Divad’s Soundtrack #57: July-August 2005

This mix is one of the most special ones in my collection, since it brings back memories of August 7, 2005. The day Christine and I got married. The most significant life-changing event I’ve experienced thus far. While I didn’t do this intentionally at the time, I like how the more troubled and aggressive tone of the songs on the first disc reflects the tension of personal stuff I was going through leading up to the wedding, and how the second disc resolves to a more peaceful and celebratory tone after the joyful event comes to pass. That special day wouldn’t have been what it was without the support of numerous friends and family members. It’s been many years, but I’m no less grateful to any of the following people:

Tim L.: Best man and ad-hoc worship leader
Tim H.: Groomsman and other ad-hoc worship leader
Francis, Danny, and Kelsey: Groomsmen (and groomswoman!)
Adele: Maid of honor
Angela, Stacey, Kristi, and Michelle: Bridesmaids
Krista: Photographer
Kate: Caterer
Pastor Mark: Officiant and guitar loaner
Glenn and Ruth: Parents of the bride, and de facto wedding coordinators

…and about half the congregation of Pacific Islands Bible Church, whose names I can’t completely remember at the moment.

…and all of the people who were there with us in spirit, but not in body, because flying to Hawaii in the middle of the summer is friggin’ expensive!

Now, on to the music…

In with the New:
Chris Tomlin

It Was Worth a Try:
Israel Kamakawiwo’ole

Listen on Spotify:

divads-soundtrack-57aDISC ONE
This is it – our wedding site at Moli’i Gardens, in Kualoa Ranch on Oahu. This picture was actually taken from the upper terrace where we had our wedding reception; the actual ceremony was down by the fish pond. The location looks so peaceful, and of course it was one of the happiest events of my life. But a lot of the songs toward the beginning of this CD express frustration, even a bit of anger, which is a lot of what I was feeling leading up to the wedding, due to mounting stress that started to affect me physically and make me afraid for my health. Maybe it’s a spiritual defect of some sort within me – I’m aware of what I don’t deserve, so when I’m looking forward to one of the most special things I’ve ever asked God for, I’m paranoid that some cosmic consequence will come along and take it away from me, as a way of balancing out the universe. Later in the song sequence, some of the songs turn to more hopeful, prayerful, or even playful moods, but there’s some sweat and tears along the way there.
Where in the world is this?

2005_Switchfoot_NothingIsSound1) “Stars”, Switchfoot (Nothing Is Sound, 2005)
I was really excited to hear this song in advance of the new Switchfoot album due out that fall – this was probably the most excited about the band that I’d ever been. Beyond the superficial fun of its fierce, rolling drums and fist-pumping riffs, it was a song that reminded me to put things in perspective, to see the Earth on a more universal scale and recognize the story God was telling through my life as a teeny-tiny piece of that. Through a period of great turmoil, this was a song that helped me to find a little balance.

2005_Mae_TheEverglow2) “Someone Else’s Arms”, Mae (The Everglow, 2005)
This song about sleepless nights and a man wrestling with guilt was probably written from the perspective of someone who felt deep regret about wrecking a relationship, or perhaps being stuck in one with the wrong person. When he finally falls asleep, his dreams are of someone else. But I interpreted it at the time as being more about the fear of sleeping and waking up alone. I looked forward to marriage, and always having someone there at the beginning and end of most every day. But leading up to it, with the various weird symptoms I was experiencing – random allergic symptoms, lumps in my throat, rapid heartbeat for no apparent reason, etc., I was honestly scared that I might not wake up at all, and I worried (rather needlessly, but I didn’t know it at the time) over what might happened if something were to stop my breathing in the middle of the night, with no one to notice something had gone wrong and call an ambulance for me or whatever.

