Wednesday, 3 June 2009

Tokens: theology on the radio

Someone was telling me the other day about this Nashville radio show, TOKENS. They describe it as “part theology lecture, part cultural analysis, part good conversation, part good music..., an exploration of the intersections between faith, music, and culture.” The creator and host is Lee Camp, author of Mere Discipleship: Radical Christianity in a Rebellious World (Brazos 2008). Anyone know about this radio show? It sounds good.

Oh, and are there any other Nashville fans out there? I’ve only visited once in my life, but I swear it’s one of the coolest places I’ve ever been. The theologians! The bars! The bourbon! The cafes crammed with indolent students and musicians! Paul DeHart’s encyclopedic ruminations on American music history! Seriously, that city has it all...

My only regret (it pains me to mention it) is that my last visit to Nashville was just one day too early to catch Iron & Wine performing at the Ryman. Oh, and did I mention the new Iron & Wine album? You can live and die to music like this:

Sunday evening my Rebecca’s lost a book she never read
And the moon already fell into the sea
Saw the statues of our fathers in the courthouse flower bed
Now they blend with all the lightning-tattered trees

40 Comments:

Davey Henreckson said...

Ben,

You ever seen I&W live? I imagine the venue makes all the difference; the playlist Beam used at the wide-open Sasquatch Gorge sampled from his more expansive, "raucous" songs. I'd like to hear him in an enclosed space sometime.

roger flyer said...

Both are over-rated.

I hitch-hiked there in 1976 (Yes, we really did stuff like that back then) as an aspiring country songwriter in the steps of Hank and Dylan. Had a few beers in Patsy Cline's haunts, went to Ernest Tubb's, busked on a couple street corners, wrote a couple songs and hitched back home to Minnesota.

Then in 2001, I took another road trip with my son R.O. in 2001 (he was 18) as he was contemplating a move down there for school. We went downtown to Tootsie's Orchid Lounge. There was an alt-country band playing.

Me: "Ry, do you want to go in and listen?"
Ry: "Dad, don't you know I hate country music?"
Me: "Mmmm...son, this might not be the best place for you to move to."

Also, I have several friends who are survivors of the CCM industry who have a few sordid stories and soured me on the whole Nasville scene...'like LA without the tan'.

And as for I and W, I knew a few undiscovered songwriters better than this stuff back in the folk rock boom-day. Not to sound like a geezer, but he got a lot of hype at the right time and by stroke of chance, rose to the top of the little heap of early 21st century indie folk. There. Having said that, I think Boy with a Coin is a cool tune, but the percussion made the song. (Calexico?)

His voice is thin, (for the most part) lyrics obtuse, guitar playing pedestrian.

This is the most critical I get. Unless you bring up Tom Waits again.

Maximus Daniel said...

Lee Camp is a good guy and Nashville is a great place. The Athens of the South!

Brad said...

Lots of points of interest here!

1) My wife and I are headed up to Nashville the last weekend of this month for Lipscomb's Christian Scholars' Conference on "The Power of Narrative," with Marilynne Robinson, Barbara Brown Taylor, Billy Collins, and Hubert G. Locke as plenary speakers AND a live recording of TOKENS the opening night.

2) Lee Camp's Mere Discipleship is phenomenal, and I've heard good things from former students of his regarding this "new turn" in his career.

3) Roger, I&W overrated!? Come on, man! Sam Beam might be (alongside Sufjan Stevens and Will Oldham) the premier singer-songwriter of this decade. Hands down.

(Be kind, please.)

Thanks, Ben, for plugging some worthwhile stuff.

Erin said...

I am standing behind Mr. Flyer with my pitchfork and torch, too, but wondering why my leader named his child after Milbank's movement.

roger flyer said...

Ha Ha, Erin. I am your leader? (We love the leader!-Homer Simpson)

Let us stand united against over-hyped whisperer-songwriters and grits laden, honky tonkin' towns!


My son stole my nom de plume (R.O.) We named him Ry Owen.

I named my daughter Erin, too. Want to start a movement?

roger flyer said...

Brad-
I'd put Sufjan in the over-rated camp, too. Some very nice stuff. A lot of throwaway stuff. Generation gap.

nate kerr said...

Roger:

As Ben's host for his visit to Nashville, I would surely beg you to admit that there is much more to Nashville than country music, Tootsie's, old Patsy Cline haunts, and the so-called "Nashville Scene." Ben named off just a few of those things. The "Nashville scene" is a facade; too many take it for "reality," and let the illusion dictate their Nashville existence. To get behind the facade, you must surely know where to look, all the while bearing the burden of learning to live a certain kind of ironic existence.

