Thursday, October 30, 2008
One year ago I was on tour in Pennsylvania, and I got to perform at the Seminary and conduct an audio interview with the professor for this class. His students listen to our interview, listen to my albums, and then ask me questions about faith, church, art, and showbiz. It's a great honor for me to be a panelist for a Graduate School class (especially since I only have a high school diploma!), and the students have been shooting off excellent questions all week. I thought it might be interesting for some of you blog readers to see what we're discussing in the class, so I've posted some of the discussion below, as part of this blog's "Ask the Independent Singer/Songwriter" series:
You describe yourself as making snapshots of moments in church. But I was wondering what kinds of moments inspire you the most. When is it that you feel most compelled to write? Some artists talk about how they feel inspired by their environment, so they go somewhere alone. Other artists find inspiration in being with people.
These are great questions! I'll boil them down to two:
WHAT inspires me to write:
This year is my 20th anniversary of being a songwriter. As I look back over all that time, I've found that the one thing that inspires me the most is ABSENCE. I love to write songs that fill a void, bridge a gap, or say something that I want to hear (because nobody else is saying it). I think it's the reason that I don't write "praise songs" or songs where God is the object. There's no void there...from Psalms to the Hymnal to Christian Rock, there are thousands of years worth of songs about God. SO, that's why I've been so interested in writing songs about the Church, or about Christian People, or about religious behavior. Those topics are hugely important in the life of faith, but songwriters rarely address them. That was the motivation for writing the Heartland Liturgy, too...I wasn't finding many liturgical resources that were singable, easy to play, and friendly for a rock band, so I tried to help fill that void.
WHEN am I inspired to write:
At the beginning of my career I would only compose music after being hit with some sort of surprise idea or inspiration. These days, it's much more of a craft...like a carpenter going into the shop to build a dresser. Once in a while I'll get hit with a song like a bolt of lightning (my new album has a song that came that way, called "Dialysis Carpool"), but usually I'm more deliberate about it. It took many years to learn certain tricks to crafting a song out of thin air. But I think a songwriter gets better with practice.
Also....I've found that I write music in phases. I'll be in a creative phase for 6 months or so, and I'll write 10 songs. Then I shut off the songwriting valve and pour all my time and energy into recording the songs in the studio. Then I shut off the studio valve, and put all my time and energy into business stuff: booking concerts, getting press coverage, writing blogs, networking. Right now in my life, I'm in the business phase, and I'm enjoying it. I don't really have any desire or plans to write new songs at this point. I imagine that by the Summer of 2009 or so, I'll be ready to come up with some new tunes.
Also, I was wondering how you would like your music to be used. Would you like to see it used for/in worship? How would you like people to view your music? I'm particularly interested in this topic, as I am doing my final project as a study from a theological perspective in the use of rock music. Is it meant for performance-type situations? Or would you like to see it used in worship?
When I first started writing/recording/performing I thought of myself only as a performing artist...somebody who wrote songs, with the expectation to only play them myself. Even now, I suppose, that's mostly how I operate.
BUT, I added a new dimension in 2006 when I wrote and released the Heartland Liturgy, because for the first time I had created a set of songs that didn't depend on ME to play them and perform them. I wrote them specifically for OTHER people to play, and I even created a songbook to help that happen. So, for that group of songs, I'm really hoping that congregations will use them in worship. I've found it to be greatly fulfilling to know that there are people out there singing my music every week at church, and they've never met me or been to my concerts, or heard my albums!
I'm trying to follow in the footsteps of the great contemporary Lutheran liturgists who have gone before me...people like John Ylvisaker, Marty Haugen, Ray Mackeever, Richard Bruxvoort-Colligan, Jay Beech, etc.
But I imagine that I'll always have a whole series of rock/pop/folk songs/albums that exist only for ME to play, and for an audience to listen to.
I would like to have my cake and eat it too.
Wednesday, October 29, 2008
Top row is: Baby Owen Rimbo, Dave Scherer (Agape), Troy Loken (manager/booker of Lost And Found), Justin Rimbo, Aimee & Joel Pakan (Tangled Blue), me & my daughter Svea.
