“renew my will from day to day…”

We sing this song often in our church, but it became particularly relevant during the five weeks Bryan was out of work. It often seems that stress begets stress, and things began to fall apart a little between us in that season. We pressed through and we’re all good now, but I wouldn’t change a thing even if I had the opportunity. Jesus took those really shitty circumstances and revealed areas of my heart that longed for things other than Him.

Anger and fear welled up in me as I began to feel like no one was on “my side” – lost friends, lost income, and at the time a husband who didn’t seem to understand me. I felt alone and discouraged and afraid of the unknown future. But Jesus revealed himself to me through his word and gave me peace so perfect I felt as if I floated through those days on the drunkenness of his holy spirit.

The sweet melody of this song and the lyrics of total surrender filled up that empty reservoir of peace each week, and I’m grateful to our faith community for producing such excellent music that refocuses me on Christ each week.

Here are the lyrics:

My God and Father, While I stray
by Charlotte Elliott

My God My Father while I stray
Far from my home and life’s rough way
Oh Teach me from my heart to say
Thy will be done

Though dark my path and sad my lot
Let me be still and murmur not
Or breathe the prayer divinely taught
Thy will be done

But if my fainting heart be blessed
With the Holy Spirit for its guest
My God, to thee I leave the rest
Thy will be done

If thou should call me to resign
What most I prize, never was mine
I only yield thee what is thine
Thy will be done

Renew my will from day to day
Blend it with thine and take away
All that now makes it hard to say
Thy will be done

Then when on earth I breathe no more
The prayer oft mixed with tears before
I’ll sing upon that joyful shore
Thy will be done
Thy will be done

Thy will be done (hosanna)
Thy will be done (Thy kingdom come)
Thy will be done (hosanna)
Thy will be done (Thy kingdom come)

Hosanna (Thy Kingdom come)
Hosanna (Thy will be done)

Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Thy will be done
Hosanna (Thy Kingdom come)
Hosanna (Thy will be done)

You Pulled Me Through

A truly remarkable performance by Jennifer Hudson at The Grammy’s – both in talent and bravery – in her second public appearance since the shooting death of her mother, brother, and nephew.

I applaud her song choice for The Grammy’s. It seemed a very intentional one that told her story of grief and healing, punctuated by her slight emotional faltering toward the end. When I searched for the song on iTunes later I almost couldn’t find it because it wasn’t her most popular song at the time. I suspect it will be now.

She obviously finds healing in music, and that is something I can relate to.

Update: Opps, looks like the Grammy’s pulled that video. Try this one.

Mixtape 2: He Is Born

Muxtape CassetteI hesitate to mention this because I feel like such a whiner, but I just can’t seem to get into Christmas this year. Jesus, shopping, family, friends, baking – whatever Christmas represents, I’m not feelin’ it.

We’re not traveling this year, and even though I love visiting family, I look forward to the years we spend in our own home with our own traditions. We usually head out to get a tree and do all our Christmas decorating on the weekend after Thanksgiving.

It didn’t happen this year, and now I fear I’m missing my window of opportunity. As I sit in my darkened basement alone, thinking about it, certain factors come to mind.

Death. Christmas is a season of life and new birth, but I feel heavy. I lost my dog a few weeks ago, and four Christmases ago my family anticipated losing Gordy at any time. He finally passed on January 3rd.

Lethargy. Several months ago I became discouraged by one injury after another, and quit going to the gym. I told myself I would replace running with some other exercise, but frankly I’m being a big pouter. I love to run – as much for the mental stimulation as for the physical. I do not move my body anymore, and I feel like a 95 year old woman.

Balance. I feel buried by projects and Things Undone. On Friday I treated myself to an hour of writing – which refreshed me beyond words – but otherwise I have not engaged in things that re-create me. I work, I waste time, and I flop into bed exhausted. The Pile seems never-ending.

Sanity. Perhaps I’m in a funk. Other than the heaviness of remembering Loss, I have a good life. I’m the healthiest I’ve been emotionally and spiritually, Bryan and I are groovy, and I’m aware of the many material and relational blessings of my life. I really have nothing to complain about, which leads me to consider (mild) depression. I normally take a regimen of herbal supplements to combat The Blues, and I sort of keep forgetting to take my pills. I get the feeling I should really try harder at that.

I’m not sure why all of this came out as I sat down to write about my Christmas Mix – it’s not exactly a festive introduction. But this mix makes me smile, and the process of putting it together busied the half of my brain that needed to be busied so I could ponder all this sorrow I feel with the other half of my brain.

As I listen to this mix over and over, I’m reminded of how much I love O Come, O Come, Emmanuel. Of all the verses available, I find it curious Sufjan Stevens chose to record the ones he did. It seems to fit my mood right now, and I find comfort in the repeating refrain of Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

O come, O come, Emmanuel,
And ransom captive Israel,
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

O come, Thou Day-spring, come and cheer
Our spirits by Thine advent here;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.

Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
And ransom captive Israel
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!
Rejoice! Rejoice! Rejoice!

It doesn’t strike me until just now that in the song Israel is rejoicing for the Messiah they have yet to know. They are rejoicing in the hope of things unseen. I think this is where I settle, lately, during the Darker Days. I settle into quiet contemplation, feeling lonely and sorrowful, but with rejoicing hope that I know my savior will carry me through to the other side.

