Monday, January 28, 2008

Lucky Number Thirteen

Well, 2008 is the thirteen year anniversary of Carolyn's debut album, I Can Hear You (Reunion Records, 1995). In a spirit of fun and celebration, I would like to take a poll. If you were to look over Carolyn's complete catalogue of music (including her Christmas album, her downloads, and contributions to collaborative efforts) and choose the definitive thirteen songs for the first thirteen years, what would you choose, and why? I humbly offer my own suggestions as follows (in no particular order):

"I Can Hear You" -- A fun song with a great beat; a crowd-pleaser with a strong message; Carolyn needs to contribute the sunglasses and white pants-suit from the video to the Rock 'n Roll Hall of Fame -- sweet!
"Do We Dare" -- The best song ever written in any genre
"One-Syllable Words" -- You cannot let the marvelous coinciding of Chesterton's Orthodoxy's centennial and Carolyn's triskaidekial (sorry to mix Latin and Greek) pass by without including this gem.
"What Love Looks Like" -- Leave it to Carolyn to write one of the best songs about the life of Jesus without mentioning Him once by name
"Now in Flesh Appearing" -- A Christmas song that works just as well "in the middle of July;" plus, she rhymes "Kazakhstan," which is an historic first for Christmas season songwriting
"Travelers (The Airport Song)" -- Funny and lively with a poignant touch; will resonate with any person who has ever experienced the convenience of modern air travel
"Everybody Wants Everything" -- Possibly the coolest song Carolyn's ever recorded
"The Wasteland" -- Desolate and haunting, but ultimately redemptive; a masterpiece of minimalism; also, one of the few songs where you cannot hear a smile in her voice
"Not a Tame Lion" -- Great elaboration of Lewis's observation that Aslan is not "tame, but He is good;" has one of the greatest endings of all of Carolyn's songs
"Love is So Blind" -- This cover of Mark Heard's song is exquisite
"The Resurrection Song" (not sure of the title; I've only heard the song once) -- I can hardly wait until this one is recorded; I cried when I heard it, not that that is news.
"Everything Changes at Christmas" -- Happy and wonderful Christmas song; we must have played it 5,236,831 times in the two weeks leading up to Christmas this year
"We've Been Waiting For You" -- I think it has been scientifically proven that no parent can hear this song without blubbering; just watch the Kleenex come out the next time you're at a concert

Where am I right? Where am I wrong? What's my most outrageous omission (I think I can guess)?

Friday, January 18, 2008

My Cup Already Runneth Over, But . . .

OK! So, the 2008 American Chesterton Society Conference is already going to be amazing. Who wouldn't love three days in St. Paul, MN that not only celebrate the Centennial of Chesterton's masterpiece, Orthodoxy, but also include such Justine-pleasing presentations as "Chesterton and Shakespeare" and "Chesterton and Jane Austen," right? I am so going to be there!

Cloud Eight was floating pretty high, but then came the niggling little idea, "You know what would make this ACS conference even more sublime? Music by Carolyn Arends and Spencer Capier, of course!"

I said to Jason, my sounding board for all my crazy ideas, "I think I'm going to e-mail the ACS and ask them to book Carolyn for their conference."

Jason shot me down with a disparaging, "That's really weird. You're not Carolyn's promoter -- why would you approach an organization out of the blue about booking a concert with someone of whom they have most likely never heard?"

Well, if the ACS has "never heard" of Carolyn Arends, it's about time they did. I would, perhaps, not know about G.K. Chesterton, had I never read about him first in Living the Questions, and they would be down one three-year subscription. So, I remained undaunted by Mr. Gloomy's negativity. I decided to e-mail Paula Flink -- Fearless and Tireless Coordinator and Manager of Team Carolyn. If this really was weird, she would (gently and nicely as Canadians know so well how to do) let me down.

Well, Paula e-mailed back that it was OK by her if I contacted the ACS on Running Arends's behalf; so I did. Now, I'm scared as hell. It's pretty intimidating just to put your ideas out there to strangers with the very good chance that they will be rejected.

