24 January 2014

Music Day - The Ladder

I've been a fan of this man's work for as long as I can remember. Some of my earliest memories involve listening to his Learning To Trust CD at age three. I had the thing memorised by the time I was five years old.

Somewhere around age ten (I'm not exactly sure), I found out that my dad owned a bunch of his record albums. At first I was shocked to find out there was more to this guy's career than Learning To Trust and Once In A Lifetime, but gave a couple of the albums a try.

7 particularly captured my attention. So much so that I listened to that record nearly every single day for about three years, and it has yet to get old. I'm not sure what it is about his work, but it is seriously impossible to overplay his stuff. When his album There I Go Again came out in 2002, I listened to that one multiple times a day, every day, for three years. I never got tired of it. I'm still not tired of it.

And not only does it not get old, there's still stuff to discover. Back in December 2012, when I was choreographing Early In The Morning (from Once In A Lifetime), I was already working on the ending -- the last chorus and the fadeout -- when suddenly I noticed the keyboard track for the first time. It was gorgeous and the song is all the richer for it. But what stunned me was the fact that I thought I knew this song so well. I'd known that song for the better part of twenty years, and I've never caught that keyboard line before.

7 is still a great album as well, and since I felt the need to include more David Meece on the blog (because if I'm not careful this will cease to become a blog and instead become a DA-fangirl page), we are hearing from it today. Plus, we all need more eighties keyboards in our lives anyway.

Title: The Ladder
Artist: David Meece
Album: 7
Year: 1985
Label: Myrrh
iTunes here; YouTube here.

I love the whole album. It's solid, from start to finish (the professional music critics will dispute that statement because of The Alien, but I've always had a soft spot for the synthetically eerie feel of that song). However, among all the wonderful eighties synth-pop on that album, all the songs from here that have been 'one of my favourites' at some point or another, this one has become the most consistent favourite. This is the song I keep singing in my head even after Side Two has finished. This is the song that pops into my head when I see the album cover. This is one of the prettiest on the album (aside from the closing track, which is admittedly more timeless).

It's a lovely song, gentle yet catchy. It's not slow, but it doesn't assault you with loud and crazy things. It's a really nice relaxing song. David Meece is so well-known for his perfect blend of classical, rock, and contemporary music that it's easy to lose sight of the fact that he's also a pretty darn good singer.

Watching the heavens at evening
Watching the day that is leaving the sky to the stars
How it shines...

Dude just summed up this post in four lines.

19 January 2014

Whose Dream Is This Anyway?

The Edge Of The Dream.

I gave this blog this name mostly because of the White Heart song of the same name, but I justified it because I felt I was at the beginning of the journey to the dream God has placed in me -- the dream to dance/choreograph/be involved in the stage world.

But over the past couple of months, I have begun to question whether or not it is God's dream for me. There were quite a few little things that were sufficient to convince me two years ago that God created me to dance, but in the past year or so, all that has been thrown into question. Did God really place that dream in me? Or did I take it for myself and convince myself that He had given me this desire? Has my desire to be in the dance world filtered all of my experiences to such a point that I am unable to hear God saying, 'no, this isn't it'?

Over the last while, I keep hearing sermons and messages and things mentioning sacrifice. I always thought the idea of sacrifice in the Christian life, while not wrong as Scripture teaches it, has been grotesquely distorted by the churches of North America. Sacrifice, say the churches, is the law against cracking a smile. You cannot do anything you enjoy, if you don't think your life sucks, you haven't sacrificed enough. 'God created you for a purpose, whether you like it or not.' Sacrifice, say the Scriptures, is hard, but it is for your greater good, and one day you will look back and be thankful that you did because your life has been the richer and more enjoyable for it.

Which is correct? Am I supposed to be sacrificing the dream or sacrificing for the dream? Is this my dream or God's? How am I supposed to know?

I don't even get to find out the answer to this at my leisure. A huge opportunity has come up for me to be involved in an existing dance team, and the application deadline is Monday. Ordinarily I would jump at the chance. But the catch is, if I am accepted to this position, it means that I very likely will not see my family between August 2014 and April 2015. For most people my age, that's an incentive, not a stumbling block. But I'm odd one for my age and generation... As a homeschool graduate, I have spent literally all of my time with my family. As a result, we're pretty close. The two-month blocks between mod breaks here in college pushes my limit as it is -- can I really handle eight months? That and I'm the oldest of a rather young set of siblings... I feel an enormous responsibility to be there with them, to be a present sister, and instead I'm a nine-hour drive away. I've seen them for three weeks out of the past five months. I keep hearing how one of my sisters is practically gutted by my absence. I'm glad that she misses me, but on the other hand, I don't want to destroy her by prolonging the agony of separation. I remember being that age. I remember feeling unloved. And I didn't even have an older sister who left for college out-of-province. How much more will my history repeat itself in her life -- and how much more will it be amplified by my absence?

