Archives For Wilco

In the iconic animated movie The Lion King (1994), the main character, a lion cub named Simba, is forced to flee for his life after his uncle treacherously seizes the throne. Forced to grow up on his own in the jungle, Simba eventually has to come to terms with who he is, the rightful heir to the throne. Even though Mufasa, his father, is only present in spirit, he calls to his son. His father’s ghost-voice challenges Simba to remember who he is and to reclaim his destiny. Powerful yet tender, Simba says to his son,

“Remember who you are. Remember…remember…remember.”

lionking

Still photo from The Lion King (1994), courtesy of Walt Disney Pictures

God gives us a memory so that we may learn wisdom from life’s lessons. There are times when our lives move so fast, we need to stop and go back to that physical or mental place where God spoke most clearly to us. When I visited the mountain in Sewanee Tennessee where my wife and I got married, it was a sweet reminder of the day God put us together as friends and then lovers. Hearing Woodie Guthrie/Wilco’s Remember the Mountain Bed song also brings me back to that time.

God uses such moments to help us remember something special to him.

Each June God reminds me about a beautiful week in 1994 at Young Life’s camp called Castaway Club. It was there I recognized I could not live my life without God; it was the culmination of a great spiritual journey. I am not completely sure if I knew what I was getting into, but each June I think back to that glorious week and thank God for extending his loving hand to a lost and confused fifteen year old.

God used many people to reveal himself to me in the time leading up to that week. God often works toward insights like mine years in advance. Here are the impactful events and scenes that led up to that beautiful week in Castaway.

  • My father grew up and went to Webster Groves High School. In his graduating class of 1963, he had a classmate named Nancy Fares (later became O’Donnell).
  • Although as a family we lived in Kansas City for many years, my father had a job opportunity in the St. Louis area. My family moved back my father’s hometown, Webster Groves in 1993. There, my parents reconnected with Nancy and her husband Mike O’Donnell. The move made me miserable. I was in counseling because I didn’t know how to share how I felt. It seemed l like I had no friends and no real purpose, and I was most likely in an undiagnosed depression. The O’Donnells then told my parents about a group called Young Life.
  • Not long after this, I got a call from a sophomore girl in my school—which I thought was strange. Her name was Molly O’Donnell. She was the daughter of Nancy and Mike O’Donnell, and she asked me to go to this thing called Young Life. I had no idea what Young Life was, but I was desperate for attention and said yes.
  • A day or two later, Molly and a car full of upper-class girls picked me up, and we drove to Young Life. I was a freshman in heaven.
  • Molly introduced me right away to an older man. He was known as “Herm,” though his first name was Dave. After Herm heard my name, he said, “Hey, my name is Dave too.” Herm was the Young Life Area Director. He took me under his wing. In addition, Herm’s wife Terri essentially became a second mother in the process and in fact to most of us at Young Life.
  • After that first night of “club,” as people in Young Life calls it, I was introduced to another David. His name was David Pendergrass. David, along with other older students drove me to club every week. They were the ones who walked alongside me, listened to me, and shared the great story of Jesus Christ with me—I’ll never forget it.  The boys of Young Life became the brothers I never had. Many of them are great friends to this day even though most of us have moved.
  • It all culminated at camp Minnesota at Castaway. There I had, as Young Life says, The Greatest Week of my Life. That’s no lie.
The boys from Wester Groves High School (Mid-County St. Louis) prepping for our volleyball tournament at Castaway.

The boys from Wester Groves High School (Mid-County St. Louis) prepping for our volleyball tournament at Castaway. This is where the nickname “Cheech” all began. Can you find me?

Each June, God calls me to remember and be thankful to him for saving me. In addition, I think about those who had the courage to approach me, be a friend, and share the great news of Christ. God calls me to be thankful for that time in Minnesota, and to pray also for everyone in Young Life going to camp this summer.

Tell me about how you came to accept Christ. It is a story we all should stand up and hear. 

