those damn lists

I hate those top 10 lists that come out every year. but one must pin ones depressive hopeful states on something!

Bottom 10 things of the year

  1. horrible dusty HSR layout with horrible neighbours and horrible dogs
  2. the ever increasing isolation of Luiza Chandy
  3. the loss of some friendships
  4. the lack of bass playing
  5. the state of my church
  6. the state of my relationship with God
  7. my leaving TAAQ again
  8. the periodical checking of my bank account
  9. people not landing up for choir practice or performances without prior information
  10. my failure at getting my recording started

Top 10 things of the year

  1. Every new move and sound from Kiarna
  2. the trip to England with Lui and Kia
  3. the wonderfully fulfilling Christ college choir. watta bunch!
  4. Gertrude and the extra blessings of equipment lent and given
  5. being able to write new stuff. far more productive compared to 2005. again the Christ college choir really helped!
  6. the bible study group – my faith in humanity isn’t extinguished – yet!
  7. My parents and brother. Solid as a rock.
  8. Christ college. Has given me space and a platform.
  9. Being told that I gave people the wish and the desire to sing
  10. Reconciliation with somebody I hated
Advertisements

Christmas

Absolute madness. December always promises that and but this year has been special. The month started of in Delhi where I was sessioning with TAAQ and we saw another Indian band that blew all our minds out. Watching Skinney Alley on that cold night was a strange spiritual experience of glimpsing something of such beauty that I had to give God thanks for something that could only come from him.

Straight back in to see Galeej play for the PU kids in Christ college and it was sooo good to see everyone having fun in a way I hadn’t seen for a while. And that night the TAAQ party which was a mixed bag of emotions but boy am I proud of them. I really hope that in college some seeds are being sown which will show their awesome fruit 10 years down. One can hope. God does things slowly and properly. Tres difficile for our instant slot machine minds to grasp.

The next day the college choir season started. On a poor note. Not really prepared or focussed. But pulled through and everyone admonished each other gently of course. And then it just took off. It’s been an amazing experience being with the choir. So much ownership, so much passion, so much commitment, so much talent. It all came together without too much heartache from my side this time. We won Basel Mission for the 3rd consecutive time (My 6th first! lift the collar!), had good performances at Campus Crusade, Magnificat, and at Bishop Cottons. I was amazed at the kind of energy we managed to get together and I was quite kicked by the fact that even if a soloist was missing we always seemed to have a back up. I’m almost fearful of restarting the choir for not being able to recapture the feeling. But all things move on and change. Holding on to the past is dangerous. God moves on. He does new stuff. Each time cooler and more frightening. The choir wanted to keep singing on and on. I believe in heaven. We’ll all jam the most beautiful music forever.

Two songs came out at this time. ‘Magnify’ and ‘Hush’, two completely different pieces. One by an exultant mother at God’s goodness and the other by an unknown mother on the verge of losing her child to a senseless political act of violence. I wanted to write something different and God gave me the eyes to see something and write some of it down. Christian songs for the most part seem to exclude the messy living, the politics, the horror and the beauty of living (with brilliant exceptions in Graham Kendrick and John Bell to name a couple of writers who I’ve been inspired by). I didn’t need to make up anything. It’s all there in our gospels. And these 2 songs capture the light and the darkness of Christmas. The despair at losing your most precious, and the hope that in the end everything will be put to rights. Everything. Including death.

Leon Ireland’s death was a huge shock. I didn’t know the brilliant Moksha singer too well. But I’ve seen him perform since Moksha first formed and have met him and joked with him at the various gigs that we did meet. Death sudden and young is always harder to bear. But death always feels so not right. And I grieved. I remember Jesus wept too. And later, he smashed death itself. But why does it still ache so much?

Gertrude made her appearance. The first performance was in church. Played ‘jazz’. Did an improvised solo on ‘God rest ye merry…’ I’m a show off. That’s not complete evil but to perform beautifully one must perform to give others joy. It sometimes happens. Someone told me ‘You are blessed, and you are a blessing to others’. I really want to hold on to that when I play. To show something of the beauty of God. That God is not a philosophical out there concept. That God could show a tiny drop of himself through a broken bass guitarist. Abraham Laboriel really shows the way on that. Played with Galeej. Did ‘Aeroplane’ and a long extended solo which wasn’t all there but it was fun. Still focussed a lot on myself there.

