Friday, May 23, 2008


I've been listening to Over The Rhine for the past few days and I am so amazed at what seems to be a deep understanding of the process that comes through in their music. I want to share one such song and something that I believe has played a part in this being so with Linford and Karin. They seem to have broken free of some of the things that stand in the way and here is Linford in his own words, speaking of their Double CD Ohio, the CD from which the song below comes from.

"The records we ended up making document in part our attempts to unravel the tangle of religion we inherited. It’s unsettling when someone named Jesus keeps turning up in unexpected places on a double album, but we’re by no means the first songwriters to be Christ-haunted."

Nobody Number One

I’m afraid I’ve lost the piece of me

I need the most you see
This puzzle is really just about the need
To be somebody
I’m afraid I’m not all that you see
All along the coast of me
I’m camouflaged, a desert mirage
A nobody

But you came so close and I assumed
You were looking
For the piece of yourself that’s lost
It is the hiding place inside everybody
And though we love to numb the pain
We come to learn that it’s in vain
Pain is our mother
She makes us recognize each other

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry

Sometimes I feel so all alone
Here in this city I call my home
They say, Hey, you’re one of us
Funny, I should feel so anonymous
But I’m drawn to you
And that still small voice is talking too
And that’s the voice that so seldom can get through

You can’t put no bandaid on this cancer
Like a twenty-dollar bill
For a topless dancer
You need questions
Forget about the answers
Do you really wanna die this way

That’s the trouble with you and me
We always hit the bottom ‘fore we get set free
I’m so far down
I’m beginning to breathe

C’mon now child don’t cry
C’mon now child don’t cry
Let’s give it one more try
C’mon now child don’t cry
Cuz we’re just too young to die

The line "You can't put no bandaid on this cancer" reminds me of the metaphor represented by the shack in The Shack book. Attempting to cover up the hurt and pain and disappointments and disillusionments that are a part of us, will never lead us to freedom. It just leaves us playing a game...a game that keeps us from entering into the transformed life with Father, Son and Spirit.

Over The Rhine records music outside the confines of the Contemporary Christian Music Industry which seems to be another reason for their musical freedom and creativity which allows for such honesty and makes the music so relevant to life. They took a trip back to their shack a few years ago. Here is an interview talking about some of that. All of this reminds me of what is about to become possible in the book publishing world that gives me reason to be excited. You can read about that here. Many artists are finding ways to express in very real ways, the things they are learning that have never been possible with such openness and honesty within the institutions governed by conformity.

When fear leads people to think that controlling what others can express or should express is a good idea, honesty is lost and we end up with bland conformist expression. In an attempt to "protect" the message, the message is lost. I love it that there have always been people that refuse to give up the freedom God gives (or if they realize it has been taken from them, have the courage to begin the journey to take it back) and in that freedom they learn to express the beautiful messy process of what transformation is all about. It is for freedom that he set us free.

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