Archives For Music


Greil Marcus

Noted Rock critic Greil Marcus has just released a new book, The History of Rock ‘n’ Roll in Ten Songs (Yale UP).

For your listening pleasure, we are delighted to feature here the 10 songs covered in this new book. For a complete explanation of why he chose these songs, you will have to buy the book!

*** Books by Greil Marcus ***

Hope you enjoy these recordings!

#1 – Shake Some Action – The Flamin’ Groovies 
[ Buy MP3 – 99c ]

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Bill Mallonee

In honor of Valentine’s Day, I give you one of my favorite songs…
A song about love… and baseball (and the sorts of gifts and passions we have that give shape to our lives)

This song has been recorded in several different places, but this live version from 2000 is one of my favorites:

ALSO, for a limited time…
Bill is giving away a free MP3 of a different recording of this song

The song also appears on his 2002 album Fetal Position…
[Listen and Download here]

Bill Mallonee:
Paste Music Magazine, in a poll conducted by both writers and artists, listed Bill Mallonee as 65 in their “100 Greatest Living Songwriters Poll.” “At the end of the day, it’s about the story living under your own skin. In my work, I’ve just tried to chase that story down and put something of a frame around it for a spell.” Mallonee, (pronounced MAL-O-KNEE) the lyrical and musical source behind the late Vigilantes of Love, started playing music in Athens in the late 80’s. Bill’s deeper love for music and lyricism of artists like Dylan and Neil Young left an indelible mark on his writing and vocal delivery. “Being a son of the South, it’s hard not to be surrounded by the beauty of things fractured and incongruous…that’s the stuff of real songs… What came out was my own version of what I deeply loved in the work of those two.” [Dylan and Neil Young]

Read my review of Bill Mallonee’s
recent Jack Kerouac-themed album

You Give it all your Heart…


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Pete Seeger

When I heard the news this morning that Pete Seeger had died yesterday, I was reminded of this video that was filmed with our friends at the Bruderhof less than a year ago…

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Exalting the Giver of Music

A Review of

It was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God
Ned Bustard ed.

Paperback: Square Halo Books, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Erin M. Stephens


If the Church is the Body of Christ, then music is its heartbeat. Music reverberates in the spirit, draws individuals together into community, and guides them in the common desire to exalt their Savior. Through music, Christians experience an inexplicable link to their Creator. Though mysterious, this interaction is a central facet of Christianity that intimately informs your relationship with God. Each follower of Christ, regardless of personal musical ability, should cultivate a God-centered understanding of music. For such an endeavor, It was Good: Making Music to the Glory of God edited by Ned Bustard is an ideal resource. In its engaging pages, thirty devout music-professionals offer their unique perspectives on music-making. Its content is accessible, its contributors authoritative, and its captivating insights universally applicable, making this book a necessary pleasure for worship leader and worshiper alike.

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As you might already know, this week is Banned Books Week.

But really… Isn’t there only so much you can say about banned books? Make a list, tell stories about why and where they were banned, etc. Important work, but it does get a wee bit tired after while.  So, my  friend (and SLOW CHURCH co-author), wittily suggested that for something completely different, somebody should re-spin this event as BAND Books week.

So, taking John up on his idea, in honor of the very first Band Books Week, we are proud to offer our list of 20+ essential books on bands and popular music.

(This list is based largely on contributions from music writers and booksellers including: Kester Smith, Adam P. Newton, Dan Gibson, Sheldon Lesire and Josh Langhoff.  Huge thanks to our contributors!!!!

Use the comments below to tell us:
What books are missing from this list?
What books do not belong on this list and why?


