It’s the evening of Easter Sunday as I write this, more than three weeks after I completed my 30 Days of Song thing. I used the same song — “Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin — for a couple of those days.

But I’ve quickly grown to love another song just as much: the David Crowder Band’s rendition of “He Loves Us”

This song inspires me as much as Tomlin’s and I absolutely want to weep with emotion when I hear it and realize anew just how much He indeed loves us.

See, in the Hebrew language, “love” isn’t just a fuzzy feeling. It’s action. And when Jesus took the cross on our behalf, He took action that is utterly staggering to contemplate.

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Day 30-a song that is your all time favorite

In the mid-1990s, I found myself losing interest in rap music, but not all forms of urban music. About the same time, I developed a sort of musical pen pal who’d send me mixtapes of music from outside the mainstream curve. (He’s still at it, too, running the excellent podcast Both Sides Of The Surface. Check it out on iTunes!)

He really helped expand my musical tastes (though never nearly as wide as his own!) and consequently I discovered “acid jazz” and “jungle/drum ‘n’ bass” and a little group that did both called Outside that’s responsible for at least two of my favorite-ever pieces of music.

This is one of them.

“To Forgive but Not To Forget” by Outside from their second album “The Rough And The Smooth”

I love the contrast between the organic violin and impossibly mechanical drum beats. It’s a very funky and exciting song that’s beyond genius when it shifts, two-thirds in, to a short break  of wordless vocals. Then the keys come in, providing a beautiful, soothing melody in counterpoint to a driving drumbeat.

It’s this tension between the technological and the natural, the pretty and the pugnacious, the harmony and the rhythm, and yes, the rough and the smooth, that make up what I love about music.

This song epitomizes what I love about music. That’s why it’s my all-time favorite.

Day 29-a song that you love to quote

Star Wars Gangsta Rap.

A loving skewering of the tropes of rap and Star Wars alike, this is an internet classic.

(Oh, and for the record, it’s the last line before the rapping starts that I quote the most.)

Watch this original version first to enjoy the lyrics, then move on to the better-animated Special Edition.

 

 

Day 28-a song from TV

Hopefully, every student has had at least one of those teachers. The ones who inspired you, who saw the talent in each student. The ones who are tough, yes, but never unreasonable or unfair. The ones who could call you on your childish B.S. and, more importantly, inspire you to never attempt the nonsense.

More than any other, Ms. Knowles was that teacher. She’s the one who, in 10th grade, really taught me how to write. It’s way too much to say I idolized her. But she definitely made an impact.

At some point, she told us that “Moonlighting” was her favorite, must-see TV show. I figured, “If Miss Knowles likes it, maybe it’s not bad.”

I was almost hooked by the opening song alone.

“Moonlighting” Al Jarreau

It didn’t hurt that the show was funny and well-written, too. I actually felt more grown-up just by watching such smart writing.

This was only a few months before the show went to hell, setting up my long stretch of short-lived love affairs with TV shows.

 

 

Day 27-a song from a movie

Anyone who read my long-running, slow-burning treatise on Life Lessons I learned from The Empire Strikes Back won’t be a bit surprised at this selection.

“The Asteroid Field” by John Williams

A rare bit of scene scoring that functions equally well as a concert piece, this is some of John Williams’ greatest writing.

Incidentally, there is a concert version of the song. It’s not nearly as good.

Day 26-a song that makes you feel invincible

I resisted this one, because it seemed a bit too obvious. But it came up on my random playlist not two nights ago, and yes…it’s fitting.

“Love Invincible” by Michael Franti and Spearhead

“Touch me in the morning sun / When I feel impossible / Show me what is possible / Teach me love invincible…!”

Though I highly doubt it’s intended as such, this hook — the whole song, really — can be a powerful prayer. After all, Jesus is THE Love Invincible, and He’s the only thing that makes me ever feel invincible.

These kids in the video have inspired me. This song will be played at my wedding, too, if I have any say in the matter.