2005_DreamTheater_Octavarium3) “Panic Attack”, Dream Theater (Octavarium, 2005)
One of Dream Theater’s darkest – and awesomest – songs, in which the bass and guitar riffs fly fast and furious, trying to keep up with the unpredictable ramblings of a man’s mind and the nervous rhythm of his heart, as he struggles to keep his grip on sanity. For those who have experienced panic attacks, the song is quite true to the experience – it’s insanely melodramatic, but that’s how one is often driven to feel when your systems are all going haywire and your mood is swinging violently and you can’t even begin to guess at what’s causing it. For some, I suppose a song like this could just be a trigger than puts them even more on edge… but for me, it was a reminder that I wasn’t the only one who had ever felt that way, and that I wasn’t crazy.

2004_HeIsLegend_IAmHollywood4) “China White”, He Is Legend (I Am Hollywood, 2004)
Now THIS song is crazy. It’s about a gardener secretly plotting to murder someone, I think, and it gets almost laughably ridiculous in its attempts to be scary when it reaches its boiling point, with menacing screams of “I AM YOUR GARDENER!!!” Nothing here had anything to do with my life at the time, but I loved the song and the band’s unhinged attitude here, and there was really no other place to make it work on this mix other than to sandwich it between two more heavy rock songs.

2005_Anberlin_NeverTakeFriendshipPersonal5) “Never Take Friendship Personal”, Anberlin (Never Take Friendship Personal, 2005)
Also more heavy and menacing than their previous output, was the title track from Anberlin’s second album, which struck a pretty convincing balance between melodic modern rock and the edgier “screamo” music popular at the time. This song seems to mark a transition between a more “innocent” phase of life and a colder, more cynical one, as if the lesson learned here was to observe friendship from a detached distance and not get too emotionally involved: “If you can’t hold yourself together, why should I hold you now?” I think I slipped into that sort of a phase for a while, especially after feeling betrayed by a friend who had promised she’d make it to our wedding, and gone so far as to book the tickets, only to back out due to a conflict with the rather sudden scheduling of her own wedding. Looking back, it was a petty reason to be mad at her, and it’s all water under the bridge now. but at the time, when I was already taking it way too personally as various close friends told us they couldn’t make our wedding, I felt my heart hardening quite a bit, putting me in a bit of a cynical slump that lasted for most of the rest of that year. I felt like I had to guard my heart from getting too close or expecting too much of people who would only let me down in the end.

2004_GreenDay_AmericanIdiot6) “Give Me Novocaine”, Green Day (American Idiot, 2004)
A common response to being bombarded with stress and frustration is to distract yourself in any way you can, to numb the pain. This song compares that state of mind to a visit to the dentist, when you get shot up with novocaine so that you can’t feel the pain of whatever hellish operations are being done to your teeth. And it sort of looks at it in a way that expresses some cynicism about it, but at the same time can see the allure of living in that doped-up state, because life just seems safer and easier when you don’t have to feel pain.

2005_OliviatheBand_OliviatheBand7) “Butterflies”, Olivia the Band (Olivia the Band, 2005)
On the happier side of the pop/punk equation than Green Day, is this song about living with constant distractions and a short attention span, and how they make it difficult to focus in on that still small voice inside. I’ve never been good with spiritual disciplines, prayer and quiet time and that sort of thing. For a while, I had sort of a “fake it ’til you make it” mentality, but increasingly, I’ve learned just to acknowledge the distraction and the lack of structure and just be honest with God about it, even if it means prayers and any actual experience of hearing feedback from God are much more of a fragmented experience than I’d like for them to be.

2005_SufjanStevens_ComeonFeeltheIllinoise8) “Come On! Feel the Illinoise!”, Sufjan Stevens (Come On! Feel the Illinoise!, 2005)
There’s really no way, musically or thematically, to work a bustling, off-kilter composition about the glory days of a big city I’ve never been to (outside of a few airport layovers, at least) into the greater context of one of my mix CDs. It just sort of has to exist on its own as the strange, beautiful piece of music that it is. And with its giddy, Charlie Brown-referencing piano melody, its peppy horns and graceful strings, and its lyrics about a city striving to be its best, this one always put a smile on my face. The sound of it still brings me back to the happiest moments of an otherwise tubrulent part of my life.

