Thanks to Neil Young (Music for Mondays)

Neil Young is in town! Neil Young is in town! That was what the sign on the Civic Auditorium said last Thursday night. It’s always big news when a big name comes to a small town. Not like I could go to the show or anything. My wife was hosting her book club meeting and although baby-sitting duty would kick me and the kids out of the house, I’m not quite ready to take them to a rock concert. I took them go-karting instead.

But I wanted to go to the show. So I did the next best thing. I hunted around for Neil Young songs on You Tube and started posting them on my Facebook page. See, I’ve always liked some of his songs, even when Ronnie Van Zant from Lynyrd Skynyrd  told me that I shouldn’t like him. Sorry, I couldn’t do that Ronnie, because Cinnamon Girl rocks, man. (I can’t believe my wife has never heard of it. Sheeeeeeesh!)

Even so, before I became a Catholic, I was more close-minded. Which means that after I became a Catholic I became more open-minded.  Whaat?! Yeah, sounds like an oxymoron to be an open-minded, yet orthodox follower of the faith doesn’t it? But that is the way it is.

You hadn’t noticed? I can’t explain it all to you here, music fans, because that is way beyond the scope of a post like this. Suffice it to say that Neil Young is an interesting character, a non-conformist, and yep, you guessed it,  a contrarian. Is he a Catholic? I have no idea. But is he godless? I don’t believe so. Heck, some people think he may even be a prophet. I really can’t say. I do know that a few videos here don’t even begin to scratch the surface of Neil’s artistic and philanthropic work. I just know that I like Neil Young’s music and his character.  He isn’t perfect, but he knows that too.

Now then, what we have here are the makings of the longest Music for Mondays posts ever at YIM Catholic. Good thing that it is a holiday (here in the US at least), because this way you can crank up the speakers and sing along with Neil (and me).  Just be careful, because some of his tunes will melt your speakers down to the wires, which I think is a good thing too.

Why hasn’t Neil ever been awarded a Grammy? That is the question I’m asking myself too. I don’t know (ed. this has since been rectified!). No matter, come along and follow me for a taste o’ Neil Young and remember the wise words of Crash Davis from the movie Bull Durham: “Don’t think. It’s bad for the ball club.” Just enjoy these along with me.

First up, Neil’s folksy side:

Heart of Gold “Put me in the middle of the road. Traveling there soon became a bore, so I headed for the ditch. A rougher ride but I saw more interesting people there.” Thankfully, before Neil headed for “the ditch,” he recorded a show for the BBC in London and played this new song for the audience. Check him out as he fumbles around, in a very charming and relaxed way, for the harmonica in the correct key (key of G, in case you want to blow along with him) to accompany the song. This was Neil’s first and only #1 hit on the Billboard Charts and it is a beauty.

YouTube Preview Image

That song sold me on Neal almost immediately. This song sealed the deal. As if Neil would need a band—sheesh! At the same BBC show, Neil also played Old Man. He gives us some neat background information about how he wrote it for the old foreman of his ranch in California. Listen to the words, which Neil enunciates as well as Frank Sinatra ever could, and see if you hear something spiritual whispering into your ear. I know I do around about here,

Love lost, such a cost . . .

YouTube Preview Image

Like a Hurricane. Webster likes finger-picking rock guitarists like Mark Knopfler. Finger-picking? Yep, Neil can do that too. Now, what does the song mean? Hey, this is art! Subject to interpretation, see? I know what it means to me and I know something else: it sounds great.

YouTube Preview Image

This Note’s for You. Here Neil basically sticks a knife in the heart of the mainstream. This song and music video, which parodied the MTV/Corporate influence of the music industry and, dare I say it, the materialist culture that is still prevalent today.  Show it to your kids. I am. They didn’t want to, but MTV honored this song and video with the Music Video of the year Award in 1989.

YouTube Preview Image

Just Singing a Song Won’t Change the World I saw an interview Neil gave on the Charlie Rose Show where he told Charlie that all he has been given is pure gift, a gift that he has to share. This video, shot with someone’s hand camera, was done at a benefit for the Bridge School that Neil and his wife founded to help developmentally challenged children in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Two of Neil’s children are diagnosed with cerebral palsy. Talk the talk and walk the walk.

YouTube Preview Image

Neil and his wife Pegi sing Four Strong Winds followed up by Neil alone on his When God Made Me performed at the benefit concert Live Aid Canada in 2005. Listen to the second song.  Does it make you wince at all? Sort of like good Catholic social teaching, it cuts to the quick.  Is the theology crystal clear? Probably not, but Neil isn’t a theologian either. But he isn’t an atheist either.

