Where have I been?
This summer I spent quality time in my Scion, listening to Third Eye Blind on the way to some fun solo acoustic shows. Also, I danced at my sister’s wedding, sang Michael Jackson on the streets of Philly, and kissed a girl in Brooklyn.
What’s up nowadays?
I’m playing bass guitar again, this time for the super talented/hunky Matt Wertz. We’re probably playing in your town, and you should definitely come see us. Check out dates here: http://mattwertz.com/tour
I’ll get off the road just in time to give thanks and eat turkey with the fam. I’ve been working on a secret awesome creative project for a while now that may be ready to launch by then, but we’ll see. I’d love to record some new music, too, but for now that’s wishful thinking, like leftover bacon at the breakfast table.
This courtesy post is brought to you courtesy of Michael McDonald.
I have a merch for you folks. What do you think?
It’s a locket necklace, by the brilliant Miriam Designs.
Everybody does t-shirts and stickers, and maybe someday I will, too. But I wanted to create something that carried a bit more significance to my message than just my name on cotton. “Leave On A Light” is a song about promise, hope, pursuit, and patience. And to me, the locket represents that well. Hope you agree!
beach.road trip.grill.garden hose.flings. flip-flops.bratwurst.sprinklers.milkshake. sunscreen.bottle rocket.rope swing.sweat.lawn chair.wedding.festival.surfboard.bug spray.dance.sing.laugh.play.
To me, finding success has always meant that I accomplished with flying colors what I set out to do. I achieved the goal. I won the game.
With that model, I would often fail. I would decide: today I’m going to write a great song! And I would churn out some forgettable melody or I would stare blankly at a blinking cursor for hours. Failure. I wanted to be great at something, but despite my best effort, I could not measure up.
I had a day like that last week. (See photo below)
But now I’m thinking, what if finding success meant something different altogether?
The Bible says, “This is the day the Lord has made. Let’s rejoice and be glad in it!”
What if my day—by definition—was successful? What if there was success to be found because the day was specifically created by a God with incomprehensible love and creativity? What if finding success was truly that: finding. It was a game of discovery. God has something great in store, so what is it?
I’ll go back to my tough writing day. What if, in the midst of not meeting my personal and profesisonal goals, I had an unshakeable awareness that there was success to be discovered. After slamming my fist on the desk in writer’s block fury, I turned my palm up and listened. “God, what would you love for me to discover today?”
Maybe he’d say something like, “Your success is defined by your identity as a son. Take a break and just relax in the knowledge that I provide for all your needs.”
Or maybe he’d say, “Call your Mom. Today isn’t about writing at all, but about family. Enjoy what’s most important.”
Or maybe I wouldn’t hear him say anything at all, and I’d just sit and get hungry for his presence. Well guess what, I would have just guaranteed some future blessing for myself.
Life is short, and each day is too valuable to be unsuccessful. Fortunately for us, each one has been tailor-made for our good.
Let’s rejoice and be glad in it.
Humility is a means to connection, not perfection.
It’s tough to admit I’m wrong. It’s embarrassing to admit a secret sin. It’s difficult to take responsibility for my flawed behavior. It’s one thing to pray about it, but it’s another thing to confess to the human(s) I’ve affected.
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.
My former understanding of Bible quotes like that was that humbling myself would have two primary payoffs:
1) I wouldn’t fail the same way again and
2) God would, eventually, make me look good.
I still think both of those are true effects of humility. But when I repeat a failure, humbling myself is double difficult. It’s not fun to say, “Hey, I made this choice and hurt the both of us,” but it’s even worse to have to say, “Hey, I made this choice again.” I guess that’s harder for me because it feels like I’ve out-failed the promises of humility.
But I think I’ve been missing the most valuable meaning of “and he will exalt you.”
I used to think his exalting was a process of fixing up and putting on display. As if God was saying, “There he is! All cleaned up and ready for the show!”
But no, I think he exalts us because he is exalted. And his highest desire for us is closeness with him. I don’t think he exalts us up and away, but higher, nearer, closer to the heavenly place where his heart resides. Because to be close God’s heart is to have everything. Life, wholeness, power, peace, riches, whatever. His exalting is maybe less like hanging a painting on a wall and more like this:
The moral refinement and public honor that humility brings are just fringe benefits to the real treasure: connection with Dad’s heart.
Good news: today I’m releasing a live acoustic recording called, Live at Common Table.
Other good news: it’s available for FREE exclusively on Noisetrade.