Bottom row is: Nica & Charlotte & Wes Halula (Happy Fun Time), Micah Taylor
We all occupy a weird niche in showbiz and church-work. There's great comfort and support amongst other folks who understand this strange vocation. It's fun and meaningful to get together and share our triumphs and tragedies. And to eat, too. During our most recent shindig, we took a moment to celebrate Svea's 2nd birthday!
Next Wednesday, November 5th, I have my first Catholic gig! I'm playing for a Catholic school assembly in the afternoon, and later that evening I'm playing an annual youth rally for 500 kids. (The parish youth leader saw me at an inter-faith service last year, liked me, and booked me.)
Questions for you:
+ My main CD of youth event music and group-participation songs is called "Protestant Rock Ethic"....it's a joke title, of course, playing off of the sociological term "Protestant work ethic." But is the title of the album gonna sound weird to a Catholic audience? Will they be insulted? Should I put the CD on my sales table?
+ One of my most signature tunes is called "Workin' My Committee," and features a verse about Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the door. Should I play that song? Or skip that verse?
+ I have some songs and stories about my (Lutheran) understanding of vocation. From what little I know, the word "vocation" has some different connotations in the Catholic world. What should I do about that?
Maybe Catholics are really chilled out and flexible and cool, and none of this stuff would bother them. But I don't want to be a jerk! I love the Catholics, and I don't wanna diss 'em!
Monday, October 27, 2008
I'm very pleased that my new album Insomniaccomplishments is finding its way out into the media universe. Another review of the album has surfaced, this time at a fine blog called Absolute Powerpop. Thanks for the kind words!
Read the review in at the site here, and check out the text below:
Jonathan Rundman has been one of the more underappreciated artists of the decade in the genre, and his 2004 release Public Library was a real treat: smart, literate, wry and rocking. For the unfamiliar, you might also want to get a start with his recently-released best-of. Or you can jump right in with his latest, Insomniaccomplishments, consisting of songs written while going through the sleep-deprived days of being a father of a newborn child (been there, done that). Rundman's at his best mixing rock, power pop, Americana and singer-songwriter balladry, and his latest is 18 tracks of just that. Tracks to check out: "If You Have a Question", "Imperfection", "Nothing Downtown" and "Here at 2141". Worth staying awake for.
Got home yesterday from a delightful musical adventure with some good friends. I haven't taken a band on an extended tour since 1998 (when Andy, Benji, Dave, and I gigged from Chicago to Minneapolis and back). This time I brought three talented Twin Cities-based musicians with me on a tour to the Upper-West corner of North Dakota and back again, and indeed we rocked. This was the band:
Justin Rimbo sang harmony, played bass and videogames.
I sang and played acoustic guitar and electric guitar and harmonica.
Graham Peterson drove the vehicle, hooked up the trailer, and played drums. Very well.
Nate Houge sang harmony, played electric guitar, banjo, mandolin, and lap steel.
WEDNESDAY: We hit the road, cruising Northwest out of the Twin Cities in the rain, listening to the new Lucinda Williams album "Little Honey." We stopped in some little town (I forget the name) and had a great lunch at the Boondocks Diner.
That night we played the first concert of the tour at Redeemer Lutheran Church way up in Thief River Falls, MN. Here's a shot from the stage. The audience was way into it, as you can see. We all had fun. And afterwards we ate pizza and the locals told us tales of a career at K-Mart and the store's shoplifting issues. Musical highlights included a bluegrass version of "The Princess Wants To Spend Her Time With Me" (nice banjo, Nate!) and a group-sing of my new favorite hymn "How Small Our Span of Life" from the cranberry colored Evangelical Lutheran Worship hymnal.
THURSDAY: we headed West on US-2 (the same highway I drove a week ago in Escanaba, MI!) across the top of North Dakota. Here's a picture of us in Rugby, North Dakota at the exact spot of the Geographic Center of North America. We felt like the center of attention, if not of the entire continent.
Later that afternoon we arrived in Minot, and provided music and liturgy for 375 of these lovely folks at the Western North Dakota Synod Youth Gathering. We tried to avoid talking politics with the hired-gun sound engineer. He told me during dinner that we should've "finished the job in Iraq, nuked the entire place, and turned it into glass." Nice. I wonder who he's voting for? Politics aside, he was a good sound guy, and it sure was nice to have stage monitors.
