Ending of the year

On paper this combination of people (an ex Razorlight drummer on vocals and guitar) should not work; but it does. This song is just right for a year’s end; singable, maudlin and just the right side of mawkish.

I love the way that the video, with it’s nods to community and friendship augments the song. It reminds me of some of the highpoints of my year: ‘discovering’ London- on my own, with my son and with friends (the latter experience may not be repeated: both have experienced redundancy since our visit).

Happy new year’s eve!


Top ten album listening during 2011 meme…


I commented on this from Banksyboyhttp://banksyboy.blogspot.com/2011/12/top-10-album-listening-during-2011.html and on this penultimate day of the year, it is time to take up this meme and for a long post.

This is in no particular order as it took me long enough to winnow out just 10 albums that I have bought (some are not 2011) during this year (thank the Lord for friends, freebies,ebay and amazon marketplace).

Sufjan Stevens: The Age of Adz. He tours Britain for the first time in 5 years and owing to severe fixture congestion during that particular week I do not make it. Not one of my better 2011 moments.

This is still discernably him but so different. Not quite ‘doing a Kid A’ but close. A definite grower.

Low: C’mon. I saw them again this year. Utterly fantastic. ‘$20’ melts anyone with a heart.

Radiohead: The King of Limbs. A new Radiohead album is always salivating over- this one one definitely so. Never to be filed under ‘easy listening’.

Gruff Rhys: Hotel Shampoo. An album that your 7 year old son and you can share without it being cheesy is good. This one is brilliant and the gig that I saw him at was one of the best gigs I have ever been to. A bonus is that I can almost play ‘If we were words we would rhyme’ on the guitar. That is a bonus for me and not for you.

Elbow: build a rocket boys! One of the good things about this year was freakishly reconnecting with the person who introduced me to Elbow years back. This guy was (and is) a friend of Guy Garvey. His story, of being left a single parent in his mid 30s following the death of his wife, always reminded me of the back story of ‘The Seldom seen kid’ (and during this year I worked out that another friend’s referencing of her friend Brian years back was indeed Brian Glancy ‘The Seldom seen kid’……. I am so close to fame). This album is not as immediate as the last but I love it’s themes of friendship and community.

(Ahk-toong bay-bi) covered. If I have a simple rule it is that albums by ‘various artists’ or ‘best ofs’ are to be barely tolerated. This one confounded that rule. Normally ‘best ofs’ given as freebies (this one with Q magazine) are album tracks or spares given away by a band to drum up sales. This one was different: specially commissioned to mark the 20th anniversary of ‘Achtung Baby’. Amidst the straight readings there were some suprises like Snow Patrol reinterpreting ‘Mysterious Ways’ in an un Snow Patrol way. I could not stop listening to Jack White doing ‘Love is blindness’; maybe this track is only effectively played by people undergoing marriage break up.

King Creosote and Jon Hopkins ‘Diamond Mine’. If you forced me to chose a ‘best’ it would be this one. Small, yet perfectly formed. I also saw them with a very good friend in a very small venue. The best two chord song in the world: ‘John Taylor’s month away’.

James Blake ‘James Blake’. This year I met http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/ and spent some time in his house. He recommended this and I bought it. I listened to it the first time and thought ‘What on earth have I bought?!’. Then I kept listening and I grew to love it. My children like ‘Limit to your love’ as the car shakes when the dub beat comes in.

Foy Vance ‘Hope’. I had been tracking this for a few years until finally it dropped into my price range. Sprawling and maybe a track or two too long, I really like the honesty of the voice and the playing. I listen to this and feel like giving up guitar playing- he is immense. Memories of summer evenings driving back from teaching ‘and gently whispered hope’. Someone I spent some time with a couple of months ago had met him…. I hate him (in the Lord of course).

