Greetings from the land of The Forever Cloud

Lately I’ve been in a domestic mood – making weekly dinner menus, catching up on laundry, decorating with fresh things, lighting candles, baking bread, and the like. I’m just trying to stay afloat when the dreariness outside makes it always feel like just before dawn.

The music that has carried me through this week is a collected mix of female singer/songwriters. I’ve compiled into a playlist the likes of Emmylou Harris, Patty Griffin, Oleta Adams, Regina Spektor, Brandi Carlilse, Erin McKeowin, Lucinda Williams, Lori McKenna, Annie Lennox, India Arie, and Over the Rhine among others. It is a mellow, yet cheerful mix that makes me feel cozy and warm and motivated.

What are you listening to?

Good Music Finds

Bryan and I both enjoy making music mixes, and over the years people have asked us where we find our music. I will now let you in on our little secret…

For the last few years we have subscribed to Paste Magazine, which is an awesome music/movie/culture publication that actually includes a CD with each issue. We have somewhere around 36 or 37 CD mixes from Paste at this point, and we have loved discovering new music this way.

We also have an awesome local indie radio station, KEXP, which not only plays great music, but they have a kick ass website (and you can listen online if you are not local). On many occasions I’ll be driving around town and hear a great song, note the time it played, then check online when I get home to catch the name. I’ve gone back as far as a week to find a song, and they still have it catalogued. This is how I first discovered Thievery Corporation, Luna, and Bishop Allen.

We also may hear a song in a movie and check out the soundtrack, or we get recommendations from friends of what they’re listening to. I always have a playlist going in my iTunes folder called ‘new music’ where I dump songs I purchase for ninety-nine cents a pop.

Recently, one of my online friends started a new mp3 blog called goodnight believer. I didn’t know there was such a thing as an mp3 blog, but he links to others and I’ve checked them out, too. Now I tune in every morning to goodnight believer while I’m making coffee and the kids are crunching cereal. Thomas indicates his song approval by bobbing his head to the beat while throwing back his pint of milk.

So that’s how we do it. How do you find good music? What are your latest discoveries?

God Bless This Beautiful Day

I am on FIRE with love and joy this afternoon. I made music mix that inspired me to teach Ruthie ‘the running man’ dance and the party just hasn’t stopped for me, even though they are sleeping. I’m actually CLEANING on a Sunday afternoon because I am so motivated by this music.

Getting to and from church this morning was a bit of a logistical nightmare, but with the help of friends who are like family we more than survived. “It truly does take a village,” I quipped as we stepped off the park and ride bus. As I swoop around the house removing clutter I am listening to music that reminds me of Light, and Joy, and things that are Amazing, and I have cried the Ugly Cry several times time in the process.

There is just no escaping how rich I am in love and friends.

Our pastor touched a bit on anger today – defining the difference between righteous anger and sinful anger. I did not feel condemned, though I am more often sinfully angry with my kids than anything else. I felt empowered to change. It was a friendly reminder to me that I have everything I need in life and godliness to MAKE THE CHANGE.

I just need to do it.

I think this is what Grace is suppose to feel like – freedom and health of the mind, even in the midst of the undone-ness of my process.

Here’s my mix:

Things That Make It Official: I’m a Geek!

I’m so excited I could pee! I have butterflies in my chest and my head is going to explode! I have finally discovered how to do EXACTLY what I’ve wanted to do with music on this blog!

Last night I went to a Gnomedex networking party and met a guy named Matt. We were talking about my wish to post song lists or mp3’s in my sidebar, and I told him I’d found Rhapsody, but that it had certain limitations I wasn’t happy about. Rhapsody is good for linking to an album I like so you, the reader, can see what it is or even listen to it if you download the player. But I still have to actually LINK to it. Also, it links to the page for an entire album, and I often listen to music mixes with songs off many albums.

Well, three cheers for Matt, because he told me about and I am FONDLY AND OBSESSIVELY IN LOVE with it. Check out these very cool features:

1. I don’t have to download another freakin’ player unless I want to (though you will, if you want to listen), but can continue to listen to all my mp3’s on my computer in ITunes as usual.
2. The plug-in I downloaded automatically uploads EVERY SONG I PLAY into my profile on, whether it’s a whole album or a mixed song list.
3. [And here’s what really made me hot and breathless] I copied some simple html code into the sidebar of my website that includes an RSS feed, so every song I play displays on my track list!
4. If you click on my track list, it will dump you into my profile page, and you can poke around to see what I’ve been listening to. Also, you can download the player if you actually want to listen to my song.

