Sara Bareilles’ Brave

I recently discovered Sara Bareilles. (Yes, I know, she’s been around awhile. I’m always late to the Cool Party.) She’s the awesome.

This is “Brave” from her new album The Blessed Unrest.

I like the music, but I especially like the lyrics.

Everybody’s been there,
Everybody’s been stared down by the enemy
Fallen for the fear
And done some disappearing,
Bow down to the mighty
Don’t run, stop holding your tongue
Maybe there’s a way out of the cage where you live
Maybe one of these days you can let the light in
Show me how big your brave is

It’s an interesting song. She said (source?) that it was to inspire a friend’s coming out, but if you listen to the lyrics, I think “provoke” would be a better word than “inspire.”

She’s written a lot of excellent songs. I’m amazed at how high a proportion of the songs on her album I also like. Here are some favorites:

Uncharted,” “Gonna Get Over You,” “Hold My Heart,” and “King of Anything,” a stunning series of four songs on her album Kaleidoscope Heart.

“Vegas,” “Bottle It Up,” “Come Round Soon,” “Fairytale,” and “Love Song” from the nearly-as-good Little Voice

Plus (in addition to “Brave”) “Chasing the Sun,” “Hercules,” “Little Black Dress,” and “I Choose You,” from The Blessed Unrest.

Newsboys at Fusion 2013

We saw the Newsboys last night. They were performing at the “Fusion 2013” event at the Anchorage Baptist Temple (the only church I’ve ever seen with a disco ball). Here’s a shot from the show.

Newsboys 2013

Judging from the number of people holding up phones (and iPads!) to record whole songs, you should be able to piece together the entire concert experience if you surf YouTube for a while.

Most of the songs last night were from the God’s Not Dead tour. I didn’t keep a set list, but I remember “The King is Coming,” “Your Love Never Fails” and (duh) “God’s Not Dead.” If they played “Forever Reign” or “I Am Second” I don’t remember them.

They also played a few songs from their forthcoming album Restart. They were fine songs but I don’t know them yet, much less remember their names, except for “Live With Abandon,” which is not infrequently on the radio.

I was surprised that they didn’t do much from their Born Again album. I think(?) they played “Born Again” and “Miracles,” but not much else. I was hoping for “Way Beyond Myself” and/or “Impossible,” and wouldn’t have complained if they’d played “One Shot.”

But I couldn’t be disappointed because they also threw in two of my very favorite pre-Michael Tait Newsboys songs: “Something Beautiful” from Go and “He Reigns” from Adoration. (The latter a worship song so wonderful it was included in the recent United Methodist Worship and Song quasi-hymnal.) In a nod to Tait’s history (and the crowd’s wishes) the set also included DC Talk’s “Jesus Freak.”

It was a great show. The venue was a huge church, which is to say, a very intimate stadium. I can’t remember ever being as close to the stage at a concert. The band was excellent, and made an effort to connect with the audience. They didn’t just read “Anchorage” off a sticky note on their guitar, so to speak, but talked about hunting moose and how Jesus would have been able to get some great disciples with so many fishermen to choose from.

Michael Tait was great, not only as the lead vocalist, but — especially — as a showman. The emcee had instructed everyone to stay in their pews because of the fire code, but after the band came out, Tait told them to come down front where he could get down among them and high-five them and make eye contact and hold out his microphone for them and generally connect with the audience as he sang.

This was my third Newsboys concert. Margo and I saw them in 1995 at the Oregon State Fairgrounds. They were the headline act in a bill that opened with Tony Vincent, followed by Audio Adrenaline. (If they toured with Audio Adrenaline today, it would be 2/3 of a DC Talk reunion.) That would have been the Going Public tour, I guess.

I saw the Newsboys again a year later on their Take Me to Your Leader tour. They had broken (for a Christian act) with “Breakfast,” and were at the Rose Garden in Portland, with a huge stage show. Theoretically, I was a chaperone for my church’s youth group. But after 1996, I didn’t have the chance to see them again until last night. I’m glad I did.

Was It 2012 or 2112?

File this under Signs of the (Mayan?) Apocalypse: Rush Featured on NPR. Wow.

I recently saw Rush play a show in Atlanta. The crowd ranged in age from five to the mid-fifties, embracing both lank-haired teenage skateboarders and heart surgeons. And when the band launched into its ode to suburban anomie, “Subdivisions,” everyone got it. If you were a smart kid, you lived that song in your youth, and a little thing like academic tenure won’t make you forget it. And if you weren’t, you lived it too.

Update: D’Oh! My clever title was wrong. Fixed. Happy 21/12, by the way!

Neil Peart Interview

Interesting (but brief) interview with Neil Peart about Clockwork Angels and other topics.