In that respect, depression has never felt so good.

For this reason, I purposely chose to end the mix with Emmylou Harris’ There’s a Light. I want the last song echoing in my mind to be a reminder of the Light in the darkness, of the Rain in the desert, of the Keeper of our hearts.

There’s a light, there’s a light in the darkness
And the black of the night cannot harm us
We can trust not to fear for our comfort is near
There’s a light, there’s a light in the darkness

It will rain it will rain in the desert
In the cracks of the plain there’s a treasure
Like the thurst of the seed we will await we believe
It will rain it will rain in the desert

We will fly we will fly we will let go
To this world we will die but our hearts know
We’ll see more on that side when the door opens wide
We will fly we will fly we will fly we will fly
We will all go

Merry Christmas, and I hope you enjoy my special Christmas mix, He Is Born.

How do you feel at Christmas time? Do you easily rejoice and make merry? What revs you up to celebrate? Do you struggle with fatigue and depression? What inspires you in the darkness?

Mixtape 1: the somewhere else edition

Muxtape CassetteThe Muxtape is back! Only I’m going back to calling it a Mixtape. Muxtape was shut down by the RIAA this summer, and I cried in my beer for days over it. I don’t know who this Justin kid is, but I feel like he represented the Say Anything generation well in his fight to keep online mixes alive.

Go Justin.

Enter, Open Tape. Bryan became tired of all my sleeping under the bed covers and not bathing as I grieved the loss of online music sharing, and he tracked down this similar music sharing opportunity. I asked him how it was different, and he said “it’s open sourced.”

I have no idea what that means.

But what do I care, really, as long as it works?! The main difference I see is that instead of me uploading songs to an external website like Muxtape, I’m uploading songs to my own website. I actually think this is better, because now I don’t have to depend on the continuity of a third party’s system, and I don’t have to delete an old mix to post a new one. I can post as many mixes as my host server can handle, which Bryan says is a lot.

So here we go with Mix #1 (yes, technically it’s mix #6, but I’m starting the count over with the new system) – to listen to it, right click here to open in a new tab or window. If you like it, leave a comment, and I’ll send a copy to a random winner.

The Hold Steady – Stuck Between Stations
Michael Dean Damron & Thee Loyal Bastards – By the Time I Get to Heaven
The Ting Tings – That’s Not My Name
The Faint – Take Me to the Hospital
Belle & Sebastian – If She Wants Me
Badly Drawn Boy – Silent Sigh
Wolf Parade – California Dreamer
Stereo MC’s – Connected
The Temptations – Ball of Confusion
The Neville Brothers – Way Down in the Hole
Paris Combo – Fibre De Verre
Peter Gabriel – Down to Earth

“She was a really cool kisser and she wasn’t all that strict of a Christian.”

I love a good blue collar rock song in the vein of Bruce Springsteen. It’s difficult for me to listen to this without playing some serious air drums. Thomas prefers the guitar. Ruthie twirls.

“…that’s what the world is today…”

It’s crazy how timeless this song is, just insert the political/social/economic drama of the moment. Also, did I mention I’m a big fan of Motown? Somehow, despite the fact I was raised in a completely white middle class suburb, I latched on to funk and Motown at an early age and hold a special place in my heart for the young Michael Jackson and The Jackson Five.

“…you gotta keep the devil way down in the hole…”

When Bryan and I snuggled in to start Season 2 of The Wire, I eagerly anticipated the Blind Boys of Alabama theme song, Way Down In the Hole. After watching Season 1, that song identified the show for me like Woke Up This Morning by A3 identified The Sopranos. I can’t hear that song anymore without hearing Tony Soprano’s voice in my head.

So I was very offended when the show started with a different song. Well, it was different, yet familiar, and it wasn’t until Tom Waits hit the chorus that I realized it was the same song, sung and arranged by a different artist. This version is actually from the Season 3 intro, and is done by the Neville Brothers. I now know The Wire uses a different arrangement for the same song for each of its five season.

I thought that was kind of a cool idea once I got over the devastation of my world being out of order.

“bleh bleh bleh bleh bleh…”

Those aren’t really the lyrics to a song, but I don’t speak French and have no idea how to even spell what I’m hearing. After watching The Triplets of Belleville I decided I just MUST HAVE FRENCH MUSIC (well, it was that and after watching Kevin Kline in French Kiss). I’m not sure why I didn’t just buy the soundtrack, but the French Cafe collection from Putumayo music turned out to be a great find. I highly recommend Putumayo for exploring a variety of world music.

Fibre De Verre is the type of music I imagine all Parisians listen to as they sit at outdoor cafe tables, wearing black turtlenecks and smoking cigarettes from sexy long holders (and now that I’ve discovered that web site I feel I MUST own some Bitch Sticks).

Muxtape 5 – Caught in Love

Muxtape CassetteAbout a month ago a new friend asked me how I met Bryan, and I was caught up in telling our story. It’s a fun story, and I love to tell it, so please ask me to whenever you see me next. It makes me smile.