2005_RobThomas_SomethingtoBe9) “Lonely No More”, Rob Thomas (Something to Be, 2005)
Tim and I caught a live performance of this song on one of those late-night shows just by chance during the final days that we were living together, and our impression was unfavorable. I liked Matchbox Twenty, but I wasn’t so sure how I felt about Thomas trying to pull off the whole urban pop swagger thing. The song eventually grew on me, not that I related to its attempts to win and ex-girlfriend back, but I was giving myself a lot of needless angst just the same, and I didn’t want to be lonely or angry no more, either.

2005_IronWine_WomanKingEP10) “Jezebel”, Iron & Wine (Woman King EP, 2005)
An alternate interpretation of a character often written off as a traitor and a whore. Sympathetic responses to maligned or misunderstood female characters may well have been the entire theme of Woman King, but in any case, this was a sad and beautiful song, its reflective surface of finger-picked guitar and echoing piano holding up as one of the best examples of classic Iron & Wine.

2005_NickelCreek_WhyShouldtheFireDie11) “Best of Luck”, Nickel Creek (Why Should the Fire Die?, 2005)
Nickel Creek’s third (and sadly, final) album came out two days after our wedding, when we were happily honeymooning on Kauai. Of course I couldn’t wait until I got home to hear it, and lo and behold, there it was in a local Borders, which I wasn’t sure would be carrying it at all, let alone on its release date. Every track from that album now gives me strong flashbacks to our time spend exploring that lush, green island, which is funny, because its songs are almost exclusively about relationships and marriages that didn’t work out, which some might consider a bad omen for a newlywed couple. I see many of its songs as cautionary tales, particularly this one, which was perhaps the closest to “pop” that the band ever got. Its cries of “Don’t touch… don’t look… don’t think…” were like belated advice to a couple who had already wrecked their marriage by doing a bit too much touching, looking, and thinking, in areas where they weren’t supposed to. And it sort of explores the faults that led them both to those weak moments of unfaithfulness. And every couple who ever gets married runs the risk of hurting each other severely in one of those fleeting moments. And I don’t just mean cheating. Everybody thinks they won’t do that for sure, but there are all these other potential ways to do damage that can totally sneak up on you out of nowhere.

2004_RelientK_Mmhmm12) “When I Go Down”, Relient K (Mmhmm, 2004)
This honest, reflective ballad went through many styles and moods in six minutes or so – at the time, it was a striking change from anything the band had done previously. Matt Thiessen was telling the stark truth about his own self-destructive tendencies here, and as a guy who tended to beat himself up over everything when one or two things in life went wrong, I could relate. From the initial emotional crash-and-burn to the subsequent attempts to build up emotional armor and treat it all like it can’t affect me any more, I recognize most of these symptoms within myself, and I was a textbook case of all of them that year. Rather than just being a song of self-pity, this one ends on a hopeful and redemptive note, using that fall from grace and the long, slow process of God lifting him back out of it to demonstrate that while we can’t always pick ourselves up and dust ourselves off, God somehow grows us through the restoration process.

2005_JarsofClay_RedemptionSongs13) “Jesus, I Lift My Eyes”, Jars of Clay (Redemption Songs, 2005)
This was another obscure hymn unearthed by the Redemption Songs project – one which I was sure couldn’t have had as refreshingly upbeat of a melody when it was first rhythm, but I enjoyed its easygoing folk/country arrangement all the same. Like many of my favorite hymns, it looks up from a point of admitted hopelessness and failure… not that I enjoy the hopelessness and failure, but there’s something more authentic about a praise song which acknowledges that the singer is starting from zero, rather than having earned some happy, trouble-free place from which to beseech God for answers to prayer. It makes the prayers seem more like desperate needs than superficial wants. So these sorts of hymns always bring me up.

