynes, 2007.

Bonding time: the Nativity in Townsville. Jan Hynes, 2007.

My son got an Advent calendar from his grandparents that has Santa captaining Noah’s ark. Is this better or worse than the ones that just dispense chocolate? I am unsure.

One thing to be sure of is that in 1962, Kim Fowley secured the copyright to an arrangement of the march from Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker. The result is evergreen and to be trusted in, unlike Advent calendars.

Enjoy the music! (And click here to listen to about 2/3 of it on Spotify)

 

Living and Dying With Rich Mullins: Let Go and Let Rich Be Rich

Living and Dying With Rich Mullins: Let Go and Let Rich Be Rich

Last year marked the 20th anniversary of Rich Mullins’ death in a car accident at age 41. To commemorate this occasion, I am writing my memories of his music — not so much music criticism as memoir-via-music. See part 1 here and part 2 here. I love Rich Mullins because he was willing to criticize or even reject […]

PZ's Podcast: Transgressive Enough 4 U?, Mountain of Love, Magic, and Too Weak to Fight

PZ’s Podcast: Transgressive Enough 4 U?, Mountain of Love, Magic, and Too Weak to Fight

EPISODE 260: Transgressive Enough 4 U? Experiencing a massive re-think just now concerning world cinema! This has been occasioned in part by watching every disc one can get one’s hands on of the recently released catalogue of British “Vintage Classics”. Have you ever heard of “Mandy” (1951)? Or “The Captive Heart” (1946)? Or “The Sound Barrier” […]

What Punk Rock Taught Me About Public Prayer

What Punk Rock Taught Me About Public Prayer

In 1972, the old-school rock critic Lester Bangs said Black Sabbath was the world’s first Catholic rock band. So much for Christian rock. Sorry, Larry Norman. Apparently Sabbath had you beat by a decade. Joking aside, Bangs claimed in the same essay (terrifically titled “Bring Your Mother to the Gas Chamber”) that Black Sabbath were […]