Archives For Music

 

The Urgency of the Unremarkable
 
A Feature Review of
 

The Noise of Time: A Novel
Julian Barnes

Hardback: Knopf, 2016
Buy now:  [ Amazon ] [ Kindle

 

Reviewed by Andrew Stout

 

In addition to being one of Britain’s most esteemed contemporary novelists, Julian Barnes has distinguished himself as an eloquent and knowledgeable commentator on art. His most recent book of essays, Keeping an Eye Open: Essays on Art (2015), is a series of reflections on the works of (mostly) French painters. In The Noise of Time Barnes is again reflecting on art – though this time it is the music of the Russian composer Dimitri Shostakovich, and the commentary comes in the form of a novel.

From one perspective, the entire narrative is a meditation on the role of the artist. It is a meditation rooted in the specific circumstances of Shostakovich’s life and his conflicts with Soviet authorities. It asks questions about destiny, time, cowardice, courage, and the artist’s use of irony. Shostakovich ran afoul of the party for the themes of his early opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District, which was denounced as “Muddle Instead of Music,” in the party paper Pravda, conceivably written by Stalin himself. This incident is the catalyst for the story’s drama, and the review’s final line sets an ominous tone: “It is a game of clever ingenuity that may end very badly” (27).

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The Source of all Genius
and all Music and all Poetry

Review of

The Small Books of Bach
David Wright

 
Paperback: Wipf and Stock, 2014
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  
 
Reviewed by Gina Dalfonzo

 

If the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, perhaps the fear of Bach is the beginning of a true love and appreciation of music. The word “fear” may be even more appropriate here than in the original biblical context. I can’t speak for the professional musician, but the amateur musician like myself approaches Johann Sebastian Bach with a sense of awe bordering on—or rather, crossing the border into—profound intimidation.

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The Rhythm of a Movement

A Review of

Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement
Robert Darden

Hardback: Penn State UP, 2015
Buy now:  [ Amazon ]  [ Kindle ]

 

Review by Sam Edgin

 

At the end of his introduction to Nothing but Love in God’s Water: Black Sacred Music from the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, the book’s author, Robert Darden, uses a quote from a former slave to wrap together the themes of intensity, adaptability, community, and especially rhythm and religion that he says beat within black sacred music. The slave, remembering the songs of his childhood, says that the “…weird and mysterious music of the religious ceremonies moved young and old alike in a frenzy of religious fervor.” These spiritual songs, paired to a religion that stood on the side of the oppressed and promised a better world, fueled what Darden calls a “movement” (emphasis his) that spanned generations and changed the world.

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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:

https://archive.org/download/Vol2000-04-14/DiscTwo%2Fvol2000-04-14d02t13_vbr.mp3

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…

Lyrics:

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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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