Beautiful Nashville

I was downtown last night for a concert (click here for pics from Phillip Phillips at 3rd and Lindsley), and had a bit of time beforehand to walk around. There’s obviously so much more that one can admire, but here are a few pics. It was a bit chilly, but otherwise a very pleasant night. I even got to meet a cool group of kids. When we were there age, my brother and I would’ve loved to have ridden our bikes around with them! This area is on the east side of the Cumberland, so check it out sometime…

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Phillip Phillips in Nashville, Tennessee

Last night a friend and I met up for the Phillip Phillips show in Nashville, Tn.

(I took these photos of Nashville before the arriving to the show)

I won’t say much and I’ll let the pictures do the talking, but in a nutshell it was a fantastic show. The opening band, Striking Matches, were amazing. Guitar wizards, engaging personalities, fun, and on top of that– good music! Always a winning combo. Phillip Phillips took the stage and continued the good music, along with an endearing awkwardness that is a small sliver of what made him so likable on American Idol. I say a small sliver, because the biggest sliver was his talent, of course. He played music from his latest album, and all of it was so good. He wrapped the show with the song that made him instantly memorable on American Idol– Thriller by Michael Jackson; Phillip’s soft-spoken intro to it, “I didn’t write this song.” This exemplifies something my friend and I liked about him, not a man of many words, he was unpolished (in a great way), shown in another song intro, “I wrote this song about a guy I didn’t like.” Ya know, sometimes that’s all the info you need! 🙂

Check out pics from the show below, and if you have the chance to see Phillip or Striking Matches, don’t hesitate, you’ll be glad you decided to go…

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The Reawakening: Part 9

I am waiting at the counter for the man to pour the coffee.
-Susan Vega, “Tom’s Diner”

I’m at The Well, a coffee shop in Brentwood, Tennessee on a weekday afternoon. Not too long ago there wouldn’t be a reasonable way I’d be here, now, at this time of day. So to say I’m experiencing things I didn’t plan on is not only true, it’s my every day reality.
IMAG1229For today’s adventure, I brought along 2 books: The Good Luck of Right Now by Matthew Quick and Immersion by Mark McNees. Matthew Quick is the guy who wrote Silver Linings Playbook, and if memory serves me correctly, Mark McNees is someone I heard speak at St. Teresa Beach church last summer. Look at me, reading!
IMAG1230To tell the truth, I almost ordered a Kindle so I could read books that way. But I’m glad I didn’t. What is it about holding a real book, turning real pages, reading letters printed on real paper that’s refreshingly old-fashioned? I almost hold my books out as I’m walking to and from the coffee shop like a talented athlete carries around a football as if to say, “Look at me!”

In The Good Luck of Right Now, the author writes that for every bad thing that happens, something good happens, too. So for instance, if you recently got in a car accident, someone else might have got a bonus at work. That sort of thing. In my case, my life might contain both the bad and the good in being laid off (the “bad”), and what comes from it (the “good”). In the book Immersion, it’s about the author’s swim from Alcatraz to the San Francisco shoreline, a recreation of what a few prisoners may or may not have done decades ago, and also the plot of the movie Escape From Alcatraz starring Clint Eastwood. But the author uses his preparation for the difficult challenge, as well as the actual swim, as a comparison to loving and trusting God even when it’s not so easy. These are both books I really enjoy reading so if you try to take either from me, I’d ask you, “Do you feel lucky, punk? Well, do ya?”

Settle down, it’ll all be clear.
-Phillip Phillips, “Home”

It’s important to me to stay active in the days, weeks, and months after being laid off. I don’t want to settle down too much into a routine as I navigate this new world of mine… not having a job. However, stepping back and taking a breath has been rejuvenating.

What’s my next career? That’s a question I’ve been asking myself lately. There’s nothing sure about the rest of 2015, but I will say this: I’m so happy this life change happened at age 36 than 26. 10 years ago I bet I’d be panicking right about now. But me, in this moment, today at the Well, I’m excited about the potential of the future!

