everything you ever wanted to know about nothing at all...

Saturday, December 26, 2009

Where Were You?

A couple of weeks ago, I was in the car listening to Fresh Air with Terry Gross who was interviewing one of my favorite singer songwriters, Vic Chesnutt. He was talking about his latest album, his career, his atheist beliefs & lastly his battle with doctor bills since he became a paraplegic in 1983. Chesnutt, despite his following & his relatively successful recording career was in debt $50,000 to hospitals that he had no way of paying even though he had "health insurance". I knew quite a bit about Chesnutt's career, but I had no idea that he had trouble with doctor's bills. Driving in the car, I had a pretty good thought to send him an email, but as always happens, life gets in the way. Here's what it would've said:

Dear Vic,

I've been listening to your music for the last ten years, & it's meant alot to me. Thank you. I recently heard you on Fresh Air with Terry Gross & was blown away by the song Granny. I was sad to hear about your doctor bills. It's shameful that we live in a country where we can't take care of our basic needs. I know you are an atheist, but, if it means anything to you, I'm praying for you & I hope everything works out okay. Take care.


Vic Chesnutt committed suicide yesterday.

The sad irony is this sad fact from spinner.com

"Chesnutt first grabbed national attention in 1996 when his songs were covered by an impressive list of musicians -- including Madonna, R.E.M., Smashing Pumpkins and Indigo Girls -- on a compilation for Sweet Relief, an organization benefiting musicians without health insurance. Chesnutt was grateful for the exposure but told Spinner, "When I talked to Sweet Relief about my problem recently, they were just like 'Woah, that's too big of a problem for us. You're going to have to talk to somebody else about that.'""

Vic Chesnutt also performed on a benefit CD for Alejandro Escovedo, who several years ago was in a similar predicament.

Life is short, friends, lend a hand.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Kick My Ass-Vic Chesnutt, Drunk

Kick My Ass

I'm so sorry you had to kick my ass
You said I ruined your life
I didn't mean to do that
I had to untangle where we was entwined
I was strangling me...were you breathing so fine
the jam I was in when things weren't working out
led me to the brunt of your swinging bout
I'm so sorry, I regret everything
what can I do to take back that swing
I'm so sorry a scuffle ensued
but things are so much better I guess thanks to you
I'm so sorry you had to pull my hair
I had to take care of business
there was a lot of business giving there

Cutty Sark-Vic Chesnutt, Drunk

Flirted With You All My Life-Vic Chesnutt

In My Way, Yes-Vic Chesnutt

My Hope is Built on Nothing Less-hymn


Monday, December 21, 2009

Christmas in Grand Haven

Christie asked me the other day what my favorite part of Christmas was the other day, & I told her the Nunc Dimittis, otherwise known as the Song of Simeon from Luke 2:29-32. Not only is it a beautifully written piece of literature, it's one of the most hopeful moments in scripture & an excellent example of finding peace in Our Savior. Simeon basically says he is ready to die in peace now that he has seen the Christchild. The juxtaposition between Jesus' birth & Simeon's death is striking. Only through death can we find true peace. What greater earthly gift can anyone have than to be able to die in peace? 1 Corinthians 15:55-57 mirrors this idea, not only that we shouldn't be afraid of death, we should live as though in death we will find victory. My Christmas wish for you is that find peace not only in Jesus' birth but more importantly you'll find peace in His death as well.

Now thou dost dismiss thy servant, O Lord, according to thy word in peace;
Because my eyes have seen thy salvation,
Which thou hast prepared before the face of all peoples:
A light to the revelation of the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Little Drummer Boy-Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart

In 1979, Bob Dylan wrote a song called "What Can I Do For You?", which I always thought was Bob Dylan's own rewrite of "Little Drummer Boy". The harmonica in "What Can I Do For You" is what Bob can play for the Christchild & in the song he gives one of the greatest harmonica solos of his career.

Thirty years later, when Bob Dylan shocked everybody by releasing a Christmas album (with all the proceeds going to feed the hungry), he recorded "Little Drummer Boy". Not a bad version at that, & a brilliant little video that evokes Christmas in every little farm town in the midwest in the forties & fifties.

Es ist ein Ros entsprungen (Lo! How a Rose E'er Blooming)-The Children's Chorus of the South German Radio

Of the Father's Love Begotten-Hymns for All Saints

The Friendly Beasts-Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmas

If all music videos were like this one, they might be worth watching.

Silent Night-Huey "Piano Smith & the Clowns"

Merry Christmas, friends...


Monday, December 14, 2009

Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)

My pal Kyle gave me a disc of Christmas songs by the band Low the other day. One song is called If You Were Born Today referring to if Jesus was born today. Here's the lyrics:

If you were born today
We'd kill ya by age eight
Never get the chance to say:

Joy to the world and

Peace on the earth
Forgive them for they know not what they do

Blessed are the meek and

Blessed are the humble
Blessed are the ninety and nine

Deny the flesh

Deny all that's evil
Tonight you'll deny me thrice

If you were born today

We'd kill ya by age eight
Never get the chance to say...


The song underscores how difficult it must've been for the early Christians who didn't have the benefit of having faith instilled to them as children or the benefit of living in a country where Christianity is the majority. They had to suffer their faith. I imagine that people looked upon early Christians as we might a cult. It reminds me of one of my favorite verses:

Well, I rapped upon a house
With the U.S. flag upon display
I said, "Could you help me out
I got some friends down the way"
The man says, "Get out of here
I'll tear you limb from limb"
I said, "You know they refused Jesus, too"
He said, "You're not Him".

I think there's two lessons to be taken from all of this. One, don't take anything for granted & be thankful for your parents, grandparents, great-grandparents, teachers, friends & pastors. The more important lesson comes from Mattew 25:40.

"And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me."

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

Come Thou Font of Every Blessing-Sufjan Stevens, Songs for Christmastime

In the Summertime-Bob Dylan, Shot of Love

"I'm still carrying that gift you gave, it's a part of me now, it's been cherished & saved. It'll be with me unto the grave & on into eternity."

God Said No-Dan Bern, New American Language

If You Were Born Today (song for Baby Jesus)-Low

Do Right to Me Baby (Do Unto Others)-Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming

Happy Monday, friends...


Thursday, December 10, 2009

Blues This Morning Falling Down Like Hail

Dig this, friends, I had the greatest dream last night. Christie, my pal Ryan & I walked into a diner somewhere down south for breakfast. We're sitting at the bar waiting for our food to come & who should walk into the restaurant? None other than Mrs. Elizabeth Cotten, the little known blues guitar player & singer who died in 1987. Her best songs include Freight Train Blues, Oh Babe it Ain't No Lie & Shake Sugaree. When I saw her, I said, "look everybody, Elizabeth Cotten's here!" Somehow she seemed to know who I was & she asked how I was doing. I told her I was doing good, but it had been a long time since I'd heard any good music. She said, "oh that's too bad". I said, "yup, it sure would be nice to hear some good music". She then played "Freight Train Blues" for me. Then the alarm clock went off.

Whenever I listen to Elizabeth Cotten, it reminds me of sitting next to Oma in church & listening to her sweet voice singing.

Five Favorite Songs of the Day

When I Get Home-Elizabeth Cotten

Ain't No Tellin'-Mississippi John Hurt

Do You Hear What I Hear?-Bob Dylan, Christmas in the Heart

Once in Royal David's City-Sufjan Stevens

Intervention-Arcade Fire, Funeral

Happy Thursday, friends...


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Grand Haven, Michigan
the sun shines on a dog's ass every now & then...