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1. There Are Days 2. All of Every Part 3. Looking Patient 4. Fingers Touching Thread 5. Middle Name 6. Can’t Sit Still 7. Betrayed 8. The Mountain 9. Run You Down
This is going to be an excellent show for an excellent cause. I’m thankful I get to be a part of it, and that I know such talented folks who are so willing to give of their time and gifts to help others. Since this is my website, maybe you’ll be incentivized by knowing that I’ll be playing some new material here (and honestly, that it’s a show at all. I haven’t played since August of last year). But really all the incentive you need is that Faye Webster and The Shadowboxers are some of the most talented musicians in Atlanta right now.
I’m going to graduate school full-time right now, and I’ve been working on another record, but last week, I took a break from all of that and stretched out a bit. I wrote a song for Good Friday, about Jesus’ betrayal and arrest. My goal was to capture the emotion that Jesus must have felt during that time.
I think a lot about the divinity of Jesus. But on Good Friday, I think a lot about the humanity of Jesus. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to be betrayed by one of your closest friends, and to know it all beforehand. A sense of sadness, a sense of grief, of fear of what will happen next. And yet, what happened in the garden was confirming. Those conflicting emotions, of fear and of… satisfaction, perhaps? are fascinating to me. I tried to instill those feelings into the song I recorded. My goal was not to highlight the glory of Jesus or the hope we have in His resurrection. That comes Sunday. Rather, the purpose of this song is to get you to spend some time meditating on the humanity of the Saviour, who, for all of the miraculous things he did, was also a man. A man who was let down by his friends, who selflessly and willingly gave his life for them, for us, for you.
The song is free. You can download it in either 320 mbs or WAV format. I hope it’s of some use to you. Just click the “Good Friday” link at the top.
I never rode the Strokes bandwagon. When Is This It? came out in 2001 I was, regrettably, embarrassingly, just emerging from a cave of mediocre musical taste. I’m not going to get into it. Seriously, it’s embarrassing, what I listened to for the better part of high school. So let’s just say I didn’t “get” the Strokes when they first came around.
I bought Room On Fire in 2003 though. I liked “Reptillia” a lot. But I couldn’t stand Julian Casablancas’ voice. I couldn’t stand the band’s “look”. It felt contrived to me. But everyone was always talking about how they were the next big thing, the saviors of rock and roll. So I paid attention every time their name would come up. I paid attention when Eddie Vedder talked about loving the Strokes. I paid attention when, for a little while, after Because Of The Times was released but before Only By The Night exploded all over the frat house lawn, I enjoyed Kings Of Leon, fully recognizing their shared DNA with Casablancas and Co.
But I had tuned out by the time First Impressions Of Earth came around. I had moved on. I didn’t even listen to it.
This is all to point out that I am not hip. I miss the boat on a lot of great bands. Sometimes it takes me a while to get it. It is rare that I jump on a band’s first album, tout them as the next [insert classic band here], and am actually right in that assessment. And I’m fine with that.
A few months ago I decided I’d give the Strokes another chance. There have been plenty of bands I’ve written off, only to have a trusted friend bring me into the fold later on. This happened with Pearl Jam. The White Stripes. Led Zeppelin. The Pixies. Bob Dylan. I’ve now made it a habit to revisit well-respected artists I’d previously written off.
As is often my practice, I started with the band’s most recent release. I figure, if what they’re doing now isn’t really worth it, why read the book when I know I won’t like the ending? Anyway, I fell in love with Angles straight away. Everything about it. Julian’s voice is stronger, cooler, and more versatile. The guitar work is intricate, original, and fierce. And the rhythm section is tighter than any humans have a right to be (I suspect this is due to studio trickery, but I don’t really care). I also went back and listened to First Impressions and found that, while a little on the bloated side, I really loved a lot of the songs. When this happens to me, when I discover appreciation for an artist’s later catalog, I find I am able to listen to the older material with fresh ears. When I know the trajectory of a band, things just make more sense to my brain (this is also why I will always be a full album kind of guy. I can’t just listen to singles. “Shuffle” is only for parties). Is This It? and Room On Fire finally came alive to me.
I think sometimes it’s good to miss the boat on things. Critics are always talking about what’s happening now and what’s happening a few months from now. They don’t write retractions very often. That bothers me. There’s a lot to be said for perspective. And when you’re living in the moment all the time, you won’t ever have any.
Is This It? came at just the right time and surprised a whole lot of people. It is a very good album. But I have to think that the critical elevation of the Strokes to “savior” status was more about the time, and less about just how good the record was. So what happens when an artist takes an unexpected turn in their sound? Dreams are shattered, hopes are lost, “they’ve lost their way”, etc etc, blah blah blah.
Well, nobody is responsible for my dreams but me. If those five guys want to make music that sounds like 80s space-Television, I say, “go for it”. If I don’t love it, that’s okay. If the Strokes were looking to cash in, they would have tried to recapture their garage-rocking days of yore. But they pressed forward. They worked hard to be creative and different and true to whatever muses they were following. They didn’t allow some peoples’ nostalgia to hold their career captive.
I love Comedown Machine. I don’t know where it’ll stand on my 2013 Best-Of list, or even if it’ll make it. But not all music has to be timeless to be enjoyable. But Comedown Machine is better than most.
So I say to everyone: lighten up.