Today is our 7th wedding anniversary. And in writing a portion of our beginnings here in song, I see I am even more fortunate than I first believed. Woven through our story is the purposeful intention of a very patient man. Not a word wasted, not a move meandered. Just a wildly intentional, poetic, man who knows how to woo a woman.

You can listen to the mix here (open in a new browser or window).

Barry Louis PolisarAll I Want Is You

Miss LiOh Boy

Florence and the MachineKiss With a Fist

BeckThink I’m In Love

The WeepiesGotta Have You

Tom BaxterBetter

Bruce CockburnIsn’t That What Friends Are For

The WaterboysStrange Boat

Over the RhineI Want You to Be My Love

Belle & SebastianIf You Find Yourself Caught in Love

She & HimWhy Do You Let Me Stay Here?

Landon PiggFalling In Love At A Coffee Shop

“I want you to be my love.”

It seems our relationship always had a soundtrack attached to it, even from the very first eyebrow-raising interaction. In 2001 Bryan did a substantial amount of pro bono web development for a non-profit I was working for, so he was in and out of the office quite a bit. One day in February he sat down in the empty chair of my office and we chatted about nothing in particular that I remember. When he got up to leave, my friend says to me, You should see if he wants to go with us to the show….

She was referring to Over the Rhine, whose tickets for an upcoming show at the now defunct Crocodile Cafe were about to go on sale. If you’ve never heard of Over the Rhine, it’s because they are a somewhat obscure band from Ohio with a huge cult following. So when I called after him as he left and asked if he’d like to go with us to the show, I saw his eyebrows flicker up just a little as he paused, then said yes, he would love to go.

The next morning when I came into work I read the following email from Bryan:


I just wanted to thank you for making my day yesterday.

Going to see OTR is good. Going to see them with a beautiful woman who really appreciates them — well, that’s better — much better.


As it turns out, he was also a huge Over the Rhine fan and was quite smitten with the idea I knew and apparently loved them as well. His email swooped in and clearly communicated this would not be a group outing, and that he was, in fact, asking me out on a date. Though before this reality sunk in, I found myself shouting at my computer in a cavernous office with no rugs or curtains to mute my cries, “WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?!”

The Boss Man came in, read the email, smirked, and nodded his head as if to say, “Well played, Bryan. Well played.”

“I think I’m in love but it makes me kind of nervous to say so.”

For our second date Bryan took me to see O Brother Where Art Thou at the Harvard Exit, then we had drinks and dinner somewhere on Capital Hill. I swooned at all this attention, all the chivalry. I had just come off a two year crush on a boy who didn’t reciprocate my feelings, and wasn’t used to someone actually being into me. But this also unsettled me. I felt I was being swooped into this relationship emotionally before I completely understood what I really wanted – a pattern my friend had graciously pointed out in the past.

So I clarified.

“I just need you to know I’m not sure how I feel about where all this is going,” I said over dinner. “I like you, but I don’t know much beyond that.”

“How about this,” he said, leaning in. “I’ll just keep asking until you say No.”

Which of course meant I would NEVER EVER IN A MILLION YEARS say no, because at these words I was hooked.

“Isn’t that what friends are for?”

Several weeks after our first date Bryan had to leave town for a job out of the country. The trip was three weeks long, and was situated right at the point in our relationship when you either part with pleasantries or go all-in. Bryan had been married before, and I was approaching 30 – young by most standards these days, but I was tired of being in The Game. Neither of us wanted to nurture another broken heart, so there was an unspoken urgency – at least on my part – to Figure It All Out before he left.

I don’t remember what solidified my decision, but suddenly I was feeling fairly certain I would marry Bryan. So I leaned in for a kiss, and in my mind that was the beginning of our covenant. Having participated in all kinds of dysfunctional relationships from the time I was in middle school, I knew this one was different. I don’t know how I knew, especially since we hardly knew each other, but I just knew.

I asked to borrow some CD’s from his music collection. If he couldn’t be with me for the next three weeks, I wanted to know more about him through his music. Bruce Cockburn’s Breakfast In New Orleans was one of the CD’s he gave me, and I listened to it the night before he left. The next morning on the way to the airport, I gave him a card with these lyrics in it from the song:

I’ve been scraping little shavings off my ration of light
And I’ve formed it into a ball
And each time I pack a bit more onto it
And I make a bowl of my hands
And I scoop it from its secret cache under a loose board in the floor
And I blow across it
And I send it to you against those moments when the darkness blows under your door

I swear that I’m not embellishing the story when I tell you he said he thought of me, too, when he heard these lyrics again, which is why he gave me the CD. We each had a Complicated Past prior to our collision (and who doesn’t?), so we had a deep personal knowledge of Things Not Working Out. Some of that healing had to take place before we met, but the rest? We needed each other for that.

“I think that possibly maybe I’m falling for you.” -Falling in Love at a Coffee Shop

The morning Bryan left the country we had breakfast together at the Blue Star Cafe and Pub in Wallingford (which is what I kept calling Dottie’s True Blue Cafe in San Francisco). I had another moment of panic, somehow thinking I was just the poor schlep who happened to say Yes to this guy. I knew he’d asked other women out recently before he asked me, and I wondered, Should I have said no? They said no. Should I have said no, too? How did I know I wasn’t just going along with this because he was asking me to?