FRIDAY: more music and more fun with those rocking teenaged Lutherans. During our free time Nate got himself a new/used Peavy tube guitar amp at the local music store, and I found some $0.99 CDs at the used record store: Damon & Naomi, Darden Smith, and Phantom Planet. We bandmembers went to the Mall in Minot to see the new Oliver Stone movie "W." I'd been to that theater before, in 1989, when I was on my very first musical tour...I saw "Driving Miss Daisy" at that exact same place nearly 20 years ago.
SATURDAY: We wrapped up the youth event in Minot, with many a fun musical moment. Some faves of mine were playing full band arrangements of hymns like "I Love To Tell The Story" and "My Song Is Love Unknown" as well as wall-shaking versions of "Hey Hey Samuel" with hundreds of folks singing along. Justin, Graham, and Nate never ceased to amaze me with their musicianship and enthusiasm and down-home joyous fun-ness.
We loaded everything back in the trailer and hauled back East to Fargo during the afternoon, stopping in Bismarck long enough to get a blizzard at Dairy Queen and check out the blandest state capitol building in the whole country. That night in Fargo we played a grungy bar-band show at the Nestor Tavern. It was truly a delight for us as musicians...we were loud and loose, with a fresh set-list which included such rarities as "List of Things-to-do," "Prophetstown Tornado," "Daniel & Peter & Thomas," and a cover of the Rolling Stones' "Gimme Shelter." The club was full of people, we drew about 20 listeners who came just to see us, and we scored a feature story in the local entertainment paper the High Plains Reader.
SUNDAY: We wrapped up the tour ringing in Reformation Sunday at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, MN. 'Twas fun to hang out with Lutheran Rock legend Jay Beech, and kick off the morning with a Larry Mullen, Jr.-inspired take on "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God."
The tour was a smashing success, and now I'm inspired to try to set up another like it. Anybody out there want to book me with a band in your town? Let me know, eh!
Thursday, October 23, 2008
On Saturday we'll be playing a show at the Nestor Tavern in Fargo, and the local weekly entertainment paper the High Plains Reader has written a concert preview for our show.
Click here to read the article in context. Text is below:
JONATHAN RUNDMAN: AN UNCOMMON SINGER/SONGWRITER
by Janie Franz
When Jonathan Rundman opens for the Fargo band Go Steve Jones and the Michigan group The Green Room on Saturday, area music lovers will be treated to an evening of great music.
It is extremely unusual to place a singer/songwriter in front of two rockers, but Rundman is definitely the musician to tease an audience and whip them up for these two lyric-driven bands.
Rundman has been around for nearly two decades, offering up gentle ballads, tongue-in-cheek commentaries on society, alt-rock tunes, and many very funny songs.
But he isn’t a satirist or a comedian. Nor is he an angst-ridden folkie or a grunge pop artist. He is all that, but so much more.
His recent CD, “Insomniaccomplishments,” on Salt Lady Records captures the broad spectrum of Rundman’s subject matter and his musical tastes.
Originally from Ishpeming, Mich., Rundman absorbed music from his Finnish community and everywhere he could find a recording or a radio.
He began a touring career immediately after graduating from high school, quickly making a name for himself.
He moved to the Pacific Northwest and soaked up the rich garage scene there.
Eventually, he ended up in Chicago and began collaborating with Midwestern musicians, becoming well known as a prolific alt-folkie songwriter with a string of independent CDs following in his wake.
Last year, his “20 Songs From the 20th Century” included early demos, rough tapes, and pre-production album recordings.
Today, he is thriving in Minneapolis and receiving a lot of attention, garnering rave reviews in Billboard, the New York Times, Performing Songwriter, and Paste.
In fact this year, a song included in a Paste CD Sampler, “Front Row At the Fashion Show,” was licensed by Starbuck’s for airplay in 10,000 locations around the world.
Rundman’s 2004 album, “Public Library,” is worth mentioning, not only for the quality of those eleven songs, but because of the merits of one cut. “Smart Girls,” the initial track on that album, is a refreshing look at romance. This is one song every young lad and lass should listen to.