2005_JasonMraz_MrAZ14) “Life Is Wonderful”, Jason Mraz (Mr. A-Z, 2005)
Mraz had become one of my favorite songwriters with his first album – a little bit wacky, a little bit witty, and a really good balance between the sincere and the tongue-in-cheek. Unfortunately, from there on out, he entered a bit of a downward spiral where I started to like his albums less and less. Despite Mr. A-Z being the beginning of that slide, I still love the first track from that album, which is surprisingly pensive for an album opener, as it takes the whole “chicken or the egg” metaphor to its logical extreme as it explores the idea of everything in life coming full circle. It’s amateur hour as far as philosophical insights are concerned, but it’s beautifully stated.

2004_TheFieryFurnaces_BlueberryBoat15) “Birdie Brain”, The Fiery Furnaces (Blueberry Boat, 2004)
More delightful nonsense here, in the form of a song that probably would have been better off juxtaposed with “Chicago”, since its reminiscence seems to come from the same time period, when women wore dressing gowns and newfangled contraptions like the steam train and the automobile were still looked at with an eye of suspicion. Eleanor goes through a bit of a stereotypical “hysterical woman” act at the sound of these intrusive forms of transportation, claiming that they drive her dogs bonkers, and threatening to drown herself if the noise continues. And yet the whole thing is sung with a whimsical melody that sounds like it could be taught to children. I’m sure that some element of making fun of myself for thinking I was going crazy might have factored into the song selection here.

2005_Eisley_RoomNoises16) “One Day I Slowly Floated Away”, Eisley (Room Noises, 2005)
Ending on the notion of someone drowning in their insanity seemed a little harsh, so instead I chose to end gracefully on a tale of thought of someone floating away on a memory instead. Like many of Eisley’s early songs, I’m not really sure what was going on here… it sounded a bit like an old woman reminiscing about the time she met her husband, when she was a nurse during the war and he was a wounded solider or something like that. The breathtaking chorus still brightens my day: “Wake up, the sun is beautiful/And it is warming you and I/Fragile as we lie.”

divads-soundtrack-57bDISC TWO
We went to Kauai for our honeymoon, and took about a bazillion beautiful pictures. I used this picture of Waimea Canyon for the cover because I thought it represented my favorite unique feature of Kauai – a place I’d love the chance to hike down into and explore more if we ever go back. We had a great time on our honeymoon – we did way too much hiking and other physical activity, but it was fun and it fit our personalities. There’s definitely a romantic tone, and a sense of release, to much of the songs on this CD. Actually surviving the whole wedding process and coming out a married man on the other side, with the gift of a loving wife to treasure that I knew I hadn’t earned, brought a little perspective back into my life due to a sense of gratitude.
Where in the world is this?

2005_DreamTheater_Octavarium1) “These Walls”, Dream Theater (Octavarium, 2005)
Part of close relationships, especially marriage, is the act of letting someone in. Not just telling them your secrets – I’m generally an open book with that sort of thing – but actually letting their insight and their love for you change you in some ways. When you’re caught up in the funk of a depression, it’s easy to take other people’s attempts to connect with you for granted, and to inadvertently push them away. Sometimes in a marriage, you have to be the strong one when the other person is going through a weak period. I understood this in principle, but I don’t think I quite appreciated at the time how much I was putting Christine through that right from the get-go. But she was strong for me when I needed it, and she helped to break down those walls I was using to isolate and guard myself, and most people wouldn’t have been that persistent, so I’m grateful for it, because we would have gotten off to a terrible start if not for her perseverance.

2005_Coldplay_XY2) “White Shadows”, Coldplay (X&Y, 2005)
“Maybe you get what you wanted/Maybe you stumbled upon it/Everything you ever wanted/In a permanent state.” Have you ever wanted something so bad that you started to suspect it couldn’t possibly be something that was actually part of God’s plan for you? I know people who fall into the trap of thinking like that. I’ve had my share of “too good to be true” moments, and since I had spent most of my adult life (and a fair amount of my teenage years) thinking that my #1 goal was to experience marriage, I was sort of in disbelief when that dream actually came true. Sometimes things do go the way you want them, and it’s better to just be grateful instead of overanalyzing them and letting the doubts creep in.