Which is worth more -- the family God put me in or the love for the stage that He has apparently given me? Which trumps which? Under what circumstances?

17 January 2014

Music Day - Background

I always forget about this song until I listen to the album (which isn't very often because I tend to forget it exists -- too busy listening to Daniel Amos). But this is a really beautiful song. The stage imagery resonates with me in so many different ways. It's like if you were to take a different angle on Crumbächer's Understudy, strip away all the '80s orchestration and the harmonies, slow it down about ten times, and throw in a (conceptual) touch of their Royal Command Performance.

Title: Background (feat. Andy Mineo)
Artist: Lecrae
Album: Rehab
Year: 2010
Label: Reach Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

In related news: Tedashii (Lecrae's labelmate) just announced today that a new album is on the way. I'm really interested for this one... Tedashii has gone through a lot (including the death of a child) since his last album came out in 2011. I get the feeling this album will be the Knowledge & Innocence of rap.

10 January 2014

Music Day - Note To Anna

Trigger warning: references to suicide.

I've been boning up on '90s DA (because, you know, it's not like I have a thousand other things to do). There's a lot of hidden gold in there -- you don't really hear about DA through the '90s except for MotorCycle, and even then, that's as an album. Hardly anyone talks about the individual tracks on it.

So back to the story... I was reading lyrics from their '90s album on their website, and this song struck me. Actually, 'struck' isn't a strong enough word. This song makes my heart hurt.

I've been on both sides of this song -- not to the letter (because in that case I wouldn't even be typing this), but I've dangled off the ledge in both directions.

At first glance it appears to be from the perspective of a so-called 'suicide survivor,' that is, someone who knows someone who has committed suicide, and is now left trying to make sense of it. (DA themselves don't commit to one story or another on this song, but they give 'suicide' as a possibility. However, the 'suicide survivor' tone of the song appears to be metaphorical as well.)

On one hand it hurts because I remember those days when I was suicidal and I completely believed that no-one cared about me or would even notice if I did kill myself. To read what could have been a letter to me (if any of my friends had any inclination to poetry) was... heartbreaking, for lack of a better description. The song builds so perfectly and that second-last line... I could not save you... it breaks me. Because now, years later, I finally catch a fleeting glimpse of how the people around me do truly love me. I still can't touch it or hold it, but I see it, just for a moment, as I read that line in the context of the song.

On the other side, I remember only last year, when a very dear friend told me she had attempted suicide a few days earlier. I had known she was depressed, and I had known that she'd been having suicidal thoughts, but for her to stand in front of me and tell me she had deliberately overdosed on her medication... you can't help but begin to imagine what could have been. What could have been the last time I saw her alive. What sickening shock and numb tears would have been happening that day instead of her being able to talk to me, even to tell me this. What could have been the weight of knowing I couldn't save her... all of it is perfectly wrapped up in this song. If I had the poetry skills (and creativity) of Terry Scott Taylor, I could have written this but for God's grace on her -- and me -- that night.

(Also, the cello interlude is a beautifully melancholy touch.)

Title: Note To Anna
Artist: Daniel Amos
Album: Kalhoun
Year: 1991
Label: Frontline Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.
Full lyrics here.

03 January 2014

Music Day - Broken Wings

Another album I discovered on the 500 Greatest Albums blog. I had initially bought only one song from iTunes, then found the vinyl in a record shop this summer. But in all the depression and preparation surrounding my then-imminent move to Saskatchewan, I never got to actually listen to it.

About a month ago, I randomly thought of the album again and found the video for this song on YouTube. I had seen it once before, and it had seemed unimpressive to me then. I don't know what changed, but when I watched it this time, it seemed somehow different. Perhaps, because of my restless mental wanderings since starting college, I was better able to understand the melancholy-yet-hopeful thinking, brooding mood the video was trying to convey.

When I came home for Christmas, listening to this album and adding it to my iPod was high on my to-do list. It turns out that the song's music video is not the whole sonic picture. Oh no. They edited out both the musical interlude before the third verse and the soaring melancholy hopeful ending.

I wish I could put words to the ending. There are no words. The words I used at the end of that last paragraph do not convey what it is, it's not even close. But there's nothing closer. You just have to hear it. It's so beautiful... soothing, peaceful. Close your eyes. Fly.

Title: Broken Wings
Artist: Mr. Mister
Album: Welcome To The Real World
Year: 1985
Label: RCA
iTunes here; LP version of the song on YouTube here, official video on YouTube here.