Every four is a waltz again

Every four is a waltz again May 6, 2022

• Religion News Service: “Like that new church worship song? Chances are, it will be gone soon.”

But look on the bright side, if you don’t like that new church worship song, the chances are it will be gone soon too. So there’s that.

The most popular worship song in churches these days is “Build My Life,” from Bethel Music, the megachurch-based worship music hit machine based in Northern California.

Sitting at number one on the top 100 worship song chart from Christian Copyright Licensing International, which licenses worship music, “Build My Life,” first released in 2016, is an outlier in worship music, where hit songs are here today and gone tomorrow.

You can almost hear those paragraphs in Casey Kasem’s voice, like he’s about to tell us how this is Bethel’s 15th No. 1 worship song, tied with Fanny Crosby for second place on the all-time list.

That “Top 100 worship song chart” is a fascinating development — and not just for the uncomfortable things it suggests about the ephemeral, competitive, celebrity-seeking nature of contemporary “worship.” It’s also a kind of throwback to the pre-vinyl, pre-radio/jukebox days of sheet music sales as the primary metric for “hit” songs.

That suggests something about the new post-radio, post-CD economics of music, but I’m having a hard time focusing on that because it’s also just one more way that the 2020s are feeling like a replay of the 1920s. And that’s depressing.

I was born in 1968 and, more and more, I’m convinced that my American life is destined to be the shadow or the rhyme of someone who was born in 1868 — a time of great promise quickly swept away in a generational backlash bent on restoring former injustices and locking them in for another century. “I do not pretend to understand the moral universe, the arc is a long one, my eye reaches but little ways. … But from what I see …” it may be a flat circle.

• “I’m in Lockdown,” Perfect Number posted back on March 16.

Ever since she’s been blogging regularly about life in Shanghai under the strictest measures of the ongoing Spanish flu Covid pandemic. It’s a thoughtful, fascinating window into daily life on the other side of the world from where I’m sitting.

This post has an index of all of her Life During Lockdown posts (up through April 26 — the lockdown and the blogging is ongoing). The image to the right is from this post, on Monday, in which she explains that, while locked down: “We can only buy vegetables in large bags where you don’t even know what vegetables will be in it. You can’t choose what you want. And these mystery bags have A LOT of cabbage in them. Like you would not believe how much cabbage is in my fridge right now.”

Keep everyone in Shanghai in your thoughts and prayers. And, I guess, if you’ve got any great cabbage recipes, you should send those along too.

Erik Loomis visits the American grave of Myles and Zilphia Horton. The Hortons founded the Highlander Folk Center (aka Highlander School) in Tennessee in 1932. We’re going to need more of that kind of thing if we want to see if the third time’s the charm when it comes to the promise of Reconstruction.

And while we’re talking about history, see also: “Deep Zoom: 1836 Broadside ‘Slave Market of America.” Dorothy Berry uses the hi-res, high-tech tools of the 21st century to take a closer look at this 19th-century tract from the American Anti-Slavery Society — a group it may soon be illegal to mention in hundreds of school districts across the country just as it was illegal to mention them in Congress back in 2036 1836.

• “Billionaire Who Invested ‘According to the Word of God’ Charged with Multibillion-Dollar Fraud.” The Roaring ’20s are roaring along. What could go wrong?

• The title for this post comes from the self-titled debut album by They Might Be Giants, which they released when I was a freshman in college back in 1886.

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