“Blessings” by Laura Story

My new favorite Christian music track is “Blessings” by Laura Story. Here are the lyrics:

We pray for blessings,
We pray for peace,
Comfort for family, protection while we sleep.
We pray for healing, for prosperity,
We pray for Your mighty hand to ease our suffering.
All the while, You hear each spoken need,
Yet love us way too much to give us lesser things.

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

We pray for wisdom,
Your voice to hear,
And we cry in anger when we cannot feel You near.
We doubt Your goodness, we doubt Your love,
As if every promise from Your Word is not enough.
All the while, You hear each desperate plea,
And long that we’d have faith to believe.

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
What if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
And what if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise?

When friends betray us,
When darkness seems to win,
We know the pain reminds this heart
That this is not, this is not our home.
It’s not our home.

‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops?
What if Your healing comes through tears?
And what if a thousand sleepless nights
Are what it takes to know You’re near?
What if my greatest disappointments
Or the aching of this life
Is the revealing of a greater thirst this world can’t satisfy?
And what if trials of this life,
The rain, the storms, the hardest nights,
Are your mercies in disguise?

NPR miscellany #6: jazz guitarist Charlie Hunter

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I heard a great interview early this morning on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. NPR’s Liane Hansen interviewed Charlie Hunter, a jazz musician who plays an instrument unlike any I’ve ever heard of before, a modified eight-string guitar. I’m given to understand an eight-string guitar is usually nothing more than a regular guitar with a slightly extended range, adding one string to the top and one to the bottom. However, Hunter has his guitar modified and tuned in such a way that his three bottom strings are genuine bass guitar strings and the other five are regular guitar strings, though he notes in the interview that he’s recently removed his top string and prefers to play without it since he felt it got in his way. Eight strings or seven, though, what’s fascinating is this guy is simultaneously playing the bass guitar, rhythm guitar, and solo guitar parts in real time! My dad plays both guitar and bass (though not simultaneously, of course), so I thought he especially would get a kick out Hunter’s unique instrument and style.

Hunter’s latest record has a nice jazzy, upbeat feel with the 7-string guitar plus a couple trombones, a trumpet, and drums. The few song clips they aired during the interview were really fun to listen to. Besides talking about his unique instrument and playing style, they also discussed his practice regiment, why he chose to record the album in mono instead of stereo, and how he is learning to play the drums because it informs the way he plays the guitar, so the interview was generally entertaining for all these reasons. I’m going to be looking around online for Hunter’s albums now.

You can listen to the article on NPR’s website: “Charlie Hunter Has ‘Neglected To Inform You’” (listen). End mark


I’m not sure why, exactly, but I’ve had this hymn on my mind a lot lately.

Lead, Kindly Light

by John Newton

Lead, kindly light, amid th’ encircling gloom,
Lead Thou me on;
The night is dark and I am far from home;
Lead Thou me on;
Keep thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou
Should lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now
Lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy Power hast blest me, sure it still
Will lead me on;
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till
The night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile
Which I have loved long since, and lost awhile! End mark


The lyrics of this song struck me as particularly beautiful last night:

How Deep the Father’s Love For Us

by Stuart Townend

How deep the Father’s love for us,
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss,
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One,
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross,
My sin upon His shoulders
Ashamed I hear my mocking voice,
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no power, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom End mark

Weepies eBay auction

One of my favorite music groups, The Weepies (who I’ve blogged about before), is auctioning a ’63 Fender Vibroverb Reissue amplifier1 they used to record their Say I Am You album and on the road during the subsequent North American concert tour. The cool thing is the proceeds from the auction will go to Free Arts for Abused Children, a charity group that uses the arts to provide healing for abused and at risk kids.

And if this isn’t cool enough, they threw in a little bonus and announced they’ve recorded a new album! I’ve thoroughly enjoyed Say I Am You and Happiness, and can’t wait to hear something new from these fantastic musicians. They haven’t divulged the album’s release date, yet. As far as I’m concerned it can’t come soon enough. End mark

  1. The amplifier wasn’t really made in 1963, hence the word “reissue” in the model name. It was really made somewhere between 1990 and 1995 and is a replica of the classic ’63 model. It’s still a cool amp, though. []

NPR miscellany #3

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I’ll come clean and say that Poker is one of my guilty pleasures. I’ve got a Texas Hold ‘Em game on my Treo and I usually stop to watch whenever I’m channel surfing and run across a high-stakes Poker tournament on TV. I’m also a modest fan of Jazz music, so I was entertained by a story I caught today on Weekend Edition. The story was about a new music collection that’s been released by Ricky Jay called Ricky Jay Plays Poker. The collection includes Poker-related music down through the decades, a good portion of which is classic Jazz and Folk music. Snippets of the songs were played throughout the interview. I especially like the last song they played, “Dolan’s Poker Party” by Frank Crumit. Here’s the story: “Hustler Ricky Jay Deals Poker Music, History” (listen).