This week I listened to August and Everything After this week. It takes me back to 1993 when the album was released by Counting Crows. I remember that album and putting it on repeat for most of 1993-94. Although I had been to other concerts, I remember vividly my sister taking my friend Rick Ewing and I to see Counting Crows at American Theater in St. Louis. Later that next year, I listened to album on the 12 hour bus ride to Young Life camp in 1994 when I became a Christian. The album never gets old and when I play it, it brings great memories with a smile to my face every time.

In High School, it was hard to escape Dave Matthews Band’s Under the Table and Dreaming. It was a fun album with a unique sound that all of my friends could agree on. There became so many DMB haters in the following albums but the real sound of the band in this album is what defines them. High school was memorable because of an album like Under the Table and Dreaming.

Oasis’ (What’s The Story) Morning Glory? makes me laugh every time. For me, it fits into an era of high school into college in the 90s because my great friend Heath Hildebrandt and I would always have it blasting loud at home, in the car, and in the dorm. We would drive around playing Rock n’ roll Star and laugh to the lyrics of She’s Electric. I still get the lyrics messed up singing Wonderwall but it remains to be one of the greatest songs of the 90s.

David Gray’s White Ladder was special to me during my last month of college because I had it on repeat when studying for a month writing my final papers and finals. It also became a motivator to get me in the mood for my move to Britain in early 2001.

U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind was a powerful album because I was always was a big U2 fan but realized that the late 90s were not very good to the band artistically. They needed an album that embraced their late 80s sound while looking ahead. I like to approach life that way and the album became one that tells a story of passion and joy through Beautiful Day, adversity through Stuck in a Moment You Can’t Get Out Of, and hope through Walk On. Walk On became an anthem to answer what happened on 9/11 for most of the world and I am inspired with each listen.

Wilco’s Yankee Hotel Foxtrot was such a unique album to me and helped me in my early 20s to learn more about great lesser-known artists. I remember the album releasing while I was in my early years of the work life and helped me to always stay connected with good, new art in the music community. It is an album that made me love St. Louis and Chicago more with songs that told their story.

The past couple years it feels a lot like Mumford and Sons’ Sigh No More has been a thematic album. The album takes you through great joy and sorrow as the story unfolds. It is a hopeful album to me because it didn’t feel that they were writing just for singles the iTunes era. Instead, they methodically selected songs that walked the listener through their day.

We don’t listen to albums the way we used to. For better or worse, we are marketed singles today and it much too easy to evaluate music based on that alone. Albums have the ability to mirror our personal story and I’m challenged these days when I hear a great song to dig deeper and listen to an entire album. Don’t be surprised if you discover some amazing songs that you never would have heard otherwise. I look forward to each day to discover something new, perhaps ever a soundtrack for this next stage of life.

What album brings you back to a special moment in life? 

My Funeral Music Mix

August 2, 2010 — 33 Comments

I’m not dying so don’t worry.

I apologize for the morbid post but I love music and I always find it fascinating to think through life’s ending in its dramatic way.

A great friend and mentor, Terri Adams, reminded me that these blogs will be read by my little girls one day and they can perhaps learn a thing or two about me.  No pressure, huh?

I started to think about my favorite music and the type that inspires me more than anything.  When Brooke and I got married, we put together a music mix that we gave out to those attending the wedding.  It was so much fun compiling the music that most inspired us as a newly married couple.

Why not a funeral music mix?

Sorry but The Rolling Stones “You Can’t Always Get What You Want” didn’t make the list but have fun with me.

I Will Not Take These Things For Granted-Toad the Wet Sprocket. My sister Sarah introduced me to them when she went off to college in 1992.  This song provides such a beautiful way to live life with no regrets and to embrace every experience and relationship.  Thank you Sarah!

The Bud Light Commercials, especially “Mr. Giant Taco Salad Inventor.”  I’m from St.Louis so the tie in works. How can you not bust out laughing?  You need a laugh after a funeral.

Heartland by U2. There is something about this song that says “home” to me.  Beautiful and underrated song from U2 during the Rattle & Hum age.

Don’t Dream It’s Over by Crowded House: The title says it all.  Plus, I just love this band as they continue to evolve from the 1980s.