Questions swirling (which is just a euphemism for holy shit, am I really thinking about making a commitment?!).

I don’t remember much of our conversation after that, but obviously I was talked down off the ledge (It’s funny to me how I manage to clearly remember the moments of panic, but not the words that brought peace). Later, when Bryan proposed marriage, he gave me the first poem he ever wrote for me. The entire thing is here, but in these verses he references that Blue Star Cafe conversation:

she has just asked me
how i know
that she is the one

and there is so much to say about the past and the future and the moment unfolding before us — sitting across a table eating Saturday morning eggs at the breakfast pub on 45th and Stone

she wants to know
the method of my surety –
how I have discerned
its measure is not madness

and my answer is simply this –
i know because i have chosen.

chosen to dive for these pearls
chosen to dig for this treasure
chosen to love her first
and last
and among
all that lies in this middle

and make no mistake
there is much that lies in this middle –
split tongue undertones
of compatibilities?
too soons?
and happily ever afters?

i will push these half-truths into full light
and say plainly –

we are not compatible –
we are wicked
and only by Grace made able

we are not going to live “happily” ever after –
we will be nourished by Joy,
through famine into laughter

we will be blessed in restful wrest –
a marriage bed of ordered mess

“Were sailing on a strange boat; Heading for a strange shore…” -The Waterboys

We were engaged the first weekend of April, just a month and a half after our first conversation about Over the Rhine’s upcoming show. Like many young women, I had grand ideas of what I wanted my wedding to be like. I had the songs picked out, the dance music picked out, I had the flowers picked out – all I needed was to insert a groom.

One day on a drive out to the country – I think we were going to a friend’s wedding – Bryan put on a CD by The Waterboys, and Strange Boat came on. A hush came over me as I listened. I made him play it several more times.

And then?

“I think this is the song we need to have in our wedding. We have to get rid of all the other songs and use just THIS one.”

And that bastard? He smirked. And he said, “I was hoping you would come to that conclusion.”

He’s been subtly planting ideas in my head ever since.

“a kick in the teeth is good for some” – Kiss With a Fist.

We were married July 27, 2001 in a hidden garden on Queen Anne. We stood under a canopy of tree branches. The caterers forgot the forks. I walked through the grass with my herb bouquet and my green dress, and I got hitched.

We have an obscene amount of fun in our marriage. No two people should be allowed to have this much fun without first getting high, but we somehow manage. When we fight, we fight hard, and I fight dirty. And there was that one year, the one after Thomas was born, that I wondered if we would make it.

But we did.

And now I hear this song, and it makes me laugh because it is so true, a kiss with a fist is better than none.

Whistling to the tune of Andrew Bird


It occurred to me this year that Sufjan Stevens may never release another album EVER AGAIN. It sure seems like that, anyway, and I’m not the only one who thinks so. But listening to Andrew Bird play live at Zoo Tunes tonight, I decided I just might be able to live with that.

Andrew Bird is brilliant.

I am in awe of his whistle. And his clap. And his ability to create layers upon layers of beautiful melody right there in front of us using a loop machine. I can’t even read and stay awake at the same time, so this kind of multitasking was inconceivable to me. It was amazing. I have a new crush, so move over Scott Berkun and Hugh MacLeod – Andrew Bird is In The House.


muxtape 4: the wind in the hair edition

Muxtape CassetteI discovered most of these songs while driving around in my car during our latest heat wave, so it’s become a road trip mix. It’s true that I have a minivan, but this mini van happens to have a sun roof, a decent stereo, and two kids who like the music I listen to. So it’s almost like I’m riding around in my best friend’s orange MGB of bygone days…right?!

So open a new tab or browser and go on over here for a listen, then come back to read all about it. (The mix will be available to listen to until I post a new one) As usual, leave a comment if you like the mix, and I’ll randomly draw a winner next Sunday (7/20). I’m thinking my Blogher roommate, Jennifer, who blogs at The Word Cellar, should draw the random number. Can you handle that responsibility, Jenn?

Lemon Jelly – The Staunton Lick
I actually heard a different song by Lemon Jelly while I was doing some monotonous filing, but when I explored their music I thought this one had more of a top down, cruise the strip feel to it. Plus, the instructor talking at the beginning is a total plus.

Neko Case – John Saw That Number
I love the blue grass feel of this song. I always have to turn it up and sing loud.

Marlena Shaw – California Soul (Diplo/Mad Decent Remix)
I’m discovering that I love remix versions of songs. The original song was released in 1969 (you can listen to it here), and I heard the remix on KCRW.com. I’ve never heard of Marlena Shaw before, though I’m a big fan of Aretha Franklin and others of that era. I’ll definitely be looking into her music some more.

Duffy – Mercy
I was instantly in love with this song because it sounds like the Divas from the 60’s. I heard an interview with Duffy on the radio – I think it was an NPR show – and she said the was heavily influenced by music from that era. I don’t listen to commercial radio much, but judging by the fact I’ve heard this song playing in almost every store I’ve been in, I’m guessing it’s way over played. If that’s the case, I’m so so sorry for you. NOW GO FIND AN ALTERNATIVE STATION TO LISTEN TO!

