Monday, December 17, 2007

~ american irony ~

Around the turn of the century (*I love that I am able to utilize that phrase in relation to my own lifetime*), I was introduced to a little band I have grown quite fond of.

Back then, when I still had a tendency to peruse the isles of christian bookstores, I had become quite fond of the bargain table where the best in CCM was often relegated to be sold at unbelievably cheap prices. If it wasn't fit for Christian radio, or was too "new" for people to give it a chance, it was marked down to $2 and tossed onto a table in the center isle. This was the place to stock up on Lost Dogs (and all bands associated), Vigilantes of Love, Kate Miner, a multitude of Tooth and Nail bands, some very interesting solo artists, and various and sundry other musicians. This table made it possible to try out new stuff. If I loved it, I was grateful that the bargain price had allowed me to discover a hidden gem. If it sucked, I figured there were worse ways to lose a buck than musicial experimentation.

Digging through the mountain of cheap CDs on a random Saturday morning, I first discovered Robbie Seay Band. The album cover for Thoughts of You was eye catching, and I had a sneaking (and correct) suspicion that this guy must be releated to Chris Seay, whose writing I was familiar with. The album was decently entertaining, not a true diamond-in-the rough, but not quickly dismissed, either. I could have done without the Sheryl Crow cover, but it wasn't a bad album and I pulled it out from time to time.

A few years later, when I came across 10,000 Charms, I decided to give the band another chance and see what this effort had to offer. Five years later, this album is still in regular rotation at home and in the car, and has been shared with many a friend. I LOVE this album, and would probably take it with me to a deserted island, if such a thing still existed (the polar bears would be quite fond of it, as well...). When Better Days was released just a couple years later, I returned to the "eh..." reaction I had to the first album, but the band's contributions to Songs from the Voice attracted me once again. I wouldn't say my emotional attachment to the band is like a rollercoaster - it never dips that low - but there are times when my attraction weakens.

On Good Friday, 2006, Meredith and I attended the Last Eyewitness tour for "an alternative worship experience telling the story of Jesus through scenes from the Gospel of John," part of the Voice project. Robbie Seay Band, as well as the beloved Don and Lori Chaffer, provided the music and Chris Seay spoke on the sin of consumerism and the way that we have allowed commercial messages to replace scripture in dictating who we are and what we should desire. It was a moving and beautiful experience, heightend all the more by the location in a small church in a small town with wooden pews and lots of trees outside.

A few weeks ago, I purchased the band's newest offering, Give Yourself Away, and it felt like a beautiful compliment to the Advent season. The theme of the title resonates throughout the album, and focuses the heart on living beyond self.

A few days ago, the band announced that their song, Rise, had been chosen for use in the commercial promotion of the upcoming season of American Idol.

(*cue record scratching*)

The problem is the meaning of the song seems entirely lost on a program of this kind. Now, I know I'm a bit out of the television loop, but isn't the tagline of Idol "the search for a superstar"? How does that connect with giving yourself away? I don't think rising stardom is exactly the type of rising this song has in mind. I just don't get it. But, then again, I am the cynical optimist.

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