Another interesting story I heard today, also on Weekend Edition, was about an Eagle Scout from Maryland who has earned all 122 merit badges the Boy Scouts of America has to offer. His last merit badge was bugling, which he says he saved until the end because he never was very musical. It’s interesting to hear how getting all these merit badges has positively affected his career choices and his understanding of the world around him. Here’s the story: “Maryland Eagle Scout Earns All 122 Merit Badges” (listen).

A third and final story I found interesting today, once again on Weekend Edition, was about the Scott’s Miracle-Gro company and a controversial policy they have against employing people who smoke cigarettes. The policy (among other changes) was initially proposed to cut health care costs. The story was done in two segments. Here’s the first one, where Scott’s VP of Corporate Communications, Jim King, answers questions about the policy: “Miracle-Gro Faces Lawsuit over No-Smoking Policy” (listen); and here’s the second one, where they discuss in further detail a lawsuit over the policy that’s being brought against Scott’s by one of its employees: “Former Miracle-Gro Employee Challenges Policy” (listen). :syzygy:

Syzygy playlist the first

I’ve really enjoyed listening to Steven Garrity’s Acts of Volition Radio sessions. He’s got an eclectic taste in music and has introduced me to more than a few artists and songs that quickly became favorites. I don’t have the time or the patience to start up a podcast, but I found a neat service recently called Finetune that lets you build playlists to share with other people.

The music on Finetune is all properly licensed and there are a number of restrictions in place to ensure the service stays legal, the first being that each listener can only hear each song once. Another restriction is that playlists must contain at least 45 songs with no more than 3 songs from any given artist before they become playable. Their Flash player was envisioned for use on services like Myspace, but can be embedded just about anywhere.

So, without further ado, I present Syzygy Playlist the First for your listening enjoyment:

97.5 The Oasis

97.5 The Oasis

There’s a new radio station in Salt Lake City that I personally view as an intriguing social experiment. 97.5 The Oasis is a contemporary Christian station, but, unlike most (probably all) stations of its kind, it also plays contemporary LDS music. Just this morning I heard Kenneth Cope and Michael W. Smith back to back.

The station is owned and operated by Simmons Media Group, which also operates my favorite alternative rock station, X96. Being a secular station, The Oasis doesn’t run pledge drives like ministry operated CCM stations (e.g. the only other CCM station broadcasting in Salt Lake, 89.7 K-LOVE), but instead they play commercial advertisements. They also hold a rather postmodern, inclusive attitude toward the music they play.

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The Weepies

Say I Am You

I confess. I’m addicted to The Weepies. I just bought their latest album, Say I Am You, on eMusic.com and can’t stop listening to it.

The group is fronted by singer-songwriter duo Deb Talan and Steve Tannen. They have a rustic folky sound that is in some places poppy but in other places pretty mellow. Their lyrics are playful, yet deeply poetic, and Deb’s beautiful alto voice (that has elsewhere been compared to Karen Carpenter’s) and Steve’s perfect harmonies give the album a rich character.

I first heard The Weepies in an NPR interview (click “Listen” just under the article title to hear the interview). Their personalities and their history together struck me as much as their music did, which prompted me to buy their album. I’m not a huge fan of the folk genre, but I pride myself in my eclectic taste in music, so it was inevitable that I would find some folk music I can really enjoy.

I’m pretty stingy with my five star ratings in iTunes. Most songs I like are marked three stars, the best songs are marked four stars, and I save five stars for those songs that are simply amazing. That said, I’ve marked no less than six songs on this album with five stars: “Take It From Me”, “Gotta Have You”, “World Spins Madly On”, “Painting By Chagall”, “Nobody Knows Me At All”, and “Living in Twilight”.

In short, buy this album. If you’re anything like me, you will not regret it.