Tasting Life Twice

Archive for the category “Music Notes”

Southern Choice Music Video

The official video for “Southern Choice (Missouri Football Song) by Las Vegas recording artist, Adam Tucker. A special thanks to Chimaeric for providing the excellent video footage and The Blue Note in Columbia, Missouri. (Released 10/17/2013)

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I Need You (Cover Version)

In recent months I have had the privilege of working with Nashville recording artist and Las Vegas entertainer, Adam D Tucker.  Adam does the premier Tim McGraw Tribute Show in the country.  Last week he recorded this song with another Vegas impersonator, Christina Shaw, who sings the part of Faith Hill.  They did a incredible  job on this track. 

Southern Choice Song

U2 in St. Louis

Last night I caught U2’s 360 Tour at Busch Stadium.  We had field tickets and worked our way fairly close to the stage.  The show was great, featuring a lot of the old favorites and an impressive technological production.  Bono commented on the time they came to St. Louis back in 1981 when they played at Graham Chapel on Washington University’s campus.  He read the playlist from that concert and noted that their body of work was quite limited at the time.  When they came back out for an encore in their 1981 concert, they performed a few songs they had already played earlier in the set.  They were paid $750 for that performance.  Their present tour is considered the highest grossing concert tour of all time, surpassing that of The Rolling Stones. 

The Silence of the Badlands

Two weeks ago today I was on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota for a work week at Re-member.  While there, I had to make a run up to Rapid City to pick up one of our students at the airport.  The drive through the Badlands National Park was unbelievably quiet.  I didn’t pass a car for long stretches of roadway.  At one point, I stopped on the side of the road and climbed atop the rental van for a video panoramic of the landscape. 

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In Scenic, South Dakota, I sought some refreshment at the local saloon but it looked like it had been closed for some time.  I was glad to see that Indians were allowed but sad to miss out on their misspelled “wiskey”. 

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Making the drive back to Pine Ridge, I was struck once again by the marvel of big sky country.  The western landscapes overwhelm the senses.  On the way back I played “Calling Out Your Name” by Rich Mullins.  The late songwriter paid homage to the “Keeper of the Plains” with these words:

Well the moon moved past Nebraska
And spilled laughter on them cold Dakota Hills
And angels danced on Jacob’s stairs
Yeah, they danced on Jacob’s stairs
There is this silence in the Badlands
And over Kansas the whole universe was stilled
By the whisper of a prayer
The whisper of a prayer

And the single hawk bursts into flight
And in the east the whole horizon is in flames
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

I can feel the earth tremble
Beneath the rumbling of the buffalo hooves
And the fury in the pheasant’s wings
And there’s fury in a pheasant’s wings
It tells me the Lord is in His temple
And there is still a faith
That can make the mountains move
And a love that can make the heavens ring
And I’ve seen love make heaven ring

Where the sacred rivers meet
Beneath the shadow of the Keeper of the plains
I feel thunder in the sky
I see the sky about to rain
And I hear the prairies calling out Your name

Speaking of silence, as part of our cultural immersion program at Re-member, we went for a hike deep in the Badlands and sat still for an hour or so.  Some fell asleep.  Some stared at the clouds.  Others daydreamed.  But as we sat in silence, we paid attention to creation.  I thought of a recent book by Gordon Hempton. Hempton is an audio ecologist.

Over the past three decades Hempton has circled the earth three times, recording sound on every continent except Antarctica: butterfly wings fluttering, coyotes singing, snow melting, waterfalls crashing, traffic clanging, birds singing. His work has been used in film soundtracks, videogames, and museums.

For nearly thirty years, he has awakened to each new day determined to listen to the world and record the sounds that can be heard. This lifelong work has also led him to an important discovery. In his book, One Square Inch of Silence: One Man’s Search for Natural Silence in a Noisy World, he contends that silence has become an endangered species.

In 1983 he found 21 places in Washington state with noise-free intervals of 15 minutes or more. By 2007 there were three. (One of them is Olympic National Park, which he is trying to save, and he will not reveal the names of the others, arguing that they are protected by their anonymity.) Whom can we blame? People, and planes. Hempton claims that, during daytime, the average noise-free interval in wilderness areas has shrunk to less than five minutes. Think of the snowmobiles roaring through Yellowstone, helicopters flying over Hawaii volcanoes, and air tours over the Grand Canyon.

