On Analysis and the Holy

Abstract rendering of bright sound waves.

Abstract rendering of bright sound waves.

What is it that music actually does? What is that thing? I'm not entirely sure.

That music has physical qualities is unquestionable. A certain pitch can shatter glass. Low notes can cause the trunk of the car stopped next to you in traffic to shimmy and shake. Volume hurts our ears. Music, temporally bound, is material.

It affects the world around us. It engages the world around us. Sound waves travel through various substances...with greater or lesser ease depending on the substance, but it does travel. It moves. 

But does it live, move, and have being?

Cosmic Christ – depth of reality. The resurrection of Christ is also of the body…exit wounds and all. So can the music that changes the shape of the world we live in not help us access the God who inhabits the world and heaven at the same time?

So often I read passages like the one above from Rock and Theology (an amazing blog, by the way) and I wonder what the hell we're all going on about. Music does not have agency in any conscious sense. It is substantive, of course, and could be analysed liturgically like any other liturgical object.

In New Interview, Macca Says Yoko Did NOT Break Up the Beatles

Sir Paul McCartney (L) and Yoko Ono (R).

Sir Paul McCartney (L) and Yoko Ono (R).

According to Rolling Stone:

Paul McCartney says that Yoko Ono isn't at fault for splitting the Beatles or tearing John Lennon away from the group in an upcoming TV interview with David Frost, the BBC reports. "She certainly didn't break the group up," McCartney says, countering the commonly held belief that Ono caused the Beatles' dissolution. "I don't think you can blame her for anything," McCartney says, adding that Lennon was "definitely going to leave."

Read the Rolling Stone report in its entirety HERE

Riding Out the Storm: A Video Playlist

For our brothers and sisters on the East Coast, in the path of the storm they call "Sandy," I've put together a little music for you to help pass the time. Sending you prayers of protection, peace, and grace (and, I hope, more than a bit of musical joy and solace) from the shores of the Pacific here in California at the SoJo West office.

Inside the blog, there are 30 videos. For those of you with power (and an Internet connection), I hope it helps pass the time and maybe even gets you to get up and dance a little in your living rooms.

Here's the song and video the playlist begins with: "No Storms Come" by our Sojo friends, The Innocence Mission:

Weekend Musicking: Seven-String Goodness

The author and the object of his affection: the seven-string guitar.

The author and the object of his affection: the seven-string guitar. Image courtesy of Tripp Hudgins.

It's been a very musical weekend.

Pictured at left is a Foster 7-string guitar. It's just like a traditional 6-string acoustic, but with the added rumble of a low-b string. It's an interesting beast to play. Lovely, really. I like that extra resonance in the low end, plus, if truth be told, I like singing with it. Here is a little recording from Soundcloud. I recorded the file below on my phone. Any tinnyness is purely because of the phone.

Walk On The Ocean: Rob Bell, Day 2

The author, watching the surf in Laguna Beach, Calif., on Wednesday. Photo by Cathleen Falsani/Sojourners.

I was standing there on the shore, jeans rolled up, my ankles in the surf.

It was day two of the Rob Bell event and people were surfing.

Yes, surfing.

Rob brings in a couple of surfing instructors and, if you want to, you can rent a board and take a lesson. It's a good time. I watched a lot of people surf for the first time as I stood on the shore ...

                   watching ...


Kimbra: Eccentric But Enjoyable

Wylio / Stuart Sevastos, Flickr

Kimbra performed at the 9:30 Club on Tuesday. Wylio / Stuart Sevastos, Flickr

If I were given one word to describe New Zealand singer-songwriter Kimbra, probably best known for singing the female part on Gotye’s “Somebody That I Used to Know,” it would be eccentric.

But that word is based almost entirely on her live show, where — after dimming the lights and playing the theme for The Godfather over the 9:30 Club’s speakers on Tuesday — Kimbra walked onto the stage, decked out in sleek elevator shoes, a fluffy dress laden with glitter and color (which eventually became a tutu), and what looked like pom poms draped over her shoulders. She would’ve looked even more out of place if her drummer wasn’t rocking a sweet high top fade.

But, even though concerts are performances — and as such necessitate an element of spectacle — the music obviously remains the reason people flock to see their favorite musicians.

Passion Pit Shine in D.C.

Brandon Hook / Sojourners

Lead singer Michael Angelakos is feeling it at the 9:30 club on Tuesday night. Brandon Hook / Sojourners

In case you’re out of the loop, Passion Pit have emerged over the last five years as a pretty big indie-dance-rock group from the Boston area, seamlessly mixing elements of Vampire Weekend, the Beach Boys, and 80s music, among many other sounds and influences. Passion Pit started as a side project of lead singer Michael Angelakos — one that he thought wouldn’t go anywhere and was just for fun — and has quickly gained steam, releasing its second album last summer and performing on Saturday Night Live this past weekend.

On Tuesday they wrapped up three sold-out shows in Washington, D.C., with a triumphant performance, inspiring even the more awkward shyer attendees to move a little. Even the frat daddies who showed up because their girlfriends made them were getting into it.

Angelakos is well aware of Passion Pit’s tendency for infectious catchy songwriting.

“People feel like they're always singing along,” Angelakos told the Huffington Post. “There are always parts to sing along to. It's built into the music.”

Faith, the Poor, and Politics: A New Album by Josh Schicker

Faith, the Poor, and Politics

Faith, the Poor, and Politics image via

I couldn’t resist: I heard that a singer/songwriter in Atlanta was coming out with an album titled, Faith, the Poor, and Politics. Josh Schicker currently serves as Worship Leader in Mission at North Avenue Presbyterian Church in Atlanta. He’s also an accomplished musician, recording songs and performing at Eddie’s Attic most recently. 

Faith, the Poor, and Politics is both catchy and contemplative. It’s spiritual but not in-your-face religious; personal, but not isolated from community. Below, you can read his thoughts on the album and other things in the realm of faith, politics, and culture. 

Jens Lekman: Why You Should Check out Swedish Indie Pop

Alberto Garcia, Flickr

Jens Lekman came to the 9:30 Club in Washington, D.C. last Friday. Alberto Garcia, Flickr

Jens Lekman is a storyteller.

Wait, Jens who? How do you pronounce that?

Jens (pronounced “Yens”) Lekman is a witty, hopelessly romantic Swedish musician from a suburb of Gothenburg.

Lekman was at the 9:30 club in D.C. last Friday — armed with a small acoustic guitar that fuels his unique indie pop style. Occasionally he reached over and pressed the pads of his sampler, cuing thumping bass accompaniment and flurries of strings to compliment his smooth voice, violinist, bassist, drummer, and pianist.

While he may not be on top of the iTunes album charts, Jens (I feel like we’re on a first name basis simply because he was so relaxed and open at the show) is definitely worth a listen, whether it’s at home, in the car, on the go, or — especially — in concert.