Blog Archives

Everything’s Bigger in Texas: the Oxford American 2014 Music Issue

OA Texas

The Oxford American Music Issue

For many years, a member of my church who knows my weird tastes in music (if most people have never heard about it, I might have; if mass media doesn’t write about, I will) gives me the annual Oxford American Southern Music Issue.  Given my roots and rootlessness around and on the edges of this bizarre and wonderful region (politics=absolutely bizarre; unelected people generally fascinating and gracious; land, music and layer of cultue—wonderful), he knows it lines up with my interests.

The OA is a journal with as colorful and eccentric history to match the region it writes about, but plenty has been written about it elsewhere.  Just a few lines to mention the music issue, which isn’t cheap ($12.95) but well worth it.  Every year, a particular state’s rich heritage of famous and not-so-well-known songwriters and performers are showcased.  Read the rest of this entry

Pat Terry and the Eye of the Artist

 If we learn to look at life with the eyes of the artist, we

will see an entire universe that is “a gift of mercy.”

Workshop

Pat pondering how to help a workshop participants song

It’s odd that a musical preacher who writes songs, cut his teeth and got called to ministry during the Jesus Movement of the 1970s would have met Pat Terry so late in life, but that’s the way life winds sometimes.  I had heard of the Pat Terry group back when he was starting out—Pat is just a bit older than me.  I heard his songs, but my musical journey got put on hold for a long time as marriage and children and years in graduate education and pastoral ministry took me in different directions.  I continued listening to music and playing and singing, sometimes in church and mostly by myself for my own pleasure.

Pat Terry, meanwhile, was on a journey of his own, too.  After many years, first in the very spontaneous and joyful Jesus Movement musical world, and then for a while in the increasingly industry-captivated contemporary Christian musical world, he moved on.  He had a good, long run as a commercial songwriter in Nashville, with a string of songs for many well-known artists like John Anderson, Travis Tritt, Kenny Chesney, Alan Jackson, Tanya Tucker and the Oak Ridge Boys.  He learned the Nashville craft and all the while continuing his own inner journey of writing from the heart.

So it was that a few years ago, Greg Womble, my friend and bandmate who plays the banjo publicly, and I, who play it out of earshot but love it, went to Atlanta to Read the rest of this entry

Think Globally Listen Locally

Corporations are not necessarily evil in and of themselves, but the net effect can be the disappearance of everything that makes the place where you live distinctive.

Got a notice from my friend Steve Norris that our friend Dale Short put us on his “Music From Home” radio program yesterday.  (LISTEN) (SMA is on the first program)

Thanks, Dale!  “Music From Home” is local artists.  I appreciate that there are still programs here and there in a world in which globalized corporate mass culture (which is short for “controlled by a few people who are not always interested in the music”) threatens to gobble up everything.  Music and making money have a long and unhappy marriage.  They love one another and need each other but they can’t make each other happy.  Their families were so different.  They hurt each other and use each other all the time.  Sometimes they have to separate to get on with life.

Dale Short of “Music From Home”

The internet and programs like Dale’s provide hope that artists, musical worlds and songwriters can collaborate and pursue their craft in different ways.  The web is already having a salutary effect on music.  It is possible to skip the narrow funnel of corporate mass marketing that has produced some great stuff but also turned away some great music that people would like.  This is why listening rooms like Keith Harrelson’s Moonlight On the Mountain and other great places struggle to make it and deserve our support.

These changes will be painful for a while, as they are in publishing and in every field.  But as with all things human, there is also possibility for many good things, too.  Hope you’ll support local artists, internet radio and local radio programs, and local venues and businesses.  Corporations are not necessarily evil in and of themselves, but the net effect can be the disappearance of everything that makes the place where you live distinctive.  Supporting local life (which means “I am willing to pay more for what I like’) is a way to protest the gobble ’em up and kill ’em off so I can have a house in Santa Fe culture.

We need to pay attention–how we spend our money, what we listen to, and where we direct time has massive implications for our future.  Be purposeful in your life.  It matters.