#ThirtyThankfuls Day 18: Christmas Lo-fi Music.

I can try to wax poetic and write something deep and meaningful here, but I realized that these entries don’t all have to be Big Important Statements. The truth is, it’s good just to be thankful for the simple joys and blessings of our lives. That’s what this whole #ThirtyThankfuls thing was originally meant to be about this year. Simple joys.

Today, as I’m slammed with work in advance of taking a little time off, I’m thankful for a chill, festive, instrumental soundtrack.

Here you go. Enjoy.

#ThirtyThankfuls Day 12: The Beatles.

Photo by Mike B on Pexels.com

I grew up in a Christian home in which secular music was generally frowned upon. Sure, there were exceptions made for some of the music from my parents’ era (and that could certainly have been questionable), but no modern music was typically allowed. So my musical world was mostly limited to church music and contemporary Christian music. I grew up listening to Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman, 4 Him and Carman, Degarmo & Key and Geoff Moore & the Distance. When we got really crazy, we’d break out some Whiteheart or Petra. Then, in the 90’s, I discovered Christian alternative and its various subgenres, so my playlist shifted to DC Talk, Newsboys, Audio Adrenaline, and The Supertones.

I did start listening to more secular and mainstream music around the time I was able to start driving on my own, and I was thrilled with the likes of Gin Blossoms, Cranberries, Ben Folds Five, and Nirvana. (Oh, and Weird Al–he’s been a constant throughout my life.) Top-40 radio, basically. Not much in the way of classic stuff.

It wasn’t really until college that I went back and really listened to The Beatles. I had heard a song here or there, but I never really *got* it. (I actually have a specific memory from grade school of a friend having an electric keyboard with the melody of “Yesterday” pre-programmed in it, and I listened to it with zero understanding of what the song really was.) But once I dove in, something in it just clicked with me.

I would joke (overly dramatically) that listening to the Beatles for the first time in earnest was like the scene in The Wizard of Oz where Dorothy opens the door and the frame flips from black and white to color. While my musical experience was not so bleak as all that (I still listen to 90’s Christian and mainstream alt-rock fairly regularly), the addition of The Beatles kicked in some Technicolor richness to my sonic world.

I’m not as into their later psychedelic and Eastern mysticism stuff as I am the earlier records, though I can definitely appreciate the artistry. But there’s just something about the vibe of their music that makes me happy. Instant serotonin boost.

(If you appreciate the Beatles at all, and you haven’t yet seen the Peter Jackson documentary series Get Back, you really should check it out. It’s a fascinating glimpse into the band’s interpersonal dynamics and creative process.)

So, while it may seem oddly specific, I’m thankful for The Beatles. I like their music. It makes me smile.

This post was prompted by a video I found this week (thanks, YT algo). Here’s a delightful take on the Abbey Road medley, performed by The Sheffield Beatles Project.

#Septemblog Day 29: Four songs, max.

I just had a sudden flashback: Do you remember buying a single hit song on CD or cassette (the famous “cassingle”)?

This is something completely foreign to anyone younger than me, I think (and I land squarely in the X-ennial sub-generation). Anyone much younger than me obtained single songs from bands via file-sharing websites like Napster or legit sources like iTunes and Spotify. Before that, record labels would release single songs (or pairs of songs) for purchase before releasing the full albums. In earlier years, this was obviously done on 45’s, but for my moment in musical history, it was a mix of the cassingle and the CD single.

I’m not even talking about EPs that band would release with 5 or 6 songs. No, no, no. Four songs max: The big hit, an alternative take (different production, maybe different vocals), a “B-side” track (another hold-over from the vinyl days), and maybe an instrumental/backing track of the hit.

I remember buying more than a few singles in my teens. While I can’t recall any cassette singles I purchased, I definitely remember the CD singles from my high school and college days. For your enjoyment and potential mockery, here’s a “greatest hits” sampling of my purchased CD singles:

Jesus is Still Alright – DC Talk: I picked up more than a couple of DC Talk’s CD singles (Gotee Records knew what they were doing here). Not only did the one for “Jesus is Still Alright” have the album version, it also included a techno version.

Flood – Jars of Clay: Look, this is already one of the best Christian rock songs to come out of the mid-90’s. But the “rock version” of this song? Even better.

Secret Garden – Bruce Springsteen: Yes, the song from the Jerry Macguire soundtrack. Look, there was this girl in high school I was crushing on pretty hard, and she was both flirty and elusive. This song hit hard. I regret nothing… Okay, I regret actually giving her the CD single.

