23 January 2015

Music Day - Rift

This song was recorded in 1993. But in terms of mood (and genre), it could be mistaken for something from Skillet. Screaming, thrashing, rage, sickened disgust.

Title: Rift
Artist: Mortal
Album: Fathom
Year: 1993
Label: Frontline Records
Before I get to the links, PLEASE NOTE: (they say this at the beginning of the concept video, but I'm going to say it again here) The official music/concept video is pretty intense and a bit graphic. It deals with the subject of child abuse (in its many different manifestations). It's tactful about it and overall the video is quite well done, but it is rather intense and could also be a trigger for some people. (It's six minutes long and within the first minute there's a suicide by gun.) Please be aware of this before you watch the video.
The song itself does not make any actual mention of abuse. It is more concerned with the anger and forgiveness process in the victim, but does not get specific about how exactly the hurt has been inflicted.
iTunes here; YouTube (song only, no video) here. Official music video here (viewer discretion strongly advised).

All that said, the music video is very well done. It's quite a tour de force, skilfully weaving multiple angles of multiple stories, different perspectives, multiple concepts into one cohesive whole. I've read bestselling novels that had choppier plots than this music video. From an artistic standpoint, this is phenomenal. The scenes with the adults playing like children and the scenes with the adults 'frozen' -- they've never grown up -- and the children walking around them are chilling. I can't quite put it into words, but that's exactly what it is -- the adults frozen, caught in their ruts, and the children simply walking around, just waiting... waiting... waiting for something to change.

Ordinarily I would be appalled at the violence and dark undertones in the video, but in this case it absolutely serves the point they were making. It's meant to be a wake-up call, to force us to confront the issue and quit pretending it doesn't exist. The 'Christian community' would likely watch this video (if they even made it past the gun part) and whine, 'Why do you have to be so graphic? Why did you make it so sickening?'

Answer: Because you won't step in. You won't be a friend to the adults (and children) who need a loving, caring person in their lives. And this -- these horrific scenes -- are the consequences of your inaction.

You said you'd lift me up
You said you'd cover me
You said you'd nurse my cuts
You stare and watch me bleed...


All of the above was written about two years ago.

Yesterday, after having pretty much forgotten this song existed, I suddenly remembered and subsequently revisited it. Twice. And a different phrase arrested my attention this time.

Sometimes our broken hearts are healed
The moment we believe again...

And it was apparently important enough that they repeated it. I wondered when I first heard it why they repeated it. It seemed odd to me, especially coming after so much anger. But now I think they repeat it so that the words could properly sink in.

Sometimes our broken hearts are healed
The moment we believe again...

In the past six months, people very close to me -- people I love dearly -- have been involved in separation/divorce, developed serious cancer, been emotionally hurt, and some have lied to me. Two of the deepest, hardest-hitting incidents were within two days of each other. And I gave up. I had been praying for months about these things, and finally, when those two particular incidents came up back-to-back, I threw my hands in the air and said, "Why am I still praying to a God who doesn't care?" The fact that I was thinking this terrified me, but there it was. And I've been in a weird in-between state since. I want to believe God cares, but on the other hand I think, 'yeah, well, if He did care, He would at least show me He could fix this.'

In a nutshell, I have become jaded and bitter, and I can almost feel my heart hardening inside me. It is terrifying. And throughout the past couple of days there has been the question of trust -- you're bitter at this person for not trusting you. Are you really any better than them? You're mad at this person for having a heart of stone. Is yours really any softer? But still I fight -- "but You don't care that my family is falling apart and You won't let me help the ones here who are hurting!"

And then this song came, those lyrics. Did they fix everything? Heck no. But it offered a challenge, a burr on the slope of polished slate that I'm sliding down... will you believe again? Will you trust Me one more time with your heart so I can fix it? It made me stop and think. That's one thing that I like in music -- a lyric profound enough to stop me in my tracks. And it was perfectly hidden in a loud, raging industrial song that I was only listening to because it sounded angry and I needed to listen to something angry to match how I felt. If it had been in a Silverwind song I would not have heard it yesterday when I needed it. I was so upset over the whole state of affairs that slow, happy music was making me even angrier. Props to Mortal for tucking that observation in an angry song where it's probably needed most.

16 January 2015

Music Day - Backyard Changes

This is how I like my pop songs -- fun musically, but not insipid lyrically.

Musically: well, come on, it's Crumbächer. What do you expect besides keyboard? And I, for one, wouldn't have it any other way. The sax is a bit overdone at the end, but aside from that it's Crumbächer pop goodness as you've always known it.