This is way more use-able for me than Rhapsody was because after a few simple downloads and text copying, it’s completely automatic and I don’t have to think about it. I just play music as I always do, and it eventually channels it’s way onto my website.

I highly recommend it. And if you sign up for it, too, we can be ‘neighbors’ as they call it, and share each others’ track lists like we share Flickr photos. Won’t you be my neighbor?

Music Share

Yesterday I took a long drive to an appointment and enjoyed an entire hour of listening to music in the car. I listened to a mix CD Bryan made, and it was the first opportunity I’d had to really listen to the words. I found myself gravitating toward four specific songs, and skipped through the CD to each of those songs over and over again. What can I say? It was a vibe.

What follows is not a review, but rather a collection of thoughts about how this music drew me in. I hope you will take the opportunity to listen by following the links, because I love to share music!

Braided Hair – Speech (from The Vagabond)
I like this song because it acknowledges that life is not a straight line between A and B, but rather our paths are twisting and intertwining – like braids of hair. It’s an allusion to embracing the pile I’m standing in, whether I created that pile in my own stupidity or whether it was dumped on me, because in the end it’s how we deal with life that dictates how we get through the piles. (The following lyrics may be a little sketchy – I couldn’t find them anywhere on the internet so these are from listening with my naked ear!)

We all got things that hang on our back
Things that make us cool
Things that make us wack
Things that make us bad
Things we wish we never had
But the jist of things that make us real
Are the maps to God where we go from here
The road twists and braids like hair
Until we all get there

Outrageous – Paul Simon (from Surprise)
This song starts out so cranky and cantankerous – very Ecclesiastical. I’m tired. I work hard. Does anyone care what I say? My hair is going gray. And the realization of, Who’s gonna love you when your looks are gone? Then:

God will
like he waters the flowers on your window sill
Take me
I’m an ordinary player in the key of C
And my will
Was broken by my pride and vanity

Crazy – Gnarls Barkley (from St. Elswhere)
The tone of this song is like that of an older man reflecting on what he’s learned. He first says he remembers when he lost his mind, that there was something pleasant about that place. Then, in the second verse it’s like he’s schooling some punk kid who thinks he’s all that, only he does it was grace. Here’s the second verse:

C’mon now who do
Who do you
Who do you
Who do you think you are?
Ha! Ha! Ha!
Bless your soul!
You really think you’re in control?
Well, I think you’re crazy!
Just like me.

I love the chuckle. I love the straightforwardness of it. I love the confidence of knowing who you are now because of where you’ve been.

Pass Me Over – Anthony Hamilton (from Ain’t Nobody Worryin’)
This song has significant lyrics for me, but I’ll admit that it’s an emotional song. I literally play it over and over and over again in the car because its soulfulness leads me into a place of reflection. Plus I love love love music with choral elements to it, and there is a choir repeating the phrase ‘pass me over’ toward the end. In its repetition I have found myself reflecting on THE Passover in the Bible when the Angel of Death stole the breath of all first born sons except those whose doors were covered by the sign of the blood. I know this will sound cheesy to some, but when I listen to this song I feel immersed in the protection of God, and that is very comforting.

Don’t be afraid
He who knows will make a way
His word alone is what has kept me
Born a son, King of eternal peace
Lay your burdens down

The Sound of my Life

I listen to music all. day. long. and I’ve been DYING for a way to share my musical moods with the Internet without breaking any laws. It’s a good thing Bryan didn’t marry me during the peak of the Napster Dynasty because I downloaded GIGS of music back then and I think his conscience would have exploded.

A couple weeks ago he sent me this link, which brought me to this site, which brought me to you, here, today. I want to share my music with you!

Someday, when I find my reading glasses and I’m not going cross-eyed, I will create a Music Pile in my sidebar. But for now we’ll just test it out to see how ya’ll like the idea.

If you’re lurking on my site (and you know you do!), leave a comment and let me know what you think about the idea – especially since it requires you to do a quick and painless music player download.

I will Inaugurate this feature with the obvious musical obsession of the month: The Mountain Goats.