Monday, November 30, 2020

Dreams -- The Cranberries

This song came out as I was a sophomore in college, and one of my nighttime habits on campus was listening to the radio (and calling the nighttime DJ at WKQQ to play Roy Orbison, which they all refused to do). I've listened to The Cranberries since then, and Dolores O'Riordan has only grown over the years. She and the band were only a couple of years older than I was, so it was especially hard to hear that she drowned due to alcohol intoxication.

Dreams is a haunting song about love, and one's first love in specific. Even 25+ years later, I still love hearing it pop up on the playlist.

Saturday, November 28, 2020

Christmas Satire -- Dropkick Murphys -- The Season's Upon Us

Warning: Video is PG-13 or worse. Funny, but adult themes do happen. Also, to quote John Prine, "This song is completely non-autobiographical. It has nothing to do with my family."

The strongest unintended tradition in the extended Rankin household was the Adult Table. My grandfather, his brothers and sisters, and their spouses ate in the dining room at the adult table. At first, the adult table was a mystery to the kids, and kids are always attracted to mystery. Then some of us got towards adulthood, and some of the older adults passed or were unable to come, and we got our chance. To get stuck getting quizzed and lectured by Uncle Russell. Voluntarily choosing the adult table was only done once. Recently, the last of my grandfather's generation has passed away or is unable to come to Christmas, and the adult table is now just my mother's dinner table or dad's cousin's dinner table, and there's nothing particularly bad about being at the adult table.

Friday, November 27, 2020

Not Christmas Songs -- Jingle Bells

This song is a winter song, or more importantly a Thanksgiving song. It was written for a Thanksgiving play, for a time when Thanksgiving to Christmas was hard winter. These days, most of the US is "lucky" to have any winter conditions at all in December.

That said, it's a catchy, fun song with a lot of versions. I happen to be fond of the one by the Brian Setzer Orchestra myself:

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Best of All Possible Worlds -- The Little Willies

I always loved the title of this song. The Little Willies (Norah Jones and crew) are covering a drinking song by Kris Kristofferson. I have a weakness for drinking songs, but I've always liked the concept that this really is the Best of all possible worlds. It's a positive outlook, and one that should encourage us during stuff that's not so good.

Monday, November 23, 2020

Breaking Find -- Sometimes I -- Rising Appalacha

For the first time in weeks, YouTube actually delivered a good new song. I hadn't heard of Rising Appalacha when I listened to this song. The sisters Chloe and Leah Smith are persuing an independent music career in the intersection of world, folk, and soul music.

This is a pretty song I've had on repeat all day. It's definitely going into my favorites lists, and the rest of their albums are getting added to my Library.

Sunday, November 22, 2020

Demento November - Sarah Cynthia Sylvia Stout Would Not Take The Garbage Out - Shel Silverstein

I had a lot of choices here. There are some really strong candidates on this album. There's Star Trekkin', The Time Warp, and Steve Martin's King Tut. Julie Brown's "The Homecoming Queen's Got a Gun" was such accurate satire that it became a little too real in the late 90s. Der Fuehrer's Face and Fish Heads are both interesting choices too. However, I want to focus on a rarer track.

Shel Silverstein had an interesting drawing, writing, and songwriting career. He is most famous for "Where The Sidewalk Ends", but he also wrote "25 Minutes to Go" and "A Boy Named Sue" for Johnny Cash, and "The Cover of the Rolling Stone" (and most of Dr. Hook's early songs). This song he recorded for himself. He sounds a lot like Mark Hamell forgot his cough drops before jumping into the time machine for the early 1970s. It also sounds a lot like one of his children's books being read.

Saturday, November 21, 2020

Breaking Find - Rise - Caroline Jones

Not only is this a breaking find for me, but I found it before Wesley. Again, it happens so rarely. Also, YouTube has not been suggesting new songs for a while, and it's irritating me. I'm afraid they're breaking the web service trying to force people onto YouTube Music.

The song and the video is both beautiful, and it's an incredibly uplifting song. I've added it to my favorites playlist already, and added her album to the Apple Music collection.

Friday, November 20, 2020

Lost Boy -- Ruth B

So far Ruth is a one-hit wonder, but I really hope that doesn't continue. She is a really good singer, and this is a neat song. It's clearly a retelling of Peter Pan from the perspective of one of the lost boys, and Ruth B makes you feel the lonliness of the boy and then the sense of inclusion.

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Just Preach Jesus -- Kingdom Heirs

Another free Amazon song, this is an incredible gospel song by an interesting gospel quartet. This was the only song I really liked off the compilation, so I kept it in my favorites collection, and that was about it.

It ends up that The Kingdom Heirs essentially acted as a "house band" for Silver Dollar City in Pigeon Forge, and stayed on when it became Dollywood. The group has had a numerous rotation in its membership, but still focuses on singing gospel songs at Dollywood and a limited touring schedule.

Back to the message: I love the simplistic message of this song. We can sometimes get wrapped up in getting complex. When in doubt, just preach Jesus; the rest of the gospel will follow.