2005_SufjanStevens_ComeonFeeltheIllinoise3) “The Man of Metropolis Steals Our Hearts”, Sufjan Sevens (Come On! Feel the Illinoise!, 2005)
I’m not sure what inspired a song about Superman on an album about the state of Illinois. I know that this song was the reason for the image of Superman on the album’s cover, and the ensuing copyright issues that resulted in the album being re-released without that image. Thankfully, the song skirts the issue by only mentioning the superhero obliquely. It really seems to be about the difference between idealized heroes and real-world ones. Often we wish some powerful being would just swoop in and save the day, when in fact the answer to prayer comes through a community of regular people with no special powers, but with the conviction to work together and make the world around them a better place. I’d observed some of this at Evergreen, and I also saw an interesting example of that community support from the folks at Christine’s old church in Hawaii, who pooled their resources and talents and worked together with a few of my friends to help put together an amazing, home-grown wedding for us, one that we probably wouldn’t have been able to afford if we’d hired professionals to do everything.

2004_TheCorrs_BorrowedHeaven4) “Humdrum”, The Corrs (Borrowed Heaven, 2004)
This was a bit of a tongue-in-cheek song about how a woman’s dream is to entrap a man into a loveless marriage with a chaotic home life. basically playing the role of the nagging and scatterbrained wife from hell – to the tune of upbeat, funky pop music, as was The Corrs’ way during this odd phase of their career. I had to laugh, because this is the sort of cliche that men fear when they make jokes to one another as the old ball and chain, viewing marriage as though it were the end of the interesting part of a man’s life. I’m not sure how many of them truly believe that cliche, versus the ones who just maintain the humorous wisecracks about it to avoid looking too sentimental and getting teased for it. I know I don’t buy into that mindset. But I can laugh at the stereotype and joke about it with the rest of ’em.

2005_CorrinneMay_SafeinaCrazyWorld5) “If I Kissed You”, Corrinne May (Safe in a Crazy World, 2005)
I have a strong sentimental attachment to this song – cheesy as it may be – that actually goes back to nearly four years before its final studio version was released, when I first heard Corrinne perform it live in November 2001. That was before Christine and I had even met, and the album it wound up on got released not long before we were married, so in a way, this song spans the length of our entire dating relationship. It’s basically about whether magical and ridiculous things would happen if one person quite suddenly declared their feelings for the other by kissing them. (Said ridiculous things include the hilariously unexpected line, “Would you run naked in the street with a tattoo of my name on your behind?”) And I’ve always been sort of a sucker for that notion of finding out, completely out of the blue, that someone’s in love with you. Christine was the first one in our relationship to be brave enough to admit that. If not for her initiative, we might have only ever been long-distance pen pals who flirted briefly and then moved on.

2005_Eisley_RoomNoises6) “Golly Sandra”, Eisley (Room Noises, 2005)
The big draw of this song was its big, sunny, slide guitar riff. It’s probably a bit of Texas influence, since that’s where the band originally comes from. But for some reason it brought to mind the sunny beaches of Hawaii – not that it sounds like actual Hawaiian music at all, but you know how in those old cartoons, they’d have this cheesy slide guitar music playing whenever the characters went to Hawaii or anywhere tropical? Never mind, that comparison probably only makes sense in my mind.

2004_CaedmonsCall_SharetheWell7) “Volcanoland”, Caedmon’s Call (Share the Well, 2004)
Here’s another song that reminds me of Hawaii even though it’s about a different place entirely. The group wrote this one about some brothers living in Ecuador, in the shade of a volcano. But pretty much everywhere in Hawaii has a volcano towering over it, albeit a long-extinct one in most cases. I was fascinated with the idea of a tropical paradise being born out of the clash between hot, molten lava and the cold, unrelenting sea, and this idea became the basis of a song called “Glimpse of Paradise” that I ended up writing for Christine and singing at our wedding, sort of a last-minute thing that I wasn’t planning to do ahead of time. Driving around Kauai during our honeymoon, which is the most extinct of the volcanoes that make up the main islands, it was fascinating to observe how the years of sun and rain and erosion had given way to its thick rainforests and cloudy bogs and deep canyons. There’s no place quite like it on Earth.

