Weekend Coffee Share: Late Night Live Music & Early Mornings at the Library

If we were having coffee, we would most likely be in a car cruising down the interstate clutching cardboard Starbucks to-go cups.  I’d be tired and not super coherent–not that it matters due to the fact that the music would be blasting.  (Why I’m in this state will become clear later in the post.)

It’s been a busy week.  Well, the first of what will be many busy weeks.  When I’m not working my day job, I’m helping out at my family’s apple orchard.  We’re on the verge of peak apple season, which means that crowds are coming and no one in the house gets any rest.  I don’t have a single day off in the next month.  I’ve managed to squeeze in fun activities with friends here and there, which doesn’t do much for my overall energy levels, but completely worth it. Continue reading

Boys only want love if it’s torture

Courtly Love.  Fin’ amor.  What comes to mind?

Knights on white horses.  Damsels in towers.  Romance.  Intrigue.  Purity.  Chivalry.

One of the many literature classes I’m taking this semester is Gender, Lit, and Culture.  The professor, Julie, is one of my absolute favorites (and happens to be my academic advisor).  This year, she’s teaching the class from the angle of Courtly Love.

It’s only been one day and I’m already over the moon with excitement.  Since today was the day for introductory material, we spent most of the time defining courtly love.  Julie showed examples of different aspects of the concept from movies like The Princess Bride, Romeo & Juliet, Shakespeare in Love, and A Knight’s Tale.  (Oh, Heath Ledger.  You beautiful, beautiful man.  May you rest in peace.)

The concept of courtly love is primarily literary, meaning it didn’t actually happen in real life.  It involves a man possessing deep, ennobling love with a woman who is usually unattainable.  (She could be married, far away, or even dead.)  The lover takes on the role of a servant, humbling himself before his beloved.  He gives her excessive praise and almost wastes away (symptoms: paleness of skin, sudden weight loss, sleeplessness) due to love.  The lady is placed on a pedestal, becoming an icon of unnatural beauty and a borderline spiritual inspiration to the lover.  Due to this position, the beloved is often seen as domineering, demanding proof of his loyalty and obedience before paying him attention.

In stories of courtly love, there is secrecy, adultery, and (of course) endless suffering on behalf of the lover.  Love transcends mere emotion–it is a game, an art with rules and guidelines.

I find it all fascinating.  It’s problematic, but also tugs at your romantic heartstrings.  The idea that there is such a thing as true love sets a standard that can never be met.  We know this, but still long for it anyway.

One of the things Julie talked about was that the traditions of courtly love continue to influence our culture today.  We talked about several examples, but my favorite was from a movie that came out not too long ago…  The song, of course, is satire.  But the agony of the courtly lover is shown PERFECTLY.  (Also, it’s the best scene in Into the Woods hands down.  Attractive men ripping their shirts, writhing around on rocks, moaning about love.  Absolute hilarity.)

Courtly love isn’t just in the movies.  Julie, defending herself with the claim that it’s all her eleven year old daughter listens to, pointed out that Taylor Swift songs are littered with courtly love themes.  After class ended, I visited some of her recent songs and discovered that is absolutely true.  I mean, the ENTIRE music video to “Blank Space” is a big, overblown courtly love fest. It’s not a perfect example, but comes pretty dang close.  Taylor takes the position of the beloved, holding complete and total control of the mansion and lover.  She’s on the pedestal.  She’s got the power.  And, goodness, does she use it.  The lyrics explain the thrill of the game and the agonies of love.  “Boys only want love if it’s torture.”

Courtly love aside, the music video is absolutely hilarious.  I’m kind of in love with it.

(Also, you can take a quiz on Buzzfeed to find out what part you are.  I got the screaming fight part.)

“White Christmas”

I will admit, I had something different planned for today’s song. However, my computer decided to break on me and must blog from my mom’s iPad. Which slows things down.