Lyrically: This is easily as hard-hitting as anything with Steve Taylor's name on it. But while Taylor tends to look at societal ills, here Crumbächer takes a slightly more introspective view.

It starts out as your general older-teenage-angst song, sympathising with the frustrations of every sixteen or seventeen year old:
Nothing ever changes
In your own backyard
So you wanna get out when you can
You say your folks don't understand
You wanna make a difference...

Oh, I know. I've been there. I've felt trapped in my own home. I've raged against the four walls of my bedroom, feeling like my parents didn't care that I wanted a break from the pressure of being the perfect oldest.

But while Stephen Crumbacher offers sympathy, he also brings up a good point:
You wanna make a difference
But you'd better start
Closer to the heart
With some backyard changes...

That is, if you can't (or won't) make a difference in your own neighbourhood/school/workplace, what makes you think you'll make a difference anywhere else? If you leave your backyard, you'll still be the same person, just in a different place.

Title: Backyard Changes
Artist: Crumbächer
Album: Thunder Beach
Year: 1987
Label: Frontline Records
iTunes here; YouTube here (live version here).

09 January 2015

Music Day - Glory Battle

We've had this album since it came out, but it was only over July that I really listened to this song (or the whole album, really). This song in particular appeals to my classical ballet mind. It's the dance of a fight between good and evil, between angels and demons, both clawing for the same soul.

Last March, while recovering from strep throat, I read Frank Peretti's This Present Darkness, and that book has stuck in my head, both as a reader and as a writer. As a reader, I enjoyed the story -- the soft-spoken unrelenting faith of the pastor, the confusion and determination of the newspaper manager, the spunk and pluck of the reporter, the self-righteousness of the church deacons, the rebellious attitude of the daughter, the strategising between the demons and the angels... it was one of the most engaging things I've ever read. I literally read the entire thing cover to cover in one night. As a writer, I appreciated the colourful detail in every scene -- rich without being overdone -- as well as the subtle humour employed throughout. Even in very serious scenes, one careful turn of phrase, one character's well-timed glance could send me into a fit of laughter. Peretti has a gift -- I've never seen anything like that anywhere else, and I used to read quite a bit of this genre (back when I had time to read for pleasure).

Shortly after I read that book, I began thinking: what it would be like to stage that story, as a dance? You would need music for that, of course, but provided I could find a composer... could I do it? Could I portray the characters without speech and wearing ballet slippers? I haven't answered that question yet, but now that the germ of the idea is in my head, I sometimes find a little something that might fit in the dance version of the story... this song is one of those.

(Trivia: This same artist has actually written an instrumental song based on This Present Darkness (source: album liner notes) in 1988. The song, Ashton, is on the album i 2 (EYE). Music Day post here.)

Title: Glory Battle
Artist: Michael W. Smith
Album: Glory
Year: 2011
Label: Provident
iTunes here; YouTube here.

Besides the music of David Meece (and Pachelbel's Canon In D), this is probably the closest I get to classical music. It's not that I don't like it, it's just that it always seems so stuffy and elitist (kind of like some of us 'Jesus Music' fans, come to think of it...), and I can never keep track of all the composers and the names and variations of their works. But this piece is amazing. It's sweeping, majestic, strong, rushing -- it sounds exactly like a battle. There's the start, and then the initial battle, and then someone retreats and the music turns mournful... then clear and a little hopeful. The sides regroup, and suddenly there's a thunderous second assault. It's enough to make me want to get into more classical music. (Feel free to make suggestions in the comments!)

I love the string parts in this song. They contribute so much tension to the piece.

02 January 2015

Music Day - You Are Loved

Cheesy? Perhaps. Passionate? Absolutely. The Altar Boys have been especially noted for their passion. There's a sincerity in their voices that you don't hear in a lot of other music. And it has a tremendous effect with lyrics like these that so many need to hear...

Title: You Are Loved
Artist: Altar Boys
Album: Gut Level Music
Year: 1986
Label: Frontline Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

I often find myself setting this as my alarm in the morning. To wake up to words like this actually does put a brighter spin on my day. Never underestimate the power of passion and a sincere lyric (and punk rock). The harmony in the chorus is rather pretty too.

To all the hearts that have been broken
To all the dreamers with abandoned dreams
To everybody in need of a friend now
You are loved
You are loved
To all the rebels wounded in battle
To all the rockers that have lost that beat
To all the users all used up now
You are loved
You are loved...