Vanitas vanitatum …

Whether or not an album is a vanity project has less to do with its merits and more to do with marketing and motivation. If it seems like a cynical attempt to cash in on fame by repackaging a movie-star as a pop-star, that’s a vanity project. Ego plays a part, too, of course, hence that word “vanity.” [Read more…]

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Liberation and apocalypse in a country song

The piped-in music at the Big Box has been playing country music this week, leading to the following reflection on two distinct visions of liberation in the work of popular theologian Martina McBride. And, because I’ve read too many InterVarsity Press books over the years, I have included a list of questions for further discussion. [Read more…]

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Where you gonna run to? Tim LaHaye and Billy Graham vs. Peter Tosh and Nina Simone

Nina Simone learned the song “Sinner Man” from her mother, who was a revivalist Methodist preacher. White revivalist preachers sang that song too, but even though most of the words were the same, the meaning was very different. [Read more…]

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(I can’t) Escape (The Pina Colada Song)

Rupert Holmes ultra-’70s hit is like an inversion of O. Henry’s “Gift of the Magi,” but where Henry’s tale is about selfless love, Holmes’ is about loveless selfishness. This provides us with an excellent case study for all of those lit-crit questions about authorial intent. [Read more…]

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‘There’s a song yet to be sung’

I gave up on Pandora a while back because of the Death Cab for Cutie thing. No matter what artists I requested or what songs I liked, Pandora just kept recommending Death Cab for Cutie. I began to distrust their algorithm. I wondered if there was some kind of payola scheme. Or maybe if you picked too many pre-2000 artists, the algorithm just figured you were old and that old people probably all like Death Cab for Cutie. I dunno. [Read more…]

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Learn how to use my hands, not just my head

I’m just saying that if you’re a Big Box hardware chain and you’re playing a 4-hour loop of music in your stores that includes two Indigo Girls songs, then one of those songs really ought to be “Hammer and Nail.” That’s all. I mean, duh. [Read more…]

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I Don’t Want to Bring Adjustment to This World

Mega-church mega-nepotism beneficiary Matthew Hagee is a “Bible-prophecy” peddler whose politics fall somewhere to the right of the tea party, but the man can sing. Here’s his latest, “I Don’t Want to Get Adjusted,” a Southern Gospel standard by Sanford Massengale. It’s pleasant enough, even despite the clumsy hook, which riffs on, and mangles Romans [Read More…]

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St. Paul and the Broken Bones

Yesterday I did not know that St. Paul and the Broken Bones existed. Today I do. Today is a better day than yesterday. [Read more…]

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