Yoshida Brothers – Kodo (Inside the Sun Remix)
I love world music. I’ve mostly listened to South American or African music, and have one French album, but this is my first from an Asian country. Again, I love the remix. I think the next genre I plan to look into is Taiko Drumming. There’s a group of kids who perform every year at Seattle’s Folk Life Festival, and I always seek them out. It’s more than just drumming – it’s performance art!

The Fratellis – A Heady Tale
First of all, it’s a storytelling song. And? It’s just one of those songs that sound better with the top down.

Mates of State – My Only Offer
I’ve run into several songs by this group that I’ve enjoyed. Maybe some day I’ll get the entire album!

Daniellia Cotton – Bang My Drum
This came on one of our Paste Magazine music samplers. Oh the angst! Oh the passion! It’s a little country with a little soul with a lotta drama, and again with the hairbrush lip sync whenever this song comes on! I keep trying to get Ruthie to sing back up, but she wants her own stage.

Tilly and the Wall – Pot Kettle Black
Talk about some bitches with an attitude! This stuff is like Thelma and Louise on Annuale. I can’t imagine maintaining this kind of energy.

Port O’Brien – I Woke Up Today
The kids were sitting in the front seat of the car with me while we waited for a store to open, and when the shouting started Ruthie reached down and cranked up the volume. I WANT TO HEAR THIS SONG! she said. Well done, Ruthie, I like it, too. Though if this is how they sing on their entire album, I’m not sure I could deal with it for twelve songs.

Elbow – One Day Like This
The strings! The voice! The dramatic build! “It’s looking like a beautiful day…” perfect driving song.

Langhorn Slim – Diamonds and Gold
I just wrote three paragraphs describing why I love this song so much, so obviously that will be a post for another day. Suffice it to say, this song evokes a memory of driving from New York to Seattle one summer in my 20’s when I was closing one rocky chapter of my life and entering a much more stable one that included a paying job and the absence of a boyfriend who liked to get high.

Muxtape 3

Muxtape CassetteI meant to post this mix weeks ago, but I’ve been having so much fun reading and playing outside that I just couldn’t be bothered. My apologies, but I hope you’ll understand.

As before, click here to listen (remember to open a new browser or tab), then come back to read all about it. The mix will be available to listen to until I post a new one. But if you like it, leave a comment before Wednesday at noon and I’ll send a CD to one person drawn randomly from the comments.

Barry Louis Polisar – All I Want Is You
This is my favorite song off the Juno soundtrack, and every time I play it loud for us to dance to, Thomas runs downstairs to get his guitar. He plays it while doing a little skip-to-my-lou around the living room.

Spoon – Don’t You Evah
I heard a remix version of this, but decided I liked the original better. It sounds vaguely familiar to me, and I wonder if it’s one of those songs that used to get way overplayed?

Cloud Cult – Take Your Medicine
I will make you a fan of Cloud Cult if it’s the last thing I do. This song came on while I was running awhile ago, so I was in perfect focus mode to hear the lyrics clearly. It’s a song of redemption, about overcoming things that previously controlled, about bringing the dark, hidden things into the light. I kept hitting the repeat button that day, and listened to it for my entire run. You can read the lyrics here.

Mike Doughty – 27 Jennifers
I love this song for obvious reasons. I’m sure there were no websites available in 1971 to tell my mother that Jennifer was the most popular name on the planet. But I’ve never disliked my name, so at least I have that going for me. My maiden name is Anderson, and when I was in high school there was another Jennifer Anderson in my graduating class that always skipped school and was caught smoking outside Door 9. I was always getting sent to the principal’s office, and when I walked in she would sigh and wave me out, then pick up her phone to find the other Jennifer Anderson.

Mars Hill – What Wondrous Love is This

My church released a new studio CD over the winter – a collection of hymns – and this is one of my favorites. I like to play it loud because of the base and the driving rhythm to it. Also? Thomas head bangs to it and sings along at the “sinking down, sinking down” part. Awesome!

Tift Merritt – Broken
This song was featured on a recent Paste Magazine music sampler, and now you know I’m a closet country music lover. Though I should clarify I’m a country slash rock music lover – not the old school country. Also? It’s been reported that I attended an Alabama concert at the Tacoma Dome in the early 90’s, but I don’t remember much from the night apart from Somebody’s permed hair and red cowboy boots. Anyhow, I’m drawn to these lyrics: “Now you’re broken, and you don’t understand what is broken falls into place once again…I think I will break, but I mend.” (more lyrics here).

Patti Griffin – Carry Me
I put this on here only because it came up in my running mix a few weeks ago and made me run faster just when I was ready to ease up. If you think Patti Griffin is too mellow and folksy for you, check out her Flaming Red album. It rocks so hard I play it long and loud, and I think Bryan almost suggested I just go ahead and french kiss her.

Jordin Sparks & Chris Brown – No Air
If my appreciation of country music threw you for a loop, wait until you hear this song – you will totally lose sleep trying to figure me out. My friend heard this song come up on the mix at a our House of BBQ a couple weeks ago, and he very tactfully expressed his surprise that I liked this song. But when I launched into my very dramatic hairbrush lip sync I think he completely understood the draw. Jordin Sparks was last year’s American Idol winner, and when she sang this duet on the most recent season I was all, Who is Chris Brown? I would encourage you to not ask this question in a room full of teenage girls.

