More Good Music

I recently rediscovered the early solo recordings of one Rod Stewart.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m a fan of just about everything he’s ever done, starting way back with the Jeff Beck Group and The Small Faces all the way to the present.

But there’s something about the Mercury recordings he did that are magical. I think most people will agree that Maggie May is a classic. There are plenty of other gems from this era, including Reason to Believe, You Wear it Well, and Mandolin Wind, among others.

I listen to these recordings and most of them sound fresh. Maybe it’s because they sound a lot like the Americana/Roots music coming out these days. Maybe ol’ Rod was ahead of his time.

It’s just good driving during rush hour/laying in bed with your headphone on/road trip/anywhere music.

Here’s the link if you’re interested:

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Do Thou for Me

“Do Thou for me, O God the Lord,
Do Thou for me.
I need not toil to find the word
That carefully
Unfolds my prayer and offers it,
My God, to Thee.

It is enough that Thou wilt do,
And wilt not tire,
Wilt lead by cloud, all the night through
By light of fire,
Till Thou has perfected in me
Thy heart’s desire.

For my beloved I will not fear,
Love knows to do
For him, for her, from year to year,
As hitherto.
Whom my heart cherishes are dear
To Thy heart too.

O blessèd be the love that bears
The burden now,
The love that frames our very prayers,
Well knowing how
To coin our gold.  O God the Lord,
Do Thou, Do Thou” (Amy Carmichael).

There are times when we simply don’t know how to pray for a circumstance or a loved one. Try as we may, the words will not come.

I think even then God hears the groans and sighs of our petitions and knows what they mean. He hears the deepest desires of our hearts and knows best how to grant them.

Even when we have words, they aren’t always the best ones. Sometimes, we ask without such a limited point of view. Sometimes we ask selfishly. Sometimes we have too small a view of God and ask too little.

In Jan Karon’s Mitford series, Father Tim Kavanaugh always has his go-to prayer, or “the prayer that never fails,” as he calls it. The prayer goes “Thy will be done.”

You can never go wrong with leaving the matter in God’s hands.

Spring Has Sprung All Over My Sinuses

It’s officially spring. The calendar tells me, and so do my sinuses.

I think today must have been another high pollen count day, because the inside of my head was feeling it.

I’m pretty sure I had a mild case of hay fever to go with some sneezing and headachyness. It was not my most enjoyable or fun moment ever.

Still, in the grand scheme of things, hay fever is far from the worst that can happen to me. In fact, if it’s the worst thing that happens to me all day, I’d call it a pretty good day.

All I need is to take my Vitamin C and rest. That and the weekend should go a long way toward curing what ails me.

Thoughts of the Day

“The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words” (Rachel Naomi Remen)

Perhaps the most important thing we bring to another person is the silence in us, not the sort of silence that is filled with unspoken criticism or hard withdrawal. The sort of silence that is a place of refuge, of rest, of acceptance of someone as they are. We are all hungry for this other silence. It is hard to find. In its presence we can remember something beyond the moment, a strength on which to build a life. Silence is a place of great power and healing” (Rachel Naomi Remen).

I originally intended to go with one or the other, but I couldn’t choose. I picked both.

I believe that active listening and welcoming silence are the two best ways we can connect with others. In evangelism, we earn the right to be heard by first listening, not to respond but to understand.

In the story of Job, the best decision his friends made was when they sat and wept with him in the dust. The worst was when they decided to open their mouths and “fix” Job’s problem.

May that be a lesson to us all.

It’s Bracket Time Again

For those out there who are unfamiliar with brackets and all things March Madness, I hope you’ve enjoyed living under your rock.

But for real, this is the best time of the year for all those fanatical college basketball fans. And for the moderate fans out there like me.

This is when the NCAA men’s basketball tournament begins. This is when the crazy reaches epic levels, where anxiety levels peak, and when miracles happen.

You predict each of the 67 games (if you count the play-in games) all the way up to the Final Four and the championship game. Hopefully, you pick more teams right than wrong. Or possibly your bracket is busted after the first day.

Did a 16 seed really beat a 1 seed last year? UMBC (which stands for the University of Maryland, Baltimore County) upset Virginia 74-54. The lowly Retrievers took down the mighty Cavaliers.

Who knows what might happen this year? As last year showed, anything is possible once the games start. You could be in the top 1%. Or your bracket could be dead in the water after the first round.