Check it out! I hope you dig it.
If you do, please do me a solid and tell your friends with a tweeter or facebook wall gram. Your online chatter helps me immensely!
This recording is about making room on the couch for those that couldn’t make it to Common Table that evening. I wanted to share some songs and some stories with my friends, and that’s all this is. Just me, the guitar, and some friendly folks kind enough to laugh at my jokes.
For the most part, this recording is raw and unedited. You’ll hear some sour notes, some flubs on the guitar. I didn’t perform perfectly, but perfection wasn’t the goal. We were all there just for a good time, and I hope you have one listening to this lil’ album.
It’s snowing* this morning in Nashville, so I figured I would warm things up with a playlist for Spring.
Note: The beauty of Spotify playlists is that they can be updated, which I plan to do with this playlist. So if you’re diggin on it, subscribe to it so you can catch additions. Please make suggestions in the comments below!
* Nearly ¼ inch, so I think all schools and businesses are closed til May.
Exciting news! I’m going to be recording a live house show this weekend!
The show will be presented by Common Table, with a delicious bar menu prepared by Chef Simone Kigweba. If you know of him, you know why I’m already hungry.
If you’re in Nashville, grab a ticket. Space is limited, so check this link out asap: linkage
If you’re an out-of-towner, stay tuned for a recording of this night of fun times*.
* Note: food-chewing sounds will not be recorded.
“He’s totally using you.”
That’s a sign of dysfunction in relationship, isn’t it?
The guy who takes a girl on a date, buying drinks and emoting kindness, for the sake of ‘getting some.’ The girl who puts out for the sake of having relational security. These are classic examples of people using each other. And everybody knows this isn’t really love. Because “to use” someone is to treat a person like a product.
But some people love being used.
No, I’m not just talking about Bill Withers*. I’m talking about Christians.
For many us religious folks, the highest aim in life is to “be used” by God. That’s funny to me, that difference. Being used is unmistakable dyscfunction, but also beautiful piety. Huh? Aren’t both situations relational in nature?
Sometimes I pray for people and Jesus miraculously heals them, right there on the spot. It’s the craziest thing. I am consistently amazed at the miracles that have now become an almost normal way of life. Some folks, in a genuine attempt to honor me, say things like, “Wow, you’re like God’s instrument. He’s totally using you.”
My initial reaction to that statement is usually simple gratitude. How crazy is it that God could use me to do awesome stuff? It’s totes craze, that’s how crazy it is. I love it.
But in the long term, I have a hard time with a theology that I am, at my highest function, an instrument. I don’t want to be an instrument.
Instruments burn out, they rust away, but a son is in the family forever.
Did Jesus die for a set of tools to do his bidding? Or did he die so children could simply feel his love?
With all the heart-groove of that Bill Withers link,
I had the joy of playing a house show at Brent’s house this past December. Brent* did an amazing job setting up the show, and he even recorded it!
I wanted to share a couple of the tracks with alls y'all. Here ya go:
If you’re interested in having me play for you and your friends, don’t be shy! You can book a house show here: bam.
Keep inspiration in front of you.
Fear is the primary obstacle to my creativity. Fear leads to procrastination, failure, and emotional downturn. Although fear may drive me to work harder, the work itself is typically safe and uninspiring.
Working in a creative field is a serious grind for the uninspired. On the contrary, when I am filled with inspiration, productive creativity is the natural overflow.
Inspiration is a great fear-silencer. Because of its dramatic affect on my work and life, I’ve made receiving inspiration a daily priority.
One of my favorite sources of inspiration is podcasts. Podcasts are so accessible and easy to pair with an activity I have to do anyway, like working out or driving in my car.
Here are some of my favorites:
1. Here’s The Thing with Alec Baldwin: You’d think Alec Baldwin did interviews for a living. He’s so good and has some fantastic guests.
2. This Is Your Life: Best-selling author Michael Hyatt clearly communicates some helpful tools to improve your life.
3. The Rise To The Top: Another great interview podcast with entrepreneurs of the media world.
4. Bethel Church “Sermon of The Week”: Be careful. Listening to this podcast led me to live in Redding, CA for two years!
5. The EntreLeadership Podcast: Combines clips from Dave Ramsey with interviews of inspiring leaders.
6. Beyond The To-Do List: An interview podcast with some bosses of productivity.
7. Mike And Tom Eat Snacks: Sometimes the most inspiring thing to listen to is a couple guys being hilarious.
9. NPR: Tiny Desk Concerts: This is actually video podcast. Includes some fresh acts playing acoustic sets.
10. ESPN: PTI: Is there anything more inspiring than Kornheiser and Wilbon? Absolutely. But sometimes it’s great to unwind while two guys yack about sports.
