Posted by Catherine Woodiwiss, Julie Polter, Tripp Hudgins 4 weeks 2 days ago
Sufjan Stevens’ newest album, Carrie & Lowell (out now), is a heartbreaking meditation on personal grief. It’s also joyful, baffling, and delicately mundane. In the spirit of a listening party, a few of us sat down to play through the album, sharing liner notes and meditations on the songs that grabbed each of us. Conclusion: it's really, really good. Stream Carrie & Lowell here, and listen along with us below. “Death With Dignity” — Tripp Hudgins, ethnomusicologist, Sojourners contributor, blogger at AnglobaptistTripp: I love the first song of an album. I think of it as the introduction to a possible new friend. “Where The Streets Have No Name” on U2’s Joshua Tree or “Signs of Life” on Pink Floyd’s Momentary Lapse of Reason, that first track can be the thesis statement to a sonic essay.So, when I get a new album — even in this day of digital albums or collections of singles — a first track can make or break an album for me. I sat down and listened attentively to “Death With Dignity.” It does not disappoint. With it Stevens introduces the subject of the album — his grief around troubled relationship with his mother and her death — as well as the sonic palate he will use throughout the album.Simple guitar work, layered voicing, and a little synth, the album is musically sparse. The tempo reminds me of movies from the nineteen sixties or seventies where the action takes place over a long road trip.Catherine Woodiwiss: I was thinking road trip, too. There’s real motion musically, which, given a claustrophobic theme and circular lyrics, is a thankful point of release. It’s a generous act, or maybe an avoidant one — he could have made us sit tight and watch, and he doesn’t quite do it.Julie Polter: This isn’t a road movie, but the reference to that era of films just made me think of Cat Stevens’ soundtrack for Harold and Maude, especially “Trouble.” (This album is one-by-one bringing back to me other gentle songs of death and duress and all the songs I listen to when I want to cry).
Posted by Julie Polter 22 weeks 3 days ago
The folk trio Peter, Paul, and Mary had almost 50 years together until Mary Travers’ death in 2009. Peter Yarrow and Noel Paul Stookey continue as musicians and activists, and have reflected on their experiences in a new a photo-filled book Peter, Paul and Mary: 50 Years in Life and Song (Imagine/Charlesbridge). A just-released album, DISCOVERED: Live in Concert, includes 12 live songs never before heard on their albums. And on Dec. 1 (check local listings), PBS will air 50 Years with Peter, Paul and Mary — a new documentary with rare and previously unseen television footage and many of the trio’s best performances and most popular songs.I spoke with Yarrow and Stookey this week about music, movements, and the spiritual aspects of both. (Stookey had what he describes as a “deep reborn experience” as a Christian around 1969 or 1970; Yarrow doesn’t affiliate with a specific religious institution, but describes much of what motivates him in spiritual terms.)Stookey describes how all three of them were drawn to carrying on the precedent of folk forebears such as Woody Guthrie and Pete Seeger to make music “in the interest of, and love of, community.” Their appearance at the 1963 March on Washington was, he says, “the galvanizing moment” for their activism, the beginning of a trajectory that would engage them in the civil rights, peace, anti-nuclear, environment, and immigration movements, and “less media-covered causes and events — a rainbow of concerns that we were inevitably and naturally drawn into.”
Posted by Julie Polter 2 years 46 weeks ago
NPR reports that Michigan state representative Lisa Brown was not allowed speak on other legislation yesterday after she made a speech against a bill restricting abortion in which she used the word "vagina." A Republican spokesperson said Brown had violated the "decorum of the House.""Brown called a press conference, today," the Detroit Free Press reports. "She defended her use of the word "vagina," saying it is the "anatomically medically correct term.""If they are going to legislate my anatomy, I see no reason why I cannot mention it," she said according to the Free Press."Regardless of their reasoning, this is a violation of my First Amendment rights and directly impedes my ability to serve the people who elected me into office," Brown added in a statement released by her office.Read more here
Posted by Julie Polter 2 years 51 weeks ago
Whenever there’s talk about honoring mothers and motherhood, I’m always looking for how we as individuals and a society will support the women—of any race, creed, or orientation--who have to scoop up their children and run for their lives or who feel forced to decide between enduring emotional and physical abuse and feeding their children.The Violence Against Women Act (VAWA) has been one way that our country has acknowledged and worked to stop the abuse that occurs every day. As Lisa Sharon Harper wrote on this blog last week, the House of Representative’s version of VAWA would exclude certain groups from its protections.
Posted by Julie Polter 4 years 50 weeks ago
Posted by Julie Polter 6 years 23 weeks ago
Posted by Julie Polter 7 years 29 weeks ago
Mamta, a winsome, wide-eyed girl of 12 moves through her daily chores in a poor household in India. Although still a child, her life has little play, and she will too soon be bearing the full responsibilities and burdens of an adult woman: Mamta was married at the age of 7. At puberty she will quit school and move to the house of her husband, who she's had no contact with since her wedding night [...]