For those into music and this blog, you'll remember (or not) that a couple of months ago I posted the top ten songs I'm listening to right now as do my studying. To restate, I started listening to music while studying out of necessity my Freshman year of college, where a quiet place to read did not exist. Freshman boys own stereos that are loud, and secretly harbor the desire to be DJ's... the combination is deadly. Since my RA's were actually semi-shacking up with their girlfriends, they weren't around all that much, meaning that I could hear the Rolling Stones, The Smiths, or The Police pretty much anytime, night or day, through the walls of our room.
The key is listening to something so many times that you don't hear it anymore, but changing periodically so that you don't get sub-consciously bored. Here's the list:
(NOTE: I AM NOT RECOMMENDING THIS TO ANYONE, NOT CONDONING IT'S CONTENT, AND NOT RECOMMENDING THIS TO KIDS. My goal isn't to corrupt or endorse anything.... I just try to listen or watch everything through the eyes of Jesus.)
10) Portland Rain (Everclear): A very vivid account of the day a wife leaves a husband and daughter. Art Alexakis, lead singer and songwriter, grew up in a broken home in a poor neighborhood in Southern California. His memories of his father aren't happy ones, as the man beat his mother before deserting them both (detailed in a great song, "Daddy Gave Me A Name"). Art's mother turned to a kind of fundamentalist, judgemental Christianity that helped sustain her until her death, but the message killed Art's love for the church. A life marked by creativity, drug abuse and recovery, and a series of broken relationships, Art writes best when the songs are about pain. I pray for him every single night.
9) Bold As Love (John Mayer): The whole "Continuum" album is fantastic. Mayer does his best Stevie Ray Vaughan imitation in this tune (and he nails it).
8) Heard 'Em Say (Kanye West): West's view of the world... slanted and interesting.
7) Jesus Walks (Mase): Yeah, am listening to some rap right now. Hey, I went to Lima Senior... what do you expect?
6) Mo Money, Mo Problems (The Notorious B.I.G.): Not really a problem right now, but you ought to listen to this crusing on top of an open air bus in Trafalgar Square. London meets Brooklyn... talk about culture clash.
5) California Love (Zapp and Roger): Was the sample that Tupac's song of the same name was built on. Roger Troutman was a guy who used a vocoder (I think that's what it's called) on every song, so that his voice would sound machine-like. He spent the last years of his life laying musical tracks for Dr. Dre during his "Deathrow Record" days when the "west coast sound" was defined in rap. Roger helped define funk in the 70's, working with funk luminaries as George Clinton, Bootsy Collins, and the Ohio Players. I saw him in concert in a little hole-in-the-wall club (don't tell my mom and dad... they didn't know I was there) in Lima, back when Zapp was struggling to survive financially. A truly great show! He died tragically in a murder-suicide at the hands of his brother and business-partner, Larry, in Dayton in 1999
4) Psalm 72 (Big Tent Revival): One of my favorite songs, Christian or otherwise. A unique, powerful musical interpretation of Psalm 72.
3) Defying Gravity/No Good Deed/For Good (from the musical "Wicked"): We saw "Wicked" in London, and I had the music downloaded before I went to bed that night. Go see it.
2) Ocean Floor/Leaving 99 (Audio Adrenaline) - Simply one of the best Christian rock bands. Due to their lead singer's vocal problems, they're calling it quits next April, which is a shame. Two great tracks.
1) Elderly Woman Behind The Counter In A Small Town (Pearl Jam): I loved this song the first time Noel Tabora played it for me during my first stint at Shawnee UMC. Noel was a great kid, with a soft heart and profound sense that he could make a difference in other people's lives. A great song, that reminds me of a great guy.