YouTube Preview Image

OK, were moving into the “melt your speakers” portion of Neil’s oeuvre.  I’ve never seen the Jim Jarmusch film Dead Man (1995) starring Johnny Depp.  But after this discovery, I will be. And soon!  Neil set up monitors all over his studio and followed the movie along in real time playing whatever he felt from what he saw on the screen and as the action moved him. He told Jarmuch that the film didn’t really need any music. But Jim begged him to write music to the film anyway. Neil has a gift, see, and thankfully he understands that. Thank God he is sharing it.

YouTube Preview Image

Have you ever heard of the group Pearl Jam? Neil wrote this tune Rocking in the Free World and performed it here with Eddie Vedder & Co. back in 1993. In letter-box format no less, so you can also melt your computer screen too. And note, Neil doesn’t go trying to bash his trademark black Les Paul guitar into any amps either. Unlike the rookies from Pearl Jam. Neal just shows them the reason why his guitar is given top-billing. Ow…that dude can jam!

YouTube Preview Image

Fifteen years later, Out of the Blue, live in 2008, where the now older man shows that as you start losing your hearing, just turn up the volume and add more distortion. Break out your ear plugs or crank your speakers is all I can say. And don’t forget to listen to the message too.  After all, there’s more to the picture than meets the eye and it’s better to burn out than to fade away.

YouTube Preview Image

See? Like I said, we’ve barely scratched the surface, but that is all we have time for this week. This could turn into one of those Webster-esque multi-part posts for me very easily. Maybe next time, we’ll do Neil’s movies.

 

The Silver-Bullet Selection (Music for Monday)

Over the past seven days Allison, Webster, and I have been delivering the goods for you (we hope!). From Dali to de Sales, Angels to training wheels, “Praise” and friendships, contrarian attitudes and awe-inspiring art and verse.  As I say from time to time, Sheeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeesh—We’re bushed!

The over-riding theme in this past week’s readings from the Gospel of John has been caritas, or Christian love. We learned of the new commandment, “Love one another as I love you.”

This song by U2 helps me to remember the new commandment. So on this particular Monday, at this particular time, it is a kind of silver-bullet song singing of the cure for what ails us. After all, without love, Allison, Webster and I (and you too, dear reader) are only “resounding gongs and clashing cymbals.” But with love, we are as we are meant to be—One.

YouTube Preview Image

One

Is it getting better
Or do you feel the same
Will it make it easier on you now
You got someone to blame
You say…

One love
One life
When it’s one need
In the night
One love
We get to share it
Leaves you baby if you
Don’t care for it

Did I disappoint you
Or leave a bad taste in your mouth
You act like you never had love
And you want me to go without
Well it’s…

Too late
Tonight
To drag the past out into the light
We’re one, but we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other
One…

Have you come here for forgiveness
Have you come to raise the dead
Have you come here to play Jesus
To the lepers in your head

Did I ask too much
More than a lot
You gave me nothing
Now it’s all I got
We’re one
But we’re not the same
Well we
Hurt each other
Then we do it again
You say
Love is a temple
Love a higher law
Love is a temple
Love the higher law
You ask me to enter
But then you make me crawl
And I can’t be holding on
To what you got
When all you got is hurt

One love
One blood
One life
You got to do what you should
One life
With each other
Sisters
Brothers
One life
But we’re not the same
We get to
Carry each other
Carry each other

One…life

One

It’s Only Rock ’n Roll (Music for Mondays)

What does this morning’s music have in common? Basically it’s only rock n’ roll, but I like it. Heck, maybe I just feel like playing air-guitar and singing some of my favorite secular tunes. Follow along with me and see if we can pull some Catholic perspective out of the following songs. Keeping in mind, of course, that these are just one person’s impressions. Your mileage may vary.

Stevie Ray Vaughn, The House is a Rockin’. Not much to explain here. It’s Spring and Our Lord has risen, and we feel like partying here at YIM Catholic! If the house is a-rockin’, don’t bother knockin’. No invitation needed, just come on in!

Kick off your shoes start losin’ the blues
This old house ain’t got nothin’ to lose
Seen it all for years, start spreadin’ the news

YouTube Preview Image

Rolling Stones, Gimme Shelter. I can hear some of you sigh and mutter, there Frank goes again. You know what? I need shelter, and I find it in the Holy Mother Church. Which means my soul won’t fade away either. This song works for me. And do you know the difference between the Beatles and the Rolling Stones? The Rolling Stones are still together and making music, basically ’til death do they part. I like that ideal.

YouTube Preview Image

Bruce Springsteen, Brilliant Disguise. Look out for the false self. In light of the scandal imbroglio, perhaps many have been tempted to think the Church is a sham, a house of cards. Better look hard and look twice. Recently, and grudgingly even the “respected” news sources have to contend with the truth that the entire Roman Catholic Church isn’t the only game in town when it comes to abusing children. Just lonely pilgrims we are, but as for me, Jesus I Trust in You. Bruce concludes this tune with this wise line: God have mercy on the man who doubts what he’s sure of. Amen.