2005_NickelCreek_WhyShouldtheFireDie8) “Doubting Thomas”, Nickel Creek (Why Should the Fire Die?, 2005)
This quiet, and almost uncomfortably honest song about faith and doubt came as a real surprise when I first heard it, driving across the south side of Kauai back to our hotel room after a long day of kayaking and hiking and soaking up the tropical atmosphere. I immediately latched onto Chris Thile’s confession of wavering in his faith at the slightest sign of trouble, and of wondering if he could even be used by God in such a flawed state of mind. The words hit me pretty hard – in my mind, I said a prayer that basically just consisted of “I’m so sorry”, for ever doubting that God would see me through to this point in my life, and well beyond.

2005_JarsofClay_RedemptionSongs9) “I’ll Fly Away”, Jars of Clay feat. Sarah Kelly (Redemption Songs, 2005)
This is one of those hymns that, up until this point, I’d heard of but never really heard. I guess I didn’t grow up singing it in church like so many folks did, or at least I don’t remember it from the various hymns I was exposed to in my childhood. So my first real memory of it was when Christine and I went with my Mom in late 2004 to the Billy Graham Crusade at the Rose Bowl. Jars of Clay was there just to play a small handful of songs, and it was a weird experience when their pop/bluegrass hybrid take take on this hymn was one of them – seemingly everyone other than me seemed to know it. So maybe I came late to that particular party, but it’s one of those songs where you can immediately sense the rich history behind it when you hear it sung. Death is typically looked at as something to be feared, and even as a believer, I’ve never quite managed to overcome the fear of possibly going before it’s “my time”. Part of that’s just because I’m a hypochondriac and I get nervous over every little thing that seems to be going wrong with my health, and a lot of that seemed to be going on that year. This song fit in well next to “Doubting Thomas”, which was a song that seemed to reassure the doubting believer, “You’re not read to die. There’s still more of your story to tell.” This one was the other end of that reassurance – “When you do die, you will know peace and joy like you’ve never known it before.” It sounds like a weird thing to say, but when I eventually go, I hope folks are happy for me. Not happy to be rid of me (I hope!), but happy that I’m finally at rest, with nothing more to worry about or long for.

2005_Mae_TheEverglow10) “Anything”, Mae (The Everglow, 2005)
An ode to those rare, fleeting “perfect” moments in life when you’re just exuberantly happy and you feel like you can take on the whole world. “The pain, it won’t even cross my mind/There is wonder in everything/The rope gets loose and the chains unbind/And I can do anything.” This one was such a refreshing emotional climax, right near the end of The Everglow. It had the perfect combination of a big, bold guitar riff that got me pumped and a soaring melody that made my heart sing.

2005_DavidCrowderBand_SunsetsSushiEP11) “How Great (Direct from Satellite City)”, David Crowder Band (Sunsets and Sushi EP, 2005)
I loved the syncopation and the layering of looped acoustic elements in this remix better than the original version. Since hearing the original, I’d always had a bit of trouble with the second half of the line “How great our love for us, how great our love for You”, as if our love for God could ever hope to be even a fraction as great as His for us. And sure, theologically speaking, our love could never compare. But I believe there are those moments when we are actually able to whole-heartedly, love God. I don’t necessarily think we’re as great or as consistent about showing genuine love to God as a great many of our praise songs would imply, but if God’s grace does have any effect on us, then surely we must sometimes get it right.

