Entries Tagged 'Music'

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To Heck with Crassness

Do Trite Curse Words Really Help "Art"?

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 6:04 PM

My latest take on OFB, tackling the subject of f-bombs and the like in current pop culture:

I’m tired of it. I’m tired of every currently running TV show someone tells me to watch being littered with content that might make even the proverbial sailor blush. With so many forms of entertainment now freed from the reach of the FCC’s decency rules, it is now countercultural if dialogue or song lacks a peppering of the coarsest words. Is this really the best we can do?

Smell the Color 9

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:33 AM
I've had a Chris Rice song stuck in my head the last few days. I thought I'd post a little bit of it, right now:
I would take “no” for an answer
Just to know I heard You speak
And I'm wonderin' why I've never
Seen the signs they claim they see
Are the special revelations
Meant for everybody by me?
Maybe I don't truly know You
Or maybe I just simply believe 'Cause I can sniff, I can see
I can count up pretty high
But these faculties aren't getting me
Any closer to the sky
But my heart of faith keeps poundin'
So I know I'm doin' fine
But sometimes finding You
Is just like trying to
Smell the color nine

And, for the complete “Music Stuck in Tim's Head” chart for this week:

  1. Chris Rice - Smell the Color 9 (Smell the Color 9)
  2. Casting Crowns - Who Am I? (Casting Crowns)
  3. Damien Rice - The Blower's Daughter (O)
  4. Michael W. Smith - All I Want (Healing Rain)
  5. Andrew Lloyd Weber - Hosanna (Jesus Christ Superstar)
  6. Evanescence - Tourniquet (Fallen)
  7. MercyMe - Spoken For (Spoken For)
  8. Sixpence None the Richer - There She Goes (Sixpence None the Richer)
  9. Meredith Wilson - Lida Rose / Will I Ever Tell You? (The Music Man)
  10. Dido - White Flag (Life for Rent)

I Will Listen

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 3:42 AM

I had not listened to this song in ages, but it has been stuck in my head for the last few days. I figured I might as well post part of it here, as such.

Hard as it seems
Standing in dreams
Where is the dreamer now
Wonder if I
Wanted to try
Would I remember how
I don't know the way to go from here
But I know I have made my choice
And this is where I stand
Until He moves me on
And I will listen to His voice
—Twila Paris

Song Du Jour: Every Time it Rains

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:18 AM

This song caught my attention the other day when I first heard it. The words are pretty good, although you really need to hear it to appreciate it. It is available via iTunes Music Store if anyone interested.

Every time it rains I listen to the sky
And wonder what's so great about sunshine
Everybody lives and everybody dies
And no one's gonna love you like I do

When it was getting dark
I didn't need a match
I never needed light to see you
You thought I disappeared
But I was always here
I could never get that far from you

Though I misunderstand
And been misunderstood
So love me 'cause you can
And not because you should

Every time it rains
I know it's good to be alive
Every time it rains
I know I'm trying to survive

—Charlotte Martin, Every Time it Rains

So what are you listening to right now?

Music with Tim

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 3:59 AM

Cantico (Andrea Bocelli): This is a nice, soothing piece from Bocelli. He is a very talented gentleman, although I probably prefer Josh Groban's style a bit better. This particular song has a bit of a mysterious sound to it, I think, which is something I always like.

Please Only You (Steven Curtis Chapman): Like the rest All Things New this is a great song. How good it would be if I focused on only pleasing God… unfortunately, I'm not good at staying that focused.

Arms Open Wide (David Phelps): This is only the second time I believe I have heard this song. It is from the Dove Awards 2004 CD, a disc I was given awhile back, but have not listened to all the way through yet. I like it. It is not the most original, in fact, it reminds me of something that the adult contemporary stations have been playing lately which I cannot conjure at the moment, but I'm not necessarily complaining.

See the Glory (Steven Curtis Chapman): Odd. First the iPod played two songs with Leigh Nash in the first set of five, now we have two SCC songs in the second block. It isn't surprising that SCC would come up twice within ten songs, though; he is the third largest “contributor” to my music library (70 songs), behind Sixpence None the Richer (87) and Michael W. Smith (79). He leads Twila Paris who has 66. At any rate, I especially like this song since I saw him perform it live, but it is a generally good wake up call reminding us not to miss the glory of God.