Rundman sings: “Listen to me boys and learn important things......when you look for love, look for intellect....smart girls know the human heart/cause love is science, love is art/you’ll do well if you take my advice/fall in love with a smart girl.”
This is the kind of advice we need in this world (and coming from a guy) to remind us that the pretty faces of Barbies or Sarah Palins may not always be the best choices.
The eighteen songs on “Insomniaccomplishments” are equally stirring. Each is in a different genre as Rundman uses all of his musical influences to tell the story he needs to tell.
His alt folk-rock “Dialysis Carpool” takes on the environment, and “I Saw Greenland” uses a grunge tone to underscore a tune about his experience of beauty.
In contrast, the deceptively simple country tune “Little Bible” takes on Bible-thumpers as Rundman sings: “I love the lover not the love letter/I drive down the highway not the map/I dance to the music not the radio.”
Jonathan Rundman is definitely a singer-songwriter to watch. His gift of intelligent lyrics and wide musical styles marks his work as nothing less than brilliant.
Go see Jonathan Rundman Friday, even if you aren’t into the other two bands. You’ll be very glad you did.
If You GoWhat: Jonathan Rundman (opening for Go Steve Jones and The Green Room)
When: Saturday October 25, 10 pm
Where: The Nestor, Fargo
How Much: $3
Sunday, October 19, 2008
For the concert I stood on the top of the chancel steps, in the center of the aisle, on the exact spot where Dawn and I were married 16 years ago. Kind of amazing to occupy that exact piece of floor, after so many years and in a totally different situation. On our wedding day, I wonder what I would've thought if someone had told me that in 16 years I would play a concert from that same spot, with my children running in the aisles!
It was a nice crowd, about 50 people...a lot of Baby Boomers, who are becoming my favorite demographic. Here are some musical highlights:
+ "If You Have A Question" from my new album...I feel very strongly about this song.
+ "Dialysis Carpool" also from my new CD...after playing this one in concert a few times now, I've been able to use the song to connect to the memory of my Grandma Rundman (see the blog post with the You Tube clip from a few days ago) and I've been getting really misty eyed
+ "We're Creating Monsters"...this song is always a bit risky, but I love to play it...especially the chord progression from an A-minor chord voicing to a B-flat chord voicing. It's a weird move, and I don't know how I managed to think of it, but it sounds strangely good, and it's great fun to deliver.
+ "Oh Morning Star, How Fair And Bright"...a newer favorite hymn of mine, that moves me every time I play it. "Now, though daily, Earth's deep sadness may perplex us and distress us..."
+ "Smart Girls"...this one's been off the set list for awhile, but I played it tonight for Dawn, who impressed me so much (and continues to do so) with her nuclear intellect back when we were teenaged lovebirds
+ "Narthex" is always a delight to play in a beautiful church sanctuary, and Bethany is the perfect place for the lyrics of this song. I never tire of this song, and feel very strongly about the content, although nobody in the audience ever really comments on it, or considers it a favorite. I guess I play it for myself every night.
Anyway, it was a wonderful evening (and morning too....I played the Heartland Liturgy with some awesome local musicians for the church service this morning). Thanks to Dawn's family and friends for coming out and having fun and tolerating my musical rantings and ravings.
Thursday, October 16, 2008
When Dawn and I had our son Paavo we did a good job sheltering him from TV, child marketing, and fast food. He didn't go to McDonald's until he was almost 3 years old, and even then, we almost never exposed him. Eventually he caught on to the marketing, and became very interested. As a stay home parent of a preschooler in a cold, snowy climate, I discovered the joy of an indoor McDonald's playland. Paavo could climb and explore the colorful tunnels while I sat comfortably in a booth nursing my caffeine and reading The Onion. Everybody wins.
Now that we have a second child, our daughter Svea, it's a bit disturbing to see the effects of this exposure upon her. As a younger sibling, her eyes have been opened to the extravagant wildness of McDonalds at a much younger age. Way before she was 2 (her birthday was yesterday, by the way) she would see the Golden Arches passing by outside the car window and she'd yell "AH-NALD" (for "Ronald," of course). Her brainwashing has begun.