Remember the Mountain Bed by Wilco.  This song, written originally by Woody Guthrie and made popular by Wilco in their Mermaid Avenue albums.  It reminds me of falling in love with my wife up on the mountain in Sewanee, Tennessee.

A Sort of Homecoming by U2. This makes me think of a place in my heart coming home whether it be a physical place like Nashville, St. Louis, Kansas City, or Scotland where I have lived.  But, it’s also a powerful song about the struggle to move forward in Ireland despite its violent past 100 years.

Into The Mystic by Van Morrison.  Yes, both U2 and Van Morrison get multiple songs here.  This song is played on repeat during long driving trips. Listen to it and you’ll understand.

The Trapeze Swinger by Iron and Wine. When I first heard this, I felt it was much too long but looking through the lyrics it is quite authentic and just a beautiful piece to inspire by Sam Beam.  The lyrics are questionable in meaning to me but his voice and tempo of the song makes me smile, always.

In Christ Alone by Stuart Townend & Keith Getty.  I remember hearing this first at church and one of our Young Life kids played violin to it.  I was in tears then and everytime it hits Brooke and I hear it we look at each other and the tears come back.  The lyrics best capture my faith.  Read the story of the song here.

In Christ alone my hope is found
He is my light, my strength, my song
This Cornerstone, this solid ground
Firm through the fiercest drought and storm…

Jungle Love by Steve Miller Band.  Yes, why this song?  Oh…it was just the hippie theme song at Castaway, the Young Life camp I attended in 1994 when I became a Christian.  How could I forget this song?  It makes me want to dance everytime.

God of Wonders (Caedmon’s Call version).  This song always gets me pumped up for church or the start of a week and reminded me of the endless possibilities God provides.  Never doubt him, dream with him.

Count Thou Fount of Every Blessing (Sufjan Stevens version).  I used to hate this song in church.  When I heard Sufjan Stevens’ version, it came alive to me and the lyrics blew me away.  It reminds me of how much God blesses me in life by friends, family, shelter, and each moment in-between.

Both Sides Now by Joni Mitchell.  I didn’t discover this song until I heard it at the Opening Ceremony at the 2010 Winter Olympics.  How great is that?  The song is almost 40 years old now and people still discover it.  What a lovely song to help reflect on an honest life of hope while acknowleding some regrets.  By the way, I can only think of one regret, quitting Boy Scouts.  Funny, huh?  But, in the end I know that it all was for a purpose.

Take It Back by Pink Floyd.  This song just makes me want to fly.

Wild Mountain Thyme by The Silencers. I fell in love with this song when I lived in Scotland.  It reminds me again that I need to bring my wife back to Scotland.  Oh, my second home.

And we’ll all go together
To pick wild mountain thyme
All around the purple heather
Will you go?
Will you go?
Lassie will you go?

These Are The Days by Van Morrison. I love Van Morrison, I mean there are not many white people who understand how to incorporate “soul” into their music.  The Irish get it.  Van “the man” Morrison does that and this song in particular. Most don’t know much about his faith but you get the feel from these lyrics. They will carry me home one day.

These are the days by the sparkling river
His timely grace and our treasured find
This is the love of the one great magician
Turned water into wine

These are the days now that we must savour
And we must enjoy as we can
These are the days that will last forever
and you’ve got to hold them, in your heart

Dance on and live well everyone.

I’m pretty sure this mix will evolve throughout life as new music moves me but it was challenging to put  this together and I hope you enjoyed.

For my daughters, I hope you learned more about me in the process and make your own mix tape of life.

What do you see as your top song you’d like played at your funeral?

Why?

Is there a story behind that song to you?

—— additional song added September 18th, 2012 ——

Learn Me Right by Mumford and Sons with Birdy. Such a beautiful song featured in the movie Brave (2012). It makes me want to fly back and run through the hills and mountains of Scotland. It shouts out freedom and dreams. Mumford and Sons also recorded a wonderful sister song version on their 2012 album, Babel.