Open the Eyes of My Heart (John Tesh and others): This is a very good rendition of an oft recovered song, like most of the songs that were done by Tesh for his worship CD's. He's a talented CCM artist, which really surprised me at first about the former Entertainment Tonight host and PBS new age music pledge drive special star. I recommend “A Deeper Faith,” the album this song comes from, if you'd like to give Tesh a listen. It won't put you to sleep, unlike the WoW Worship Blue Disc.

Please Carry Me Home (Jesse Colter & Shooter Jennings): This song is OK. It comes from “Songs Inspired by the Passion of Christ,” a disc personally assembled by Mel Gibson last year. The disc, as a whole, is excellent, and this is really one of my least favorite songs on it. It is a bit too much like old style Gospel music for me.

The Riker Manuever (Jerry Goldsmith): From Star Trek: Insurrection, it shows off the mastery of the late Goldsmith. John Williams may be “the” composer for soundtracks and special events over the past few decades, but Jerry Goldsmith could more than hold his own. He will be missed.

The Waiting Room (Sixpence None the Richer): Sixpence's self titled CD can be divided into problem and resolution sections, this is the third song in the first section. It fits nicely with the previous song (“Anything”), which has a very good bridge leading into this one. It really fits my mood when I'm waiting for something — when will it finally happen? That the “problem” for Sixpence was they couldn't concentrate on writing music, due to an unfortunate legal battle with their old record label, makes this CD a good choice when doing creative work (I believe Kevin agrees with me on this). It's all about the struggle to be creative, after all.

The Change (Steven Curtis Chapman): Chapman, not to be surpassed by Nash, comes up next to level it out to 3-3 for a tie on who has the most songs that have played thus far in this shuffle cycle. Normally the iPod seems to pick some other CD's as its favorites, for instance, I've heard Shapoopi from the Music Man probably five times in the last two weeks. At any rate, this is an excellent, convicting song: sure I have the t-shirts with the Christian sayings and all the other stuff Christians now have, but what about the heart of the matter: “what about the change/what about the grace/what about the difference?”

Who Is Crying (V. Keith Mason): This is from Borderlands, a neat CD that did a fairly “new age” rendition of many folk songs from around the world. This one is from Latvia. It is an entirely instrumental CD. As you might have guessed when I used the term “new age” above with John Tesh, I use this in the musical sense, not the religious sense. This CD isn't one I'd listen to all the way through without shuffling, but I'm glad to have it in the mix.

In Lieu of Actual Content

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 5:35 AM
Read what I am presently listening to:
I can't love a hater, it's a losing game
I'll never love a quitter, you'll get left in the rain

I can't help the helper when my feet are bound
I can't feel you near me if you're not the only sound

you are, you're not
you better run for your life, love, I'm walking I'm walking
you better run for your life, love, I'm walking I'm walking
you better count up your reasons, I'm leaving I'm leaving
you better count up your reasons, I'm leaving I'm leaving
—Leigh Nash (formerly of Sixpence None the Richer), Run for It

A Band Fallen

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:03 AM

Given the method of distribution, numerous Christian publications, including Christianity Today, did reviews of the album and generally gave it very good marks. It is not a hopeful CD, but not every CD needs to be or should be. It has many striking lyrics, quite a few with undertones Christian listeners can appreciate. Some of it is ambiguous as to what it refers to, but other tracks, such as “Tourniquet” and “Whisper” deal with salvation and the apocalypse, respectively, if I am not mistaken. In the album pamphlet, the first acknowledgment by Ben Moody was to Jesus, of whom he stated “all the life left in me is you.”

The CD has far too hard of edge, leaning too much on really loud guitar lyrics on some of the songs. But it combines those with excellent piano, strings and vocals for something that is worthy of listening to. I've seen numerous sites describe the band as a hard rock group fronted by Sarah McLachlan. It's something different than normal, needless to say. Tracks such as “My Immortal,” from Fallen and “Missing,” from the more recent album discussed below, even drop the excessive guitar for piano and a synth background of voices, respectively.

Things were looking good until the CD came out. Shortly thereafter, Moody, in an interview questioned the popularity of the CD in Christian circles (it was climbing the Billboard Christian chart) using some rather strong language. Moody, having been involved in the decision to market the CD to Christian stores shouldn't have been surprised. Amy Lee, his co-founder of the band, also peppered the interview with vulgar language. Wind-Up, not wanting to alienate Christian stores from itself, immediately recalled the CD's and brought an end to Evanescence's time in Christian bookstores.