So, in light of things not going how you plan them, I thought I would go back to one of my all time favorite songs. I wasn’t planning on including it because there are so many other wonderful Christmas tunes to highlight. But hey, it’s a classic for a reason.

Enjoy “White Christmas” and check back tomorrow for another day of Tis the Season!

“Silver Bells”

Today’s featured Christmas song is “Silver Bells” by She & Him.  Although it’s not one of my favorite carols, I recently discovered this version and fell absolutely in love.  I mean, it’s Zooey Deschanel and a ukelele.  What’s not to love?

Stop by tomorrow for more Christmas talk and music!

The music of wanderlust

As winter progresses in Minnesota, the days grow more and more bleak.  I look outside and can’t even see the wind turbines due to the wintry haze.  All I can see is a slushy parking lot and a snow-covered volleyball court.  With a great deal of my time dedicated to writing essays and studying for next week’s final exams, daydreaming has become a constant practice.  Last night, I had a dream I was back in Austria, exploring in the mountains with my friends.

Days like today bring out the travel bug in me.  I was raised on cross-country road trips and fifteen hour drives.  Packing a bag, getting in my car, and driving somewhere far away just for the sake of adventure is incredibly appealing.

However, since taking such a spontaneous trip is impossible at the moment, I thought I’d share some songs that bring out my wanderlust.

“Down In the Valley” The Head and the Heart

“Transistor Radio” Cloud Cult

“Wagon Wheel: Old Crow Medicine Show

Happy Friday!

Jenny & Tyler @ Art House North

If you remember back to my second “Influential Albums” post, one of my favorite bands of all time is Jenny & Tyler.  Well.  This past weekend, I had the opportunity to see them play live!  On Saturday, I drove to the Twin Cities from Morris, kidnapped my friend Ruth and, after a delicious Chipotle dinner, headed to the show.

The show took place at a venue called Art House North, a renovated church owned by Troy and Sara Groves.  The Groves’ vision is to create a place for artists of all kinds (painters, writers, musicians, photographers, actors, designers, etc.) to “express themselves and wrestle with questions of faith, culture and beauty”.  It’s a place for collaboration and community, for people to “foster creativity inspired by the pain of the world and the beauty of the gospel”.  It’s a place to “demonstrate the way of Jesus by seeking justice through art and living as creative advocates”.  (Information taken from their Facebook Page).

It was my first time at Art House North, and Ruth and I were both impressed by the environment the Groves have created.  The space itself, with the church pews, Christmas lights, and fall decorations, has all the nostalgia of old-time-religion.  All the while, the atmosphere is filled with the presence of the Holy Spirit.  Even though Ruth and I entered the doors as strangers, we left feeling like we had forged new friendships.  There were so many kind souls at the event, and it was a pleasure getting to know people who had been strangers.

Now on to Jenny & Tyler.  I discovered them by accident several years ago.  In fact, I found them via an ad on Facebook.  Upon clicking said ad, I found myself on NoiseTrade where one of their albums was available for free.  I downloaded said album and immediately fell in love.  Their music soon became a staple in my life, carrying me through and over many spiritual hills and valleys over the past several years.  I listened to them in times of grieving, in times of loneliness, and in times of bold adventure.  Their music filled me with the courage to fly to London for a semester abroad.

The husband and wife duo simply emanate the Holy Spirit.  Their harmonies are saturated in the love and peace of God.  Their website describes them in this way:

In a crowded industry glutted by banality, Jenny & Tyler stand out as true psalmists. Their music holds a mirror up to nature, culture and all the reckless passions of the human heart and points ultimately toward a Creator. Their songs mark them as modern-day contemplatives and troubadours, rooted in age-old wisdom set to new melodies.

IMG_2942Because their music means so much to me, the concert was a perfect one.  They were a bit awkward on stage between songs, but that added to their charm.  Jenny is the image of sweetness and Tyler is deeply passionate.  Even though they perform the same songs week after week, it felt like they were singing for the first time.  When they sing, their love for God is so evident.  They performed a song about their 15 month old daughter and their love for her shined.  And when they told the story of how they met and performed their love song “One Eyed Cat”, they kept giving each other these adorable sideways glances that showed how much they continue to adore each other.