But that’s why they play the game.

Something from Streams in the Desert

I’ve been loving my journey through the devotional Streams in the Desert this year. Sometimes, it seems to almost speak prophetically to my circumstances.

What I read yesterday was a good word that I’m sure will speak to the hearts of many who yearn for their circumstances to change but who also long to be faithful where they’re planted.

“‘Be thou there till I bring thee word’ (Matt. 2:13).

‘I’ll stay where You’ve put me;
I will, dear Lord, Though I wanted so badly to go;
I was eager to march with the ‘rank and file,’
Yes, I wanted to lead them, You know.
I planned to keep step to the music loud,
To cheer when the banner unfurled,
To stand in the midst of the fight straight and proud,
But I’ll stay where You’ve put me.
I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I’ll work, dear Lord,
Though the field be narrow and small,
And the ground be fallow, and the stones lie thick,
And there seems to be no life at all.
The field is Thine own, only give me the seed,
I’ll sow it with never a fear;
I’ll till the dry soil while I wait for the rain,
And rejoice when the green blades appear;
I’ll work where You’ve put me.
I’ll stay where You’ve put me; I will, dear Lord;
I’ll bear the day’s burden and heat,
Always trusting Thee fully; when even has come
I’ll lay heavy sheaves at Thy feet.
And then, when my earth work is ended and done,
In the light of eternity’s glow,
Life’s record all closed, I surely shall find
It was better to stay than to go;
I’ll stay where You’ve put me.’

‘Oh restless heart, that beat against your prison bars of circumstances, yearning for a wider sphere of usefulness, leave God to order all your days. Patience and trust, in the dullness of the routine of life, will be the best preparation for a courageous bearing of the tug and strain of the larger opportunity which God may some time send you.’

Spring Is About to Be Sprung

I believe that two days from now on Wednesday, March 20, we will see the first day of spring. Whether we will have actual spring weather on this first day of spring is another matter.

Tennessee has a way of getting our hopes up with promising weather leading into any given season, then delivering some very unseasonal activity on the actual first day of the season. For proof, check back to the last first day of fall or of summer or of any season ever.

I’m hoping with fingers crossed that Wednesday will be a nice sunny day with respectable temps somewhere around the low 70s with no rain and just a few clouds to make things interesting.

Although my favorite of the seasons will always be fall, I am glad to see spring arriving after a very wet and underperforming winter. Bring on the May flowers, I say!

Queen Live at the Rainbow ‘74

Recently, I found a copy of a concert I’d been searching for diligently for quite a while. Honestly, all I needed to do was to go to amazon.com in the first place. How hard was that?

The concert is from 1974 at a venue in North London called the Rainbow. Apparently in their early days, Queen were all about the rock, as the sound showcased in this video was probably their hardest and heaviest as a band.

This was in the pre-synthesizer days long before they went and got all pop music on us (not that any of the later music is bad, either).

It blows my mind to see all the band members looking so young. I suppose that in 1974, they had been in existence for probably 2-3 years at the most. They had yet to record their most famous song, Bohemian Rhapsody.

Freddie Mercury’s showmanship is fully evident here, as is the top-notch musicianship of all four members of the band.

Those who are familiar only with the Queen songs played on the radio will probably recognize Killer Queen out of the 24 songs here, but the more devoted fans will find plenty to smile about.

I’ve provided a link to the CDs of the concert, as the blu ray is no longer available directly from amazon.

After the Last Tear Falls

“After the last tear falls, after the last secret’s told
After the last bullet tears through flesh and bone
After the last child starves and the last girl walks the boulevard
After the last year that’s just too hard

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

After the last disgrace, after the last lie to save some face
After the last brutal jab from a poison tongue
After the last dirty politician, after the last meal down at the mission
After the last lonely night in prison

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

And in the end, the end is oceans and oceans of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

‘Cause after the last plan fails, after the last siren wails
After the last young husband sails off to join the war
After the last, this marriage is over
After the last young girl’s innocence is stolen
After the last years of silence that won’t let a heart open

There is love
Love, love, love
There is love

And in the end, the end is oceans and oceans of love and love again
We’ll see how the tears that have fallen
Were caught in the palms of the Giver of love and the Lover of all
And we’ll look back on these tears as old tales

‘Cause after the last tear falls there is love” (Andrew Peterson, Andrew Osenga)