-Out of the Wilderness

Single Forever

There’s a wind of change coming on in my life. The only way I can think to describe how I feel is a deep ocean. And at the same time, I sit paralyzed by recent events. But I mean stillness in the best possible way. Like my life is being altered and decades from now I’ll look back and be able to pinpoint this season I’m in now as a major landmark in my life. From the sadness of grandparents passing to a sister who’s finally getting a ‘yes’ for her prayers. Seeing old friends and saying goodbye to other friends. Things are changing. My brother calls 2014 “The Year of New Things” and it’s looking like he’s exactly right. New things. And I’m reminded of the words of Jesus, “I’m making all things new.” I can’t quite piece all this together, but the ground is shifting. It’s like the earth. Lots of movement underneath the surface with plates shifting and moving. It seems like now those kinds of changes are really becoming visible and it’s good. And since my grandfather died a few weeks ago, I can tell the way I date, and maybe eventually the way I love someone, is changing, too. Because as I’ve looked through photos of him and my grandmother, and worked on a couple of videos with those pictures, I’m frozen in place by the love they shared. Yes, he was a soldier, a Christian, a father, and many other things, but gosh, man, if I had to boil it all down to one thing, he loved my grandma.

I don’t think I can live up to that standard, heck I haven’t gotten off to a good start by any means. But I’d rather be single forever than settle for anything less than that kind of love. I just won’t do it. Pop didn’t settle. Mom Mom didn’t settle. My desire to marry my best friend far outweighs my desire to marry. So it’s settled then. I might be single forever and that’s OK. But one day, if I’m lucky, I can have a love like this…

My Beef With Christmas Music as Heard on Christian Radio

Since I was a little guy, I’ve loved Christmas music. From “Joy to the World” to “Christmas Canon” to “Grandma Got Run Over By A Reindeer,” all of it reminds of why I love this time of year. Well, not because someone’s grandma got run over by a reindeer, mine certainly didn’t, but you know what I mean… being with family, creating memories, and of course, the history-altering birth of Jesus.

manger1What really gets my goat this season is the Christmas music I’m hearing on Christian radio. Here’s what happens… I’m driving down the road flipping through the stations. I hear “Joy to the World” which is my all-time favorite Christmas song. So of course I’m going to turn it up and sing along. Verse 1… awesome. Verse 2… awesome. Then as soon as I gracefully begin singing verse 3, I’m cut off by… what’s this? Different lyrics? And the melody doesn’t even sound the same! Now instead of singing about joy to the world, I’m asking “What in the world?”

I understand since American Idol came around, it’s popular to “make it your own.” I get that and for the most part, I like the idea. I still remember hearing Phillip Phillips’ version of Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” It was amazing. Or David Cook’s heartfelt rendition of Lionel Richie’s “Hello.” Plus, who can forget Adam Lambert singing “Ring of Fire”? I loved all of those. But when it comes to this issue I have with some Christmas songs, well, it’s a genre of music you don’t really need to change. It’s what the American Idol judges would say about a Whitney Houston song. Just sing it well. That’s all.

scene from A Christmas Story

scene from A Christmas Story

It’s like these artists took your favorite Christmas sweater, sewed in their initials, and now they’re selling it on Etsy. Or if I were to repackage everyone’s favorite movie “A Christmas Story” with an added scene I shot myself because, well, I wanted to call it my own. Then I sell it on eBay as the “extended version.” The most recent example I’ve heard this season is a song called “Joy to the World (Unspeakable Joy).” Let’s not even get into the confusing conflict of a song with lyrics about something that’s unspeakable. That’s not the point. The point is they damaged a perfectly good sweater.

A wise man once said that if a person comes to him with a problem, they should also come with a solution. So I’ll take his advice. The solution to this problem is simple. Sing the songs as they were meant to be sung. Or come up with something original. I know it’s tough to come up with a timeless Christmas song… nearly impossible. But artists should try. Mariah Carey did it with “All I Want For Christmas.” Another instant classic was written by a comedian, “Mary, Did You Know?”

There’s more that can be said about this whole “repackaging” thought, especially in Christian music. But instead of repackaging that conversation, this site hits the bull’s-eye.

Merry Christmas!
-Out of the Wilderness