Tonight is a really unique concert event in Asheville featuring music and conversation with David Wilcox, Carrie Newcomer, and Brian McLaren. Called “Music of the Soul: Songs & Conversations of the Spirit,” the event promises to be an evening of music and conversation that explores “the world of progressive spirituality.”
Becky and I have been fans of David Wilcox’s music for a number of years, thanks to good friends who introduced us to it back in the day. One friend, Blaine Howard, even interviewed Wilcox about his Christian faith for my underground ‘zine, and that interview (from 1995, ya’ll!) is still available on Wilcox’s official website. (And it’s still a good read, BTW.)
So we’ll be enjoying David Wilcox’s music for sure, but also the conversation with Brian McLaren who is someone I’ve grown to love and respect. We’ll be promoting the “Everything Must Change” event in Charlotte (Feb. 1-2), and I hope we can connect with some folks in Asheville who might also be interested in organizing an Emergent cohort out that way. I’d love to see something come together in that amazingly artistic, creative community.
Right now I’m just reflecting on some of Wilcox’s older material and the theological resonance it has with the emerging church conversation. Just read these lyrics from the song “Someday Soon” and think about how eloquently this speaks to the message of the kingdom of God that is at the heart of things:
Now if heaven is perfection
I’ll get my deepest questions answered
Like a child tears into presents
To a Christmas tune
But in that big hall, let there be a
Bright red ribbon that stays
Wrapped around the mystery
Of Someday Soon
Someday Soon made a promise I will follow
Someday Soon is why I try
Someday Soon told me: “Take this cup of
Empty hope up to the well that’s dry
Where there’s just enough of Someday Soon to satisfy”
UPDATE 12/16/2007: Well, last night was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, I reckon. Becky and I got to Asheville early so we could grab some dinner, and I was really looking forward to finally eating at Tupelo Honey. Unfortunately the wait was too long there, so we went next door to Mayfel’s, which turned out to be really nice. Asheville truly is “The Paris of the South.” We sat two tables away from this guy, which was kinda neat.
After dinner, we strolled around the block, covering our heads with umbrellas from the light rain, to Jubilee Community Church and set up a little table with “Everything Must Change – Charlotte” info before the concert. We got a chance to speak with Brian briefly, as well as Mike and Alma Johnson, who came up from South Carolina for the show as well. (It was great to see them again—the last time was back in September when we all had lunch with Brian in Asheville.)
The only disappointment from the whole evening was that David Wilcox did not play more of his own amazing back catalog of material. Instead he acted more as an M.C., completely content (in fact, giddy with regular outbursts of squeeling laughter!) to listen and lead Carrie Newcomer and Brian McLaren through their songs and stories around faith and art. (For those wondering, Brian only spoke, he did not perform any of his own music.) Surprisingly, however, Wilcox started off the night performing not one of his own myriad of tunes but one of Brian’s songs instead—“Atheist”! (I must confess, I really enjoyed the Wilcox version moreso than the original.) At the end of “Atheist,” Brian declared, “I’ve already gotten my money’s worth!”
Brian shared during one break about the scientific fact that all of the molecules in the human body turn over (or are replaced) every three years or so, which means that “we” (our physical selves) are really a pattern and that when we begin to see/acknowledge that pattern then life begins to look like a sentence and we can begin to hear God’s voice behind those words. Brian also shared stories and observations from Brennan Manning, Peter Rollins, Rene Padilla, and Bruce Springsteen.
Carrie Newcomer gained at least two new fans with her beautiful songwriting and humorous stories. Apparently she was performing at a “Peace and Justice” rally in Kentucky one time, and she was accosted by protesters (as Brian quipped, “Don’t Give Peace a Chance!”) who shouted at her through a megaphone, calling her “the whore of Babylon”! She noted, “Here, I thought I was just a struggling folk singer. I thought, ‘Things must be looking up!'”
Wilcox performed at least one new song that has not been recorded or released, as well as a few stream-of-consciousness numbers, attempting to weave a theological thread through the evening’s discussion. In true Wilcox fashion, the night wasn’t all serious and somber. Wilcox discussed his shock and dismay at finding out (via YouTube, of course) that not everyone in the world loves and appreciates his friend Brian as much as he does—in fact some folks really dislike Brian! (BTW—Brian told me that he and Wilcox were neighbors in the D.C. area for a number of years, which is how they got to be friends.) This led into a humorous number entitled “Peace of Me” that talked about “Christians on the right” and “Christians on the left” going at each other in a fight with the result of “the body of Christ getting torn limb from limb.” (Trust me, it was a humorous and poignant song!)
The high point of the evening for us was when Wilcox performed “Show The Way,” which is one of our all-time favorite songs. Our great friend Dave Burkum performed it for us at our wedding in 1995, so it has extra special meaning because of that, of course. Last night’s version was much more experimental and different, leading into an impromptu rendition of “In the Bleak Midwinter.”
The evening ended with Newcomer leading everyone in singing a blessing to each other. It was a cacophony of voices singing “Blessed are (fill in the blank),” and some beautiful harmonies emerged. Then Wilcox invited Brian to give a “benediction,” which he did wonderfully by leading us all in a sung version of the Lord’s Prayer. Again beautiful harmonies emerged, and it was a fitting ending to the rich and spiritually uplifting night—a rare and special treat, once-in-a-lifetime, perhaps.
UPDATE 12/21/2007: David Wilcox’s adaptation of the song “Atheist” (from the Songs for a Revolution of Hope CD) has been recorded and an MP3 of it is now available as a free download (.zip file). This is Wilcox’s “contribution to nudging the revolution of hope along in your heart,” McLaren says in his latest email newsletter.