YouTube Preview Image

Sarah McLachlan Sweet Surrender. Sarah, on the other hand, really has the right idea, I think (see the lyrics below).

YouTube Preview Image

It doesn’t mean much.
It doesn’t mean anything at all.
The life I’ve left behind me
Is a cold room.

I’ve crossed the last line
From where I can’t return,
Where every step I took in faith
Betrayed me

And led me from my home

And sweet
Sweet surrender
Is all that I have to give

You take me in
No questions asked
You strip away the ugliness
That surrounds me

Are you an angel?
Am I already that gone?
I only hope
That I won’t disappoint you
When I’m down here
On my knees

Next up, Jack Johnson Better Together. I only recently came across this Jack Johnson fellow and really like some of his work. This song in particular works well as I pondered the Divine Mercy novena prayer for the reunification of Christ’s Church here on earth. See the lyrics below…

YouTube Preview Image

Love is the answer
At least for most of the questions in my heart,
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it’s so hard?
It’s not always easy,
And sometimes life can be deceiving,
I’ll tell you one thing, its always better when we’re together.

Rush Limelight. Only three guys, but big, big sound! Yes, I am asking you to consider the universal dream, the real relation and the underlying theme. Guess what I think those are. See the lyrics below and have a listen.

YouTube Preview Image

Living on a lighted stage
Approaches the unreal
For those who think and feel
In touch with some reality
Beyond the gilded cage.

Cast in this unlikely role,
Ill-equipped to act,
With insufficient tact,
One must put up barriers
To keep oneself intact.

Living in the Limelight,
The universal dream
For those who wish to seem.
Those who wish to be
Must put aside the alienation,
Get on with the fascination,
The real relation,
The underlying theme.

Living in a fisheye lens,
Caught in the camera eye.
I have no heart to lie,
I can’t pretend a stranger
Is a long-awaited friend.

All the world’s indeed a stage,
And we are merely players,
Performers and portrayers,
Each another’s audience
Outside the gilded cage.

For Chants Such as These (Music for Mondays)

It’s Monday, and looking very gloomy in my neck of the woods. Pop music? Not interested. Blues? I feel them, but no. I need something a lot more holy than that today. Spring may have sprung, but it still felt like I was in hibernation this morning. Here are a few selections that fit the bill for my frame of mind.

First, the Regina Caelorum (the Marian antiphon from the Presentation of the Lord until Good Friday). Here is an English translation:

Hail, O Queen of Heaven enthroned.
Hail, by angels mistress owned.
Root of Jesse, Gate of Morn

Whence the world’s true light was born:
Glorious Virgin, Joy to thee,
Loveliest whom in heaven they see;
Fairest thou, where all are fair,
Plead with Christ our souls to spare.

V. Vouchsafe that I may praise thee, O sacred Virgin.
R. Give me strength against thine enemies.

Let us pray: We beseech thee, O Lord, mercifully to assist our infirmity: that like as we do now commemorate Blessed Mary Ever-Virgin, Mother of God; so by the help of her intercession we may die to our former sins and rise again to newness of life. Through the same Christ our Lord. Amen.

YouTube Preview Image

Remember the Gospel reading yesterday when Jesus brought Lazarus back to life? Rejoice O Bethany. And the rest of these are in English, so I can follow along.

YouTube Preview Image

And now for a couple more that are in English (whew!). First, the Polyeleos. The citation from Wikipedia reads:

The word “polyeleos” also refers to a large chandelier used in some Orthodox churches, particularly in monasteries. It is in the form of a very large circle (also called a corona or horos) with many candles on it, and is often adorned with icons of numerous saints. The polyeleos is suspended by a chain from the ceiling. During the chanting of the Polyeleos psalms (134 and 135), all of the candles are lit and it is pushed with a rod so that it turns back and forth during the singing, adding to the joy of the service. This practice is still seen in the monasteries of Mount Athos and in other traditional Orthodox monasteries throughout the world.

YouTube Preview Image

This one reminds me of St. Romanus singing of the unapproachable light: Now Christ, Thou Sun of Justice

YouTube Preview Image

Introducing Ollabelle (Music for Mondays)

Since hearing them last year on Pandora Radio, I have been a big fan of the largely invisible musical quintet “Ollabelle.” Here’s their Wikipedia page, which has about as much info as I’ve found anywhere. The notable member, perhaps, is Amy Helm, daughter of The Band drummer Levon Helm, though I’m not really a music junkie, so Glenn Patscha, Byron Isaac, Fiona McBain, or even Tony Leone may be somehow more important. Anyway, what is it with these people? There’s nothing overtly Evangelical, and certainly nothing Catholic, about their story, but tell me they aren’t “religious”!