Hempton thinks silence can be a gift and he has made it his life work to conserve sanctuaries of quiet. When asked why we should be concerned about silence, he responds:

It has become an increasingly rare experience to be in nature as our distant ancestors were. Even in our national parks today, despite laws to protect them, you are much more likely to be hearing noise pollution, particularly overhead aircraft, than you are to be hearing only the native sounds of the land. Yet to be in a naturally silent place is as essential today as it was to our distant ancestors. Besides spending time away from the damaging noise impacts present at our workplace, neighborhoods, and homes, we are given the opportunity not only to heal but discover something incredible—the presence of life, interwoven! Do you know what it sounds like to listen for 20 miles in every direction? That is more than 1,000 square miles. When I listen to a naturally silent place and hear nature at its most natural, it is no longer merely sound; it is music. And like all music, good or bad, it affects us deeply.

Upon leaving the Badlands, I thought of a song by the Zac Brown Band.  Quiet Your Mind stresses the value of stillness and the importance of listening. 

At the end of the water
A red sun is risin’
And the stars are all goin’ away
And if you’re too busy talkin’
You’re not busy listenin’
To hear what the land has to say
Quiet your mind

U2 in Dublin

For my bro – I have some stories for you, as well, at our next backyard barbeque.

“There’s some big ideas. Father, I need a lend of 500 pounds ’cause we’re gonna go over to London. We’re gonna score ourselves a record deal. And when we get our record deal, we’re not gonna stay in London. We’re not gonna go to New York City. We’re gonna stay and base our crew in Dublin ’cause these people, this is our tribe.”

U2 song, “Out of Control” live performance at Slane Castle

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U2 recording studio at Hanover Quay

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Graffiti wall at Hanover Quay studio

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The Octagon Bar inside the Clarence Hotel, owned by Bono and The Edge

The Best Concert I Never Saw

Three men walk into a bar – a Mizzou fan, a Kansas fan and a Nebraska fan. Sounds like the start of a joke, doesn’t it? Monday night was, in fact, a joke, a very bad joke. For my birthday, I was given excellent tickets to see Bruce Springsteen in St. Louis on Sunday night. As you can imagine, I was quite thrilled with the gift as this was another item to check off on my “bucket list” of all things Americana. A few weeks before the concert, I learned that The Boss would be playing the entire Born to Run album in St. Louis and the Born in the USA album in Kansas City on the following night. Given that I’m a child of the 80s, I sold my tickets on StubHub and purchased good seats in KC. So far so good.

On Monday, my brother and I left for Kansas City and went to the Power andimage Light District across from the Sprint Center. We went into a packed Johnny’s Tavern and sat at the bar awaiting our table. Concertgoers were everywhere, listening to Springsteen songs and awaiting the start of the show. We chatted with two guys at the bar, one of whom had been to nearly thirty Springsteen concerts and the other about twenty. In their fifties, these guys knew all the lyrics, the concert history and the set lists so far. And they were Nebraska fans. Mike (from Phoenix) and Bob (from Lincoln) had just watched the Cyclones beat their beloved Huskers on Saturday. They had seen the Boss perform in St. Louis on Sunday. And now they were finishing out their extended weekend in Kansas City with another concert before heading home.

Mike was hoping to hear Springsteen play a favorite song. “Wish me luck. I’ve been to his concerts since 1975 and I’ve yet to hear him sing ‘Kitty’s Back’ live. That one means a lot to me.” Troy and I had good seats already but Mike and Bob had even better seats and two extra tickets nearby. They swapped out tickets with us so that we would end up being to the immediately left of the stage in the lower bowl. Then they were going to sell our tickets to someone who was coming to the bar a bit later.

image We shared a table and supper, eventually being joined by a Kansas fan – I can’t believe I’m admitting this – because space was limited and we were all Springsteen fans. A few minutes later, and just minutes before they were going to let the general admission fans into the Sprint Center, Bob came back to the table with some dreadful news: “You’re not going to believe this but the show has just been canceled. A family member of Springsteen has died.” We thought he was joking. But soon, the news spread throughout the bar and the faces of those who had been standing in line across the street removed any doubts. Everyone began searching for more information on their PDAs and we eventually learned that, tragically, the assistant tour manager and a first cousin of Springsteen was found dead in his hotel room late in the afternoon.

Troy came back from the bathroom and said a guy was telling him that he paid for a close friend to fly in from San Diego. She was dying of cancer with a few weeks to live and she wanted to see the Boss as one of her “bucket list” items. We later read that a teenage girl flew in from Alaska for the concert and another family traveled 4,000 miles from London so they could hear Bruce perform this particular album (Born in the USA), which was to be the last time on this particular tour with The E Street Band.

Bob from Lincoln came back from the bathroom and said, “Shit. To add insult to injury, not only do we not get to see the concert but the television above the urinal is showing a replay of the Huskers getting beat by Iowa State. You’ve got to be kidding me.”