Snow Patrol – Shut Your Eyes
Bryan has always talked about his love for Snow Patrol, but I had never heard them. Then one day this song came on the radio and I was all, I love this song, do you know who it is? Proving once again that I don’t listen to a thing my husband says unless confirmed by at least one outside source.

Frou Frou – Let Go
I wrote about my love for this song about a year and a half ago in this post, but as this mix was coming together, I realized I wanted it to be placed among my favorites.

Nikka Costa – So Have I For You
I first heard her on KCRW.com, and loved her funk and soul. My favorite Aretha Franklin song is Rock Steady, and many of Costa’s song take on that kind of funky vibe. This, however, is one of her slower songs, but I chose it for the lyric, “you can choose the rain, but I choose the sun…” Sometimes it’s just one line in one song that make me rethink the mood I’m choosing to be in at the moment, even if the rest of the song has nothing to do with you (obviously a horrible sentence, written much too late at night).

Cloud Cult – Thanks
Again with The Meaning of 8, right? JUST GO BUY THE ALBUM, for cryin’ out loud. This song builds itself to a full-on worship song that makes me sprint with my eyes closed (don’t ask how I do this, I’m not quite sure). You just can’t be in a pissy mood after listening to it. Here’s the bulk of it:

And I give thanks to my youthful days
Of grass-stained knees and trick-or-treat face
I pray I’ll find as innocent a place
When I am 88

And I give thanks to my present day
It just got here so please don’t go away
I finally see it’s what I choose to make
I choose to make it into gold

New Muxtape*

Muxtape CassetteI’m so forever in love with Muxtape.com. Even though my last mix was accidentally deleted by a software error, I’m still a fan. Because really, how fair would it be for me to put up with all the consistent Twitter outages, only to slam Muxtape for one mistake? They seem to be on the ball with more frequent back-ups, so I’m still on their side.

To listen to my latest mix, click here (remember to open in a different window or tab), then come back to check out the song list. As before, the mix will be available to listen to for a limited time only. But if you like it, leave a comment for a chance to win the mix on a CD. Contest ends Sunday at noon, and the winner will be drawn randomly.

Thievery Corporation – Warning Shots
I first heard this song on KEXP a long time ago while driving in the car – it was the first time I ever downloaded a song after looking it up on the station’s playlist. I love it when I can get Ruthie to sing, “AND IN COMES THE TWO TO THE THREE AND ONE, AND IN COMES THE TWO TO THE THREE AND ONE…”

Mocean Worker – Only the Shadow Knows
We have two albums by Mocean Worker – Enter the Mowo, and Cinco de Mowo! – and they’re both favorites. They’re jazzy and festive, and we usually end up playing them at parties or on weekends when we’re all hanging out in the kitchen together. You should really buy one of these albums.

Blind Boys of Alabama – Way Down in the Hole
I have an entire post to write about watching thirteen episodes of HBO’s The Wire over Memorial Day weekend, how we stayed up until 1am to fit it all in AND still be outside in the sun all day. This was the opening credits song, and we never fast forwarded through it.

Poncho Sanchez – Watermelon Man
I have no idea where this song came from – only that Bryan just started playing it one day. It makes me happy, and it makes my kids dance.

Bishop Allen – Click Click Click Click
I heard this song on KEXP, and it became the theme song to the first of (hopefully) many slide shows done of Ruthie’s pictures.

Katy Bowser – All of My Friends
I think Katy has to be one of the sweetest people I’ve never met – she sings every year at a summer music festival we go to and she’s one of the highlights for me. Her voice and sweetness sound like the radio singers from the forties.

The Parson Red Heads – Out to Sea
I heard this on KCRW.com, and listened to a sample of the album on iTunes. This was the stand-out tune for me. Maybe because it reminds me of the Grateful Dead’s Uncle John’s Band? I don’t know why I just said that – it’s just a feeling in my gut.

M83 – Graveyard Girl
This came off our latest Paste Magazine music sampler. It massages me with the 80’s without causing me to relive that horrible prom night hair spray incident.

Cloud Cult – Chemicals Collide
Stop what you’re doing RIGHT NOW and buy this album – The Meaning of 8. I love every song on it, and so should you.

My Morning Jacket – I’m Amazed
Bryan and I really liked their last album, particularly the single, Gideon. This is a single off their yet-to-be-released new album. If you can figure out what he’s saying, you’ll be curious about the worship-nature of the song.

Moby – I’m in Love
I’ve always been a Moby fan – I just sometimes forget it. I heard him interviewed on KCRW.com, and he talked about his first love: DJ-ing for a crowd of 150 in a club. It’s what he prefers over concert tours played for thousands.

Tom Baxter – Skybound
I first heard of him last year through someone’s blog (I can’t remember now), and fell in love with his very mushy Better. Just a few weeks ago I heard this breathy song on KCRW.com and recognized his voice. It’s a pretty song, and I love its theme of just putting one foot in front of the other.

*I know – completely lacking in creativity.

The Muxtape

Muxtape CassetteLike any child of the 80’s, I heart the mix tape. I make them all the time, for every possible reason. I’ve even considered writing a book about the soundtrack to my life, but this guy thought of it first (and I’m not the only one bitter about it).

