Category Archives: Great Music

Finals Week: A Playlist

I got all my finals out of the way in one fell swoop this week (graph theory in the [early] morning, advanced calculus at noon, advanced linear algebra in the afternoon, yeah baby), and it sure feels good! Here are a few inspiring tunes that got me through this trying time. They’ve spoken to my heart. May they speak to yours.

The Morning Of

“Don’t Stop,” Fleetwood Mac

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One Down, Two to Go

“Stayin’ Alive,” the Bee Gees

Oh yes, I did so do an epic walk between buildings to this one. Thanks Mom.

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Decompressing

“Sanity’s Side,” Little River Band

(But seriously now folks, this one is a GREAT tune. File under “most underrated pop gems ever.”):

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Afterwards

“Roll With the Changes,” REO Speedwagon

“Gentlemen, shall we attempt this one?”

*Note: Studio track mixed with crowd roars. Still awesome.

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Memorial Day: No Greater Gift

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Easter Morning Music: Hallelujah

He is risen. He is risen indeed.

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Good Friday Music: “Behold the Lamb of God”

Behold the Lamb of God. Behold him that taketh away the sins of the world.

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Maundy Thursday Music: “Go to Dark Gethsemane”

For in the night in which he was betrayed, he took bread. And when he had given thanks, he brake it and gave it to his disciples saying “Take, eat. This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.”

Text: James Montgomery

Tune: Richard Redhead

1 Go to dark Gethsemane,
Ye that feel the tempter’s pow’r;
Your Redeemer’s conflict see;
Watch with Him one bitter hour;
Turn not from His griefs away;
Learn of Jesus Christ to pray.

2 Follow to the judgment hall;
View the Lord of life arraigned;
O the worm-wood and the gall!
O the pangs His soul sustained!
Shun not suff’ring, shame, or loss;
Learn of Him to bear the cross.

3 Calv’ry’s mournful mountain climb
There adoring at His feet,
Mark the miracle of time,
God’s own sacrifice complete:
“It is finished!” Hear him cry;
Learn of Jesus Christ to die.

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Steven Curtis Chapman and Family on the Opry

This live performance of “Life’s Railway to Heaven” features Steven AND his father and brother. Anyone agree with me that they sound and look (with the exception of clean-cut Steven himself) like the second coming of the Oak Ridge Boys? Herb Jr. in particular is quite a ham. This live rendition is even better than their studio cut, in my opinion.

[Note: Should have put this in the first draft of the post, but do check out Steven’s Deep Roots project, from which this arrangement comes! Available in mp3 form from Amazon and iTunes, physical from Cracker Barrel.]

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Recently Added: Billy Joel

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

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Play It, Piano Kid!

This story has been exploding all over the news for the past week or so, and I think it’ll warm the cockles of the hearts of any pianists among my readership.

First, the background: One of the nicer things about legendary rock musician Billy Joel is his passion for music education. For decades, he’s held seminars, master classes and Q & A sessions where he shares his personal knowledge and experience in a relaxed audience setting.

Recently, he visited Vanderbilt University, and one lucky college kid in the audience was itching for a chance to fulfill a life-long dream. Continue reading

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A Standing-O for Artistry

In gospel music, the surest way to get a standing-O is to make it big, make it long, and make it loud. Here I must hastily interject that this is not a knock on big endings and the standing-Os they generate (I’ve cheerfully joined in many a one myself), merely an observation of a fact.

But how many times have you seen a standing-O that had no root in emotion or message—the kind that’s offered purely for the skill and technique of the artists? Continue reading

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Rare Old Dove Awards Footage: Bill Gaither, Mark Lowry, Twila Paris, Vestal Goodman, 4Him, and Many More…

Well, it’s that time of year again. This week, the GMA will supposedly recognize the brightest and best in Christian music (tee-hee!) At this point I am unsure whether the mediocrity of the Dove Awards is due to the fact that a lot of talent is being ignored, or whether there just aren’t that many good artists anymore. I think it’s some of each.

As you can probably guess, I am hardly on the edge of my seat in anticipation of this year’s installment of said awards show. But perhaps my readers would like to take a little journey back in time with me… say, to the mid-90s. Aaaaaaah, the mid-90s. Excuse me while I get a little misty-eyed. You see, the 90s hold some of my first musical memories. This is the stuff I grew up on. This is the stuff my radio used to play. And best of all, it was a time when the worlds of CCM and gospel were much closer than they are today.

So, I present two videos which aren’t the best in quality, but nevertheless are priceless little time capsules of this golden age in Christian music. First, we’ll send our Delorean back to 1994 and watch a little montage of presentations and interviews, in which Twila Paris interviews Vestal Goodman on the 25th Anniversary of her win of the first ever Female Vocalist Award, Steven Curtis Chapman wins Long Form Music Video for his classic concert The Live Adventure, the Mark Lowry Vocal Band wins Southern Gospel song of the year, and more:

And this is the opening of the 1995 show, in which Mark Lowry gets himself disinvited from co-hosting with Bill Gaither, after which 4Him comes out for a slightly pitchy but infectious rendition of their latest hit as of 1995, “Real Thing.” Unfortunately the video is a little choppy on this one, though the audio is constant. Be sure to stick around for the announcer’s reel of featured artists for the evening at the end—if watching the videos hasn’t already brought back a ton of memories for you, just seeing all those names read off in a list is sure to do the trick.

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