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From time to time I find it difficult to write about anything significant.  On days like this, I like to share with you funny/entertaining things I have come across on Youtube.

Goats Yelling Like Humans

I have had some experiences with goats on various farms and petting zoos, but I can’t say I’ve ever heard one like this.  I laughed for several minutes the first time I saw this.

2Cellos – “Hurt”

I am a big fan of classical music and Johnny Cash.  Put those two together and you have this.  (Granted, Johnny Cash was doing a cover of NIN, but I think Johnny did it best)

The Notebook as a horror film

Several parodies of The Notebook went all over social media around Valentines Day. This was my favorite.

Liam Neeson discussing the time he forged Ralph Fiennes‘s Autograph

Liam Neeson and Ralph Fiennes are two of my favorite actors.  This interview just solidifies that.

Gotye “Somebody I Used to Know” Dutch Choir Cover

Sure, Gotye’s “Somebody I Used to Know” has jumped the shark, but that doesn’t make this cover any less entertaining for me.

Until later friends…

I’ve written before about my tendency to go on iTunes buying binges.  Since having a daughter, we’ve spent significantly less money on ourselves.  I have given that iTunes store a wide berth, because babies are expensive – fact.   A couple weeks ago my dad gave me an iTunes gift card just because he is the giving type.  It wasn’t my birthday, bar mitzvah, or anything else significant.  Here are some songs I got with it and have been enjoying these past few weeks.

“One Piece at a Time” by Johnny Cash

I spent most of my life living in the same town as Johnny Cash.  Sadly, I didn’t really come to appreciate him till after he was gone.  My mom once met him in KFC.  I love Johnny’s sense of humor.  “A Boy Named Sue” and “One Piece at a Time” are just fun.  Granted this is a song about industrial piracy, but we all know it’s tongue-in-cheek, so it’s ok.  Apparently a car dealer in my hometown made a Cadillac according to the specifications of the song:

Johnny Cash's Cadillac from "One Piece at a Time"

“Tennessee Waltz” by Sam Cooke

I have recently begun listening to a lot of Sam Cooke. Man, he could sing.  So, when I found a version of the Tennessee Waltz from ole Sam, I had to give it a shot.  I was not disappointed.

“My Father’s Gunby Elton John

Don’t think about it. Yes, it’s a contradiction. If you think too much about the knight Sir Elton John (who makes CeeLo’s style choices seem tame) singing from the point of view of a Confederate soldier, your head just might implode.  Just enjoy the song for what it is.  This is an example of good storytelling.

“Absent from Flesh” by Sojourn Music

This song is done by my church. It is written by one of my pastors Jamie Barnes (the bald dude singing in the video) and Isaac Watts. I already had the version of this from Jamie and Brooks Ritter’s split album (which you can listen to here).  I just recently bought the version done for The Water and the Blood album (which you can also listen to for free by clicking the link) featuring the vocals of Brooks Ritter.  I love this song. Jamie and Brooks both approach it in their own styles, and I love both.  Check these dudes out. I’m thankful to have such solid musicians at my church.

Bonus:

Ok, I just had to feature one more song.  This one is a free download, and I think you’ll enjoy it.

“Rolling in the Deep” by John Legend

This is John Legend covering Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep.”  You can download it for free on his Facebook page.  I think I actually like this better than the Adele version.  John Legend is legit. I really enjoy his voice, and he is a solid musician.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into my playlist.  I still have $3 left on my giftcard. Any recommendations?

Until later friends…

This is a repost of a blog I wrote last year in honor of The Day the Music Died.

Since childhood, Don McLean‘s “American Pie” has been one of my favorite songs. My parents raised me with good music, not that 80s crap that a lot of my friends grew up with.  I grew up listening to my parents’ Beatles, Simon and Garfunkel, the Temptations, and Elvis records, along with a host of other great records from the 50s, 60s, and 70s.  “American Pie” is one of the finer songs of the 70s.

Don McLean

“American Pie” is a little piece of cultural history.  You might not know it by its title, but I’m sure you know the chorus:

Bye Bye Ms. American Pie

Drove my Chevy to the levy but the levy was dry

And good ‘ole boys were drinking whiskey and rye

Singing, “this’ll be the day that I die”

“This’ll be the day that I die”

(These lyrics are the sole property of the composer. I quote them here to give honor to the song. No lawsuits please.)

(Also, as a student at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary I cannot promote the consumption of whiskey and rye. I can, however, recommend coffee and espresso.)

Ever since its release in 1972, “American Pie” has intrigued listeners with its veiled references to major cultural events.  Many people have posted their interpretations, like this one:

You might ask, “Aslan, why all the Don McLean talk today?”  Well, today is the 52nd anniversary of The Day the Music Died.  On this day in 1959, Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper were killed in a plane crash in Clear Lake, Iowa.

the_day_the_music_died

Thankfully, I don’t think music really died that day as is evidenced by the lives of some of the artists I mentioned earlier, as well as Johnny Cash, the Avett Brothers, and Danny Elfman to name a few.  So, give “American Pie” a listen today.  Go listen to a song or two from Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens, and the Big Bopper. Then, go celebrate all the great music that came after those guys.  Until later friends…

PS: “American Pie” the song has no relation to that piece of junk movie series bearing the same name. For Aslan and the Volunteer State in no way supports or promotes smut like that.