So, that said, I would personally like to extend, right here and right now, to Ry and any member of his family the invitation to stay visit Nashville again as my guest, to stay in my home, and to experience the Nashville scene differently, perhaps even non-identically. So, Ry, if you're reading this: let me know when you'd like to visit. I'll make sure that the theologians, the bars, and the bourbon are as much a part of your visit as you'd like them to be!

Saint Egregious said...

Let me take it upon myself to speak to the Lord Roger, I who am but dust and ashes.
Suppose there is a measly one righteous singer within the city of Nashville; will you then sweep away the place and not forgive it for the one righteous who is in it?

Diana Jones lives and works in Nashville. 'Nuff said.

http://www.dianajonesmusic.com

roger flyer said...

All right Nate. You are on as far as I'm concerned. I will let Ry speak for himself as I cannot.

Thanks for the invite! You may find us at your door this year.

roger flyer said...

St E-
I know you love me. If you meet us at Nate's in Nashville, I'll show you REAL BBQ ribs. (Actually, I won't, but Nate will.)

I don't know Diana's work. I'll check it out. And I didn't say it was Sodom!

roger flyer said...

St E-
I listened to sound bytes of Diana's.

Nice heartfelt stuff. If you like that you might like our family's music (much has not been recorded.)

I'm not quite that countrified, but me and my kin come close. My daughter Erin writes some singable, tender, heartfelt songs, and sons Ry and Charlie are talented theological songwriters.

(Aside to Nate--be prepared to sing some tunes if we come down to the Athens of the South.)

Ben, my apologies for monopolizing this string.

Halden, it would be fun to see you again for a micro-brew in Nashville.

nate kerr said...

Roger:

Excellent! Please do let me know when you would like to come. You can email me to keep me updated (nathan.r.kerr@gmail.com). And I am all up for much singing of tunes. As will be my daughter, Zoe, as well. She's as much an aspiring musician and songwriter as a five-year-old can be!

Ben Myers said...

And take it from me: Nate is a fabulous host. Plus, his awesome big basement allows you to play raucous loud music even in the dead of night.

roger flyer said...

Nate-
here is my private email
rogerowenflyer@gmail.com

Only you know it.
Send me your snail mail address there and I have a present for Zoe.

Ben-
By raucous you mean, Iron and Wine covers and Sufyan covers of hymns
and maybe Bruce Cockburn's Lovers in a Dangerous Time, right?

R.O. Flyer said...

Nate, I am certainly in need of a different experience of the Nashville scene. After high school I nearly chased my high school sweetheart down there. She asked me to wait a few months to move as she got settled into school, then a few months later I received that heartbreaking phone call. Needless to say, I never moved down there and I may still have some darker feelings about the place--but nothing that some good bourbon and theological discussion can't cure!

But, seriously, Vanderbilt is of interest to me and I'll be applying to a whole slew of PHD programs in December. Thanks for the offer, Nate, I may just take you up on that.

roger flyer said...

With your old man in tow, right R.O.?

nate kerr said...

R.O.:

You are of course welcome. And you should certainly come with "your old man in tow." Some of my fondest memories with my father will always be of the time when he and I made what we called our "East Coast" trip to visit schools that I was looking at for my Ph.D. That to say that you should definitely make plans to visit Nashville and Vanderbilt during the course of the next few months -- and if your father can come along, all the better! And the offer to stay here at our house is a standing one.

Erin said...

Dear Mr Flyers,
I will take a flyer on the Flyers if the Flyers will take me, though on principle I do not like to be a part of any movement that would have me. This does make church difficult. I also believe that if you were to experience Nashville non-identically as Mr. Kerr suggests, you would find yourself in Bakersfield. This is a profound threat to our burgeoning movement. But the hospitality here is contagious - perhaps there is room for skinny-pants whispering artists as well, and it's heartening that music is central to so many deep thinkers. :)
R.O., if I might make a career suggestion; head to Atlanta. Theological Crunk is about to e.x.p.l.o.d.e.

Dave Belcher said...

I grew up in Nashville -- and I can say with all honesty, I have never lived in a better place. Nate's right, though, to really experience Nashville, you have to get away from 2nd Avenue, and Broadway down by 1st through 6th streets (with all the country dives, with the drummers' arses hanging out of their pants right in the front window, and all the incredible Chicken Pickin' guitarists...and they are incredible -- even from outside on the street you can hear how incredible they really are!). Go visit the Pancake Pantry for the best breakfast in Nashville (even if you have to wait in line -- make sure to try their world famous cinnamon cream syrup). If you're hockey fans, Predators games are fantastic -- seriously, the worst seats in the house are still great seats.

