22 Days Until the “Birth” of Jesus: Redemption of a Man and of Music

<%image(20051202-neal_morse.gif|252|80|nealmorse)%> Since we’re helping Julie’s folks move tommorrow, I wanted to get my post in the night before. So here we go . . . I found myself driving down to Aldi in Bennington, VT for reasons I could not explain. I just somehow knew I had to do that. Since Julie wasn’t with me, I took a detour to Home Depot for some lumber and a kerosene heater (you know, little bit of dis, little bit of dat). All the while I was listening to disc two of Neal Morse’s CD, Testimony. The simple chorus to his song about his “entrance into the kingdom” was so joyful and refreshing that I had to share it:

Sing it high, sing it low
Sing it everywhere you go
Jesus will deliver you from suffering
He’s the way, he’s the goal
He’s the song in your soul
Listen with your spirit and you’ll hear it ring
Can’t you hear it ring?

You can also listen to some other songs of his for free here.

Seeing the lyrics doesn’t do them justice. You have to hear it to know what I mean.

In any case, Testimony is a journey of sorts through Neal’s life, telling through music and lyrics how he entered God’s kingdom (as an aside, note the implications of saying that you entered a kingdom. That’s way different from choosing to only believe or pray or receive a sacrament. New kingdom, new king, new life.). Every song is top notch. You never quite know where he’s taking you, but it’s Ok because it always works. Morse seamlessly weaves his songs together with classic rock, country, classical, acoustic rock, and who knows what else. He’s like the mastermind coach who coaxes a gang of bratty athletes into playing well together on the same team.

The complexity and beauty of Testimony made me glad to know that Morse is not only producing incredible music, he’s doing it as an act of worship – an offering – for God. If anything, he has made me very thirsty for God, longing to rejoice in Jesus, and hungering to pray.

And let’s face it, the whole music scene ain’t a picnic, but the Christian music scene is hopelessly poppy, shallow, and repetitive. In speaking for rock/alternative, we need to remember that Nirvana was on to something. They were pissed off, really, really pissed off, that most music is lame and, worse than that, people flock to gobble it up like sheep in an unmown field.

Morse is part of the cure for the ailing music scene of Christians and non-Christians. Just reading the reviews of Testimony gave me a glimpse of how talented and respected he truly is. I need to hear his other stuff some time soon. Clapton left Derek and the Dominoes to go for pop, sacrificing Layla on the altar of MTV unplugged, Phil Keaggy is unreliable, Hendrix is OK but dead, and I’m looking for new music with kickin’ guitar riffs, the kind of stuff that oozes from Neal Morse.

And what’s better than that is I can finally have my cake and eat it too. I love Desperado by the Eagles, but I have a hard time when the line, “Put down your law books now they’re no damn good,” is rolling through my head ALL THE D–N DAY!!!. And so I find it harder to pray and fill my mind with what is good, noble, you know, all that good sh . . . You get the idea. I need something that is going to breathe life into me.

20 minutes each way to Bennington with Neal Morse was like being hooked up to an oxygen tank and catching my breath again. Thanks Neal for pointing me toward Jesus.