Ruth said to me after the show, “I kept looking over at you and you were absolutely beaming!”

It was true.  The evening filled me with so much joy that it was hard to stop smiling.

ArtHouseNorthwithRuthie!
Ruth and I on the stage area after the show.

Seeing the following song live was one of the highlights of the show.  It had never been one of their standout numbers for me until now.  Tyler described it as a “divine love song”–words stood out to me, and have helped me fall completely in love with “Song for You”.

Festival Palomino

I love music.  I love good music.  I love good music live.

When I heard about this great new music festival in the Twin Cities, it only seemed natural to go.

http://images.publicradio.org/content/2014/04/08/20140408_festival-palomino_91.jpg

This year marks the first year of Festival Palomino, a day of music put on by Minnesota band Trampled by Turtles.  It took place at Canterbury Park in Shakopee and had tons of fun indie rock/folk bands.

Although the heavy crowds didn’t show up until later in the day, my friend Eva and I arrived around two, just in time for the first band.  Most of the afternoon was spent sitting in the grass soaking in the summer sun, talking and enjoying music.  We wandered around, looking at the merch tables and food vendors.

It was a great day for people watching, as events like this draw in all the hipsters.  I got a bit envious of all the lovely flannels (even though I have a healthy stock of my own in my apartment) and wondered at the meaning behind all the interesting tattoos.

At around four o’clock, a big thunderstorm hit that forced everyone indoors.  Eva and I parked on a bench for two hours where we chatted and did more people watching.  I ran into a guy I knew from high school, and she bumped into a former roommate.

At one point during the storm, a lady approached our bench.  Impatiently, she looked down at us and said, “We’re leaving.  Do you want our food tickets?”  Naturally, we said yes, and she handed over seventeen little squares of paper.  Later, we splurged on two pieces of pizza each and a shared Ben & Jerry’s cone.  Free food, for the win!

Now, if you remember my list of influential albums from a few weeks ago, you’ll know that I love The Head and the Heart.  You can probably imagine my excitement at finally getting to see them live!  Eva and I were right up close, about twenty feet from the stage.  They were PHENOMENAL.  Oh my goodness.  They sound just as good, if not better, live than on their albums.  One of my favorite things about them is that the main singer (the one in the middle on my photos) is a natural performer.  The way he gestured and sang certain words reminded me of the storytellers in old folk stories.  The sun was setting as they played, and I was sucked in by the words and the music.

 

 

The headliner and sponsor of the concert was, of course, Trampled by Turtles.  I will admit, I only dabble in their music.  There’s just so much out there that I’m never sure what to listen to.  During their set (which was over an hour) I only knew a couple of songs.  We were not as close to the stage this time around (having given up our spots in favor of food).  But I still enjoyed them immensely.  You can’t be a Minnesota indie folk music fan and not see Trampled live.  It’s something you just have to do, and I’m so glad I did!

Trampled by Turtles
Trampled by Turtles

Because it was so hot during the afternoon, Eva and I both forgot to bring our sweaters into the festival.  In the evening, after the sun set, we rather regretted this decision.  Standing in the crowd, pressed uncomfortably close to strangers, certainly helped.  But at one point, while shivering away, I said to Eva, “I know how to get warm.  We just have to knock out a hipster and steal their flannel.  Goodness knows there’s plenty of them to choose from.”

No hipsters were harmed, don’t worry.  But the temptation was real.

Influential albums II

Here is the second half of my list of influential albums!

6. Rend Collective, Campfire (2013)

You can’t work at a Bible camp and not get addicted to Rend Collective.  Although I’ve only been listening to them for a few months, their folksy worship has more than captured my heart.  And, seriously, how cool is it that they recorded an entire album around a campfire?

