21 Days of Posts – Day 12 – My Favorite Music

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutes

This is day twelve of twenty-one days of posts between January 10th and January 30th of 2021. Hello again to those who read previous days, and hello to those of you who may have stumbled across this post “out of order”. You should go back and read from Day 1, for a few reasons. It explains why I am doing this. It is the first one, and I may make reference to something in it in this post or a later one. It also has a list with each day’s post (once they are available) and you can jump to whatever topic you are interested in. Thanks for reading!

We’re now at a post I have been looking forward to writing. I could fill pages with my favorite music, because I like lots of music, but I’m going to put some restrictions on this favorite list.

The first restriction is that I have to be specific. Nothing simple like a list of artists; no, I want to share specific songs. I’ve been doing this to some degree with my classical picks, but not my pop/rock/jazz/blues/whatever lists. I’ve been lazy and just naming artists. No more. For this edition of “My” music, it is specific songs and artists, as some songs are <gasp> covered by other artists, who either totally blow it, or create something even more amazing than the original or more popular version.

The second restriction is the number of entries. I am limiting myself to 20 non-classical songs and 10 classical pieces. This is why I have started this post as early in the day as possible, so I don’t miss some critical piece of music that has shaped my life in some way.

On that note, I want to mention that these pieces are not just the “best” as far as their sound or lyrics, but the “best” as far as how they have affected my life, whether good, bad, or ugly. Some of them are significant because of when I first heard them. Some are significant because they are associated with other cherished things, like favorite shows or movies, people, or life events. Some helped me cope, some lifted my spirits, and some provided catharsis. While I won’t provide backstory for any of these now, I may pick a couple and provide some context in later posts (after the fast ends).

Finally, these are in no particular order, which is why there are no numbers beside them, just bullets. Finally-finally, favorite music lists change over time, of course. These are my favorites for right now. I probably missed something that is “even more favorite” than another on the list, but this is pretty accurate, I think. I guess a more apt title for this post would be “Some of My Favorite Music, At The Moment”.

Pop/rock/jazz/whatever-everything except “classical” music. If there is an “E” at the end of the item, it contains explicit lyrics <gasp> .

    • Teardrops – Joe Satriani – from “Shapeshifting”
    • C.S. Lewis Song – Brooke Fraser – from “Albertine”
    • Lights of Heaven – Joe Satriani – from “Crystal Planet”
    • Room To Fall – Marshmello, Flux Pavilion, Elohim – single
    • Without You – Avicii, feat. Sandro Cavazza – from an Avicii EP – E
    • Rearviewmirror – Pearl Jam – from “Vs.” – E
    • Indifference – Pearl Jam – from “Vs.”
    • Shoot To Thrill – AC/DC – from “Back in Black”
    • Breathe (2AM) – Anna Nalick – from “Wreck of the Day”
    • Before It Breaks – Brandi Carlisle – from “Give Up The Ghost”
    • King Of Heaven – Hillsong United – from “Zion”
    • #41 – Dave Matthews Band – from “Crash”
    • Homesick – The Cure – from “Disintegration”
    • The Same Deep Water as You – The Cure – from “Disintegration”
    • To Wish Impossible Things – The Cure – from “Wish”
    • Trust – The Cure – from “Wish”
    • Celestial Soda Pop – Ray Lynch – from “Deep Breakfast”
    • Your Mercy – Vertical Church Band – from “Frontiers”
    • Dark Road – Sarah Jarosz – from “Build Me Up From Bones”
    • A Sky Full Of Stars – Coldplay – from “Ghost Stories”

Now for the “classical” music.

  • Vespers, Opus 37 – Sergei Rachmaninoff
  • Requiem, Opus 9 – Maurice Duruflé
  • Requiem, Opus 48 – Gabriel Fauré
  • The Planets, Opus 32 – Gustav Holst
  • Gloria, FP 177 – Francis Poulenc
  • Carmina Burana – Carl Orff
  • Glassworks – Philip Glass
  • Electric Counterpoint – Steve Reich
  • Symphony No. 3, Opus 36 – Henryk Gorecki
  • Color Music – Michael Torke
  • …and one bonus item – Trois Gymnopédies – Erik Satie

That’s it. That is my favorite list. Music, as I’ve said again and again, has a profound effect on my life. I am so thankful that God gave us music to praise him with, and to simply enjoy. He has gifted so many through the ages to create moving, resonant pieces of music that can be enjoyed still today.

Thank you, Lord for providing us with the gift of music, both to praise you directly and also indirectly. Your gift of music can be universally shared among all the people.