Still, though, they might not be. And, how cool would it be to get Carolyn and Spencer in Minnesota to rock out with their fellow Chesterton fans? How much would those fans get a kick out of "One-Syllable Words" and all the rest of her songs? It would be "legend -- wait for it, and I hope you're not lactose intolerant, because the second part is -- dary. Legendary!"

Here's to hoping for an upgrade from Cloud Eight to Nine!

Monday, January 07, 2008

Sweet Vindication!

Have you ever gotten an idea, and then gotten passionate about it? Thought about it; pondered it; imagined every little bit of it? You poured your heart and soul into seeing this wee little idea blossom into the grand dream that came to overwhelm your imagination? And then, the day of reckoning dawns, and everything either comes together beautifully or falls flat on its face . . . And it comes together beautifully and is maybe even better than you had dared to dream it might be? Isn't that GREAT?!!

Sometimes you just know things. And I just knew -- I just knew -- that if Carolyn Arends and Spencer Capier played at our church it would be a revelation and a blessing for all involved. So, I kept at it. I prayed and asked and was rebuffed. Then, I prayed and asked and was rebuffed. Then, I prayed and asked and, well, it was a little disheartening. Not that my church was opposed to having Carolyn come -- I think it was just that the timing was always off, and they had no real motivation to make room on the busy church schedule. Then, this past summer, I was sitting in Sunday service, watching a guest musical artist play on the stage. And she was OK, but certainly not Carolyn. And then I had a vision -- yes, a vision. I saw Carolyn and Spencer on that same stage/pulpit area, and I knew that this was the time to try, try again.

God's timing always is perfect, and suddenly everything I had hoped and prayed for fell into place. Yay! And I got so excited, not so much for myself, because, though there's no limit to my love of hearing Carolyn and Cap, I have had many an opportunity to enjoy that privilege over the years -- both in the U.S. and Canada. I was getting so excited for all of my fellow congregants who had most likely never experienced the pure pleasure and unmitigated joy of a Carolyn/Spencer concert.

(Sometimes, when I'm in a pondering mood, I think about that oblivious listener out there, right this moment, who is someday going to stumble across Carolyn's music and be blown away. I get so excited for this person, and yet I am filled with a bit of jealousy -- how cool to have all that amazing music lying hidden, just waiting to be discovered! Then I remember how much better it is to have had that music over the years, and I'm no longer green-eyed -- except that my eyes are usually rather green without any visions of jealousy dancing in my head.)

Anyway, the rest is beautiful history. Carolyn and Cap came on December 8 -- sadly without Paula Flink, the Queen of All Management/Booking Agent Types of Rock Stars, both Canadian and American -- and met with the whole panel of Calvary Chapel South's pastors and Mrs. pastors at a crowded and authentic Mexican restaurant. There, much jolly political talk ensued between Spencer and our pastor, Kevin, while Carolyn developed a sudden and pointed fascination for the food in front of her and I contemplated whether a dropped napkin could provide a refuge beneath the table. Joking aside, there was probably more civilized talk from opposite ends of the purple spectrum that night than there will be through this whole bloody presidential campaign. Oy!

But, when you're talking Carolyn and Cap, it's really all about the music, Stupid. And, when you're talking those two, the music is transcendent. The next morning, bright and early at the 9 AM service -- and only God knows how they managed it -- they were rocking; and the party continued on through the 11 AM service. I think that Pastor John summed the whole thing up best when he pulled me aside after second service and said, "That was really an annointed time." Amen.

I was pulled aside a lot that morning by the pastors three of CCS. Phenomenal, amazing, wonderful, and other words in the English vocabulary that almost, if not quite, describe the Carolyn/Cap experience were thrown around with justifiable abandon. Everyone was already busily at work, trying to come up with reasons to have them back as soon as possible. It took every measure of grace I could summon not to let go with a big, "I told you so!"

So, if you would like to see some of the fruits of my long labor of love, check out the tour page at Carolyn's site. This time, the church scored a coup by getting Mark "Love You Forever" Arends to join in the fun. Truly, it is hard to imagine a better couple to lead a Couples' Banquet than the Arendses. If I can get a date, I might just go myself this year. I wonder if Jason's free . . .