After this occurrence, Christianity Today withdrew its prior review with a story of the incident (which was also reported widely elsewhere). Their new piece, like one published by Focus on the Family expressed concerns about Evanescence, although both continued to affirm the artistic aspect of the work.

Since that time, a number of things have happened. In October of 2003, Moody left (willingly or not isn't clear) to avert an imminent break up of it. It is rather interesting this occurred only months after the group decided to distance itself from its Christian faith. With only Lee remaining at the helm, Evanescence released a new CD this past fall that demonstrated the increasing depths it has fallen to. Anywhere But Home, is, for the most part, an unspectacular live audio CD and DVD combo. Its one real redeeming aspect is a studio recorded track entitled “Missing,” a haunting, quiet track that sounds somewhat more along the lines of “My Immortal” than their other works, and is well worth listening to if you liked the older track.

Sadly, even if Anywhere But Home was an artistic masterpiece (which it is not), it would be hard to recommend, and that brings me back to the point about having fallen. One track from the new CD contains multiple uses of a certain Anglo-Saxon word that has a resilient, if dubious life in modern culture. It is a cover and not an original song, but they chose to use it unmodified, rather than following the tradition of Christian Linux users who substitute the F in RTFM for “Fine,” or perhaps choosing a more suitable song all together. Compounding the situation, the label's choice not to place the appropriate warning label on the album has likely increased sales beyond what they would be if properly marked, and has lead to Wal-Mart getting into hot water for selling it.

Does this mean that Fallen is any less interesting or some of its words less meaningful than it was when originally released? No, what it really shows it what fame can do to people. Presuming that the group was sincere prior to their success, and not merely trying to benefit by claiming to be Christian, it shows that they were willing to give up principles for what they hoped to be better commercial success.

This is an interesting segue into my next piece on music, one on Sixpence None the Richer. The reason for this ordering, as I think you will see, is that there are not only some interesting parallels between the two groups, there are also some important differences. Sixpence found a way to balance commercial success with staying true to God. That's true success, obviously, far more important than simply selling a lot of CD's.

For those of you who haven't heard Evanescence's music, you may want to click over here for the music video of “My Immortal.” It is perfectly free to listen to, presuming you have Real Player, and I am personally quite fond of it. As I said, the actions of the group in recent years does not mitigate what they released previously, so give it a listen. It is a shame that “Missing” is not available in a form other that of Anywhere But Home, for it is worth a listen too, but the group certainly does not deserve encouragement on that album, nor is it worth the cost for one song.

Works Cited:
Breimeier, Russ. “Fallen.” Christianity Today. 2003. ChristianityToday.com 29 Jan 2005 <http://www.christianitytoday.com/music/glimpses/2003/fallen.html>.

What I Bought

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 7:43 PM

Music and Words by Matt Slocum; Sung by Leigh Nash (the two founding members of Sixpence).

if I could have the words to change 
to speak into the world would they fly 
I wonder if they'd put them in a jeweled box for sale 

Chorus 1 
but I need to strengthen the things that remain 
it's sad but true 
beauty never sells
in everything the same, it's true 
it's sad but true 

I won't give in to what they want 
or has the window closed any way 
between the world they want to hear 
and what they love me to say 

Chorus 2 
but I need to strengthen the things that remain 
it's sad but true 
beauty never sells
money makes the rules, it's true 
it's sad but true 

one of these days something will break through 
I want to 
but I wait a whole world, 
but I wait a whole world 

it's sad but true 
it's sad but true 

Chorus 2
Chorus 1

Coping, Part I

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 1:05 AM

October 5, 2001 was also the day my grandpa finally succumbed to the terrible cancer that had transformed one of the most wonderful people you would have ever met into a monster. The bone cancer that had been quitely taking over his system for years has been known to confuse brain processes and cause people to become angry and paranoid. To say my grandfather had become angry and paranoid would be like saying the Sahara gets warm at times. The last ten months since the cancer had been diagnosed were far worse than any prior, but they only exaggerated what had already been the status quo for several years.

My grandpa had always had a temper, but it had become uncontrollable and unpredictable since another infamous date for my family, January 11, 1998, the day my grandparent's house burnt down. Neither of my grandparents had been physically harmed in the fire, but the fire was too much for them mentally. We did not know it at the time, but my grandfather's cancer and my grandmother's Alzheimer's were already chipping away at them, but in ways that weren't perceptible. The fire made their states all too perceptible.

