Unapologetic About My Mumford Excitement

It may not be cool to like Mumford and Sons in the year 2018, but I don’t care.

They have a new album coming out in November, and this is the first single  – ‘Guiding Light.’ As per usual, it features a catchy melody and uplifting lyrics like “even when there is no star in sight / You’ll always be my only guiding light.”

Sign me up.

Why ‘Somewhere North’?

I’ve written about this a couple times, but here’s a brief summary of why I keep calling my blogs ‘Somewhere North.’

The Spot

There’s a place in Scotland called Niest Point. It’s on the most westerly tip of Skye, and home to one of the most famous lighthouses in Scotland.

While living in Aberdeen in 2009, Lauren and I stopped there with her mom and stepdad during a week-long tour of the country. We arrived a bit before sunset, and quietly looked out over the cliffs as darkness fell somewhere over the North Sea.

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We weren’t there long, enough to make the modest hike to and from the point, passing grazing sheep along the way. But I consider it my favorite place on Earth, the happy, peaceful place I picture in my head in anxious times.

The Song

‘Somewhere North’ is by Derek Webb, one of my favorite singer / songwriters over the past two decades.

It’s from a Caedmon’s Call album, and it’s one of my favorite songs.

I once framed a photo of me as a child and gave it to Lauren, bringing Webb’s lyrics to mind:

I give my life and all I am
But what I have to give
So I hand you a candid photograph of this little boy
‘Cause I have nothing to my name
But I can give you that 

Shortly after Lauren and I got married, Webb came to Toronto and at one point in the show, he took requests. I called out this song, and he happily obliged, much to my delight.

Side note:  A few months ago, I was able to speak to Webb via Skype about the impact of his music on my life and how his newest album helped me when Lauren was going through cancer treatment last month. Part of that chat can be heard on this episode of his podcast, The Airing of Grief.

All that to say, that’s where I got the name for this blog, which I hope to make more use of in the coming months as I keep my writing muscles flexed.

You Are Worthy of Love: On A Night With David Bazan

There’s certain music that resonates deeply, that provides a soundtrack to certain periods of life and forever reminds you of the feelings experienced during that time, however good or bad they might have been. Over the past couple of years, that kind of aural therapy has been provided for me by David Bazan and Pedro the Lion.

I first heard about Bazan and his band back in college, from a friend from Denver who highly recommended I check them out. I’m almost glad I didn’t back then; I honestly don’t think I would have been able to process it properly, to fully appreciate what he does with his voice, his words, his musical arrangments.

It’s only been in recent years that I came aboard, with enough years and miles behind me through which to learn about the doubt and loss that Bazan writes and sings about so masterfully. As I’ve gone through periods of theological and spiritual deconstruction, watched helplessly as my wife undergo cancer treatment and witness / experience the toll that has taken on our family of 5, and as I’ve come to terms with my own many failings and weaknesses, Bazan has helped remind me that I am not alone.

Lauren and I went to see a recently reunited Pedro in Toronto on Aug. 8, and it was such a treat to see them live. To give you a sense of how down to earth this project is, there’s few front men who can get away with hanging out on the street in front of the venue prior to the show, casually tossing on a hoodie and walking down the street to do whatever one does before taking to the stage in front of a throng of fans. Not only that, I perfectly timed my pre-show bathroom break, as Bazan walked in while I was doing my business, affording me (after we were both done, of course) the opportunity to tell him how excited I was for the show and how much I appreciated his music. I told him some friends of mine had hosted a house show of his, and he replied with a “fuck yeah, that was great … but tonight will be better.”

A brief interaction, but memorable nonetheless.

The whole show was predictably brilliant, but there were a couple moments during the show that I won’t soon forget. After promising not to talk much between songs, Bazan beautifully broke that promise by addressing the subject of mental health. His music has been described as “sadcore”, and it’s clear he’s battled his own demons over the years, a reality he acknowledged by admitting he often has trouble getting out of bed, the state of the world being what it is these days. But, he continued, it’s vital that we let our big feelings out of our hearts and mouths, to seek out a safe person who will be there in even the darkest times. And if we’re doing OK, we have to step up and be that safe person for others who aren’t.

It was more than I had ever heard about mental health in the Church that Bazan left and wouldn’t have anything to do with him now; but THIS was a potentially life-saving message, true good news – simply, we are not alone.

Later, he sang the following tune, and repeated the line “you are worthy of love” in a way that was impossible to ignore, that made you actually believe it.

No matter what you’ve done or what you’re going through, you are worthy of love. Surround yourself with people able to remind you of that.

Thank you for an evening to remember, good sir. I tip my cap to you, and very much look forward to a new Pedro album in 2019.

 

Favorite albums of 2018 (so far)

Note: I’m not a music major nor a music critic, so I can’t exactly describe why these albums are good or why I like them. 

Obviously I have a ‘type’, and this is what I’ve been listening to a lot over the past 6 months or less.

Two of my favorite bands with new albums that did not disappoint:

Ghost Alive – The Boxer Rebellion

Vide Noir – Lord Huron

Blasts for the past still banging out good tunes:

Somethingness – Our Lady Peace

12 – Sloan

Come Tomorrow – Dave Matthews Band

Wildness – Snow Patrol

Crooked Shadows – Dashboard Confessional

Fun music:

CRAZYTALK – Mat Kearney

A pair of insanely talented musicians:

No Mercy In This Land – Ben Harper

Between Two Shores – Glen Hansard

For the religious types:

Reckless Love – Cory Asbury

Evergreen – Audrey Assad

Whole Heart (Live) – Passion

There Is More – Hillsong Worship

In the continued absence of a Black Album:

Africa – Weezer