I’m always on the lookout for more inspiration. What podcasts inspire you? Get your comment on, y'all.
PS: for my fellow nerds, do you want a better podcast app than what iOS offers? Try Downcast. I love it. Not as pretty, but functionally superior in every way.
I had the honor of playing some music with my dear friends of Elenowen last night at the famous Nashville landmark, The Loveless Cafe. It was an Instagramable night, indeed.
They actually filmed the show, which included a handful of other local artists. If you’d like to see my amazing friends (and my groove face), you can check out this video stream. Elenowen performs near the end, just after the 2-hour mark.
Winter has been around, officially speaking, for over a month now. But it seems to me that Old Man Winter (Ol’ Dubs, we’ll call him) waits until late January to really bring his A-game. Or maybe that’s just when I bench my starters, seasonally speaking.
Christmas happy, Year-End party, New Year’s resolve…I give Ol’ Dubs my emotional best early on, hoping he’ll just throw in the towelº and make way for Spring. But Winter is a patient one. A crafty son of a gun, indeed. “Oh, thought you’d get up early and workout? Wellll, how about some dark sky and freezing rain with that protein shake?”
It’s for the late round Winter that I made this playlist. You won’t find any Christmas carols, but there will be some songs to keep you warm*. The other sounds I put together are for the cold mornings, all-too-early nightfalls, and long icy drives when all you see outside is: white, blue, gray and black.
note: the beauty of Spotify playlists is that they can be updated, which I plan to do with this playlist. so if you’re diggin on it, subscribe to it so you can catch Ol’ Dubs additions. And make suggestions in the comments below!
º I’m mixing metaphors now, I guess. I should get better at writing sport game.
* R&B is the hot chocolate of winter music.
I’ll be streaming a little acoustic show from StageIt.com next week. I wanna share some new tunes with y'all as well as play any requests you might have. Check it out!
Sometimes I can’t find it in the spiritual routines. Sometimes it doesn’t show up after a hard day’s busy-ness. Peace is like water; I know can’t go long without it. But sometimes it feels so elusive.
I had one of those times last year. For a sensi-guy like myself, it doesn’t take much to go from, “Life is awesome, I can do anything!” to “Bahhh, I can’t even get out of bed or finish this sente…”
So I did what any man of excellence would do. I went on Facebook.
My friend had posted a video of Bon Iver performing in a studio, and I started watching it, glad to have a companion for this session of cyber-wallowing.
The performance was great. Well, it was above great–it was moving. I got lost. Music did what she loves to do and took me away, for a moment, and gave me refuge from the day. It’s that moment, that’s what I love so much about music.
Peace reminded me who I was. The hardness of self-disappointment on my heart was melted not through a Bible teaching, but through the artful falsetto of Justin Vernon. I remembered,
Peace is often hiding in the places I love to go the most.
So I’m a little behind the times. I know, 2012-related blog posts are sooo last year*. But here’s my take on the music I enjoyed.
Madi Diaz: Not one, but two excellent albums this year. Shoot. “Love You Now.”
Kate York: Took a gospel-y turn. I dig it. “Fall Into The Flood.”
Butterfly Boucher: She is a real-life rock star. That’s the deal. “Warning Bell.”
Alicia Keys: After her last album, I thought I was done. But her newest record is my favorite project of hers to date. And by that I mean I want to sit across from these songs at a candlelit dinner. “Not Even The King.”
Audrey Assad: Her voice could revive the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” book series. “Sparrow.”
Liz Longley: Speaking of voices that make me fall over… “Rush.”
Frank Ocean: Easily my favorite album of 2012. Game. Over. “Sweet Life.”
Miguel: Exceptional production. Just pretend you don’t hear the lyrics. “Do You…”
R. Kelly: Obvi. “Feelin’ Single.”
Usher: Didn’t love the whole album, but can’t deny the great production. “Climax.”
Alicia Keys: Again. Vintage tones and comfy instrumentation that let these great songs speak for themselves. “Tears Always Win.”
Bruno Mars: Single-handedly inspires me to DJ more dance parties. “Treasure.”
…Guys with Guitars:
Ed Sheeran: He’s 21 and has me asking what am I doing with my life. “Give Me Love.”