…I’m less comfortable in a gregarious social situation, and you can be introverted and still share everything. It just means that you’re guarded. Certainly there is a line that seems perfectly clear to me about what’s to be shared and what isn’t, but it’s not always so clear to others. Extroverts never understand introverts…

I got the singles (“Caravan” and “BU2B”) back in April of 2011 when they came out, and the album back in June. It’s okay, but I prefer their stuff from Hemispheres to maybe Hold Your Fire (or even Presto and Roll the Bones) compared with stuff from Counterparts and later in the 1990s. It came with a PDF booklet, which I guess I ought to have read. If it had been on a CD, or a 12″ album, I’m sure I would have read the liner notes. As it was, I didn’t even realize it was a concept album. In a few weeks the novelization comes out: Clockwork Angels: The Novel

There was also this bit:

A realization I had lately: it is impossible to follow the teachings of Jesus Christ and be a Republican. It’s philosophically absolutely opposed—if they could only think about what they were saying for a minute.

I know a lot of my seminary friends would agree with him about that. As for me, well, that’s a wall I’ll just keep beating my head against. (Bonus questions: is the point even to “follow” his “teachings?” Is Jesus just a teacher? Can Christians be involved in politics at all? That was a live question for the first century of the Reformation, and still today informs much of the tradition: Amish, say, or Quakers.)

Moving CDs

Empirical evidence suggests that a typical CD jewel case weighs between 3.0 oz and 3 1/8 oz. Let’s call it 3.1 oz. I have to ship about 864 of them to Alaska. That means I’m shipping 164 lbs. of jewel cases.

Alternatively, I can move the CDs to binder cases like these:

CD Binder Case (1)

Each of them weighs about 3 lbs and contains 324 discs. Well, really, they have 324 pockets, but as you can see, I’m loading every other pocket with the album art/booklet for the CD:

CD Binder Case (2)

I figure I need six cases like that. That means I’m shipping 18 lbs, for a net savings of 146 lbs. Sounds good to me.

The best part is that, when I get there, I can put all six binders into deep storage, since I hardly ever listen to CDs, once I’ve ripped them into iTunes.

(Bonus points if you can connect the bottom picture with the title of the post. Hint: what is the first disc on the next page?)

Top Music in 2011

Looking at iTunes, I see my top song this year was “40 Day Dream” by Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes. I listened to it 137 times. A few of those must have been in 2010, since I bought it that October, but there’s no question it was one of my favorites this year. (Sadly, there’s no way with an iTunes Smart List to learn what a song’s play count was during a certain period of time.)

(Note that “40 Day Dream” is on the same (eponymous) album as “Home”, a song covered by Jorge & Alexa Narvaez in their charming YouTube viral video.)

Following “40 Day Dream” in my most-played list were “Bye Bye Bye” by Plants and Animals, “Buildings and Mountains” by the Republic Tigers, and “Can You Tell” by Ra Ra Riot, with 116, 111, and 106 plays, respectively.

As it happens, all those are digital downloads from Amazon. I have a handful of songs from the iTunes store, but only a few, since a web browser offers a much better shopping experience than iTunes does. Web browsers have offered tabs since, when, 1997 or so? But iTunes is pure-linear, and shopping on it interferes with other things you might be trying to do with iTunes.

If we subtract out all the digital downloads, leaving just songs that I’ve ripped from actual physical brick-and-mortar CDs, my top songs from 2011 were: “If You Leave” by Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark, “He’s a Pirate” by Klaus Badelt and Hans Zimmer, “Mr. Roboto” by Styx, and “Africa” by Toto. (Don’t wince at my taste: serious musicians love that song! See track 11 here.)

The pirate song is from my collection of Film Music of course. The others are, like those I mentioned previously, from a playlist of music that has appeared on the TV show Chuck. If we subtract out “Chuck” music and “Film Music” then my top songs in 2011 were: “YYZ” by Rush, “A Raft of Penguins” by Ian Anderson, “La Villa Strangiato” by Rush, and “There is a Green Hill” by the World Wide Message Tribe. Also in the Top 10 list are the Genevan Psalter’s Psalm 124 by Calvin College, “Peace of Mind” by Boston, and “Just Showed Up (for My Own Life)” by Sara Groves.

The Goodbye Look

Well. Here’s something different: Mel Torme covering Donald Fagen’s “The Goodbye Look“:

That’s my second-favorite track on, The Nightfly, one of my all-time favorite albums. My favorite track is “Walk Between Raindrops.” If you don’t like it, well, you’re a loser, I’m sorry. And if you do like it, try Kamakiriad, Fagen’s next solo album, which was released just 11 short years later. Start there with “Tomorrow’s Girls.”