Sorry in advance for the poor video quality, but these people have been flying under the radar—

What could be more Lenten than a song called “Get Back Temptation”?

YouTube Preview Image

Do you have “Jesus on the Main Line”? Ollabelle does.

YouTube Preview Image

Listen to this cover of Bruce Cockburn’s “Soul of a Man” (with a momentary change of scene) and tell me these people don’t know something about the Holy Spirit.

YouTube Preview Image

And how about my favorite Ollabelle tune, “Down by the Riverside,” one of the great Negro Spirituals?

YouTube Preview Image

Let’s finish with a “band of angels” in “Gone Today,” taking Ollabelle to heaven, where I say they belong.

YouTube Preview Image

A Dirty Little Secret (Music for Mondays)

I have a confession to make, a secret to make a Catholic blush. It’s not about what I watch or say or do, it’s about what I listen to. Sometimes! Just sometimes! When I’m out walking and I have Pandora Radio on my iPhone and have my ear buds plugged in, I listen to a wide variety of music. I have a station called Stile Antico Radio (mostly 16th-century polyphony, very Catholic). I have another called Folky Stuff (self-explanatory) and another named for my favorite guitarist, Knopfler Radio. So I listen according to mood. My dark secret?

I also have a station called David Crowder Radio. For those unfamiliar with the man (pictured here), he’s an evangelical Jesus Rocker. OK, there it is, my secret’s out: I really dig loud, soaring Christian Rock. Now, don’t all jump ship at once.

It’s Monday, so open your hearts and let me give you a taste, but beware: It’s habit-forming and pretty soon you’ll be using valuable confession time telling the priest about the sinful joys of Hillsong United, Darlene Zschech, and Third Day.

Let’s kick off this MFM segment with a quiet start from Casting Crowns and “Praise You in This Storm.”

YouTube Preview Image

Let’s kick it up a notch with David Crowder live, singing “Oh Praise Him!”

YouTube Preview Image

Before the big finish, let’s hear from Third Day, with “God of Wonders.”

YouTube Preview Image

Time to put your hands in the air, brothers and sisters! It’s time for music from Australia’s biggest megachurch, Hillsong United. The song is “Hosanna!” C’mon, Catholics, you can say “Hosanna!”

YouTube Preview Image

For just one night before I die, I want to be crazy enough to go crazy in one of these arenas when Darlene Zschech, Hillsong’s diva, sings “How Great is Our God!” Hold me down, brothers and sisters!

YouTube Preview Image

Now you can take me home, Lord, now you can take me home!

Because I Yearn (Music for Mondays)

As each week goes by, I accumulate clips of music to post on Mondays. I checked last night and found only one clip stored since last Monday. But what a clip. What a coincidence. Yesterday in choir, we began practicing a piece for Lent, “Sicut Cervus Desiderat” by Palestrina (left). That’s the music I set aside.

Here the piece is performed by the Westminster Cathedral Choir. The text is from Psalm 42: “Like the deer that years for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God. My soul is thirsting for God, the God of my life; when can I enter and see the face of God? . . . ”

YouTube Preview Image

Because of “Godspell”

Posted by Webster
Throwing down the gauntlet to my Catholic brother and fellow YIMC blogger, Frank Weathers— The year was 1970, when you were—what—six years old?! That’s when “Godspell” opened off Broadway, five years after Vatican II, one year after Woodstock. It totally rocked my world. And you were in what, kindergarten? How could you understand, Frank?

I was one year into an alternative spiritual trip that left the Episcopal Church in the rear-view mirror. Just then, this hippie-dippie musical inspired by “Hair” and based on the Gospel of Matthew arrived on the scene. And, despite all my alternative yearnings, something inside me said, You will never stop being a Christian!

Have you even heard (of) the songs “Prepare ye the way of the Lord” or “Day by Day”? No, I didn’t think so. So how can you understand what that time was like?

We were all looking for God, Krishna, Allah, Yahweh, Whatever His Name (we didn’t really care, it was all good). But even when I might have seemed farthest from my Christian roots, I couldn’t help loving “Godspell.”

I saw the touring production that left New York for Boston in, what, 1971? I saw the movie in 1973. Although I would take another 35 years to find the Catholic Church, there was something about this musical that sank its teeth into me and never let go.

Strangely, I thought of “Godspell” this Saturday afternoon at confession. In giving me my penance, Father Barnes referred to the opening prayer in the liturgy for the Second Sunday in Advent:

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory—

As I went for a walk after confession and pondered my penance, I thought of the lyrics to “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord.” Which, by the way, are hippie-dippie simplicity at their best (worst?): Prepare ye the way of the Lord, Prepare ye the way of the Lord . . . (and so on). How do we prepare the way of the Lord? How do we remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy?

That’s question enough for this Advent season. Over and out!


CLOSE | X

HIDE | X