If your eternity was based on your iTunes, where would you go?

The music genre labeled “Christian” has traditionally been plagued with fluffy, cliche lyrics and repetitive, acoustic guitar chords.  A lot of it is bad.   But some of it is good.  There are talented “Christian” bands that don’t sing about Jesus in every song (or any).   There are talented “Christian” artists that nearly always sing about Jesus.  For everyone one of these bands or artists, there are probably two or three that I don’t care for.

It’s odd how much Christians can debate on divide on music — not just inside a church on Sunday.  Some Christians refuse to listen to “secular” music.  They think that if there’s a hint of guitar, it’s of the devil.  Others have swung the pendulum to the other end, boycotting anything labeled “Christian.”   They think Bono should become the 13th apostle.

Where am I on this spectrum?  I like Christian music.  I also like “secular” music.  But here’s the thing: there is not one thing on this planet that is secular.  Every song is a worship song.  Every film is a worship film.  Every novel, picture, poem, or anything else we create or do, is a act of worship.  The question is not whether or not you worship, but what is the object of your worship.

Most things are not inherently evil.  Remember that 1 Timothy 4:4 says, “For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving, for it is made holy by the word of God and prayer.”  We must be discerning about what can be redeemed and what must be rejected.  Some things, like drugs or strip clubs or pornography are evil and cannot be redeemed. However, if a Christian musician doesn’t sing a love song to Jesus should it be rejected? Just because a band like Coldplay isn’t “Christian” should we reject them?  I don’t think so.

My dad markets electrical products.  When he creates brochures, he doesn’t print Jesus’ face on the cover or type “For the Glory of God!” on the back.  Why does music have a different standard?  Whatever you do, do for the glory of God.  And that looks different for every Christian.  By the way, the title of this post is meant to be in jest.  Of course what music you listen to doesn’t determine your eternity — but some people (both Christians and non-Christians) might imply it.

After all this talk about music, I want to know you listen to.  Leave a comment with your top five most played songs, as well as the last five songs you played.  Here’s mine:

Top 5

  1. Hoppípolla- Sigur Rós
  2. The Haunting – Anberlin
  3. Life in Technicolor – Coldplay
  4. Till Kingdom Come – Coldplay
  5. Inevitable – Anberlin

Last 5

  1. The Man Comes Around – Johnny Cash
  2. Letters from the Sky – Civil Twilight
  3. 18 Bullet Holes – Waterdeep
  4. Cemeteries Of London – Coldplay
  5. Ancient Man – Burlap to Cashmere

The Ruin of the Beast

In my previous post, I wrote a bit about Burlap to Cashmere’s only album.  I just found this music video by Steven Delopoulos, Burlap’s frontman and primary creative.  He has done a few solo projects in the last few years and here is “The Ruin of the Beast.”  The artwork in this video is amazing.  And the meaning of the song?  Well, I’m still working on that one.


Anybody Out There?

If you want to listen to good folk/world rock-influenced music, may I suggest to you the little known album Anybody Out There? by Burlap to Cashmere (1998).  If there’s one album, out of a handful, that I regularly turn to, it’s this one.

For all I know, the band is not together anymore and Anybody Out There? was their only full-length release.  They were formed in New York in the mid-90s.  Their name supposedly comes from an episode of The Bob Newhart Show. Their sound is a mix of Greek dance, back-woods folk, radio pop, and piano-driven ballads.

Songs like “Digee Dime,” “Eileen’s Song,” “Good Man,” and “Chop Chop” just make you happy.  “Basic Instructions” makes you want to dance at a big, fat, Greek wedding.  “Treasures in Heaven,” “Ancient Man,” “Skin is Burning,” and the title track work your mind over the railing.  “Divorce” and “Scenes” are rather eerie stories that will show you the darker side of the band.  The final track, “Mansions,” will make you longer for a better world than the one we have now.

Check it out.  Happy listening!


Sigur Rós Comes to Omaha

I was in Omaha at the Orpheum Theatre last night.  The Icelandic band Sigur Rós was scheduled for an 8 o’clock show.  The weather wasn’t cooperating though.  For two hours, we were in the Orpheum’s basement, taking shelter from a series of tornado warnings.  After the last warning ended at 9:15 Central Time, we were allowed to take our seats.  The concert started around 9:30. 

It was well worth the wait.  The band put on a beautiful show.  I honestly don’t know of another band that is as musically creative as they are.  The stage was loaded with instruments: drums, piano, acoustic and electric guitars, bass, mini-organ, violins, xylophones, and other ones I can’t name.  The audience sat for the entire 2 hour show.  We marveled at each song, all of which seemed to communicate something more than simple music.  It was emotionally, intellectually, and spiritually refreshing to take digest each note and lyric (even though some were in Icelandic and others just gibberish). 

Here are some images of our evening with Sigur Rós.