Johnny Cash and Beyond

I get a lot of suggestions from friends and co-workers of songs that we should play in worship.  I very seldom have to start from scratch for new ideas, because they keep landing on my lap—so much that I literally have a sticky note titled, SURF & SNOOP containing songs, artists, websites and such that I peruse on those need-a-new-song days.

Almost all of these suggestions are right on the money for one criteria or another, but that’s the problem.  They hit ONE criteria that would qualify it for a worship song.  Sometimes the message of the piece is perfect, but the melody has nothing memorable to it.  Sometimes the song is easy to play and sing but has no real substance to the lyrics.  Sometimes the song is easy to sing, has a message that fits our topic of the day, but would be too complicated for any regular band to play.

Let’s talk MESSAGE.  So many songs have been suggested for certain topics that I’m often overwhelmed to choose just one.  Sometimes we have 6 songs at worship revolving around “water” or “forgiveness” or “crucifixion”.

It’s very easy for the band and myself to play the same old songs that we’ve done before dozens of times.  We do this for several reasons: it cuts down on workload/learning time, our congregation is familiar with it, we’ve already got arrangements/charts drafted, etc.  We always have to balance these familiar tunes with brand new material.

I often get push-back from the band about a song or two; I have to balance my gut, my head, my rehearsal times, and my player’s availabilities to determine weather we play it safe or push forward into new-song-territory.  The bottom line is that if the scripture and sermon topic presented doesn’t jive with the lyrical content we are singing, it doesn’t feel right.  No one wants to hear “Learn to Fly” for a sermon about the head of John the Baptist on a plate.

Sometimes we are hard-pressed to find ANY songs that deal with a particular topic at hand, and the entire set is comprised of material that ONLY sets-up or reflects on the aftermath of a scripture/sermon.  Anyone else confused by Jesus’ parables?

Johnny Cash’s “Sunday Morning Coming Down” has been suggested to me so many times.  I’ve balked at this each time because the suggester can’t give me a solid reason why it would pertain to worship—other than the facts that the song contains the word “Sunday”, he mentions a church in verse 3, and there’s a general sense of remorse.  I hear it as a helluva lonely hangover song, but it never seems to match a scripture or sermon theme.  I love Cash; someone find me a sermon this song matches.  Anyone in the Bible feel remorse and self-loathing from the night before and craving forgiveness?

More currently, artists like Trampled by Turtles, The Avett Brothers, and Mumford & Sons are writing songs that are wonderfully introspective and poignant.  When we look at how scripture is interpreted these days and how our political and cultural landscape is marred by discord and anger, different points of view and new connections are needed.  Please, keep sending in those song requests.  They force me to connect as well as be challenged in workload and viewpoint.

Kernsey’s Playlist for the Start of Lent

Lent started on February 14 and will run until Thursday, March 29. As we start Lent, take a look at my playlist.

Kernsey's Music Playlist

1. Garden: needtobreathe 

Kinda perfect for Lent, although it should be in a minor key.

2. 316: Spirit Garage Bands

The assignment was to use the scripture passage, word for word, repeating words or phrases if necessary, in order to learn the scripture.  They didn’t choose my version.  I’m guessing it was a little to Nirvanaish for the Sunday school curriculum?  Rest in Peace, Andrew Senn, who played killer drums on this track.

3. Oh God, Where Are You Now? (In Pickeral Lake? Pigeon? Marquette? Mackinaw?)

One of the more complex Sufjan Stevens songs.  Not just a 4-chord drone, but several distinct segments with changing time signatures and melodies.  It still has many voices and harmonies and strange instruments and is over 6 minutes long, don’t worry.

4. It’s Not Just For the Dead: King’s X

If it WERE just for the dead, would we be able to hear it?

5. Epic: Faith No More

While I completely failed to update my entire cassette collection to CD, this one went from cassette to digital download.

6. All the Way Down: Glen Hansard 

I Learned this for a ONCE tribute show.  My second favorite track on that album.

7. Darkest Hour: Glen Phillips

A sleeper track from “Abulum” but a wrenching, ntender piece nonetheless.

