Thursday, January 31, 2008

Revealing who we are, what surrounds us, and what we hope for:

Apocalyptic playlist 2007
“a.poc.a.lypse – a disclosure regarded as revelation” ~ Webster’s Dictionary

“The prophet was an individual who said No to his society, condemning its habits and assumptions, its complacency, waywardness, and syncretism. He was often compelled to proclaim the very opposite of what his heart expected.” ~ Abraham Heschel, The Propehts

Here are the songs that I found most revealing from 2007 about the human condition, the forces we are caught up in, and our deepest yearnings. Feel free to comment or post your own “apocalyptic” songs.

10. We’ve Got Everything – Modest Mouse
A nice reminder that part of human nature is to believe that we know more than we do and we are REALLY confident about what we (don’t) know (see the overconfidence phenomenon and the research around belief perseverance in any General Psychology textbook). While it’s not quite the Christian virtue of humility, perhaps lyrics like the following move us closer? “We've got everything, we've got everything, we've got everything down to a science, so I guess we know everything”.

9. Who Do You Love? – Ted Leo and the Pharmacists
“But who do you love? Who do you love? Who do you love? And so goes the most of our freedom of speech: we live for the city, we work for the beach.
And when the weekend seems to be just out of reach, just make the most of what you’re paid, dear. Your love’s a ghost, and that’s why we’re delayed here.”
Seems like Jesus put this in a different form, “you cannot love both God and mammon”, and while this song doesn’t seem to be some deep profession of faith, at least it is asking the right question.

8. The Trumpet Child – Over the Rhine
The lyrics speak for themselves…enjoy:

The trumpet child will blow his horn
Will blast the sky till it’s reborn
With Gabriel’s power and Satchmo’s grace
He will surprise the human race
The trumpet he will use to blow
Is being fashioned out of fire
The mouthpiece is a glowing coal
The bell a burst of wild desire
The trumpet child will riff on love
Thelonious notes from up above
He’ll improvise a kingdom come
Accompanied by a different drum
The trumpet child will banquet here
Until the lost are truly found
A thousand days, a thousand years
Nobody knows for sure how long
The rich forget about their gold
The meek and mild are strangely bold
A lion lies beside a lamb
And licks a murderer’s outstretched hand
The trumpet child will lift a glass
His bride now leaning in at last
His final aim to fill with joy
The earth that man all but destroyed

7. Bodysnatchers – Radiohead
Nobody reminds us of the forces that surround us which have the potential to take us over more than Radiohead has done throughout their career. This is just a fantastically creepy and paranoid song reminding us that our “selves” are often not totally our own.

6. Innocent bones – Iron and Wine
Perhaps the most gently sung roundhouse kick to the face of the past year, asserting that platitudes don’t cut it when one looks at all of the suffering in the world. The best line in the song? “There ain’t a penthouse Christian wants the pain of the scab, but they all want the scar. How every mouth sings of what it’s without, so we all sing of love”

5. The Prayer – Bloc Party
A great song exposing our narcissistic desires in a culture where charisma, charm, and being noticed rules…titling the song “The Prayer” was just genius!

Lord give me grace and dancing feet
And the power to impress
Lord give me grace and dancing feet
Let me outshine the moon

Is it so wrong to crave recognition?
Second best, runner-up
Is it so wrong to want rewarding?
To want more than is given to you?
Than is given to you

Tonight make me unstoppable
And I will charm, I will slice
I will dazzle them with my wit
Tonight make me unstoppable
And I will charm, I will slice
I will dazzle, I will outshine them all

4. The Picture – Son Volt
First off, Son Volt’s album “The Search” was my favorite album of the year. Second off, connecting mercy to the end of the journey is beautifully done, but for now, the picture is dirty. Here are the lyrics:

Hurricanes in December-earthquakes in the heartland
Bad air index on a flashing warning sign
Bound for trouble-the picture is dirty

We'll know when we get there
If we'll find mercy

Flotsam and Jetsam in charge of the agency
Where truth gets twisted in danger of dissolving
When war is profit and profit is war

We'll know when we get there
If we'll find mercy

Certified minds exacting a toll
Trying to fit a square block in a round hole
A heart of darkness facing 1000 bloodshot eyes

We'll know when we get there
If we'll find mercy

3. Temptation of Adam – Josh Ritter
So in J.R.’s world the Garden of Eden is now found in a missile silo where the temptation is whether or not to destroy the world for the exclusive love of the other because of uncertainty about whether that love could survive elsewhere…what a fantastic allusion!

2. Intervention – Arcade Fire
As the band has noted, their album “Neon Bible” is a critique of faith, but one done by people who have not given up on faith. Some stinging lyrics include:

Been working for the church
While your life falls apart.
Singing hallelujah with the fear in your heart
Every spark of friendship and love
Will die without a home

Ouch…but do we need to hear this and take it to heart?

1. Apartment Story – The National
I see this as a biting critique of American life, plus it’s really catchy!

Be still for a second while I try and try to pin your flowers on
Can you carry my drink I have everything else
I can tie my tie all by myself
I’m getting tied, I’m forgetting why

Oh we’re so disarming darling, everything we did believe
is diving diving diving diving off the balcony
Tired and wired we ruin too easy
sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave

Hold ourselves together with our arms around the stereo for hours
While it sings to itself or whatever it does
when it sings to itself of its long lost loves
I’m getting tied, I’m forgetting why

Tired and wired we ruin too easy
sleep in our clothes and wait for winter to leave
but I’ll be with you behind the couch when they come
on a different day just like this one

We’ll stay inside til somebody finds us
do whatever the TV tells us
stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz for days
We’ll stay inside til somebody finds us
do whatever the TV tells us
stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz

so worry not
all things are well
we’ll be alright
we have our looks and perfume

stay inside til somebody finds us
do whatever the TV tells us
stay inside our rosy-minded fuzz
so worry not
all things are well
we’ll be alright
we have our looks and perfume on

5 comments:

Darcy said...

First, Yay for a new blog! I was still keeping the faith that something was really brewing :) I just heard "The Trumpet Child" for the first time last night and I immediately ordered the CD. I am obsessed with them right now and am trying to get current with their music b/c I've been listening to "Ohio" since Christmas. My favorite part is:
The trumpet child will riff on love
Thelonious notes from up above
He’ll improvise a kingdom come
Accompanied by a different drum

Also, love the Josh Ritter song. Adam made me listen to that b/c he really liked it. That's about all I can comment on. Thanks for sharing :)

-Steb- said...

You and your music. lol :)

Anonymous said...

Hey, its Carlo.

If I may throw in two songs for consideration. "Battle Hymns", and "The Road I Must Travel", both of them by The Nightwatchman. The Nightwatchman is a folk acoustic solo album put out this last year by the guitar player from Rage Against the Machine. I think he sees himself in the tradition of Wood Guthrie, though you can tell he feels a tension between his pacifism and his desire for revenge.

Anonymous said...

Hi, I like the song of The National, and what does it mean "rosy-minded fuzz", please ?

tks

terry

Ron said...

Hey Terry! I guess the imagery that comes to mind for the line "rosy-minded fuzz" is an out of touch with reality optimism (seeing the world through "rose colored glasses") that dulls us to the manner in which things are falling apart in our lives. Television as a way to numb ourselves to our own brokenness (I think of the mother "addicted" to television game shows in "Requiem for a Dream" as an example of this type of rosy-minded fuzz).