Since he turned 64 the other day (cue the Beatles!) it seemed appropriate to showcase some Billy Joel songs I’ve been enjoying recently (which you may or may not recognize) and to try to capture in one humble little blog post why I’m such a fan.
As a child, I never listened to secular radio, and my knowledge of popular secular music was shaky beyond the 1940s. So my earliest memory of hearing Billy Joel’s music goes back a mere 5-7 years. I was hanging out with a neo-classical composer friend at a university roadhouse. We took turns making fun of the songs on the radio. Then the first few bars of “Scenes From an Italian Restaurant” started playing. My friend paused, listening intently. “This…” he said, pointing to the speaker. “This is a great song.” Continue reading
When was the last time you heard a song that treated the fire-and-brimstone street preacher with admiration and love? Here’s a Garth Brooks song that turns all the stereotypes upside down. Sorry Rob Bell. (To clarify, Garth sings it, although he didn’t write it. The authors are Jim Rushing and Carl E. Jackson. Never heard of either of them, but country music seems to have more than its share of nameless, faceless Nashville tunesmiths behind the scenes of all our favorite hits.)
In my opinion, the Isaacs were born to sing this song. Can’t you just hear Sonya on the verses? Who else would like to hear them cover it?
Filed under Borrowing, Songs
In past editions of “Recently Added,” I’ve featured artists, genres, or themes. Today, I’m sharing a whole album! Consider this a CD review in addition to a “recently added” installment.
Up until fairly recently, I knew Steve Martin only as a great comedian. But when I discovered the music of Paul Simon, I discovered that not only was Steve Martin a friend of Paul’s, he was actually a highly regarded musician in his own right. His instrument of choice? The banjo. Who under 50 would have guessed?
When I saw that Steve was writing and recording a new project with Paul’s wife, singer/songwriter Edie Brickell, I was very interested. After it came out, I immediately found that the record company had posted the whole thing on Youtube the other day.
It’s very rare for me to sit in one place and listen to an entire album all the way through. But for this one, I did. Continue reading
Pitting southern gospel songs against similar songs from the world of contemporary Christian music. I think I’ve done precisely one of these so far. High time for another installment.
Both of these songs use some of the same language and imagery to refer to God’s redemptive love. But stylistically, they couldn’t possibly be more different. Keith Green’s “Your Love Broke Through” may be a blast from the past for some of you. It’s the epitome of light 70s pop. Karen Carpenter could have sung this one and it would have been a perfect fit. “Love Was In the Room” is a warm, country-styled harmony vehicle, done to perfection by the Booth Brothers.
This might come down to a matter of taste, but surely some objective comparisons could be made. I’ll just say, to kick things off, that a big strength of both songs is melodic richness. Let’s see what y’all think:
I first discovered Elijah Aaron through this modestly viral video:
So, after replaying that a few hundred times, I started to wonder “Hey, does this guy write his own stuff too?” Of course he does, and quite wonderful stuff at that. Continue reading
Okay. After turning in a massive linear algebra project that almost killed me single-handedly, it’s time to rock out a little bit, old school and classy-like. First, a song that my mom doesn’t think qualifies as rock music, but if the Doobie Brothers don’t count as rock and roll artists, well I don’t know who does. Anyhow, see if you aren’t singing that “I like to hear some funky Dixieland” hook at the top of your lungs and dancing in your seat by the end of this performance:
As you will see, this is really a question and answer post in disguise. But instead of yammering on about the music, I will let the music (and the images) speak for themselves. If you can spare ten minutes, I believe they will speak to you as powerfully as they speak to me. Have a blessed Holy Saturday.
Nothing can cheer me up like a good slab of old-time pop cheese. Below are some of the morsels that have inspired me lately. Aged 30-50 years for exceptional flavor… Continue reading
Interested readers can read two more pieces I’ve posted at the site The Retuned since I was invited to be a guest contributor there. One of them examines the biblical symbolism of justice and mercy in a song from Les Miserables entitled “Who Am I?” The other discusses secular love songs that are beautifully written but offer a vision of romantic love/passion that their authors themselves feel is too good to be true. I view the songs from the biblical framework of our longing for Eden and the joyful fulfillment of that longing in God’s perfect design for marriage and sexuality.
So, unless you hate Les Miserables (or musicals in general), Simon & Garfunkel, or Marc Cohn (or secular love songs in general), I hope you can take something good away from my thoughts on all of the above.
“Who Am I?”: Harmonizing Grace and Justice in Les Miserables
Whenever I May Find Her: A Song for Paradise Lost (Note: The image for this post depicts the creation of Eve. If a Dore engraving of Eve in her original created state would bother you… then don’t click on the post.)
I featured Marc Cohn on this site last year in an entry for my Poetry in Song series, highlighting the ballad “Silver Thunderbird.” I claimed that Cohn was an underrated writer, who is justly famous for his smash hit “Walking in Memphis” but deserves more recognition for his other work. Since then I’ve listened to even more of his songs and am more convinced than ever that I was right. Most recently, I embedded his song “Old Soldier” at the end of my post on Steve McQueen. When that piece went viral, I took some satisfaction from the fact that I’d tucked away a little-known Marc Cohn nugget in there.
Marc Cohn’s music is kind of like bacon. It makes me thirsty… for more Marc Cohn music. Continue reading