“Hole in the World”: A Musical Entry Point into the Gates of Heaven

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I don’t quite know how to explain it any other way, but Daniel Amos’ “Hole in the World” feels like a song that I've always known. The first time I heard it via a battered cassette copy of MotorCycle, I was absolutely convinced I’d heard it before, though I couldn't quite put a finger on when and where. As such, the song has always been a haunting listen for me, which strikes me as rather appropriate given its lyrics about the end of the world, the afterlife, and one’s first tentative experiences … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Stories and Reformation in Outlaw Country

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In God and Country Music, Nick Rynerson examines the world of Americana, folk, alt-country, and popular country music.Ever since Hank Williams got kicked out of The Grand Ole Opry, country music has been outlaw music. Well, country music has been a big stew of church songs, traditional rural folk tunes, western cowboy, and ruff, unruly outlaw music. But the outlaw mentality has been one of country music’s most prominent and continual threads.Outlaw country, as a genre, came into its own i … [Read more...]

Steve McQueen and Discovery of the Self

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by Esther O'Reilly One of my favorite passages of prose is the introduction to the British mystery author Agatha Christie's autobiography. As she looks back on her life, she is struck by the significance of memory. Each memory, great or small, is like a snapshot that captures her true self at a single moment in time. Yet while the true self is revealed in these glimpses, we ourselves cannot fully know the whole self. The passage bears quoting in its entirety:What governs one’s choice of m … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Shovels & Rope’s Punk-Rock, Incidental Spirituality

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As a writer who covers predominately alt-country, Americana, and folk music, I say to my shame that I didn't know who Shovels & Rope were until they won Best Song and Best Upcoming Artist last month at the 2013 Americana Awards. Maybe you don’t either, so let me introduce you.Shovels & Rope is the alt-country project of Charleston, SC based husband and wife duo, Michael Trent and Cary Ann Hearst. They've made the rounds—touring with the likes of Hayes Carll, Justin Townes Earle, and t … [Read more...]

Doctor Who’s Doctrine, Part 5: Music for a Mad Man

The Doctor and company on the cover of a soundtrack album by Murray Gold.

Before the 50-year anniversary of “Doctor Who” on Nov. 23, Christ and Pop Culture is exploring the sci-fi series in Doctor Who’s Doctrine. Part 1: Mad Man with a Box Part 2: Genre Roots Part 3: Exterminating Evil Part 4: The Trip of a LifetimeYour favorite TV series may have fantastic plot twists, excellent effects, brilliant set and costume designs, and memorable actors. But if that series is Doctor Who, none of those have their own echoing magic as the series' cinematic music score b … [Read more...]

Musicians from Warring Nations Gives Us a Picture of Peace

YO-YO MA

A musician I am not, but if you break out the cello, I can scarcely breathe for the beauty of it. Obviously, cellist Yo-Yo Ma is a favorite. So this NPR article—“A Yo-Yo Ma Project Brings Together Musicians from Warring Nations”—caught my eye. Its author, Elizabeth Segran, details Ma’s vision for music as the basis for intercultural understanding through his Silk Road Ensemble organization: “Bringing together the Galician bagpipe, the Chinese pipa, the Japanese shakuhachi, the Persian kamancheh, … [Read more...]

God and Country Music: Eric Church’s “Springsteen” Is Sort of Like Heaven

bruce springsteen looking pretty cool yeah what kind of car is that1

I don’t listen to the radio very often. It’s not that I don’t like the radio—the real issue is that I am a CD junkie and my truck is my sound booth. Lately I have been listening to Rhett Miller’s live cover album The Interpreter and Jason Isbell’s new album Southeastern. But when I am with my wife, the radio gets some love. On my way to the grocery store last weekend my wife and I were listening to country music radio and my ears were piqued by a fantastic song: "Springsteen" by Eric Church. … [Read more...]

How CHVRCHES Fell Victim to the Hype Machine

CHVRCHES

Up till now, CHVRCHES have been as noteworthy for their hype as for their music. The Scottish electro-pop trio’s savvy release of several songs online, combined with a heavy touring schedule and a penchant for appearing on “exciting new artists” lists, have produced a remarkable crescendo of expectation ahead of their first record, The Bones of What You Believe, finally out last week. It’s the kind of buildup that would’ve been impossible just a few years ago, but thanks to the Internet, CHVRCHES … [Read more...]

God and Country: Echoes of the Church in American Music

O Brother Where In the World Are Youuu

Church history is a vital subject for any serious student of theology. Without church history, we don’t have a historical framework for the development of liturgical styles, church music, culture, and doctrine. Church history is not confined to pews and hymnals, though; because of the seeping nature of Christianity, Church history interacts with and affects everything around it. When the dots are connected, sacred and secular prove to be moot terms in the scope of history. Culture and s … [Read more...]

How The Psalms Made Folk Music

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Traditional country and blues music is a far cry from most contemporary country and blues music. Some music purists (or snobs, if you will) find FM radio country and blues unlistenable replicas that bear more resemblance to the Eagles than to their early folk heroes. And to an extent, they are right. American folk music from the early twentieth century captured a powerful, bizarre, beautiful landscape on their newfangled recording devices. The question is: Can this really be replicated … [Read more...]


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