In case you haven’t figured it out yet, when I suffer from writer’s block I go to wikipedia and see what exciting events or birthdays took place on a specific day.  It’s been over a week since I’ve posted anything, so I thought I needed to contribute something to the internet conversation this week.  Today is B.B. King‘s birthday.  He is 86 today, and still rocking.  And although he sings “The Thrill is Gone,” he is still giving thrilling performances.

B.B. King is from Mississippi, but in my heart, he is from Memphis.  Everyone in the Volunteer State associates B.B. with Memphis.  His first records were produced by Sam Phillips (who discovered Elvis, Johnny Cash, and Jerry Lee Lewis in Memphis).

B.B. King Singing

There is just something Southern and classy about B.B. King.  I can’t speak for what kind of person B.B. is.  I don’t know what kind of rock star life he may have lived, but I know that he has made some great music, and he opened up the doors for a lot of great minority musicians.

B.B. King is dynamic and fun.  By all accounts, he seems to have a great personality.  You may not like blues, but you gotta like BB.

Happy Birthday BB.  Until later friends…

Warning: This post references morally reprehensible things like adultery and murder. For the record, For Alsan…and the Volunteer State is opposed to both murder and adultery.

Video killed the radio star…at least someone said that once.  Yes, our culture is a visual one that assigns celebrity to untalented people like the entire cast of Jersey Shore.

Jersey Shore Ridiculous

Yet, the radio is not dead.  Music still speaks to everyone.  Jacques Barzun said, “Music is intended and designed for sentient beings that have hopes and purposes and emotions.”  I think there is something to that.  Musicians are our modern day poets.  I don’t think it is true that video killed the radio star, but it may well be that radio killed the poetry star.  Poets are no longer those that give voice to the human experience, it is the musicians.  True, many (if not most all) popular musicians are increasingly shallow in their thoughts (example: Lady Gaga and her ‘born this way’ argument).  Yet, truth is still found in almost every artistic expression.

As the title above indicates, I want to talk a little bit about adultery, murder, and music.  In the days of my grandparents people sang of innocent things like Cape Cod and such.  Somewhere along the way, people began to sing about real life.  Nowadays no topic is faux pas. Even if people lambast Eminem for rapping about beating women, his albums still sell by the millions (and Chrysler uses him as a spokesperson).

EminemI don’t want to discuss the broader theme of morality in music.  I have no plans of writing a thesis on the subject.  I was inspired to write this post by listening to my iPod.  While listening to my iPod on shuffle a while back, I realized that I have several songs about murder.  There are Johnny Cash murder ballads, and songs about people being shot in the Old West from Kernal Garner and Corb Lund.  If you listen to any country music, there is eventually going to be a song involving the shooting death of someone.  Yet, what troubled me was the discovery that I have two songs that share a common plot line of the singer discovering his girlfriend/wife/lover lady with another man and murdering that man.  These two songs are: “I Killed Sally’s Lover” by the Avett Brothers and “Wake Up Call” by Maroon 5.  These are both really catchy songs, even though they address an incredibly tragic situation  Adultery absolutely ruins lives.  This scenario is far too common, so it is not surprising that it makes it into mainstream media. Yet, can one write a song about such ruin and not trivialize it?    Let’s look at these two songs and make some evaluations.

I Killed Sally’s Lover

This song is upbeat and fun.  But it’s about adultery and murder.  That doesn’t seem to compute.  Based on the broader spectrum of Avett Brothers songs, I take this song as more of a satire.  If Eminem rapped about getting a pocket blade and a shotgun, it might be believable.  The Avett Brothers, on the other hand, are not the murdering kind.  I consider this song to be a tongue-in-cheek homage to redneck rage.  I think the song is fittingly summed up in the line: “But it ain’t worth the trouble, the suffering or the grief.  A bleeding heart is better than the penitentiary.”  Yes it is fellas.  Thank ya’ll for coming out against murder.

Wake Up Call

This song just has a different feel (and I don’t just mean musically).  Considering the fact that almost every single Maroon 5 song is about sexual immorality, this song seems pretty congruent with their repertoire.  Granted, I don’t see Adam Levine shooting someone…ever.  There is, however, a markedly different attitude in this song from “I Killed Sally’s Lover.”  This song really captures the anger of betrayal, but unlike the Avett Brothers, the murder is not denounced per se.  This song is summed up by the line: “I don’t feel so bad.”

So, are these songs evil?  Maybe, maybe not.  They definitely discuss a very evil situation; however, I don’t think either the Avett Brothers or Maroon 5 intend to support spousal murder.  Do they approach the issue with enough gravitas? Maybe not.  They do, however, capture certain emotional aspects of a heartbreaking (and anger-inducing) situation.  What do you think?  Does your conscience allow you to listen to these songs?