Wednesday, November 18, 2020

The Lady In Red -- Chris de Burgh

Say hello to an old friend. I had to go obtain this one hit wonder from the 80s after I heard it again in 2011. A lot of people don't like it or think it's overwrought. I don't. I think it's incredibly sweet and positively sentimental, and always did (even before I got married myself).

I have to admit to one fault: the song is about de Burgh remembering what his wife was wearing the first time they met, unlike most people. Like me. I was and am usually clueless about people's clothing. (One time I had to call the police on someone harassing walkers, and was asked what he was wearing. "Um, clothes....").

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

The Logical Song - Supertramp

A lot of people are unable to pick a specific time when you transitioned from thinking like a child to thinking line a young adult. You may be able to remember thinking "how did I change", or you may just look back and know it did change. I've always loved this song because it captures that feeling of "how exactly did I head down the path to becoming a responsible adult, anyway?"

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Demento November -- Poisoning Pigeons In The Park - Tom Lehrer

The song is inspired by Boston's program in the 50s of poisoning pigeons to control population. Of course, Tom Lehrer had to run with it.

Tom Lehrer became famous for his satirical songs with excellent melodies (that, unlike other satirists, he usually created himself), but this is one of his early works from the fifties. The Wikipedia story goes that the pianist came to the studio not knowing the song, and his sheet music was untitled. He read the music and thought "This is a neat, simple, cute waltz." Then the engineer goes "take 1 for Poisoning Pigeons in the Park", and he fell off his stool in shock.

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Burning Down The House - Tom Jones and The Cardigans

There's no use trying to make sense of this song. David Byrde just said stuff that sounded good together. There really isn't a theme at all.

However, this cover is part of a theme. Tom Jones went to musicians he liked, and said "I want to do a duet with you. Pick a producer you like, and let's do a song in your general style; I just want to sing."

This makes a song that's an interesting mix of Jones' hamming and the Cardigans' indie pop. (The video is even more gonzo, but it doesn't improve the song enough to make it a Better in the Video song.)

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Next To Me - Emeli Sande

This is another Paula song that I downloaded for free from when Apple was giving away music, but I've grown to love Ms. Sande's singing. In this case, this is a song from a woman who knows that her man will be at her side no matter what. I always worked to live up to that kind of standard....

(Supposedly Taylor Swift wrote a song that sounds a lot like the beat of this one. Shame on her.)

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

1000 Ships (Acoustic) - Rachel Platten

I am so proud of myself: I have out-hipstered Wesley Hope. I knew about this song before Wesley did. Wesley heard it in 2018, and I downloaded this one from NoiseTrade in 2017. It happens so very rarely; I have to take my wins when they come.

I usually don't include multiple versions of the same song, much less multiple versions of the same song by the same artist, in my favorites playlist. However, the Acoustic version we're covering today is sufficiently different from the original "all instruments" that I like both separately on their own merits. We'll talk about the other version when it comes around on the guitar.

This song is an incredibly sweet song about love and caring for someone, and wishing that that person were with you. Like Long Monday, I can't help but think about that 15 months that Paula and I did long distance dating.

The best part for you: I downloaded this song from NoiseTrade, and it's STILL free over there. Go to and listen to it. You'll then need to log in to download the song, but do it. Then go buy everything else she's ever made.

(The version in this video isn't identical, but it's pretty close. Again, go download the identical song.)

Monday, November 9, 2020

Breaking Find -- Amazing Grace (My Chains Are Gone) - Pentatonix

Last week, Pentatonix released their version of Amazing Grace. It's not the best I've ever heard (it's missing the "Ten Thousand Years" verse), but it's very very good.

Pentatonix is most certainly a secular band, and most of the members are not orthodox Christian (although Kentucky-born and GSA alum Kevin Olusola and new member Matt Sallee are professing Christians). However, they've performed very orthodox Christian songs (Mary, Did You Know and How Great Thou Art) very well. This song fits that pattern.

Sunday, November 8, 2020

Demento November -- Ti Kwan Leep -- The Frantics

I absolutely adore this skit (it's attached to a song on the Dr. Demento album, but the song is actually separate on the original album). It works as an effective satire making fun of all of the martial arts movies and "wise sensai" tropes. There's not much more I can say about it other than to tell you to listen:

Friday, November 6, 2020

Christian Music Week: Elijah by Rich Mullins

I have enough songs for a Christian Music Month, and a Rich Mullins Fortnight, so we'll definely come back and do this again. However, we can't go past Friday without mentioning Rich Mullins' theme song: Elijah.

This life is a gift, and we're supposed to consider it a gift from God, but it's not our home. When God calls us, we're supposed to be ready to go and look forward to leaving to be with him.

It reassures me greatly that those who have gone ahead of us consider this life like a "candlelight in Central Park", and that I have a place there when it's my time too.