Day 25-a song that cheers you up when you are feeling blue

From its first few whistled notes, this song can’t help but make me smile.

http://www.dailymotion.com/swf/video/x1xeko?width=320&theme=none
Shanice – I Love Your Smile by Hakunamatata67

“I Love Your Smile” by Shanice

However, this song also long represented — for me — something sick about race in America. Note that in the video, the singer is a medium-toned, unmistakably black woman. But in this album cover:

…she appears to be a shade lighter. Her hair is straighter. Even her nose seems smaller. Less African.

Whiter.

Looking back now, I’d like to say that this was more my own perception than reality. She really isn’t a full shade lighter on the album cover. This hairstyle is just more flattering than the one she’s rocking in the video. And her nose is just the same.

Sure, there was probably some early-version Photoshop airbrushing going on there, but that wasn’t new even then.

Unfortunately, my conspiracy theory gains credence in 1999.

Lighter still. Sigh.

I still love her “I Love Your Smile.” No matter how the marketing and image people try to airbrush away certain things.

Day 24-a song that makes you cry every time you hear it

Time for the first repeat of the list. And despite the fact that I occasionally get teary when listening to my brother’s favorite, IT’S NOT THE ONE.

No, it’s this.

“Indescribable” by Chris Tomlin.

These lines, in particular, touch my heart deeply:

“Who imagined the sun and gives source to its light? / Yet conceals it to bring us the coolness of night? / None can fathom…”

Night is something we often associate with darkness, danger, fear, evil. But this song helps to reframe nighttime in a completely different…well…light.

It reminds me that even this fallen world is still created by a loving God, and that even its broken aspects are used by Him for the good of us, His most beloved creations.

Some people shout when they worship God. Others are quiet and holy-hushed.

Me, I shed tears when I’m cognizant of His awesome might and great glory and loving kindness. This song poetically reminds me of all those qualities.


Day 23-a song that reminds you of an embarrassing event

Remember when I said I felt like the coolest guy in the world during my senior prom — and that the feeling wouldn’t last? Well, here we go.

My date was taller than me. That’s not the embarrassment, though. When you’re just 5’6 (and I only grew one more inch or so by full adulthood), you learn to deal with tallish women (especially when she’s this cute), the way you also learn to deal with having an unusual name.

Both she and I have unusual first names, and at our prom, the seniors would do the senior walk, in which each couple would be announced and walk arm-in-arm before the assembled crowd.

I would swear I properly and simply and phonetically wrote both our names on the card for our mostly-white classmates to read off. And, so much the better, that a black classmate was actually reading the card.

She still somehow managed to mangle both our names in exactly the way we were trying to avoid.

I think this was the song playing…

…but I really don’t remember at all. I was too busy being mortified at being called “Carrie.”
It’s KAH-REE.

Equal emphasis on both syllables. Though I’ve learned to deal with mispronounciations anyway.

Day 22-a song all about love

“Anything For You” Gloria Estefan.

I love torch songs. This is the torchiest.


Even (or, perhaps, especially) en español:

What sets this song above others is that its very structure reflects the singer’s longing.

The traditional pop song structure is something like this:

  • intro
  • verse
  • chorus/hook
  • verse
  • chorus/hook
  • bridge
  • chorus/hook
  • vamp or fadeout on repeated chorus/hook.

But this song doesn’t follow this structure at all. It dosen’t even have a real chorus or hook.

Instead, it consists of one basic 4-line verse, each starting quietly with a line containing the song’s title, then shifting to a higher key and the lyrics to a faster tempo and meter for a few lines before resetting to another “Anything for you.”

Again, there’s nothing like a chorus or hook in the whole song. Instead, various lines are repeated in diverse places in the song (for example, Estefan sings “you’ll never see me cryin'” twice) even though no verse is actually ever repeated, as the woman alternates between declarations of independence and longing cries for her lost love.

Each verse’s quiet “anything for you” line represents her attempts to re-center herself emotionally, but the mere statement of the phrase causes those emotions to build and then boil over in the verses’ increasingly lengthy and impassioned second halves.

By the time the vocals give way to a lengthy instrumental vamp and the horns come in, you’re either mad with the dude for leaving this lady out in the cold like this or mad with her for not just moving on already.

Great, great song.