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21 Days of Posts – Day 9 – My Moody Music

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutesThis is day nine of twenty-one days of posts between January 10th and January 30th of 2021. Hello again to those who read previous days, and hello to those of you who may have stumbled across this post “out of order”. You should go back and read from Day 1, for a few reasons. It explains why I am doing this. It is the first one, and I may make reference to something in it in this post or a later one. It also has a list with each day’s post (once they are available) and you can jump to whatever topic you are interested in. Thanks for reading!

Day 9! Thanks for sticking with me! Today’s post is all about my “moody” music; the music I turn to when things are just not quite as they should be. I think I’ve mentioned the fact that music is a big part of my life. I have music for every mood, including when I am not “feeling right”. Some of my music transcends different playlists and emotional states, particularly between my calming music, which I babbled about on day six and my moody music, which I will detail here in this post.

I’ll try not to duplicate anyone on my list from day six and only mention those artists and pieces that were not on the calming music list. In the realm of pop and alternative music, my moody choices are  10000 Maniacs, Anna Nalick, Dido, the Editors, Sia, The Smashing Pumpkins, The Wreckers, and Toad the Wet Sprocket.

The precise and imaginative guitar playing of Andy McKee is also a part of my moody playlist, along with Mooncake, Carbon Based Lifeforms, Billie Ray Martin, Ludovico Einaudi, The Seraphim Project, and The Sleep Design. Don’t think I’m leaving jazz out of this playlist. Miles Davis, Nina Simone, David Sanborn, Edgar Meyer, Joe Sample, and the incomparable John Coltrane all make the list.

Some new-age-ish music also graces my moody playlist. Works by Jim Brickman, Ray Lynch, Vangelis, Jim Chappell, Adiemus, Renee Stahl, Michael Jones, and Greyflood are also on my list.

Not a lot of classical music makes it on this playlist, but Samuel Barber’s Adagio for Strings, taken from the second movement of his string quartet, Opus 11 is at the top. Also making this list is Aaron Copland’s Appalachian Spring and even his Fanfare for the Common Man. Francis Poulenc’s Stabat Mater (FP 148) is a common choice. Claude Debussy’s Reflections in the Water, and Robert Schumann’s Dedication both rank highly on my moody playlist. Finally Alexander Scriabin’s Etude, Opus. 8, No. 12, in D-sharp minor tops the moody list on a regular basis.

Any of these artists and pieces will do one of two things. Either they will darken your moody mood just a bit, or, they might lead you to a less moody demeanor. It really all depends on how invested you get in the music versus how invested you are in your mood.

I use music to help me with my moody times and it works well. Some may not be able to do this, or music just isn’t their thing. What are they to do? If they are Christians, they can take heart in Psalm 42, particularly verse 5, which says:

Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me? Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior and my God.

Yes, we are to put our hope in God to lift us up and take our faces from downcast to uplifted, glowing with the hope of the Lord. However, if you need to stew in your moodiness, the music above will very effectively allow you to do so.

 

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21 Days of Posts – Day 6 – My Calming Music

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutesThis is day six of twenty-one days of posts between January 10th and January 30th of 2021. Hello again to those who read previous days, and hello to those of you who may have stumbled across this post “out of order”. You should go back and read from Day 1, for a few reasons. It explains why I am doing this. It is the first one, and I may make reference to something in it in this post or a later one. It also has a list with each day’s post (once they are available) and you can jump to whatever topic you are interested in. Thanks for reading!

Music has a deep, irrevocable influence over me. It can encourage me, excite me, anger me, and even calm me. I have different types of calming music, chosen based on what type of music I want to listen to at that time. If I don’t want to hear voices, I pick instrumental music. If voices are OK, then some type of vocal music. To really bliss out on vocal music, I tend to pick pieces that are not in English. Latin, French, even Russian all work to sooth me. Not having to process the vocal sounds, while still hearing their exquisite tones is an amazing balm.

Instrumental calming music can range from the minimalist Echo Broke Alone, to more complex works like Moby’s Long Ambients, to the ephemeral collaboration of Silvercord and Altus. Most of these pieces are long, gentle trips that thoroughly soothe, calm, and blunt the edge of consciousness. In the more “classical” realm, it is easier to mention composers and pieces, either by name or opus. Erik Satie’s piano music such as his Trois Gymnopédies are wonderfully soothing. Samuel Barber’s Adagio For Strings and Gabriel Fauré’s Pavane, Opus 50 are also excellent soothing pieces.

Soothing vocal music (in English) that I like includes an array of different genres, from contemporary Christian to folk, to dream pop/shoe-gazer, to folk to alternative. Artists in this category include Julianna Barwick, Sarah McLachlan, The Sundays, Hillsong, Brandi Carlisle, James Taylor, The Cure, Trespassers William, Natalie Merchant, and Sarah Jarosz. Not all tracks by these artists are appropriate as calming music, but they all have at least a couple.