2004_ChrisTomlin_Arriving12) “Indescribable”, Chris Tomlin (Arriving, 2004)
I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Chris Tomlin. I think the man has a gift for writing sturdy songs that are easy for congregations to learn and that, at least in the best cases, will still be sung in churches decades from now. But at times his music can be formulaic to a fault, and I’ve really grown to hate how every aspiring worship leader who hopes for a Christian radio hit more or less takes all of their cues from his style. So while there had previously been a lot of Tomlin’s songs that I’d appreciated, it was this song by Laura Story that his version helped to popularize that was the first one I loved enough to actually commit it to one of my musical time capsules. For me, it serves the same purpose as Switchfoot’s “Stars” – pulling back to that universal perspective and reminding us that a creative and loving hand created it, ordered it, and watches over every aspect of it, from galaxies to quarks. There was one Sunday not long before the wedding, when I was standing there in the midst of the congregation at Evergreen, incredibly distracted by the pounding pulse and that feeling of swelling in my throat that seemed to assault me at the worst possible times, and then Justis started in with his glorious piano version of the opening riff to this song, and just for those few minutes, all of my selfish concerns just seemed to melt away.

2005_OliviatheBand_OliviatheBand13) “Missing”, Olivia the Band (Olivia the Band, 2005)
The final track on Olivia’s debut album fell right into that old “Hey, let’s end on a sensitive acoustic song!” cliche that a lot of youth-group friendly rock and punk bands invariably end up doing. Not that I minded in this case – this one was simplistic, sure, but it felt authentic rather than contrived. It was too perfect to have the opening verse coming right after “Indescribable”… “Take a look around/Tell me what you see/Do your eyes sing of un-describable things/You’ve never heard or even seen?” Bearing witness to the beauty of creation, it would be a shame to miss out on the joy of knowing its Creator. The “acoustic surf” atmosphere of this one settled beautifully into the ambient sounds of Hawaii at the end, as the pounding waves of the ocean and the chirping of tropical birds slowly faded away. Which gave me a perfect segue into…

2001_IsraelKamakawiwoole_AloneinIzWorld14) “Over the Rainbow”, Israel Kamakawiwo’ole (Alone in Iz World, 2001)
Come on, I know you’ve all heard this one. It may as well be Hawaii’s official state song. Iz first recorded it in 1993, so I’m only guessing that this version (without the segue into “What a Wonderful World”) was released posthumously, since he passed away in 1997, well before the massive popularity spike that his take on the classic showtune from The Wizard of Oz experienced in the early 2000s, seemingly appearing in nearly every movie, TV show, and commercial that wanted to depict a sunny happy ending. The movie it always brings to my mind is 50 First Dates, the ending of which still devastates me with happy tears. It was due to that movie that we decided to use it as the exit music for our wedding, which we didn’t know had become such a cliche at times. But who cares? It’s just so hard to resist the peaceful mood of this one, which is a brilliant reinvention of the original melody, molding it around an irresistible chord progression on the ukulele, to the point where I don’t even care about silly things like the fact that he took a song that originally rhymed and rearranged its verses seemingly willy-nilly to the point where almost nothing rhymes at all.

2005_JoyWilliams_Genesis15) “I’m in Love with You”, Joy Williams (Genesis, 2005)
While we’re on the subject of blatant, sappy sentimentality, this one was a newlywed’s syrupy sweet ode to her new husband (no, not the dude from The Civil Wars that she can’t seem to get along with nowadays), and to how much she looked forward even to the mundane domestic experiences, just because she was so in love and happy for them to be together. You may all barf in unison if you must. I still think it’s a gorgeous little song.

2005_OvertheRhine_DrunkardsPrayer16) “Hush Now (Stella’s Tarantella)”, Over the Rhine (Drunkard’s Prayer, 2005)
It would have been so perfect just to end the mix on a gushy love song, but I wanted to look forward to our future together as a married couple with a song that had a little more meat on its bones. So I chose this slinky little slow dance from a couple who had been around the block marriage-wise, and just recently rediscovered the reasons why they wanted to stay together, and written an album celebrating the survival of their marriage. This song is a bit playful, a bit sultry, but mostly a reassurance to a man with one too many worries rattling around in his head that it’s all gonna be OK and there’s no challenge they can’t fight off together. It represents the role Christine played during those early days of our marriage when I still had my share of demons to fend off. Tomorrow has enough trouble of its own. Let’s drink deep of the bounty that God’s granted to us today.

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