Here it is. As usual, no apologies for bad taste, diversity, etc. Click the song titles to hear the songs (not all included):
1. Here Comes the Sun – The Beatles
Spring always feels like this.
2. Jump in the Line – Harry Belafonte
This should get you dancing. At least in your seat. A song you can’t help moving to. Go on, I dare you!
3. Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing – Sufjan Stevens
Has there ever been a better lyric than, “Here I raise my Ebenezer”? (for the record, “Ebenezer” is a biblical word meaning “stone of help”, and was a stone Samuel named when God helped the Israelites win a victory over the Philistines.) But really, mostly I resonate with this verse:
O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be
Let that grace now, like a fetter
Bind my wandering heart to Thee
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it
Prone to leave the God I love
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it
Seal it for Thy courts above
4. Mercy – Counting Crows
This year Counting Crows released an album of covers of little-known songs. This is one of many they’ve covered by Tender Mercies, who do some of the best contemporary gospel songs I’ve come across.
5. John and Jesus – Peter Kearney
Putting together a songbook for GraceTree, I tracked this song (which is part of the Urban Seed songbook) down to Peter Kearney, an Australian songwriter and performer. The album version is a little dated, but if you want a contemporary version, come to GraceTree. 🙂
6. Salome – U2
We had a great session on John the Baptist at GraceTree earlier in the year. I spent the week meditating on this interpretation of John’s execution by U2. I didn’t end up using this as part of the session, but it certainly informed it.
7. Don’t Stop Me Now – Queen
I heard this in – of all things – a chase scene in an episode of Family Guy. It stuck with me.
8. Halfway Down the Stairs – Amy Lee
I grew up reading A.A. Milne’s poetry, particularly Winnie the Pooh. This is a quirky interpretation of the original poem set to music, from the Muppets “Green album” (covers of Muppets songs by contemporary artists). (For the record, the original song by Kermit’s nephew Robin is here.)
9. You’re the Voice – John Farnham
This became the official Swan Island Peace Convergence 2012 theme song – complete with celebratory dance – when it blasted out of the portable sound system soon after we held the gate. For two days we were not just the voice, but the hands, the feet, and the bodies too.
“We’re all someone’s daughter
We’re all someone’s son.
How long can we look at each other
Down the barrel of a gun?”
10. Stay Right Here – David Rovics
Occupy Melbourne seems like ages ago now, but actually it was still going through the first months of 2012. In fact it’s now morphed into a bunch of affinity groups, most of which were radicalised by the State response to the initial movement. Occupy lives.
This is a song by David Rovics on why Occupy exists.
11. Never Fall in Love Again – The Whitlams
I remembered the Whitlams doing this version of the classic Burt Bacharach song and tracked it down. It’s still a doozy.
12. Stir it up – Bob Marley and the Wailers
How did it take me this long to find reggae?
13. How to Make Gravy – Paul Kelly
This song, written in the first person about a bloke in prison at Christmas, gets me every time. Especially thinking about the kinds of risks I’ll likely take in the future. Sigh.
14. Leaving, On A Jet Plane – John Denver
While looking for songs for GraceTree worship, someone suggested Annie’s Song, which sent me on a while nostalgic childhood trip down John Denver lane. My parents used to listen to John Denver a lot when I was growing up. I actually like it now.
15. Song of Ascent – Tom Wuest
Having looked for good worship music for GraceTree, I came across Tom’s music. Produced mostly on his family farm, and sounding just that intimate, these are great, simple, biblical songs for small group worship. I also appreciate his intentionality about relational connection and slowness.
16. Bonus track: Smells Like Teen Spirit – The Muppets
You haven’t lived until you’ve seen the Muppets doing a Barbershop Quartet version of the classic Nirvana song. And if you haven’t alreadys seen the new Muppets movie, do yourself a favour and go see it.