The final category, vocal music not in English, is mostly composed of “classical” music, but there are some outliers, such as the music of Sigur Rós, Deep Forest, and the various incarnations of Gregorian chant in juxtaposition to deep electronic beats and loops, like Enigma and Delerium. As before, it is easier to point out particular classical pieces by name or opus and composer, so I’ll point out some works that way. First is Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, Opus 37. Yes, it is in Russian. Yes, it is immensely soothing, at least some movements are. The same goes for the Gabriel Fauré and Maurice Duruflé requiems, opuses 48 and 9, respectively. Some movements in each one are bombastic, but most are fairly sedate, but with underlying gravity. The Fauré is the calmer of the two overall. Both are well worth listening to, even if they are in Latin, and even if they are “for the dead”.

A more modern entry for this category would be Henryk Gorecki’s Symphony No. 3, Opus 36, especially the second movement. Each of the three movements has vocal texts, in Polish, that are sung along with the captivating music. But it is the music that grabs you first and the vocals simply add color and definition. The symphony is at times uplifting, at times soothing, and at other times forbiddingly, achingly, sad. It is challenging, not only for its fifty-three minute runtime, but for the rich, lingering, modern chords and musical constructs. It is not something you hear everyday and is not everyone’s “cup of tea”, but you should hear it at least once in your life. It would be an hour well spent.

So, how do we turn this conversation about calming music into a conversation about faith? The King Jehoshaphat sent a choir out in front of his armies during one of his most dangerous battles. 2 Chronicles 20:21 tells us:

When he had consulted with the people, he appointed those who sang to the Lord and those who praised Him in holy attire, as they went out before the army…

His enemies, three armies in total,  were routed that day. Music, especially music produced in praise to the Lord, is mighty. This prompts me to pray this:

Lord, help me to remember that You are worthy of praise and I should praise You every single day.

Thanks for reading!

 

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21 Days of Posts – Day 3 – My Driving Music

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutesThis is day three of twenty-one days of posts between January 10th and January 30th of 2021. Hello again to those who read previous days, and hello to those of you who may have stumbled across this post “out of order”. You should go back and read from Day 1, for a few reasons. It explains why I am doing this. It is the first one, and I may make reference to something in it in this post or a later one. It also has a list with each day’s post (once they are available) and you can jump to whatever topic you are interested in. Thanks for reading!

I love music. Anyone who has read any of my posts relating to music knows that. I love all kinds of music. I like music to be playing pretty much any time except when I am asleep. Then it tends to bother me…

One place I like to have what I call “my own music” is in the car. I hate being dependent on the radio to provide me with music during my short commute back and forth to work. There is no skip or back button anywhere for the radio. Needless to say, I vastly prefer to have my own music in the form of an iPod in one of our cars, and a USB thumb drive in the other.

Why so particular?

I’m particular about music in general. I listen to a wide variety of genres, but bad music is bad music. The wrong music for my mood is temporarily bad music, even if it is perfectly fine at another time. I want control. I want to know that somewhere on that iPod or that USB drive is something I want to hear at that particular moment.

I have a playlist on the iPod and a directory on the USB drive that are labeled “driving music”. These are the songs that I most likely want to hear as I motor down the road. What artists are included in this list? An incomplete list would include Marshmello, Joe Satriani, Steve Vai, Avril Lavigne, Garbage, Foo Fighters, Fall Out Boy, Billie Eilish, Florence + the Machine, Morphine, Owl City, Flyleaf, The Cure, The Sundays, R.E.M., U2, Coldplay, shipwrek, Floods*, and a smattering of contemporary Christian artists – Hillsong, Bethel Music, Phil Wickham, Passion, Kings Kaleidoscope, Lauren Daigle and Elevation Worship.

About the only music I won’t listen to while driving is “classical music”. The very dynamic nature of what is considered “classical” music makes listening in the car difficult. That doesn’t mean I don’t like my music loud, in fact, I prefer it that way and the car is about the only place I can play my music at the volume I prefer. Not just because it is loud, but because no one else in my family likes the music I do. Sad, but true.

Now, dear reader, you’re asking yourself, if you read Day 1 of this series, how am I going to relate this to faith? It’s so easy, and a little bit self incriminating.

I said I didn’t want to live at the mercy of the radio. I wanted a skip and a back button. I wanted to know that what I wanted to hear was available, accessible, and only required me doing the right thing (pressing skip or back) enough times to get to it. Except, that’s not how life works, is it? We don’t have any guarantees that what we want is available or accessible, regardless of what we do. We have to put our trust in God that He knows what is best for us, that he knows what we need, and that he will provide it to us at the right time.