8. 10001110101: Clutch

This is my new favorite band.  After hearing two songs, I downloaded 3 albums, joined the mailing list, and now follow them on Facebook and Instagram.

9. No Ordinary Love: Sade

Shelly Domke and I played it recently at a wedding celebration for 30 couples at a Bloomington church.  This song was commented on more than any others we played.

10. Slip Away: Josh Garrels

This might be the spookiest lent song I’ve ever heard.  There are several versions, but this one recorded [shot] on the beach is pretty dang cool.

11. Until the End of the World: U2

Most of you know of my very low tolerance for U2, but this song is perfect for Lent.  Interesting trivia fact: This is the first song I sang at a talent show in college, and the first band I was in at college.  Also on our setlist: Alive by Pearl Jam and Give it Away by the Red Hot Chili Peppers.

12. Return to Dust: Bob Mould

Living punk rock legend, Bob Mould, remains vital to our local music scene as well as the national scene. This one has some great hooks in it.

Comedy Album

Robin Williams: Weapons of Self-Destruction

NOT SAFE FOR WORK.  This was William’s last comedy special, and it’s quite pertinent today.  Robin, you are missed every day.

Podcast Episode

James Bonding EP 059 Moonraker with Bobak Ferdowski and James Bladon

If you love James Bond in any way, listen to Matt and Matt and their guests tear apart, dissect, and zoom in [WAAAYYY IN] on each James Bond movie in the franchise, one by one.

What are you listening to for Lent? What would you add to this list?

Kernsey’s Playlist for February 1, 2018

These are songs in my rotation this week. Some are songs I need to learn, some are faves, some are “Hey, what’s this?” clicks.Kernsey's Music Playlist

Kernsey’s Music Playlist

Shoes: King’s X

Starting a song acapella [voices only] is gutsy. The funky metal riff that kicks in floors me every time. Play this loud.

Come Alive [Dry Bones]: Lauren Daigle

A worship song suggestion for a scripture that we used a few weeks back. Maybe next year when this comes around we’ll do it.

I Will Follow: Jon Guerra

I played this at a funeral last week for a high school friend’s mom’s passing. The fingerpicking almost killed me; basically your dust in the wind fingerpicking pattern.

Hip Today: Extreme

Another worship song suggestion that is probably beyond our playability level. Love that funky bassline.

I Saw the Light: Cowboy Mouth

We are playing this one at worship in February. I respect Hank Williams Sr. but this is much more our style.

Say it to Me Now: Glen Hansard

I’m playing a ONCE movie soundtrack tribute in March with Shelly Domke. This is from the opening scene of the lonely troubadour.

Let the Mystery Be: Iris Dement

The Leftovers was my new show to watch, but only we only got 3 seasons before they were canceled. This is the theme song and speaks to the show premise as well as the mystery of our God.

Laughing With: Regina Spektor

Cool video, haunting lyrics-even if they don’t rhyme.

Landed: Ben Folds

We recently saw Ben Folds with the MN Orchestra at Orchestra Hall play this. Hearing him with strings and horns is so peaceful, yet such a change from him bashing out songs in the 90’s.

Turn Up the Radio: Autograph

One of my all-time favorite 80’s anthems and hair rocker tunes. Incidentally, the solo, recorded by guitarist Steve Lynch, was dubbed “Guitar Solo of the Year” in 1985 by Guitar Player Magazine.

I Still Believe: The Call

It’s one of those 80’s two-hit wonder bands that you go “oh yeah, THAT tune” but you never really focused on the lyrics all that much.

I’m Ready: Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman is hit and miss for me, but this one is very spooky and fitting for worship services.

Favorite Podcast Episode:

The Nerdist featuring Ben Folds, 6.27.15

Had to do some backtracking catch-up for the Ben Folds Concert. He has some really interesting views on music notation and record labels.

Obligatory Star Wars Fix:

Star Wars Bartender, Richard Pryor

What’s on your playlist? Please share with the Spirit Garage community.