 The Very Best of the Best…
(Start Reading Here)

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Walt WhitmanI Hear America Singing
Walt Whitman


Today is the Birthday
of Walt Whitman, born 1819

I hear America singing, the varied carols I hear,
Those of mechanics, each one singing his as it should be blithe and strong,
The carpenter singing his as he measures his plank or beam,
The mason singing his as he makes ready for work, or leaves off work,
The boatman singing what belongs to him in his boat, the deckhand
       singing on the steamboat deck,
The shoemaker singing as he sits on his bench, the hatter singing as
       he stands,
The wood-cutter’s song, the ploughboy’s on his way in the morning,
       or at noon intermission or at sundown,
The delicious singing of the mother, or of the young wife at work,
       or of the girl sewing or washing,
Each singing what belongs to him or her and to none else,
The day what belongs to the day–at night the party of young
       fellows, robust, friendly,
Singing with open mouths their strong melodious songs.

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Listening More Carefully.

A Feature Review of

Personal Jesus: How Popular Music Shapes our Souls.
Clive Marsh and Vaughan Roberts

Paperback: Baker, 2013.
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Todd Edmondson

If my own adolescence is at all typical, for a certain subset of kids growing up in Christian households in the latter decades of the twentieth century the conversation between religious faith and popular music could be neatly divided into four pivotal moments:
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Best Books (and music and films) on Hildegard of Bingen
ERB Playlist #6
Compiled by Caitlin Michelle Desjardins

This is the sixth in an on-going series of “playlists,” in which we recommend books around a particular theme.


“Making a mixtape (or playlist) is the opposite of indifferent. It’s heartfelt, purposeful — often a subtle form of flirtation. … [The playlist] is a way of making yourself known, an interpersonal form of show business, of making news, of replicating sounds and words you find important. It’s like poetry, because poetry is what you can’t say in any other way.”
– David Dark, The Sacredness of Questioning Everything
(Our 2009 Book of the Year. Read our Review…)


*** A Recent essay by ERB editor Chris Smith on a theology of the playlist

[ Previous Playlist – #5 Favorite Madeleine L’Engle Books ]


*** Watch for more ERB playlists in the coming weeks and months…



We have just passed through a seminal year for women, monastics, mystics and healers with the canonization of Hildegard von Bingen, followed by her being named a Doctor of the Church—one of only three women to hold that distinction. Hildegard, for me, has always been, first, a fascinating story and figure and, secondly, an inspiration for writing and all kinds of singing. Below are some of the works by or about Hildegard that have been most formative and delightful for me as I’ve explored her life and legacy.
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Laura Clawson - I Belong to This BandA Brief Review of

I Belong to This Band, Hallelujah!: Community, Spirituality, and Tradition among Sacred Harp Singers

Laura Clawson

Paperback: University Of Chicago Press, 2011.
Buy now: [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

Reviewed by Will Fitzgerald.

Sacred Harp singing, with its pulsing rhythm, heavy metal loudness, and impassioned 18th century spirituality, attracts a wide diversity of singers—people you’d never expect to come together to sing from a book of Christian hymns. It’s also attracted its share of participant scholars, such as David Warren Steel (Makers of the Sacred Harp), Buell E. Cobb (The Sacred Harp: A Tradition and Its Music), Kiri Miller (Traveling Home: Sacred Harp Singing and American Pluralism)—all the way back to George Pullen Jackson’s 1933 study, White Spirituals in the Southern Uplands: The Story of the Fasola Folk, Their Songs, Singings, and “Buckwheat Notes”. Clawson’s book joins this body of work, with a slight twist. Rather than focusing on the southern singers who nursed this tradition (as Jackson and Cobb do), or the non-southern “diaspora” singers whom Miller investigates, Clawson looks in depth at four locations where Sacred Harp singing occurs, two in the South (Sand Mountain, Alabama, and Holly Springs, Georgia) and two in the North (Chicago, Illinois, and Minneapolis, Minnesota). Additional chapters examine the effect of a bubble of interest that occurred when two Sacred Harp songs, sung by non-professional Sacred Harp singers, were included in the 2003 movie, Cold Mountain.

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Although Gil Scott-Heron is often called “the godfather of rap,” he never wanted that title. Like contemporary rap artists, he spoke biting social commentary, repeating refrains for emphasis, but his performances showcased the musicality of the spoken word, set against an ensemble of bluesmen. Scott-Heron considered himself a “bluesologist,” a verbal Coltrane of poetry, percussion and politics.

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