7. The Head and the Heart, self titled album (2010)

These guys were my foray into the indie-folk genera.  I heard “Rivers and Roads” and fell imedietly, hopelessly in love.  Of both their albums, there’s not a song I don’t like.

8. Jenny & Tyler, Faint Not (2010)

I discovered this husband and wife duo in my sophomore year of college through an ad in my Facebook sidebar.  Normally, I ignore those ads, but something made me click.  And, oh boy, I’m so happy I did.  Jenny & Tyler’s music is incredibly encouraging has seen me through some of the darkest times of my life (thus far).

9. Needtobreathe, The Reckoning (2011)

Needtobreathe was on my iPod for years before I actually touched them.  And, when I finally did, I fell hard.  It was one of those, “Where have you been my whole life?” moments.  Although all their albums are fantastic, I decided to go with The Reckoning because it was the first one I listened to and has some of my favorite tracks.

10. Cloud Cult, Unplug (2014)

Cloud Cult is another one of my recent obsessions.  They did an acoustic show at my school last Spring and I’ve been listening to them ever since.  Their music has a lot of variety, but my favorite is definitely their acoustic album.  When this song, “Pretty Voice”, comes on when I’m driving, I will listen to it three times in a row just because I’m so obsessed with it.

And that concludes my list of music albums that have impacted my life!  Don’t forget to check out the first half of the list.

Now, readers, I pass this challenge on to you!  What albums have influenced you and why?  Answer in the comments, or use this as a prompt!

Influential albums I

Trending on Facebook recently have been lists of things that influenced you.  The premise is simple.  You make up a list of books, movies, songs, etc. that have impacted your life, tag a few friends, and there you go.  I’ve been nominated for a couple of these things and, instead of bogging down my Facebook feed, thought I’d make some blog posts out of it!

My friend Kassandra nominated me to share some albums that have influenced me.  So, without further ado, here are the first five!  (In no particular order.)

1. Flogging Molly, Drunken Lullabies (2002)

After I escaped from my country music phase in middle school, this was one of the first albums I got hooked on.  In many ways, it was the introduction to much of the folksy music I listen to now.  I fell in love with Flogging Molly in eighth grade, under the influence of my older brother, and it’s a love that has sustained me through the years.  Choosing a track to feature was incredibly difficult, but I ended up going with “If I Ever Leave this World Alive”, as it’s one of my favorite songs of all time.

2. Classic Disney Vol I & II

In second grade, I purchased this sketchy yellow portable cassette player from a girl at the annual TF Elementary rummage sale.  This enabled me to listen to my Disney tapes anywhere and everywhere I wanted.  And, oh goodness, those songs became imprinted on my childhood.

3. Ministry of Magic, Goodbye Privet Drive (2008)

I will admit, this was a weirder phase of my music listening career.  In high school, I developed a taste for “Wizard Rock”–an underground movement of indie bands themed around (what else?) Harry Potter.  I’ve got hundreds of Potter inspired songs on my iPod to this day.  At the time, I thought they were fantastic.  Looking back, I can see how musically sub par and poorly written most of the songs are.  But, hey, they sure are fun!  Here’s their song “Sonorous Love”.  (Please ignore the poorly made fan video.)

4. Relient K, Mmhmm (2004)

Like Flogging Molly, Relient K was one of the first bands I ever fell in love with.  My older brother (once again) brought them into my life after coming home from camp one year.  He couldn’t stop singing “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, and soon, neither could I.  Relient K was one of my staples in high school, and Mmhmm saw me through all my teenage drama.

5. Top Gun Soundtrack (1999)

Okay, so this one is a bit strange.  I’ve never actually seen the movie Top Gun.  But back in the 1990’s my mom would play this on repeat in the car.  We’d get to the end of the cassette tape, rewind it (’cause that’s what you had to do back in the day) and listen through it again.  So, even though I’ve never seen the actual film, I know the soundtrack by heart.

Stay tuned for the other half of my list!