I still love the Playlands (Twin Cites secret: the best McD's playland is in St. Louis Park at the location just to the West of Highway 100....don't bother with Nicollet and 494 'cause it's always gross and dirty) and the parenting respite they offer, but I must say I'm getting annoyed with Ronald's effect on my kids.
Today we drove from Minneapolis to Upper Michigan, a seven hour journey. Me alone, with the two kids. I stopped in Wausau, WI at McDonald's for lunch (Clean spacious restaurant, but no playland! Baah!) Svea was yelling AH-NALD the entire time. I get Svea the apples (fear not, I always bring other food for her), Paavo gets a Happy Meal, and I get a Number 2, religiously. Here's what bugs me: Paavo only cares about the toy. He east about 2 bites of the burger, shares the fries with Svea, drinks his milk (thankfully), but I usually end up throwing most of the food away. He's totally only into it for the Hotwheels Car (or Batman toy, or Star Wars toy, which were much much cooler). So I get kinda miffed that we come there to eat, but the kids don't really care to eat. Maybe I should just take them to Toys R Us instead and eliminate the step of throwing away the food.
All this is yet one more reason I struggle with shame for going to McDonald's. Yes, I've read the book Fast Food Nation. Yes, I've seen the movie Super Size Me. Yes, I know unhealthy my favorite order really is. I think many of us Americans are filled with shame about our McDonald's patronage. I witness it constantly with other parents. It's like this:
+ you catch a ride in a friend's car and there's a McDonald's bag or cup in the front seat. The person says "Uh, I never go to McDonald's but, uh, I had to the other day 'cause it was my only option"
+ you go to the home of someone with small children and you see a McDonald's Happy Meal toy: the parent says "I know I'm a horrible parent, I took my child to McDonald's. I really try not to do that!"
+ you hang out with hip, healthy, good looking people. You go out to expensive and healthy restaurants. Everyone talks about how gross McDonald's is. Jonathan stays suspiciously quiet.
Shame shame shame, we're all filled with shame.
Tuesday, October 14, 2008
Here's a video of me playing "Earth and All Stars" (lyrics written by Herbert Brokering) from last week's show in Cambridge, WI. This coming weekend is the anniversary of the death of Rev. Cy Warmanen (of Fortune Lake Lutheran Camp fame) who taught this song to me when I was in elementary school and the LBW hymnal was new.
Also, this weekend is the once-every-three-years chance to hear the reading about King Cyrus in the lectionary cycle...another great way to remember the life and music and joy of Cy Warmanen!
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
And yes, we were loud! It was great fun...I got to perform as a little trio along with a couple of my musical friends:
JASON MORRIS played drums. We had performed together years before in the Chicago-version of the Beki Hemingway Band.
DAVID CASIMIR played bass. Dave and I first played together in the trombone section of sixth grade band, but our main collaboration has been in The Muckrakers.
Some of my favorite musical moments:
+ We opened with "Wide Awake" a song I wrote 20 years ago (yikes!), but I haven't played it for a while. I still like the song, after a couple decades.
+ We played a couple songs from my new Insomniaccomplishments album: "If You Have a Question" and "Dialysis Carpool." I got a little misty eyed when we played "Dialysis Carpool," a song about my Grandma Rundman. It's an unusual song, and it's brand new, so I've had a tricky time finding a way to introduce the idea to audiences, but tonight I felt like I set it up clearly.
+ We played my current favorite hymn, "How Small Our Span of Life" from the new cranberry ELW hymnal. Text by Herman G Stuempfle, and a beautiful English folk melody called KINGSFOLD.
+ We got an encore! So we played one of my all-time favorite songs "Gimme Shelter" by the Rolling Stones. It was a powerful moment for me to sing those words "If I don't get some shelter, yeah, I'm gonna fade away" in this beautiful sanctuary that has given shelter to those parishioners for over a century.
After the show Dawn and the kids and I got in the car and zipped down I-90 a few miles where we got to our hotel. Once we got Paavo and Svea in bed, I went across the street to the world's largest Culver's (seriously!) for a late dinner, and I sat there alone in blissful silence and read the newest issue of TapeOp. How's that for hopelessly geeky behavior.