Did I just equate a car radio with God? Kind of…but an omniscient, all powerful, omnipresent radio that is with us all the time, no matter where we go. It’s not a very apt comparison, but for this particular example, and since I’m the one writing this, I’ll go with it.

This analogy prompts me to pray the following:

God, help me to relinquish control to You in everything. Help me to realize that You know what I need, what I desire, and know what I can handle. You will bless me as you deem fit. In this life, there is nothing certain except for You and what you promise us.

Thanks for reading to the end!

 

*I can, as of this writing, only find this band on Soundcloud, under the name East Coast Floods. Once you land on their page, their name is simply “floods”. They have an eponymous album and three other tracks posted there.

 

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21 Days of Posts – Day 1 – Give Me Patience…Now!

Est. Reading Time: 3 minutesI’m serious. I want patience now.

Now!

Alright, I won’t get patience now, I get it. Before I discuss that, let me welcome you to 21 days of posts, 2021 edition. I did this last year in January as part of my annual fast. The experience was good, so I decided to do it again this year, with a couple of twists.

I covered a variety of topics last year, from faith discussions to my favorite bands. This year, I am limiting my main topics to these three – faith, writing, and music. Under these main topics, I will have seven subtopics each for a total of twenty-one topics, one for each of the twenty-one days. I’ll rotate through the topics, starting with faith, then writing, then music, then back to faith, and so on.

The big twist, if you want to call it that, is that I will end each of the twenty-one days, including the days covering writing and music by maneuvering the topic into some aspect of faith. My faith is the entire point of this process, this refraining from certain things for twenty-one days. As I heard today, if I don’t increase my time of connection with God, I will have completely wasted my time. I don’t want to waste time. So every post will contain some aspect of faith, even if I have to do mental and literary gymnastics to make it happen.

Now, back to patience. We are commanded to be patient repeatedly in the Bible. We are reminded that patience is a part of the fruit of the Spirit. We are told that love is patient. We are told that patience will be rewarded, whether here or in heaven. Patience is better than pride. We are reminded that God is patient with us, so we must be patient with others.

Proverbs 19:11 tells us that wisdom yields patience. I have to admit, I must not be very wise, as I have little patience. Yet James tells us in the fifth verse of his eponymous New Testament book-

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. (NIV)

So, is the trick asking for wisdom, as Solomon did? Maybe, but Solomon did have the advantage of being asked directly by the Lord (1 Kings 3). We also have the ability to speak directly to the Lord via the Holy Spirit, so maybe this does apply to us. If we believe as Paul wrote in Ephesians 3:20, that God is able to “do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine”, it follows we should be able to ask for wisdom, which we now understand leads to patience.

That’s easy to say and write, but not so easy to do. We ask things of God all the time probably, but I have to assume that asking for wisdom is a step farther than the daily ask. However, Hebrews 4:16 says we are to “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence”. The verse continues “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need”.

How bad do I need patience? In 2020, I needed patience badly. From February until well into the fall, I was on the shortest fuse imaginable. Everything bothered me, everything rubbed me raw, everything distracted, frustrated, and confounded me. The smallest slight, the most innocent comment by another, the most inconsequential infraction of traffic laws by drivers around me on the road would raise my hackles, activate my fight or flight instinct, with fight vehemently attempting to come out on top.

As restrictions loosened, as some inkling of normalcy crept back into my life, I got better, but then all of the issues ramped up again. Mask mandates and restrictions on gatherings and businesses closing down all tried to wear on me once again. I fought against the overwhelming riptide of resentment, impatience, and anger with admittedly mixed success.

So my prayer for this first day of the fast is as follows.

God, give me the wisdom to understand and discern, so that I can be patient with others, patient with myself, and patient with You, as You are with me. I understand that this may have to be my prayer every day for a while, so please keep me committed and consistent.

Patience. I want it now, and the only way to get it is to be patient and persevere.

As I add each day’s post over the next three weeks, I will link it here so you can jump right to it.

  1. Jan 10th – Give me patience…Now! – You are here…
  2. Jan 11th – My Current Writing Project
  3. Jan 12th – My Driving Music
  4. Jan 13th – Give Me Mercy or Else…
  5. Jan 14th – Worldbuilding is Hard!
  6. Jan 15th – My Calming Music
  7. Jan 16th – Give Me Peace and Help Me Pass It On
  8. Jan 17th – Character Development Is Hard
  9. Jan 18th –My Moody Music
  10. Jan 19th – Give Me Faith…and Some Proof!
  11. Jan 20th –
  12. Jan 21st –
  13. Jan 22nd –
  14. Jan 23rd –
  15. Jan 24th –
  16. Jan 25th –
  17. Jan 26th –
  18. Jan 27th –
  19. Jan 28th –
  20. Jan 29th –
  21. Jan 30th –

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