I have so many good memories, it would get insane if I keep going.

I will say this: if you are ever lucky enough to see a show at the Ryman, take the chance (sorry Ben!); it is exceptional.

And I can say from the many, many times spent with Nate, Roger and Ry, y'all will have an excellent time with him as your host.

roger flyer said...

Erin-
As your leader, I command you to meet us in Bakersfield...er Nashville...er Athens.

chickin' pickin' (me like nashville cats), pancakes, grits, hockey, bourbon and God talk...

Is this a new movement of the spirit?

nate kerr said...

Erin:

Of course, anyone flying in with the Flyers is welcome.

And how did I not take Ben Myers to Pancake Pantry! Oh, Mea Culpa, Ben. Please forgive me. And please return so that I may set this to rights!

roger said...

You mean The Waffle House? ;)

saint egregious said...

I know this thread is deader than dirt, but, I'm just gonna put in a plug for Austin Texas as worthy of the theo-blogger's attention. As just one example, if you haven't checked out Hayes Carll, you won't be disappointed. Try Drunken Poet's Dream for starters. With lines like:

I got a woman she's wild as Rome
She likes to lay naked and be gazed upon
She crosses a bridge then sets it on fire
Lands like a bird on a telephone wire


and:
She says, "Honey, don't worry 'bout judgement day."
All these people goin' to heaven, they're just in our way


you won't be disappointed. And, if you've never heard "She Left Me for Jesus", trust me, you want to hear this song.

Okay, back to checking out Steve Earle's newest on Townes Van Zandt.

roger flyer said...

Austin is Nashville for real cowboy poets.

nate kerr said...

I wouldn't disagree about what Roger says about Austin. I am only suggesting that what is secretly best about Nashville is certainly not its so-called "cowboy poets" (notice Ben didn't mention them among what's great about Nashville). Or, that Nashville's "real cowboy poets" aren't quite the face of things as they still may be in Austin. They've been driven underground.

saint egregious said...

I trust you're right about Nashvile, Nate. After all, in addition to Diana Jones, Old Crow Medicine Show, Gillian Welch (I think) and a host a great bluegrass bands live there in the shadows of the chicken pickers. Speaking of which, I just love Del McCoury's version of the classic song about the legion of guitar players in the holy city- Nashville Cats--'been playing since they's babies. Nashville Cats, get work before they're two!'

And now another completely brazen attempt to get Ben to raise up Hayes Carll from theo-blogging obscurity the way he did for Stringfellow. Not only did he cover a tom waits song, I don't wanna grow up, on his last album, (sorry Roger), but check out the lyrics to She Left me for Jesus, though I warn you, its blasphemous and lifeless on the page. Use your rhapsody account to check out the real deal. This guy could make you retire townes van zandt to the back of your playlist :

WE''VE BEEN DATIN SINCE HIGH SCHOOL WE NEVER ONCE LEFT THIS TOWN
WE USE TO GO OUT ON THE WEEKENDS AND WE''D DRINK TIL WE DROWNED
BUT NOW SHES ACTING FUNNY AND I DONT UNDERSTAND
I THINK THAT SHES FOUND HER SOME OTHER MAN


CHORUS:

SHE LEFT ME FOR JESUS AND THAT JUST AINT FAIR
SHE SAYS THAT HES PERFECT HOW COULD I COMPARE
SHE SAYS I SHOULD FIND HIM AND ILL KNOW PEACE AT LAST
IF I EVER FIND JESUS IM KICKIN HIS ASS


SHE SHOWED ME A PICTURE ALL I COULD DO WAS STARE
AT THAT FREAK IN HIS SANDALS WITH HIS LONG PRETTY HAIR
THEY MUST THINK THAT IM STUPID OR I DONT HAVE A CLUE
ILL BET HES A COMMIE OR EVER WORSE YET A JEW

REPEAT CHORUS

SHES GIVEN UP WHISKEY AND AH TAKIN UP WINE
WHILE SHE PRAYS FOR HIS TROUBLES SHES FORGOT ABOUT MINE
IM A GONNA GET EVEN I CANT HANDLE THE SHAME
WHY LAST TIME WE MADE LOVE SHE EVEN CALLED OUT HIS NAME

REPEAT CHORUS

IT COULDA BEEN CARLOS OR EVEN BILLY OR TIM
BUT IF I EVER FIND JESUS
HES GONNA WISH HE WAS DEAD AMEN

roger flyer said...

