How come I can’t see you in my mirror?

How come I can’t see you in my mirror? October 14, 2021

• The title for this post is from the title of a song on Tonio K’s 1978 solo album, Life in the Food Chain, which I’m commending here for two reasons:

1) To correct the oversight of leaving this off my supplemental playlist of Halloween songs; and

2) Because ever since watching Midnight Mass, I’ve been pondering the notion of a vampire story in which no one seems to realize they’re in a vampire story.

I unexpectedly met Tonio K. years ago. I was reading a book while waiting for Tony Campolo to finish meeting with his editor. Mr. K. was reading a book waiting for his wife to finish meeting with her author.

At one point I looked up and said, “I love your music. I own your first five albums on vinyl.” And he said, “Thanks. I don’t think I have my first five albums.” And then we went back to reading our books.

Didn’t have the heart to tell him I’d found them all in used record stores for a grand total of under $30. Still have those albums. They’re all still really good.

Found the green vinyl special edition of this for $5 back before the internet took all the fun out of finding stuff like that.

I haven’t heard anything about what Tonio K. is up to since he played a Crickets reunion concert a few years back. (I don’t own either of the albums he recorded with them in the 1970s, or his Grammy-winning collaboration with Burt Bacharach.) Hope he’s doing well, enjoying life in his 70s, kind of like …

• “‘Hey, isn’t that — ?’ Singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn goes incognito in worship band.”

Bruce Cockburn, the Canadian singer-songwriter, had not attended church regularly in more than 40 years when he walked into the Lighthouse Church in San Francisco three years ago.

He’d come at the request of his wife, M.J., whose spiritual quest, impelled by the death of a friend, led her to the church. Even then, “I told her, ‘I’m not going,’” he said. “I said I was past that. I wasn’t a churchgoing person.”

But M.J. persevered. One Sunday, Cockburn relented and was “completely blown away.”

“I didn’t know any of these people, and they didn’t know me, but love filled the room,” he said of the small non-denominational congregation. “It felt like the church I was waiting for.”

Known for a string of moody folk-rock Billboard 100 hits from the 1980s (“Wondering Where the Lions Are,” “Lovers in a Dangerous Time,” “If I Had a Rocket Launcher”) and his stints playing with The Grateful Dead (“Waiting for a Miracle”), Cockburn had always incorporated Christian theology and imagery into his songs.

Still, Cockburn, 76, didn’t see a reason to mention his musical career, even after he was invited to play in the church’s worship band. “Nobody knew who I was” when they extended the invitation to play, he said. “They needed a guitar player, so they were foolish enough to ask me.”

Cockburn used to do an annual Christmas radio concert special broadcast live. The late great Dwight Ozard scored us tickets one year and we got to see Bruce and Jackson Browne play for an hour for an audience of maybe 100 people (plus a million or so Canadians listening on the radio).

It was a terrific show. One highlight was when Browne, introducing “The Rebel Jesus,” started digging himself in a bit of a hole talking about the religious right and Salman Rushdie and religious intolerance. Cockburn cut him off and saved the moment by saying, “Ah, fuck ’em if they can’t take a joke.” This was, again, a live radio broadcast, and it was hilarious to watch the engineer jump up, frantically fumbling to bleep out the obscenity in a Christmas special.

All of which is to say that I’m glad Cockburn is happy and that I hope the good folks at the Lighthouse Church are cautious about letting him near a live microphone during Sunday worship.

• There’s no room for either Cockburn or Tonio K. in this documentary of CCM: “In ‘The Jesus Music,’ Erwin Brothers recount the glory and mess of Christian music.” Everything I’ve read about this film suggests it’s a bland recap of a Larry-to-Amy-to-DC Talk storyline that doesn’t allow much room for detours into the more interesting offshoots of the genre. It seems, in other words, to be a brief history of the Contemporary Christian Music industry as told by that industry without much acknowledgement that it is, you know, an industry.

The movie was produced by Andrew and Jon Ervin, creators of “faith-based” films like “I Can Only Imagine” and “October Baby.” But it was then acquired and distributed by Lion’s Gate — a secular film company not headquartered in Nashville. According to the Official Rules of CCM, then, we have to conclude that this is not a Christian movie, but a formerly Christian movie that sold out and went secular. It’s the Heart in Motion of documentaries.

• Speaking of music and religion … “The Medieval Ban Against the ‘Devil’s Tritone’: Debunking a Great Myth in Music Theory.” (Alternate headline: Why should the Devil have all the bad music?)

Church officials never banned dissonant chords. They simply noticed, or complained, or cautioned that they sounded, um, dissonant.

• I enjoyed all the music theory in the video at that link, even if I didn’t understand most of it. But if you like that sort of thing, here’s one more music-related link: “Classical Music: How Does It Work?

That’s a guest post at Balloon Juice by a composer explaining what that entails. That’s interesting in itself, but it was more interesting to me because the composer in question is Frank Wilhoit, a longtime commenter in the progressive blogosphere whose name you may recognize due to his indelibly perfect summation of the one and only principle of political conservatism: “Conservatism consists of exactly one proposition, to wit: There must be in-groups whom the law protects but does not bind, alongside out-groups whom the law binds but does not protect.”

Just as important, and just as memorable, is what Wilhoit went on to say: “The law cannot protect anyone unless it binds everyone; and it cannot bind anyone unless it protects everyone.”

OK, then.

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