Until later friends…

Jen and I from time to time go on what I affectionately call an “iTunes Binge.”  These binges usually begin with us going somewhere to use the internet and one of us saying, “hey, I’d like to download that song we heard the other day.”  That one song typically turns into 10-12 songs.  We are usually of the mindset that for every song one person gets, the other should get one too.  This time we were pretty disciplined…so we only bought five songs.  Here they are in the order we bought them. I also have noted who chose the song.  As you can probably tell from these five songs, our purchased playlist that we share is pretty eclectic from: Johnny Cash to Stryper to Sara Bareilles to the Doobie Brothers.  These most recent additions to the playlist fit well into the conglomeration that is our joint iTunes account.

The Freshman” by The Verve Pipe (Jen’s Choice)

Jen has had this song stuck in her head from time to time over the past several weeks, so she wanted to get it.

This song is depressing (as many good songs are).  It deals with the depression that comes from moral failure and loss.  Its lyrics of “I won’t be held responsible, she was touching her face,” and “I can’t believe we’d ever die for these sins, we were merely freshman” coupled with “now I’m guilt-stricken, sobbing with my head on the floor” illustrate the pain and desire to avoid responsibility brought about by tragic choices. At first I didn’t like this song, but as I’ve listened to it I have come to see the truth to which it points.  We all long for some kind of return to innocence, and none of us wants to really face up to our misdeeds.  The old phrase “your sin will find you out” is true.  Not talking about the mistakes of our past will not make them go away. All people are indeed broken, and we need redemption.

Made Me Glad by Hillsong (Jen’s idea, but I like it too)

This song is inspired by the Psalms.  This song isn’t some vague affirmation of Christians being happy people.  To be a Christian does not mean you’ll be bubble gum sweet and prosperous in all you do, but it does come with a joy (or peace) even in the midst of difficult life events.  “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.” Psalm 46:1

Amos Moses by Jerry Reed (My Choice)

This song is obviously my choice. Jen is too classy to listen to this apart from me.  This song is just pure entertainment.  No one can say “yeah” like Jerry Reed.  You might know Jerry Reed from his role in The Waterboy. “Set out on ’em Amos!”

Jerry Reed Waterboy

(Jerry Reed as Coach Red Beaulieu)

Maps by Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Jen’s Choice)

I had never heard of this song until we played Rock Band with Jen’s little sisters several months ago.  This was one of the few age appropriate songs, and the girls loved it.  So…we played it many times. It is a catchy song, and I like the fact that this band is named for a Beatles song (“She loves you yeah yeah yeah).

Thank God I’m a Country Boy by John Denver (My Choice)

John Denver has always had a special place in my heart.  I grew up listening to my Dad’s records…yes, records.  They’re like flat-round-vinyl MP3s.  One of my favorite records my dad had was John Denver’s Greatest Hits.

John Denver Greatest Hits Record

I love this song.  There’s just something about rural life that is very appealing to me.  I like the city alright. I enjoy the amenities of a city like Louisville, but I also like being able to shoot a gun in a field. I am thankful to have grown up with certain “country” influences.  My favorite line in this song is: “I’d play ‘Sally Goodin’ all day if I could, but the Lord and my wife wouldn’t take it very good, so I fiddle when I can, work when I should, thank God I’m a country boy.” Enjoy life, work when you should.

That’s all I have for today. I hope you enjoyed the songs. Until later friends…

Everyone loves movies that depict the life of musicians.  Whether it was Jamie Foxx playing Ray Charles, or Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon playing Johnny and June Carter Cash, musical biopics are always successful.

Jamie Foxx as Ray Charles

Joaquin Phoenix and Reese Witherspoon as Johnny and June Carter CashI say it’s about time we had another musical biopic.  Yet, I think we need a happy biopic.  While I love Walk the Line, and I enjoyed Ray, they both dealt with a lot of difficult life situations (e.g., drugs, affairs, etc.).  We need a good biopic that glosses over all the indiscretions of the artists and just shows us great music and makes us laugh.  That’s why I recommend we get a biopic of Simon and Garfunkel in the works.  Seriously, who doesn’t love Simon and Garfunkel?

Simon and GarfunkelI don’t think I’ve ever met a human being that did not love “The Sound of Silence.”  Seriously, one of the best songs ever.

I suggest that someone make a Simon and Garfunkel movie soon.  I also suggest we make it comedic.  We don’t need any more drug subplots.  I’ve already got the casting figured out too.  Steve Carell and Will Ferrell.  Similar height disparity, and they both have decent singing abilities.

Steve Carell and Will Ferrell Dear movie producers, this film already has the majority of the plot and soundtrack written for you by Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel.  Just get Steve Carell to play Paul Simon and Will Ferrell to play Art Garfunkel, and you will have the first great comedic musical biopic.  No need to thank me for the millions of dollars you’ll make.  Just give me a cameo role as a background musician.

Until later friends…