Other events would only compound the situation. In 1996, my nine of my grandparents siblings and their spouses were alive, eight of those in good health. Of the eight, five were frequently at parties and other events. That year, my great uncle died. In 1999, one year after the fire, my great aunt and uncle both died within a three day span. My uncle, who had lived for years with my grandparents, became entrenched in a legal battle as well. By the time my grandfather died in 2001, another one of my great aunts, the one closest to my grandmother, would die… just months before my grandfather.

Her death was just four weeks after my grandmother on my father's side died, which had been hard on my grandparents that I've been telling the story of. That had come of a surprise illness just weeks after her 80th birthday. While my other grandparents lived several hundred miles away, whenever they came into town, the four of them enjoyed each others' very much.

As I said, my grandfather was not even close to himself during those final years. From my earliest years, my grandfather had been a magical type figure. He was a kid at heart and we'd spend hours doing just about anything. My grandfather had been a butcher and for his retirement, he'd received a professional meat slicer. One of my favorite memories would be at parties when my grandpa and I would head downstairs with a hot roast my grandma had just finished cooking — he'd slice it while I watched, and we'd “test” it to make sure it was “OK.” We had a good time down there while everyone else waited for dinner.

More than anything else, my grandpa was a fixer of things. Jukeboxes, clocks, lawnmowers, and countless other things were in the realm of his abilities to fix. That was part of his “magic.” He could fix anything and was prepared for everything. On trips down to the Ozarks, he'd pack a little lunchbox full of tools, flashlights and numerous other things which he would produce for our use when something came up. Yet, his own health and my grandmother's health were beyond his ability to fix, as were the deaths and complications in the lives of the loved ones mentioned above, and these things only exacerbated his mental decline.

One Day at a Time
He refused to ever give up, that wasn't a phrase in his vocabulary. Yet, just a short time before his death, my pastor came and visited with him. My grandpa was no stranger to the Gospel, but the repetition of these basic truths brought peace, if not acceptance. He never conceded, but kept saying “one day at a time.” He would keep going, one day at a time.

In one of his more lucid moments, my grandfather related something very hopeful to my mother. He said his favorite season was always the fall, because fall represented a beginning. Consider this for a moment. After the spring, summer and bright early autumn colors of life, we reach what – at first – appears to be the beginning of the end. Yet it is only through the ending of life as we know it that we can really begin. Without the ending that is autumn, there can be no springtime of resurrection. As my grandfather himself worked through the fact that he was in the fall of his life, he eventually gained a new hope and peace recognizing he was heading forward to the springtime.

It was about eleven o'clock on that Friday evening in 2001 when the dreaded call came. From the perspective of the time the call was terrible, but also something of a relief after the years of anger. Yet, those last few days of peace reminded us of how my grandfather really was. A different type of funeral seemed called for.

This all brings me to what inspired this post, Josiah's post on the subject of funeral music experiences. We chose three non-traditional CCM songs for the funeral, to go along with an instrumental rendition of Amazing Grace. Two came from Steven Curtis Chapman's 1999 album Speechless: “With Hope” and “Be Still and Know.” The final one was Twila Paris's classic, “We Will Glorify.”

The selection of appropriate, yet optimistic music for the service had an unintended, but not unwelcome effect: people left the service uplifted and commented to us how much they enjoyed it. Enjoying a funeral was a new comment for us. But, it was a fitting ending for a fixer. A life that was so much like that of the poem “The Touch of the Master's Hand” appropriately left people hopeful one more time.

I obviously agree about the usefulness of optimistic music. Yet, I'll consider in part II why I also see the appropriateness of melancholy songs.

I Found It... Finally.

By Timothy R Butler | Posted at 4:56 PM

Last year, I had ordered the older Michael W. Smith Christmas cd to compliment the newer Christmastime I already had purchased. I played it only once because I procrastinated and did not get it ordered until after Christmas. Today I went to pull it out, and the jewel case was… empty. That's not good. After digging through numerous other Christmas CD's, I finally located it, but I was worried for a bit. I don't even have it ripped onto my computer yet, I can't lose it yet!

That was about the biggest excitement of the day, otherwise I've been taking a day off to recuperate from the last few weeks. I slept in, read the Post-Dispatch, a bit of Voltaire's Candide and checked on the articles over at OfB. If only life was always this peaceful!

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