Gorky’s Zygotic Mynci: ‘Barafundle’. Yes, I know this is ages old, but I just got hold of it (and ‘The Blue Trees’ and ‘Spanish Dance Troup’). Even though I only lived in Wales for 5 years, I still feel a sense of ‘hiraeth’ and I have recently been buying welsh music. This is incredible: defies genre- quirky, unique and brilliant (and occasionally ‘misses’). I wanted to put the song ‘Sometimes the Father is the son’ in this posting but could not find it; that one stops me in my tracks. You will have to make do with the weirdness of ‘Patio Song’.

I could have easily taken that to 20 albums and added ‘Mwng’ by the Super Furry Animals or ‘Hardcore will never die but you will’ by Mogwai amongst many many others. I cannot ever conceive of a situation where someone has too much music.

Just looking at my list and my description; most of this music seems to involve stories, people and events. Playing it brings those events back. I have a well thumbed copy of Q at my side and I am scanning their top 50 of 2011- my wish list may get bigger…


A thought for next year….


‘I wonder what would happen if we spent a little less time worrying about and claiming rights we think we have and a little more time following the example of the man the Bethlehem child grew up to become, displaying ….the respect and hospitality that he revealed to be the very nature of God’.

(C.Harris http://www.ethicsdaily.com/news.php?viewStory=18989)

But you didn’t think I would make a post on ‘we need to fight to take our nation back for God because we are being persecuted’ did you?

Christmas Day

You shouldn’t be reading blogs today…. you are almost at the level of those who make blog postings.

Each year I feature this hymn. Mainly because in the slush I never get to sing it. Classic.

Let earth and heaven combine,
Angels and men agree,
To praise in songs divine
The incarnate Deity,
Our God contracted to a span,
Incomprehensibly made Man.

He laid His glory by,
He wrapped Him in our clay;
Unmarked by human eye,
The latent Godhead lay;
Infant of days He here became,
And bore the mild Immanuel’s Name.

Unsearchable the love
That has the Saviour brought;
The grace is far above
Of men or angels’ thought:
Suffice for us that God, we know,
Our God, is manifest below.

He deigns in flesh to appear,
Widest extremes to join;
To bring our vileness near,
And make us all divine:
And we the life of God shall know,
For God is manifest below.

Made perfect first in love,
And sanctified by grace,
We shall from earth remove,
And see His glorious face:
His love shall then be fully showed,
And man shall all be lost in God.

(Charles Wesley 1707-1788)


Joseph: Better you than me.

I picked this up from http://banksyboy.blogspot.com/2011/12/advent-music-with-killers.html. It was a song that had passed me by.

I ended up playing the video over and over again. So much so that I used it in an evening ‘traditional’ service 2 weeks ago. I found it incredibly moving: more so that alongside the Killers (the lead singer is, I believe, a practicing Mormon but no other group member ascribes to a faith) there are 2 voices, Elton John and Neil Tennant who have been hostile to church- with good reason.

Here they are seeing and singing light from outside the walls of respectable religion. There is so much I could say about this song (actually I said a lot 2 weeks ago!) and banksyboy says some good things. But on this Holy Night I leave you with the challenge that this song gives:

 ‘When the Holy Night comes upon you- will you do what’s right, the position is yours’


Reworking a classic

I really like this song. I love how U2 have taken a classic song, in some ways hostile to the traditional Christian telling, honoured it, but also reworked it and found Christ/retold Christ in it.

Damn fine song, damn fine reworking and a real parable of ‘missional engagement’ -to use a bit of jargon…


It’s nearly Christmas

But it is still Advent.

This quote has been doing the rounds on Facebook:-

Christmas is not a reminder that the world is really quite a nice place. It reminds us that the world is a shockingly bad old place… Christmas is God lighting a candle; and you don’t light a candle in a room that’s already full of sunlight.” NT Wright

I need to hear that; not in the sense of ‘everything is awful and the world is evil’; the world is evil, but it is also God made and shot through with heaven. But I need to hear that, lest my Christmas acts of worship just become ‘smile, smile, smile’. I’m also reflecting on a run of 4 funerals that have involved people I know- God save us from ‘cheer up and just praise God’.

Me? I’m lighting a candle.