Change the World – Eric Clapton: Oh yes, I bought the “Phenomenon” tie-in CD single of this one. I just dig this song, dude.

Kiss Me – Sixpence None the Richer: Look, okay. I was a romantic in college, all right? A lovelorn and pathetic romantic. And I loved this song. I *still* love this song. Whatever. Next track.

When I Get You Alone – Robin Thicke: Before he was making bad choices on “Blurred Lines,” he was making slightly-less-bad choices and sampling “A Fifth of Beethoven” on this super-bouncy track. I heard it on the radio and dug it. I listened to the CD single a lot, despite some of the more risque lyrics. It’s still super-catchy.


The Robin Thicke CD single is the last one I remember buying, though there may have been a few more around that era. But just a few years before, Steve Jobs ushered in the iPod revolution, and I eventually converted to digital downloads for new songs.

I’m having a lot of these nostalgic moments lately. There are so many of these cultural artifacts that may have ended with my analog-to-digital generation. But who knows? There seems to be a resurgence of physical media these days; maybe the CD or cassette single will make a comeback. One can only hope.

Do you remember buying cassette or CD singles? What were some of your favorites? Hit me up in the comments!

#Septemblog Day 28: Standing before kings…or bored teenagers, in this case.

Some Youtube videos I’ve watched lately that I’ve enjoyed feature two incredibly talented musicians, Rob Landes and Frank Tedesco. Rob and Frank play violin and piano, respectively, and they have posted many videos where they would go on this randomly-generating streaming platform called Omegle and play songs for strangers. As I understand it, the website randomly connects you to another streamer, which in many cases seems to be bored (and often foul-mouthed) teenagers. (The whole prospect of such a site seems risky, so I don’t recommend it in any way and have never gone on there myself.)

These musicians then ask their new viewers for song requests, and they either already know the song to be able to play it expertly or can listen to just a short clip of it and are able to play it by ear. Sometimes they’ll start with something stiff and formal like a classical composition and then expertly slide into a hip-hop or pop music cover. It’s a blast to listen to.

What really makes these videos so much fun is that delightful moment when these jaded, bored teenagers are suddenly confronted with the talent and artistry of these musicians. An unfiltered joy steals across their faces, mouths often agape, as they’re suddenly surprised by beauty. Even the most posturing or disaffected person on these videos is caught off guard, the mask of cool slips, and there’s an almost child-like giddiness that emerges.

It’s so easy to be “over it all” these days, even at a young age. That makes these moments of unchecked joy so cool to see.

#30ThankYous Day 5: Andrew Peterson


I had heard your name a few times but never really dug into your work until the last few years. (Ironically, I’m pretty sure I heard you perform almost 20 years ago at an outdoor music festival in Kansas City. Your name’s on the back of my souvenir t-shirt, at least!)

A few years back, some friends from church gave my wife and I tickets to Behold the Lamb of God, and we were blown away. What a powerful show that was! We were so moved and so blessed by it that we have made the concert a Christmas-season tradition ever since (and I’m pretty sure that both the studio and live performance CDs of the show now permanently live in our van’s CD changer). Since then, I’ve picked up and enjoyed several of your albums. Resurrection Letters, Volume 1 is my current favorite.

On top of that, this year we have discovered the absolute joy that is The Wingfeather Saga. I can say with no exaggeration that your books have supplanted The Chronicles of Narnia as my favorite children’s series of all time–no small feat, considering I read the Narnia books three or four times through in my grade school years, and once or twice as an adult.

Your lyrical and prose writing is eloquent, playful, soul-stirring, and sincere. Your songs are honest, true, and moving. “Is He Worthy” makes me cry every single doggone time.

Thank you for sharing your stories and your songs, and for reminding us that art can be worshipful, and that even children’s fairy tales can be True in the best sense of the word. I look forward to reading the Wingfeather books to my daughter (currently one year old and not much for sitting still) and all the brothers and sisters who may come after her.

God bless you,



#FridayFive: Super Song List Edition

Greetings, true believers!

For this week’s #FridayFive, I wanted to do something fun, so we’ll take a listen to five superhero/comic-book-themed songs. There are lots of good choices, but here are five I enjoy:

“Superman Song,” by the Crash Test Dummies — CTD is most well known for their 90’s hit single “Mmm Mmm Mmm” and lead singer Brad Roberts’ bass-baritone growl. However, a friend pointed this track out to me a few years ago, and I found it heart-wrenching and gorgeous. This live performance, years after the band had their big hit and faded into semi-obscurity, seems to carry an extra layer of feeling.