Three gigs with TAAQ and I find that my keyboard playing is maturing. It’s great to be with old friends and do music. I like my current relationship with the band. Finally that’s what’s important isn’t it? Relationship. Now if only I could figure out my relationship with God…

Though the last 3 weeks have been fun, it’s been hard especially on Luiza and Kiarna. We’ve missed each other a lot, and it’s tough when Luiza and Kiarna are in isolated HSR Layout. There have been good people who’ve dropped by but we wish for more… So we’re glad that the madness is over. We can breathe a little more now. We pray for the breath of God.

This Christmas is special. My daughter shall smile at me. God will be with us as we sit together and pray and eat. Pray and eat. Jesus did that quite a lot. So it must be good right?

Here’s wishing you Merry Christmas and I pray that you’ll get a glimpse of the amazing things that God has got for you.

Magnify

Another song that we did

My soul magnifies the Lord,
My spirit gives him praise.
Be magnified. Be magnified.

My Lord has favoured his lowly servant,
I shall be called blessed.
Be magnified. Be magnified.

For his mercies last from age to age
generation on generation his love flows.
Be magnified. Be magnified.

Magnify! Magnify!
Magnify! Magnify!

The Lord has shown his hand
with power and strength.
He’s scattered, scattered,
the kings of pride.

Magnify the Lord,
Magnify! Magnify!
Magnify! Magnify!

The ones on the throne,
he hasn’t left alone
he’s brought them down, down, down
and lifted up the lowly.

Magnify the Lord,
Magnify! Magnify!
Magnify! Magnify!

He has filled
the hungry with good things
and the rich he’s sent away
sent away empty.

Magnify the Lord,
Magnify! Magnify!
Magnify! Magnify!

Magnify the Lord.

hush…

This was how we finally sang it.

Hush little baby
don’t say a word
for Herod’s men are coming
with death in their sword

Hush little baby
don’t make a sound
the darkness covers us
grief all around

Voices sound in the town of Ramah
the wail of lament
Rachel weeping for her children
she says no, no, no for consolation
for her babies, her babies, they are no more.

Hush little baby
don’t say a word
for Herod’s men have come
with death in their sword

Hush little baby
don’t make a sound
the darkness covers us
grief all around

The king is born, but death surrounds him
the light has come in darkness
Are we pawns on this stage of horror
there is no no no sense in it all
a joke to die for

Hush little baby
don’t say a word
for Herod’s men have come
with death in their sword

Hush little baby
don’t make a sound
the darkness covers us
grief all around

Oh hear the cries
Oh hear the cries of the innocents

Hush little baby
don’t say a word
you don’t say a word
no more…

Missing link 2

Thankfully I had slightly alternative parents. I never had too much emphasis on study, study, study. I’m happy and grateful. But growng up in small town Kottayam, Kerala meant that you were never far away from the disdain that doing music generated. Even my cool school was infected with it. A person who was good at music always faced a completely two faced attitude. Both faces ridiculous.

One level worship. ‘You guys are gods!’

On another ‘So what are you going to do…? no… other than music.’

One of the worst and best things the church ever did to us was to fire my dad. Stupid putrid politics typical of the church but it got my dad into music. I’m not sure what everyone thought of it. He was a priest.

So priest = good status, something worthwhile.

Now he was doing music.

Musician = not real life.

Priest + Musician = ????

My mom’s dad was a priest first who did music. So he was essentially just a cool priest. No one spoke of him as a musician though he wrote many songs and kindly passed on his talent to most of his grandkids.

But even I was infected by the fact that music wasn’t really a living choice. I tried a few things and every time God threw me back into this pool of doing music. Even today I’m very wary of saying ‘I do music.’ It seems to be a surefire conversation stopper. So I do the usual cowardly, spineless thing and say ‘I work in Christ college…. as a mentor.’ Shame on me.

My employers don’t seem to be that infected though. Hence I have a job. They believe I have something real to offer to the students there. Not too sure what the students think of it all. Not sure at all of what my fellow staff members think of it.

I could rant on and on. But my confidence has been often boosted by an innocuous verse in the bible. Gen 4:21-24 lists 3 brothers. Jabal the father of all who look after livestock, Jubal the father of all play the harp and flute, and Tubal-cain the father of all who work in bronze and metals.

Livestock, music, metalwork.

It’s all part of life.

Anything else is a lie.

the missing link

Our society hasn’t yet understood that music is a part of life. Music is considered extraneous to normal life. ‘First studies… then music.’ ‘First job… then music.’ As long as this continues the quality and freshness of our music suffers. Instead we just have regurgitated trash gracing our ears. Why can’t people see music as a good developmental tool? It could actually be important in the growth of the individual and our society. But no. No one wants to listen.