Despite our disappointment, we understood the situation and still managed to enjoy the evening.  We listened to some good tunes.  Met some neat guys.  And Bob the Husker surprised everyone by picking up the tab.  The night will not be forgotten. I will remember it as the best concert I never saw.

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The Art of Changing the Subject (and Thus, the Predicate)

(originally published in The Upper Room Disciplines 2008)

image The Center for Survivors of Trauma and War Torture in St. Louis started in the early ‘90s after therapists began noticing the widespread effects of post-traumatic disorder within the immigrant community. Refugees from troubled regions of the world come to the Center in hopes of finding healing for their hurts. These men, women and children – victims of political oppression and social injustice – tell stories of horrific abuse suffered in their homeland. They describe their inability to eat and sleep, the panic that can arise from the slightest trigger, and the disorientation of their emotions.

The clinic director describes how the Center aims to rebuild lives: “So many [immigrants] come here saying, ‘I am destroyed,’ and part of the Center’s job is to change that sentence, to find a seed, so they’ll say, ‘I am alive.’”

In Psalm 17, David is under attack. He is surrounded by those who wish him harm, those without pity who are plotting his downfall. Tired of living on the run and hungry for home, he turns to God. And when he does, he finds a beacon of light in the midst of the fog. After all his anxious complaining, he concludes, “As for me, I shall behold your face in righteousness; when I awake, I shall be satisfied, beholding your likeness.”

We utter many statements throughout the course of our days that sound similar to the sufferings of the afflicted: I’m in trouble. How will I ever get through this? When will it ever stop?

As we learn to speak the name of God into our life, we change the sentence from one of dread to one of hope. We learn to say, I’m alive. I’m alive by God’s grace. I’m living in God’s care.

In Christian worship, we come together each week to change a few key sentences in our speech patterns, to find whatever seed of hope is there, so that we can walk back to our world and say, “I’m alive and well.” And who knows? You might get so good at this gratitude thing that you find yourself walking around humming a song by Kenny Chesney and Dave Matthews.

The Mythos in the Mirror

I’ve been trying to make sense of the enormous outpouring of grief in response to Michael Jackson’s death, as evidenced by the unending news coverage across the world. 

Two things come to mind: the first is something I came across in Bewildered Travel: The Sacred Quest for Confusion.  The author, Frederick Ruf, image cites the psychologist William James who argued that we have multiple selves and that they are social and material: “we have as many selves as we have others who acknowledge us; and our selves are defined by our belongings. A few years ago, I wrecked my car, and while it may seem trivial to say that a part of me died as that VW was hauled away, I believe it is true.  When we leave, when we disembark, when we – as my son used to say – ‘blast off’ on an airplane, and leave behind all those others and all those things, we leave those selves behind, too.  Those selves die – temporarily.”  The death of a celebrity (whose records we owned, whose videos we watched, whose songs we listened to) takes us back to a childhood that we have lost and becomes a reminder of the rites of passage. 

Secondly, his death reminds us again of the power of our myths, for better or worse.  In the cult of celebrity, an individual becomes an icon, a lone man becomes a larger myth and this fact may tell us more about ourselves than it does about the person who lived and is now dead. 

As Neil McCormick writes in the UK Telegraph:

The death of someone so famous shakes us to the core, because it is like a death in the family. Love him or loathe him, Michael Jackson was part of the fabric of all our lives. Or maybe worse, it is like the death of a God, a sudden unexplainable absence in the mythos of the times. President Kennedy, Elvis Presley, John Lennon, Lady Diana: these are the kind of deaths that confront us with our own mortality, the realisation that the end is unavoidable, death stalks us all, no matter how anointed by the fates. Such a death is usually greeted with a kind of incredulity. But this is it. This is really it.

The Things We Lose

Luna Lovegood says to Harry Potter: “my mum always said the things we lose have a way of coming back to us in the end.”

In 1969, a friend of mine was working a summer job in Pennsylvania.  Some of his co-workers said, “Hey Tommy, we’re going to be going to a concert this weekend.  Want to go?”

“Where is it?”

“In a field in upstate New York?”

“Who’s playing?”

“A whole bunch of bands.  Come on, go with us.

“Where are you going to stay?”

“We’re going to camp out on the ground.”

He declined their offer.  At the time, it sounded very inconvenient. Turns out, he missed out on Woodstock, a three-day music festival featuring some of the best bands of the day and remembered as one of the defining moments of rock history.  Last week, I left a gift on Tommy’s front porch, a 40th anniversary commemorative DVD of the event.

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