Thursday, November 5, 2020

Christian Music Week : Nothing But The Blood - Jars of Clay and The Blind Boys of Alabama

If I were forced to pick one album, and one album only, to take on a desert island, I pick Redemption Songs by Jars of Clay. It's 13 of the old classic hymns, respectfully converted into modern (but still timeless) versions.

Nothing But The Blood is an excellent sample from the album. The message is plain and accurate: there is nothing that can cleanse us from sin except the Blood of Jesus. The harmonies of the Blind Boys of Alabama (some of the best singers in the world) just add to a wonderful arrangement and excellent singing and instrumentation of Jars of Clay themselves.

I adore listening to this song, and to this album.

Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Christian Music Week: Shortstop - Steve Taylor (from Roaring Lambs)

I wasn't at all familiar with whom Steve Taylor is. I just knew that this song (as well as Akehlulek Ubaba) off Roaring Lions weren't your ordinary CCM songs. Shortstop tells the story about how a lot of Christians are willing to be satisfied with not trying, not improving, not getting better, and relying on those few Christian superstars who fill in the gaps (whether at church or in the world in general).

It's good that God calls up shortstops in our lives to help us, but our goal should be to be able to be one of the star players in our community that other people look up to.

Tuesday, November 3, 2020

Christian Music Week (extra songs): The Jesus Demos and The Jesus Records

Since I posted a song this morning, I'm going to also post a double album as a bonus feature this evening. Rich Mullins was working on this concept album when he died, and the Demos were recorded on a tape player a few days before his death. While his friends got together and recorded the Records versions of the songs, a very good sound engineer used then-cutting edge software to clean up the demos to their current state.

This is an "extras"; we will come back and discuss My Deliverer and That Where I Am (at least) in future posts. However, the entire 2 albums are worth listening to if you've never heard them before.

(Note that this is a 19 song playlist. You might want to click through to YouTube...()

Christian Music Week: Creed by Third Day

I know that there's a "newsworthy" event today. I'm going to ignore it completely. I even wrote this post early so that I could post it when the day starts, so you'd have a chance to see it during the day.

Rich Mullins wrote this song, and his version is very good, but Third Day rocks it. It's strange to call a singing version of the Apostle's Creed a rocker, but Third Day is good at doing stuff like this.

I am a believer in the Restoration Movement, also known as the Stone-Campbell movement. The Restoration Movement believes in the unification of the denominations, and that there are "no creeds but Christ". Creeds like the Apostle's Creed or the Nicene Creed.

Even so, I used this song as the start of one of my lessons to the high schoolers a couple of years ago, and I will do so again. Here's one English translation of the Apostle's Creed:

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.
I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord.
He was conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried.
He descended to the dead.
On the third day he rose again.
He ascended into heaven,
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again to judge the living and the dead.
I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic Church,
the communion of the saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.
If you're reading this post, I want to ask you two questions:
  • Do you believe that each of these sentences are accurate and literally true?
  • Are you living your life so that each person who meets you would be able to say "I'm more inclined to believe those 12 statements because of X"?
If you can't answer yes to the first question, you need to find a Christian whom you can trust to find out what you need to turn that no into a yes. (I am quite willing to help with that as needed, and can refer you to others who are better at explaning it than me if needed.)

If you're having trouble with answering yes for number 2, then go to a Christian small group and ask for prayer and mentoring. There are probably items in your life that you need their help identifying that are interfering with your walk with Christ.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Christian Music Week: Come Save - Sarah Reeves

When I hear this song, I cry. It is a "we song" (there's a lot of I's and we's in it), but it's a sorrowful, repentant we song. Sarah cries for God's mercy and his repentance in the face of our sinfulness. To quote the second verse and the chorus:
Addicted to our pride, come save
Consumed in self delight, come save
Break us and free us from these chains
We desperately need Your grace

Your sons and Your daughters cry for You
The waves of the waters reach for You
And all of creation rises up and screams out Your name
Oh Lord

I have no problem starting the week out by crying out to the Lord.

Christian Music Week

I was considering making a theme week this week, because of the election, and then even making a Christian theme week. However, I just hit shuffle on the Music app, but up pops Shortstop from the great album Roaring Lions. I guess God wants Christian Music week...

(Yes, we'll cover Shortstop Wednesday.)

Sunday, November 1, 2020

Demento November -- The Ballad of Irving -- Frank Gallop

With all of the seriousness in the world right now, let's listen to something a little lighter.

I refuse to start talking about Christmas songs until December, so I decided to break out an album I was introduced to in college. A friend of mine played the second CD of Dr Demento's 20th Anniversary Collection, and I thought it was hilarious. Then I mostly forgot about it until I just happened to find a copy of the album (missing CD 1, interestingly enough) at Half Price Books. We'll talk about 4 of the funny songs off this album, and then come back to songs that tend to get played in December on 11/29.

The first I'll talk about is The Ballad of Irving. This is a satire song inspired directly by Lorne Greene's song "Ringo", although it makes fun of all of the Western character ballad songs. Irving is the 142nd fastest gun in the west, and not very good at that. He doesn't even get a heroic ending....