Do you ever listen to a record and think, Wow, why doesn’t everyone know about this? That’s what comes to mind when I listen to Jill Phillips’ In This Hour album. It’s crazy good. Here’s one of the ten reasons why.
“Find The Way”
by Jill Phillips
A few weeks ago a friend passed me this excellent article from the New York Times by Marilynne Robinson (the author of Gilead). My meager agreement isn’t going to do justice to Miss Robinson or her article, so I’m simply going to pass her words directly on to you. Here’s an excerpt:
Old Jonathan Edwards wrote, “It has all along been God’s manner to open new scenes, and to bring forth to view things new and wonderful.” These scenes are the narrative method of the Bible, which assumes a steady march of history, the continuous unfolding of significant event, from the primordial quarrel of two brothers in a field to supper with a stranger at Emmaus. There is a cosmic irony in the veil of insignificance that obscures the new and wonderful. Moments of the highest import pass among people who are so marginal that conventional history would not have noticed them: aliens, the enslaved, people themselves utterly unaware that their lives would have consequence. The great assumption of literary realism is that ordinary lives are invested with a kind of significance that justifies, or requires, its endless iterations of the commonplace, including, of course, crimes and passions and defeats, however minor these might seem in the world’s eyes. This assumption is by no means inevitable. Most cultures have written about demigods and kings and heroes. Whatever the deeper reasons for the realist fascination with the ordinary, it is generous even when it is cruel, simply in the fact of looking as directly as it can at people as they are and insisting that insensitivity or banality matters. The Old Testament prophets did this, too.
It’s grey and wintry here in Nashville. What rightfully ought to be snow has been showing up as plain old rain for the last few days. I’m riding out the winter with Buddy Greene and his harmonica and some musical dogs (not to mention my blankets and my cornbread).
“Riding Out The Winter”
by Buddy Greene
During the long drive to Florida for Christmas, I stumbled onto a radio show called Being in which Ellen Davis, a biblical scholar at Duke Divinity School, discussed reading Scripture from an agrarian perspective. The topic was interesting but the highlights for me were the readings they solicited from Wendell Berry of some of his own poetry, including one of my favorites, “How to Be a Poet.” I’ve listened to several of the other shows since and they’ve all been good food for thought. Check out the whole “Poetry of Creatures” episode here.
One of the best things about life in Nashville is that I often find myself saying things like: “I’ll be right back, I’ve got to go to the spaceship for a minute.” How often do you get to say something like that while being completely matter-of-fact? It’s true, there’s a spaceship next door to my office and there’s a lonely astronaut inside it making awesome music. There’s a spacesuit and everything. I drove past it a few days ago while the door was open and it looked so cool I thought it might have actually been a tunnel into tomorrow.
The record will be finished sometime this spring, and while Andy–I mean Leonard–isn’t ready to unveil the full-production tracks yet, he’s been awesome enough to record acoustic versions of three of the songs as a sneak preview. Here’s one, and you can download this and the other two when you pre-order the record in the Rabbit Room store.
“Beat Of My Heart”
by Andrew Osenga
This past weekend I watched a documentary that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind. It’s a sign of a good movie when I’m still thinking about it three days later. It’s an even better sign when I’m still mulling it over in bed at night after reading T. S. Eliot (though I suspect one could mull over just about anything after reading T. S. Eliot and make a good argument for doing so).
The movie was called Life in a Day. We watched it on a whim and I wasn’t sure what to expect. All I knew was what I’d read about it a few months ago when it was making the festival rounds. The story goes that on July 24th 2010, nearly 80,000 people in over 190 countries, individually shot 4500 hours of video documenting a single day in their lives. After what must have been a small eternity in the editing room, the result is a 90 minute film that builds a sort of quiet epic out of the most ordinary thing in the world: us.
The first snow fell in Nashville this morning–though it might be a disservice to snow to call it that. It wasn’t anything more than a few wet flakes floating around in the miserable rain. But it was snow nonetheless, which means, of course, that there’s a reasonable need for Christmas music to go along with it.
Until I listened to this song again a few days ago, I had forgotten just how awesome it is. I’m thinking of writing Zooey Deschanel a letter to let her know that regrettably, the original song will no longer remind me of her shower solo in Elf, or of a cotton-headed ninny-muggins, or even of Santa deposed from a throne of lies, but instead of Andy and Jill’s priceless duet.
“Baby, It’s Cold Outside”
by Andy Gullahorn and Jill Phillips
The Rabbit Room store was beginning to show its age so we’ve torn it down and rebuilt it–better, faster, stronger. It’s shiny and new and smells like books and CDs. Go on in and poke around a bit. There are quite a few new-fangled features so if you see anything that doesn’t look quite right, you might want to make sure your web browser is up to date. We expect some of you will find a bug or two that’s escaped our notice, and we’d be grateful if you’d shoot us an email or post a comment to let us know so we can aim the Raid can at it. Things might be a bit bumpy while we work out the kinks over the next few days so please bear with us.
And one other announcement: The Cymbal Crashing Clouds (book) and Behold the Lamb of God: An Advent Narrative just arrived from the printer and they’ll be on their way to your doorsteps just as soon as we can get them in the mail. Check out both books in the store for a free sample chapter.
Announcement: Tonight (11/16) at 8:00pm central time the Rabbit Room store will be taken offline for maintenance. If you drive by and hear the pounding of tiny hammers, the indistinct grunts of indistinct workers, and the whir of strange machinery, please pay no mind; the web-elves are merely at work, as they should be. We’ll have things back up and running again in the morning. Thank you. Nothing to see here. Nothing at all.