I’m always trying to figure out a way to embed mixes into my blog – not just song lists, but the actual mixes. I waste hours trying to make it happen, only to be foiled by copy write infringement laws, or programs that don’t have access to all the music I want to use. Forgetting I’ve been through this a million times before, I said to Bryan the other day, “Hey, I had a great idea today!” [Bryan braces himself for another project that involves his tech support]. “Wouldn’t it be cool to embed song mixes into my blog?”

I’m not really sure why I have selective memory when it comes to this particular idea. Perhaps it’s subconscious tenacity. Either way, I keep forgetting it just. can’t. work.

Or can it?

This time he says to me, “I’ve heard buzz about a new site call Muxtape.com that lets you do that.”

So I looked into it. I won’t share the entire story of how I loved it, then hated it, then loved it, then hated it, then loved it again. It’s funny to me, but I think Bryan would experience post traumatic stress if he saw one more Twitter from me about Muxtape. At the very least his ears would turn red.

At any rate, I landed on loving it.

I had to compromise, though. I can’t embed the code for it to play right in my blog. I have to link to it, but I think it’s a compromise worth making. Also, I can only make one mix. If I want to make a new mix, I have to replace the old mix. I didn’t like this at first, but Bryan made a good point about the value of the limited time offer (he’s so smart, that one). So my mixes will be available to listen to only until I’ve amassed another 12 songs to share with you, which could actually be awhile since I’m not really that cool.

To listen to my first mix at Muxtape, click here (open in a new tab or browser window), then come back and read below about the songs I chose while you listen. (This mix is no longer available to listen to.)


Are you back?

Here’s the song list:

West Indian Girl – What Are You Afraid of?

I first heard this group on Seattle’s KEXP (90.3 for the locals) a couple years ago, and downloaded the whole album from iTunes. Then I somehow lost it. I think it never made it to our server, so when I got a new laptop I forgot to move the mp3 files. Bummer! I couldn’t bring myself to pay for the whole album again, so I just bought this, my favorite song from their album titled, West Indian Girl.

The Republic Tigers – Buildings & Mountains
I heard this on KCRW.com and loved the sound, particularly the disco-like beat and the ensemble vocals.

Long Range – Madness and Me
Who knew that the girl who loves The Indigo Girls would also love electronica? It has to have just the right sound for me to like it – smooth and round, not sharp and choppy. Though I likes me a good beat, too. It also helps to have a chick singing with a breathy voice.

The Weepies – Gotta Have You
I’m not sure I totally agree with a portion of these lyrics (“No amount of coffee, no amount of cryin’, no amount of whiskey, no amount of wine – no, no, no, no, no, nothing else will do. I gotta have you…”), but this fits right in with the kind of music I listen to most of the time.

The Weepies – Hideaway
This was actually the first song I heard by The Weepies on KCRW.com. I went to download it from iTunes, but discovered we already had this song! Turns out The Weepies was featured on Paste Magazine‘s music sampler recently.

St. Vincent – Jesus Saves, I Spend
Bryan bought this album awhile back, telling me this gal used to sing with Sufjan Stevens. And I’m tellin’ ya what, but any friend of Sufjan’s is a friend of mine.

My Brightest Diamond – Inside a Boy
This is another former Sufjan vocalist. She is apparently trained in opera, which added a pretty interesting layer to his music when we saw him live at The Paramount ages ago (ahem, where’s the new album, sufjan?!). I love her voice, but to be honest I can’t take a whole album of it. Hence, adding her to the mix.

Tracey Thorn – By Piccadilly Station I Sat Down and Wept
I heard this on Dave’s mp3 blog, Goodnight Believer awhile back and loved it so much I bought the album with some gift money. I should have done my homework better, because this and one other song he reviewed were the only songs I liked on the album. Oh well, you live and learn.

Luna – 23 Minutes in Brussels
I heard this song on KEXP last summer while driving around on a sunny day without my kids. I cranked it up, hung my arm out the window, stuck my chin out, and bobbed my head just a little. For about five minutes I thought I was riding in a 1960’s Mustang convertible painted chartreuse (shut up). Bryan heard this play on one of my mix tapes shortly after and said, “Is this Luna?” And I was like, “Yeah, why?” And he was all, “Did you download this?” And I was all, “Yeah, why?” And he was all, “This band is really big right now.” And right then and there he fell in love with me all over again for being so cool.

Blue Scholars – 50k Deep
Another song to showcase my wide range of musical interests. I don’t know what you call this genre, but driving around LA in December in our phat rental SUV with the kick ass stereo and sun roof prompted me to listen to this kind of music for three weeks straight. Bryan was glad to get the folk-lovin minivan back.

Lily Allen – Absolutely Nothing
I first heard this on Seattle’s KEXP and fell in love with its passive aggressiveness.

William Shatner – Ideal Woman
A little known fact about me is how much I love William Shatner. He’s totally weird in every possible way, but something in me says his brand of eccentric is exactly how I want to be when I get old. Imagine my delight when he came out with an entire album of spoken word pieces. I think it was written and produced by Ben Folds, which makes it even better. This is my favorite song off the album, and I put it on every mix I possibly can because I think everyone needs a little dose of William Shatner now and then.