Mumford & Sons: Because you definitely haven’t heard of them already. “Not With Haste.”
Foy Vance: Moody and soulfully perfect…for your favorite ABC drama. “Be The Song.”
Bruce Springsteen: Oh, ya…that’s how you write a song. “Shackled And Drawn”
John Mayer: He can do whatever he wants. That’s what I learned from the cowboy hat. “Whiskey, Whiskey, Whiskey.”
Ben Folds Five: They returned in a blaze of high school nostalgia. Hallelujah. “Michael Praytor, Five Years Later.”
…The Next Year
Justin Timberlake: He drops a single, I fall over. Bam.
Leagues: Maybe the best rock band in Nashville, definitely my favorite. Expecting a late January album release, but check this out in the meantime.
D'Angelo: Last year he toured for the first time in over a decade. Rumor said we’d have a new album last fall. Does anybody know when I can start freaking out?
Andrew Ripp: I don’t think he’s said anything officially yet, so for now I’ll just say…“eeeek!”
If you missed any of these last year, make a new year’s groove resolution to love spotify and check ‘em out.
But what do I need to check out? What was 2012 the year of for you? Help a brudder out.
Mangoes, peaches, and lime,
* It hurt a little to write that. But I made a resolution this year to tell more terrible dad jokes. Discipline.
If you don’t follow my man/everything Jake Goss, you absolutely must. Unless finding out about awesome new music curated by a phenomenal musician sounds like a terrible time. Then definitely avoid his blog.
ps: Remember Jake?
playlist of the durr:
sound won: “The Hunter” by On An On
sound to: ”XYXY” by Mesita
sound thr3: ”Everything Is Embarrassing” by Sky Ferreira
sound for: ”Wise Man” by Frank Ocean
sound phive: “FEELSOLOW” by NO CEREMONY
sound sicks: “Migrating Clay Pigeon” by Man Without Country
I suppose some folks might find this ridiculous. I mean, I would have thought it silly myself only a handful of years ago. So at the risk of appearing odd, I’ll let you know…
I believe God speaks to me. Not just through scriptures or sunlight through clouds, but in words personally crafted for my benefit. Prayer is like a conversation, with the most clever and loving person I know. I ask questions, God answers, and vice versa. How I “hear” God speak is a topic for another post*, but I will say that this connection process has become the essential fuel of my life.
While I believe God’s words to be bulletproof, my ability to receive is definitely not. I admit, to assume I could “quote God” in a sense seems laughably pretentious. But although I might not always get it right, my years spent listening to this Voice have been far more enjoyable than when I didn’t believe the Voice spoke at all. So I thought I’d share a lil’…for fun.
Here are a few samples I enjoyed most from last year. (My questions are italicized.)
Top 10 God Quotes of 2012
1. What was your favorite part of being a man?
“The community of other men as brothers.”
2. When did you feel most manly?
“When I cared for the widows and orphans…and when I watched my disciples do the same.”
3. (asked God to see his glory and he told me to look at my roommate)
“I am more accurately represented in the roommate who can annoy you than the gold dust that can wow you.”
4. “Strength comes from testing, and not just the tests you pass. Strength is built in the repair as well.”
5. If you were a man in my society, what occupation would you choose?
“Floral designer. Arranging the beauty of my creation for its intended purpose–to bring my children joy.”
6. (After watching You’ve Got Mail) What do you think of that film?
“I love Meg Ryan, her hope for love, hope to be fully understood and delighted in–that’s what I bring.”
7. On discipline…
“You believe discipline means giving up your dreams. But my discipline enables your dreams; it will not diminish them or crucify them to your embarassment.
Just as you lost your life to save it, you put chains on yourself to become free.”
8. “I never teach you lessons by embarassing you.”
9. “In order to take hold of what your heart desires, you must let go of what your flesh desires.”
10. “We will win, together.”
I know I’m not the only crazy one. What tweet-ables did God send your way last year?
Of course I like You’ve Got Mail,
* Or another blog. Or…like, a church or something.
Behold, I bring tidings of great joy! Two specific points of tiding, in fact.
1) Baby Jesus! He got borned!
2) I am now accepting house show bookings. Here’s a lil’ video of what a house show can look like.
Hosting a house show is as easy as hanging out with your friends. If you’re interested in having me play some music in your living room, just fill out this form.
My finger has a heartbeat,
“If you don’t believe in yourself, no one else will.” - Spud Webb