Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Rekindling the musical flame

I am old.  32 years to be exact, but it's not the years that make me old.  It's not that I'm a father of 3, that I don't party on the weekends, that my basketball game becomes increasingly limited.  The other day the reality that I am now officially old dawned on me when my dad was talking about how he doesn't know any of the new songs, by any of the popular artists.  Neither do I.  We both listen to talk radio, lots of sports talk. I listen to more sermons than he does but other than that we are in the same boat.
 The other element to this puzzle came when  I was reading through Time's top blog's and came across one dedicated to really good songs.  I like really good music, but don't really go looking for it very often. When I was in PA I listened to XPN radio and loved it because people who really loved music would host the shows and do all the research finding new upcoming and deep artists.  They did the work for me and made finding good music easy.  When I moved to Illinois 7 years ago I couldn't find a radio station that played anything new I liked ever, let alone all the time.
So now I listen to talk radio.  Sad.  Old.

I will be sad and old no longer.  Today I give you Son Volt!

Son Volt's front man Jay Farrar was part of Uncle Tupelo with Wilco's Jeff Tweedy.  Their music has gone different directions, both fabulous. Anyway, the newest album American Central Dust includes the song Down to the Wire.  

Wake up to the Biddle Street blues
Can't shake the news
All the way to the big dome
They're trying

The intrigues of the new royalty
And the believers
In the afterlife
Share the same gamblers pages

Cobblestone streets saw 3 sovereign flags
As they raised their glasses to conquest and nation
Still pawns playing out the legacy
Of long dead industry titans and haters of men
Feeling down to the wire
Feeling down to the wire

Plastic grocery bags fly from trees
Proud symbols of a cavalier progress
Memories and landscapes in triage
Disappearing averages, permanent changes

No jury will have a final say
Everyone knows the jury is guilty
Faced with no plan at all
Just to trick a smile out of the moment

Feeling down to the wire
Feeling down to the wire

Feeling down to the wire
Feeling down to the wire

It talks about the a hopelessness born from humankind's sin,  from our willingness to turn a blind eye to the injustice and inequity (like during the Katrina debacle). He throws the church under the bus, as is common these days, but points to a deeper reality, the sinfulness of all those in positions of power.  It talks about our destruction of God's world in the name of progress.  But the real hopelessness in Farrar's lyrics is that there will never be any justice, that there will be no end of people abusing the system to get ahead, no end to people selling out the future in order to enjoy this moment.  It's that kind of attitude in today's world that has Jay worried.  Worried that with all the progress, this world might end pretty quickly.

The funny thing about this song is it points out the hope of the Gospel, the hope of the church and those of us who "believe in the afterlife."   That is one of the messages that gets lost when we avoid talking about sin and God's judgment. The message is that God brings judgment. He will punish those who abuse the poor.  God's justice is no joke.  If you mess with the most vulnerable people, you have to deal with God, when he's angry.  You won't like God when he's angry.  So let's not dare to forget the most vulnerable during this season of giving, and caring.  Let's be like God and have a heart for those that most people don't even give a second glance. 

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