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Interview: Counting Crows

If you’re already a Counting Crows fan, then it’s likely you fell in love with the emotional displays of Adam Duritz somewhere along the way. I bought three copies of August and Everything After, the band’s debut album, my junior year of high school and wore it out several times as songs like “Anna Begins,” “Round Here,” and “Raining in Baltimore” hit me a strong emotional resonance. The trend has continued on every album ever since. No matter how old I get, Duritz’s ability to pierce my heart by unveiling his own has been the hallmark of the Crows for over two decades.

Several weeks ago, a few friends in orbit around the Rabbit Room went to the Ryman to hear Toad the Wet Sprocket (which Andrew wrote about here) and Counting Crows. For me it was the 12th or so time I’d seen the band. The band played several tunes from their upcoming album, Somewhere Under Wonderland, alongside several covers and old favorites, and they all sounded great. But one song in particular, “Possibility Days,” struck me as hopeful, and it was one of the primary subjects of our recent interview at Stereo Subversion.

“It’s kind of taken from the end of a Sondheim play, Sunday in the Park with George,” said Duritz. “It got a revival that my friend was in, and we went to see it several times. It was about the painter, Georges Seurat, and the last lines of the play are taken from what is supposedly his mother’s notebook. It says, ‘A blank page. His favorite. So many possibilities.’ I think those are the last lines of the play. All the color disappears from the walls and it’s just white. That can seem like nothing, but it also offers all the possibilities in the world. I think the song is just about that.”



Release Day: THE WARDEN AND THE WOLF KING

Wolf King PosterThe day is finally here. After years of work by a lot of different people (I’m looking at you, Pete, Kris, Christie, Carrie, Jessica, Joe, and all you Kickstarters), we’re about to set The Warden and the Wolf King loose. Some of you have already read it. (Thank you!) Others of you may be sick of us promoting it. (Sorry!) But with this many people and this much work involved, it would be silly to not try and give these books the best possible shot at making it into the hands of the masses. I have long believed that Story (with a capital “s”) is the language God wired our hearts to speak, and my hope is that this story is one that will speak to your heart, no matter what you may believe.

So, if you’re a fan of the Wingfeather Saga and you’re willing to help, here’s what you can do:

1) Come to Parnassus Books, 3900 Hillsboro Pike, Nashville, TN 37215 at 6:30 tonight for the release party! We’ll have a book signing, a costume party, snacks (bibes!), and Skye and I will be singing a Wingfeather song.

2) Tweet about the books. You can link to either Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or here at the Rabbit Room Store.

3) If you blog, please write a review about book four–or about the series as a whole.

4) If you’re J. J. Abrams, please consider making a film.



Gonna take a while . . .

“Before I can tell my life what I want to do with it, I must listen to my life telling me who I am.” —Parker Palmer

I recently spent some time sorting through boxes in my parent’s garage in preparation for an epic yard sale (I have a healthy respect for anyone who has done this more than twice in a lifetime). The dust, barely visible on my hands and collected in drifts across the concrete garage floor, added a visceral grit to those hours that mirrored the inner work of re-living memories, sorting through boxes and boxes filled with the past. With an endless stack of boxes in front of me, I sneezed and shook my head, then settled myself on a tattered old towel to fight through tears and dust. This is going to take a while.

There was a lot of junk uncovered during those hours. There were treasures, too. The junk tended to be objects we’d purchased; the treasures were the things made or enhanced with that personal touch. The treasures were often the things that might easily be mistaken for trash—like a piece of paper, wrinkled and creased into something like a tiny book.



Glory Be (II)

To Him who presses curiosities four-to-a-row
across the dimpled backs of infant hands;
Glory be.

To Him who has made the dust of the hay barn
settle in drowsy glory through a slant line of sun;
Who has birthed three naked, new mice,
just pink, bare thumbs, sucking out blind thirst
in a mother’s tossings and tendings of the grasses of the earth;
Glory be.

Who has swelled the heavy teats of the cow?
Who has made them drip milk in drops,
sweet, white puffs and sighs on the dry brown barn floor?
Who has wetted her brown, round, empathetic eyes?
Who has given her a tail to smack against her meat?
Glory be.

To Him who has made the cool March wind
snap the curtains to applause;

Who hovers (might He even cluck or coo?),
wing thrown round about His beloved,
heady as the hot underside of a hen;

Who opens up the earth like a lap,
belly out, leaned back, arms thrown wide,
feet planted in a father’s welcome,

Glory Be.



The Making of a Home

Clean your little corner up and see what starts to change” –Andrew Osenga, “Don’t Lose Heart”

When I think of myself being “creative,” I default to my natural gifts, poetry and songwriting. But in the past few months those have been hard to come by. I had to prepare for one of the biggest changes of my life: finding a home and getting married. Back in February I was lucky to find a small third floor apartment from a kind old lady looking for good tenants. Jen and I stared at the blank walls and empty rooms, awaiting our touch like the unwritten days and weeks of our new life together.

March was a month of hard labor and going to bed tired every night. You see, I’m not a tradesman by any means. I teach and read and write for a living, so while I’m not above physical labor, it’s just not what I’m involved in every day. But that month I did more painting than I’d ever done in my life. I also became a frequent friend of hardware and furniture stores. I became obsessed with this new domestic space—how to make it better, how to make it pleasing for my soon-to-be wife.

And yet, it felt like it was taking me away from my “creative” endeavors. Almost every spare minute after work and other responsibilities was poured into it until I collapsed on my bed at night. Something felt missing, like life usually feels when I’m not writing something.



Living Letters: Encountering Colossians

At Hutchmoot 2012, one of the most memorable parts of the weekend was Stephen Trafton’s one-man performance of Encountering Philippians (yep, that’s Jennifer Trafton’s Broadway-veteran brother). His Living Letters series is a project that Stephen has developed over the last few years that’s designed to bring Scripture to life in a way that audiences almost certainly haven’t experienced before. It’s a dramatic performance, a piece of genuine theatre, and it casts you, yes you, in the role of a first-century Christian hearing for the first time a letter that Paul has addressed directly to your local church family. Stephen sets the scene, introduces the characters, and delivers Paul’s letter in one seamless performance.

Speaking personally, it’s a powerful experience. When Stephen first told me about the show, I admit I was skeptical. I thought it sounded a little Sunday-schoolish. But boy was I wrong. Hearing and seeing Paul’s letter delivered (in a way very like it might have been to the first-century Philippians) moved me in the best ways; it shifted my perspective on the text enough to let me see in it new colors, new angles, new life. I think it’s kind of like poetry—it’s one thing on the page, read silently in your head, but often quite another when it’s made vocal and visual, enacted bodily. It makes for great theater, as well as great Bible-study.

Since that memorable performance at Hutchmoot, Stephen has performed Encountering Philippians for thousands of people all over the country, and now he’s developed a new show centered on another of Paul’s letters. On Monday night, August 4th, at the Church of the Redeemer in Nashville, you’re invited to join us for his performance of Encountering Colossians.

The show will run about an hour and I’m pretty sure Stephen will hang around afterward to talk with folks and answer questions. Hope to see a lot of you there. There’s no admission fee, but we will take up a love offering for Stephen after the show. Spread the word. Bring a friend or a fellow Rabbit. It’s going to be a fun night.

When: August 4th @ 7pm
Where: Church of the Redeemer, 920 Caldwell Lane, Nashville 37204
Admission is free



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