St E-
That is brazen!

Where in bbq hell do you live? We've got to get together! I know, I know 'no beer' with your ribs.

but beside cleverness in the lyric--
what is this drunk really saying?

saint egregious said...

Roger,
Aaaw man, you're not really going to try to get me to 'analyze this motherfucker', are ya? (Dear blogmaster: that's a bastardized quote from Steve Earle, so it ain't me cussin'. I hope this won't get me banned!)
I listen to this hillbilly shit to get out of my theolobloggy head for a spell and laugh my ass off.
Now, if you really really want to, I think you could theologize on this one til your heart's content. Its as rich as the mahogany on my pork shoulder. But I'll let you or someone else take a crack at it if they want to. I'm too busy trying to figure out who wrote which lines on 'Drunken Poet's Dream', Hayes, or his 'drinking' buddy Ray Wylie Hubbard, who co-wrote the piss out of that one. I'm betting the Wylie Lama wrote the line 'you be the sinner honey, I'll be the sin'.

Anyway, as to where I live, its double top secret, my friend. I'm pretty sure my advisor reads this blog, and if you ain't guessed it, I's got a habit of saying shit I ain't oughta. If he finds out its me, there's a serious chance I'll have a broken window's view of Sodom's goings on, if I'm not made the next Saturday night special for their hospitality parade.
But, I will give you a hint, if you like sleuthing.

Some folks believe you can see Sodom from the roof of my house. Others that I live in an epic home to end all epic homes.
Personally, I call it just a short jaunt to paradise.

Take care, Roger. Keep singing strong and true. We need a helluva lot more of that these days.

roger flyer said...

Oh...Nashville!

Or...New Orleans...

No...I'd say Toronto.

But if you keep referencing these guys I'll say Branson.

Good to get out of your theo-blogy head.

roger flyer said...

I mean Oakland.
Damn I am so Ameri-centric!

Brisbane?

saint egregious said...

Roger, you're cracking me up! Brisbane?? You think I could get away with this crap if I lived in Ben's corner of Sheol? As I said, its double top secret. If I told you, I'd have to shoot myself, because my advisor's tortures are a fate worse than death.

roger flyer said...

OK...but it's fun to try to crack you up.

LA

Oxford

Green Bay, Wisconsin

saint egregious said...

Pawtucket.
Petersboro.
Punxsutawny.
Princeton.

If you want anymore you got to sing it yourself.

Rots o' ruck, Roger Dogger. May the groundhog never find your shadow on his land!

roger flyer said...

Wow! St. E. lives in Pittsburgh!
Can any good thing come from Galilee?

See you at the next provocative post, friend.

Go Pens!

nate kerr said...

So I'm free to declare my love of the Penguins here?!

Josh said...

I'd be interested in listening to this in podcast form but it doesn't seem to be an option.

Can anyone enlighten me as to if this isn't the case?

roger flyer said...

Nate- Surely you converted to Nascar when you crossed the Mason-Dixon line.

Erin said...

Dear Mr Flyers,
I will take a flyer on the Flyers if the Flyers will take me, though on principle I do not like to be a part of any movement that would have me. This does make church difficult. I also believe that if you were to experience Nashville non-identically as Mr. Kerr suggests, you would find yourself in Bakersfield. This is a profound threat to our burgeoning movement. But the hospitality here is contagious - perhaps there is room for skinny-pants whispering artists as well, and it's heartening that music is central to so many deep thinkers. :)
R.O., if I might make a career suggestion; head to Atlanta. Theological Crunk is about to e.x.p.l.o.d.e.

nate kerr said...

Roger:

As Ben's host for his visit to Nashville, I would surely beg you to admit that there is much more to Nashville than country music, Tootsie's, old Patsy Cline haunts, and the so-called "Nashville Scene." Ben named off just a few of those things. The "Nashville scene" is a facade; too many take it for "reality," and let the illusion dictate their Nashville existence. To get behind the facade, you must surely know where to look, all the while bearing the burden of learning to live a certain kind of ironic existence.

So, that said, I would personally like to extend, right here and right now, to Ry and any member of his family the invitation to stay visit Nashville again as my guest, to stay in my home, and to experience the Nashville scene differently, perhaps even non-identically. So, Ry, if you're reading this: let me know when you'd like to visit. I'll make sure that the theologians, the bars, and the bourbon are as much a part of your visit as you'd like them to be!

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