Thanks to Dave and Jason for playing nice and loud with me, to Clint for hosting us, and to everyone for coming out in the midweek for an evening of nerdy Lutheran rock, hymns, and a great song by Mick and Keith.
Monday, October 6, 2008
The weekly church/culture online magazine Journey With Jesus features a music column, and this week my album gets reviewed. David Werther, a philosophy professor at the University of Wisconsin in Madison wrote the piece.
(By the way, if you are a music journalist or a music blogger, and you'd like to review my music, email me at rundman at msn dot com with your credentials and contact info.)
Click here to read the Journey With Jesus review in context. The text is below:
Jonathan Rundman, Insomniaaccomplishments (Salt Lady, 2008)
Jonathan Rundman is a thirty-seven year old, sleep-deprived, stay-at-home dad. In the night watches, he attends to his music. His work on Insomniaaccomplishments spans a cappella (“December Chicago”); acoustic instrumental ("Kuortane"); pop (“I Thought You Were Mine”); and rock (“I'm Alive and I'm Sleep Deprived”). In addition, his topics are as wide-ranging as his music: the comforts of home (“Here At 2141”); disease (“Dialysis Car Pool”); disagreements (“Imperfection”); dejection (“I Thought You Were Mine”); and a kiss on a cold day (“Her Lip Balm”). Most of the songs are Jonathan Rundman's, though “Kourtane” is a 19th century folk tune, and he shares writing credits with Jeff Krebs on "New Eyes" and with Tim Rundman on "I'm Alive and I'm Sleep Deprived" and “I Saw Greenland.”
Some of Rundman's writing is explicitly theological. In "Little Bible" he enlists Martin Luther to make his case that the written word is no more the living word than a lamp light or radio music. In "Imperfection" he expresses exasperation over battles about the second birth, and the age of the earth, but rather than taking a superior position above the fray, acknowledges his own ignorance and looks for a connection with those with different beliefs and different choices in the voting booth. Two songs later, he finds it in a fellowship of suffering, "Dialysis Carpool." (You can hear it on his MySpace Page http://www.myspace.com/rundman. While you are there, don’t miss "Smart Girls," a selection from an earlier CD, Public Library.)
The closeness that comes from taking someone to the hospital, the relief of reuniting with one's spouse at the end of the workday, and the exhaustion of caring for young children are nearly universal experiences. Yet Jonathan Rundman is almost alone in writing about them. By doing so, he underscores the goodness and significance of ordinary life and, borrowing one of his song title, he gives us "new eyes" to see our lives.
Thursday, October 2, 2008
I guess I never intended to blog about politics during this election season, but a couple days ago I got an interesting email from one of the readers of this blog. Here's what the person wrote to me:
"I was wondering if you wouldn't mind considering a topic for the blog - one that is timely in this highly political part of the year. Coming from a more conservative and Republican family and circle of friends and acquaintances, I find it refreshing at times to actually be able to say that I know people like you who are not of the same background, yet can connect on different levels, like music and worship practices. Being interested in the election and the lead-up to it, and watching my share of commentary about it, I find myself wondering something: what is it that makes people side with a certain political party? Is there one issue that is the lock-down issue, and others that don't matter, either because we don't know much about how they affect us or that we don't care about how they affect us or others? Is it related to how different segments of the Christian church interpret the Bible on certain social issues? I'm not into judging. I'm just curious. I just can't put myself into others' shoes very easily when it comes to certain beliefs or understandings. So, I guess my question/topic suggestion that I think may be an interesting read for people is 'Why I support so-and-so for whatever political office and how his views and core beliefs line up with my Christian/Lutheran/ELCA beliefs' (or something like that)."
So, I've chosen to respond because I'm learning more and more about the value of me "going public" about certain issues. Because I often play concerts in churches, many people consider me to be a "Christian Rock Artist," and therefore lump me in with Conservative Republican Evangelical America. That's why people are often shocked when they find out stuff about me like:
+ I'm supporting Obama
+ I want gays and lesbians ordained and married in the Church
+ I'm not 100 percent thrilled with Compassion International
Saying stuff like that might not seem radical or outrageous to many folks in the general public, BUT to be a churchy-rock musician and to say this stuff....it blows the minds of many people in American Christian Culture. Just read the dozens of comments on my blog post about Compassion International, or for an entertaining read, check out what happens in the comments when Christian Rock Star Tyler Burkum posts some positive words about Obama on his blog. Whew!