“Web-slinger, Hope-bringer” by Kirby Krackle — I just discovered this guy’s music recently, and I’m becoming a fan. This song is not only a great tune about Peter Parker’s burden of guilt and internal conflict, but it’s just a great rock song.

“Rise Above” by Reeve Carney, Bono, and The Edge — This song is a track from the much-maligned Broadway show, “Spiderman: Turn Off the Dark.” While the staging and production turned into a bit of the fiasco, some of the music was fantastic, and this track is a great example of that. Carney’s experience as the front-man of his eponymous band gave him the vocal chops needed to be a Broadway singer, and the tune is pure late-90’s/early-2000’s U2 goodness.

“The Ballad of Barry Allen” by Jim’s Big Ego — What I love about this song, other than the fact that it sounds so much like the music I loved back in college, is that it perfectly captures the frustration of Barry Allen (The Flash)–he will always experience life differently from anyone around him, and they’ll never understand how he sees the world.

“Superpowers” by Ookla the Mok — Okay, the last few tracks have been kinda down, so let’s close out with something a little goofier. You want a rock song jam-packed with a ton of both familiar and obscure comics references? Here you go. I was first introduced to this song by Steve Glosson on the “Geek Out Loud” podcast (which you should definitely check out, if you haven’t before). It’s a hoot.

Have a good weekend, gang. Excelsior!

I can name that tune…

Random story, because why not:

More than 20 years ago, when I was in ninth grade…

[Pause to wipe away silent tears as I type those words]

…I had a friend named Chad who was a year behind me. Chad was into much cooler music than I was–though I should quickly clarify that we were both on that “Christian music ONLY” tip, at least at that time. So, Chad was into cooler *Christian* music than I was. In those days, I was still rocking out to early DC Talk (DCT fan since “Nu Thang,” y’all), Carman, MWS, and some of the late-80’s/early-90’s Christian hair-metal-type bands like White Cross, Petra*, and Whiteheart. I know–REAL hardcore.

Meanwhile, Chad was into the nascent Christian alternative scene in the 90’s, as well as other random fun things. While I had heard of this strange beast called “ska” not too long before, Chad bought me my first Five Iron Frenzy CD. He would sometimes mention bands I would pretend to recognize.

Well, Chad made me a mixtape of stuff he thought I would like, and while I remember some stuff on it (FIF, MxPx, Dime Store Prophets, etc.), there was one song I REALLY liked. It was a fun, silly rocker, no deep meanings, just something fast and loud to jam out to on your Walkman. (Remember the Walkman? Classic.)  I probably wore that part of the tape out, rewinding and replaying over and over. (Remember tapes? Remember rewinding?!? Good times.)

Fast-forward to maybe ten years ago. I was trying to recall the song. I could remember random lines of lyrics, but despite my best google-fu, was unable to find the song. We were now in the Youtube era, and I was hoping to find it SOMEWHERE. I had no idea who the band was, and I could only assume on the title. Well, a few years ago, I found it. And as it randomly came to mind today, I pulled up the video.

So, here you go. Please to enjoy, “I Take U Everywhere I Go” by Pushstart Wagon (and I recommend you turn it WAY up):

Is there a point to this story? *shrug* Not really. I just like this song. Maybe you will, too. And if you don’t, that’s cool.

[*Yes, yes, yes, Petra started much earlier–I’m talking about the John Schlitt, “Beyond Belief” era Petra here.]

Friday Five! (06/30/17)

Hey friends–it’s been a while, eh?

Lots of life has been happening lately. Lots of great stuff to tell you about.

But in the meantime, here are five cool videos/links to enjoy–all related to video game music!

One: Super Mario Swedish Symphonic Sounds!

Two: Also from the Swedish Symphony, a sweet Legend of Zelda suite!

Three: Speaking of Zelda, here are TWO covers of the “Gerudo Valley” theme!

Four: Also from the Swedes, a magnificent Mega Man medley!

Five: If you prefer your Mega Man to sound a little more “Rock” (man), you really need to check out The Megas. And even if you know The Megas and it’s been a while, they’re worth a re-listen, because they’re still just stinkin’ good.

…And because it’s been a while since I’ve done one of these, here’s a Friday Five BONUS LEVEL!!!!

Here’s a gorgeous guitar cover of “Aquatic Ambiance” from the SNES classic, Donkey Kong Country: