What a crap week. It’s bad enough dealing with a pandemic and all the stress and worry that entails. Then police violence and the murder of George Floyd. Then tear gas and more violence and more death and Minneapolis burning. I don’t have the words.
(Speaking of words, people like to quote Martin Luther King Jr. about non-violence, but he also spoke about riots. Some context on those comments is especially helpful.)
Since I don’t have words, two songs come to mind this week.
Let the People Be Free
The first is a protest song by Jayanthi Kyle called “Hand in Hand.” It was written in 2014 and, because of course, the lyrics are still quite relevant:
The day’s gonna come when I won’t march no more But while my sister ain’t equal & my brother can’t breathe Hand and hand with my family, we will fill these streets …
Mr. Policeman I can’t breathe Lay down your weapons and your badges and listen to me
Jayanthi is also in a chorus group called Give Get Sistet that’s pretty amazing. Nobody is doing performances right now, cuz pandemic, but they’d be an ideal group to bring in right now.
The other song I thought of was Ben Kyle’s “Minneapolis.” The lyrics aren’t nearly as applicable, but the mournful “Oh, Minneapolis” captures about how it felt this morning to see images of the city smoldering.
O Minneapolis, I saw you and Saint Paul kiss Neath the moonlight in a Mississippi mist Never saw a thing as beautiful as this Oh Minneapolis
Rain down, purple rain (I wanna hear the sound) I wanna feel the royal rain on me I wanna feel the holy water running like a holy stream I wanna be baptized in the city in the Mississippi
Holy Week began yesterday morning with the waving of the palms. We stood outside our church on the corner of Ford Parkway and Macalester, savoring the little bit of sun that offered warmth against the bitter Minnesota cold. It may have been the first day of spring, but it was still in the 30s. We waved our palms to sing Hosanna, to fight back the cold, to celebrate the march toward Easter.
So with that backdrop I offer an Easter music list.
I’m always making mix CDs for my wife, and as I started another list for her, I realized I was collecting a lot of gospel songs. Most of my mixes are pretty random, so I decided to lean into the theme.
The result is a collection of music that speaks to faith and spirituality and hope and the gospel. I’m well beyond saying this is “Christian” music, but it is a collection of hymns, psalms and laments, tinged with that old-time gospel sound.
“Little Light” by The Eagle Rock Gospel Singers
“What Wondrous Love Is This? by Chelsea Moon & The Franz Brothers
“Not Enough” by Caedmon’s Call
“Here it Comes” by Romantica
“He Never Said a Mumblin’ Word” by The Welcome Wagon
“The Man Comes Around” by Johnny Cash
“Purpose (live)” by Cloud Cult
“Hand in Hand” by Jayanthi Kyle
“I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For (Rattle & Hum movie version)” by U2
“Be Thou My Vision” by Ginny Owens
“All the Poor and Powerless” by All Sons & Daughters
“The Transfiguration” by Sufjan Stevens
“Lamb of God, Have Mercy” by Gospel Machine
“People of God” by Gungor
“Poor Man’s Son” by Noah Gundersen
“This Little Light” by Mavis Staples
“This No More” by The Vespers
“Amazing Grace (featuring The Lily of the Valley Gospel Choir)” by Justin McRoberts
On the eve of Valentine’s Day, I took Abby to a barn 50 miles south of the Cities for a pre-release concert by Romantica. It was a little bit magic.
After being on hiatus for about five years, they crowd-funded their new album, Shadowlands. One of the rewards was this exclusive pre-release show in the barn where they recorded the album. I couldn’t resist.
I’ve been a fan of Romantica since long before their debut album turned me into a fawning fan boy. The new material is great: atmospheric and soulful, dripping with depth and beauty. I haven’t seen the band play in a long time (they have been on hiatus), so this was the first time I saw the addition of Jayanthi Kyle on backing vocals (yes, she’s frontman Ben Kyle’s sister-in-law). Wow. I love the depth she adds. (And bonus: I was already a fan of her work, I just didn’t know it. She wrote the Black Lives Matter protest song, “Hand in Hand.”)
The show started with the mournful/hopeful “Harder to Hear,” which resonates with the doubt, depression and yearning of this season. Here’s a poorly filmed snippet:
Another stand out track is “Here It Comes,” which Jayanthi described as her favorite. Talk about soulful and yearning. Ben said the song came to him on the last day of recording, a gift. “Cecil Ingram Conor” is another barn-burner, though I’m not sure my crummy video does it justice (Ben’s solo living room performance might be a better taste).
So many other good tracks, but that’s a start. (And the letterpress packaging design is beautiful. Worth getting a physical copy.)
Braving the Minnesota tundra to discover tender music with the woman I love is like a tonic for my soul.
A work-at-home dad wrestles with faith, social justice & story.