Thankfully, amidst the flood of miffed Conservatives who email me and comment whenever I go public about these issues, I also hear from a few other people who express agreement, relief, and appreciation...consider this comment to my controversial Compassion International post:
As a homosexual believer, I'd like to thank Dave and JR for their incredible compassion and insight. It's folks like you who help me still have faith, period.
When I hear encouraging feedback like that (and I heard some more similar words just a few days ago at church on Sunday), I realize that it's important for Obama-votin', gay-marryin', hybrid-drivin', Bible-interpretin', church-goin', Jesus-lovin', stay-home-parentin', peace-makin' hippies like me (credit to singer/songwriter Todd Snider for inspiration here) to say what we believe in public.
Regarding the initial question: Why am I voting for Obama? Well, there are many reasons. I agree with him on the issues, mainly. But, like all people of faith (I suspect), we vote for the person who seems to "ring" with us, theologically. It's really hard to explain...but one of my favorite theologians, authors, thinkers, and bloggers Kelly Fryer has done such a nice job summing it up, I'd like to refer you to HER blog for the details.
Aside from the normal great stuff about Obama that everybody knows (he's brilliant, he can communicate clearly, he's inspiring), another thing about him that's good is that he's not John McCain. Allow me to consider some things in the negative, which is certainly allowed when making such a huge decision:
+ McCain is too old to elect President. I'd say the same thing if the Democratic candidate was 72.
+ His choice of Sarah Palin as the VP (although a brilliant PR move) was a credibility train wreck, and it totally ruins his "country first" motto. It was a "campaign first, country last" move if there ever was one. I'll be watching the VP debates tomorrow, and I predict the Palin pick will prove more and more disastrous as the days and weeks go by. We shall see if I am correct.
But of course, I'm not voting for Obama because he's the lesser of two evils. I'm voting for him 'cause I think he's incredible and brilliant. And yes, I must admit, there's a familiar ring to his story, his values, and yes, even his theology. Like Kelly Fryer says in her blog: "Obama...sound(s) more like a Lutheran than most Lutherans I know."
Wednesday, October 1, 2008
This version that I'm posting here today is the acoustic songwriting demo that I made at the very moment the song was written. It's a song I'm very proud of, and it's fun for me to listen back to the tune at the moment of its conception. Download it and give it a listen:
CLICK HERE to download the acoustic demo version of "If You Have A Question."
You can sing along. Here are the lyrics:
IF YOU HAVE A QUESTION
words and music by Jonathan Rundman
cp 2008 Salt Lady Music (ASCAP)
if you have a question just raise your hand
and the teacher will call on you
there's a lot of things that I don't know
there's a lot that I can't see
there's a lot of doubt and wondering
there's a lot of mystery
when you lie awake at 3AM
trouble going through your mind
you don't need to be afraid to ask
you can leave your fear behind
everybody's on a search for truth
questioning is not a sin
there's a lot of love to pull you through
sow the seed of faith within
There was a wonderful moment of appropriateness with this song, that happened this past Sunday. I was sitting in with our awesome band at Edina Community Lutheran Church. I was supposed to play a song during the offering, but I didn't know what to play. The bandleader Paul Andress said to me, somewhat jokingly, "Whatever you choose to play will be perfect."
So I decided to do "If You Have A Question"...we rehearsed it with the band, it sounded great, and we got ready for the 8:30AM worship service. Along comes the Gospel lesson for the day, and Pastor Pam's sermon, based on Matthew 21:23-32...check this out:
23Jesus entered the temple courts, and, while he was teaching, the chief priests and the elders of the people came to him. "By what authority are you doing these things?" they asked. "And who gave you this authority?" 24Jesus replied, "I will also ask you one question. If you answer me, I will tell you by what authority I am doing these things.
So of course, it was the perfect song for a Gospel reading and a sermon about questioning. And the band rocked it out. And little kids in the congregation all raised their hands during the chorus. It was awesome. I love those unplanned moments where everything comes together.