If you like the mix and want a copy, comment below and I’ll send a CD out to the winner of a random drawing (contest closes Wednesday at noon Thursday at noon (updated deadline), when Ruthie will tell me how many pretzels she wants, between one and [ __ ] ).


I went back to the gym today after a month long hiatus (kids were sick, my back went out, my mom was here, blah blah blah). I ran/walked 2.5 miles on the treadmill and the endorphins definitely kicked in. My soul and my body are very happy right now.

I’ve listened to Cloud Cult’s Meaning of 8 Album a hundred times, yet never noticed this song before. It became my soundtrack this morning as I hit the replay button over an over.

There must be purpose here, cuz most of us keep waking up.
(Don’t you think it’s pretty here).
It’s so unexpectedly predictable, so sloppily intentional.
Does anyone know the punch-line yet?

There must be rhythm here, cuz all of us have a heartbeat.
(Don’t you see the music here).
Inside our ribs we tick an average of 60 beats a minute–

There must be forgiveness here, cuz most of us have our weaknesses.
(Tell me what are your weaknesses).
I don’t know myself, and I’m afraid of you.
I’m happiest on chemicals.
The goings come and the comings go.
Forgive me I’m just an animal.

There must be healing here, cuz everybody here has been damaged.
And we’ll wear it like a tattoo, every scar is a smile.
To hell with the going down

There must be afterlife here, cuz we all pray for resurrection.
You see, the end comes quick as a bullet.

You can listen to it here: click on track ten, Purpose.

Music can be tricky. Sometimes it’s the aura of the song that speaks to me, sometimes the lyrics. Often times it’s both, and what I get from it is nothing at all what the writer intended.

Today I think I felt peace as I listened – peace that The Light penetrates the soul of those we love, even when they won’t or can’t listen to our words.

Hand Jive

We just got back from the Gymnastics studio where we threw a joint birthday party for Thomas and Ruthie. (Which is THE way to do winter birthdays, by the way. I walked in with my pizzas and walked out with my brain intact).

Bryan continued the party at home by putting on a Daft Punk album for our own little family dance party. It reminded me of this video of one of its songs, and how totally awesome it is, and how I meant to post this a long time ago.

New (to me) Music: Nikka Costa.

I recently heard a song by Nikka Costa on KCRW’s Morning Becomes Ecclectic, and checked out her stuff on iTunes. I ended up buying her debut album from 2001, Everybody Got Their Something. I really like it because the whole thing has a vibe, it’s very cohesive. Plus, I have a special place in my heart for 1970’s funk music, and she has a great retro sound.

It’s funny, because at times her funk reminds me of Annie Lennox – like on the title track – but other times her sweetness reminds me of Over the Rhine’s Karen Bergquist, like on the track, Nothing. She can be pretty intense, so it’s nice that she can manage to provide a range of emotions and energy in her music. On one track you may find yourself stripped down to your bra, belting into a fake microphone on a stand, then on the next track you may find yourself chilling on the back porch, dizzy from your cigarette and the smooth sounds flowing around you like the smoke hovering over your head.

Not that I’ve done that.

Here’s the aforementioned title track, Everybody Got Their Something:

Worship in the Church: traditional or contemporary?

Staying home from church with Thomas this morning to avoid spreading the croup, I heard this interesting story on NPR’s weekend edition about the Southern Baptist Conference updating its hymnal with hundreds of contemporary praise songs written by famous recording artists like Michael W. Smith and Matt Redman.

Behind the scenes here at This Pile I’ve been thinking and writing about community, mission, and cultural relevance, so I found this story very timely to that train of thought. The SBC stipulates that including contemporary music in their hymnals will make them more relevant to young people, and will help draw new people into church.

But certain old-timers disagree.

An elderly woman interviewed – an arthritic piano player in a small church whose favorite hymn is The Old Rugged Cross – expresses her frustration with the watered down nature of most praise music, feeling that it doesn’t really say anything. She says the newer songs sing “praise the Lord, praise the Lord, praise the Lord” over and over again, but she prefers the tried and true hymns because they tell a story.

T.W. Hunt, retired pastor and a member of the committee charged with approving new songs into the hymnal, agrees. He believes the contemporary worship songs don’t necessarily contradict good theology, they just don’t say much of anything at all. “I love the old hymns, because I think they are very good on theology. ‘My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus’ blood and righteousness…’ That’s pretty good theology.”

It appears that cultural relevance is being pitted against good story telling and strong theology. So I wonder myself, is today’s church raising up shallow Christians as a result of creating a more appealing church experience? I worry that American pastors and worship leaders place the fear of man before the fear of God by catering to what they think people want to hear. Sure, more people will likely enter the doors of a church if their current world views are not too harshly challenged, but is the goal to fill churches with bodies or to fill churches with Christ followers?

I thought it was a very interesting and balanced story about the debate in the church today over how to reach new generations with the Gospel. I personally think there is value in being relevant to the culture, but not at the cost of diminishing the power of story and good theology. As more contemporary churches write new music, I would hope they would retain a solid theology and steer clear of emotional repetition and swelling music.

Sadly, I don’t think this is always the case.

Any thoughts?