I am no longer blogging here at Little Nuances, but I would love for you to join me on my author website www.leewarren.info.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Over the Rhine in concert

One day last week, I pulled out my Blackberry to read my e-mail. Over the Rhine had sent out one of their e-newsletters and I always find them thought-provoking, so I read it. I didn't get very far before I saw that they were scheduled to play in Omaha on August 17. OTR is one of my favorite groups and I've never had the chance to see them live—and from what I hear, live is where they excel, so I started begging friends to go with me. Thankfully, one caved.

We got to the club where the band was scheduled to play and we were stunned by how small it was. I think I counted eight tables on the main floor and there were maybe another eight tables on a level above us. We got there early to get a good seat and we took one of the tables on the main floor. By the time the show started, there were probably 150 people packed into the little place—many of whom stood near the stage when OTR came out.

I found this photo on Twitter that someone took at the show:
Share photos on twitter with Twitpic

OTR is mostly comprised of the husband-wife team of Linford Detweiler and Karin Bergquist (shown above). They hire musicians to tour with them to make up the rest of the band. If you haven't heard their music, I'm going to have a difficult time explaining what it sounds like. The funny thing is, iTunes can't squeeze them into a category either. I own six of their CDs and here is the genres iTunes lists them under: rock, classic rock, pop, and singer/songwriter (that's a genre?—wouldn't all groups fall under this category?).

But forget their genre. Their music is magical, emotional, hair-raising, honest, real, gut-wrenching, playful, soul-searching, and as close to describing the human experience as any music I've ever heard. Listening to them feels like you are being opened up a by word surgeon who isn't looking to fix your body, but instead is focused on your soul. The difference is, a normal surgeon works on you while you are asleep. OTR performs surgery while you are wide awake.

They opened the show on Monday with a song called "Born" from their CD entitled "Drunkard's Prayer." It was a perfect way to start the show. Here are the first few verses:

I was born to laugh
I learned to laugh through my tears
I was born to love
I'm gonna learn to love without fear

Pour me a glass of wine
Talk deep into the night
Who knows what we'll find

Intuition, deja vu
The Holy Ghost haunting you
Whatever you got
I don't mind

Put your elbows on the table
I'll listen long as I am able
There's nowhere I'd rather be

I love the way this song starts—a person who is born to laugh must learn to laugh through her tears. It doesn't come naturally. And while we might be born to love, it doesn't come naturally either. We have to learn to love without fear.

Deep down, humans long for intimacy. We want one other person to know us for who we really are and we long to be accepted once we are uncovered. As a single person, I dream about finding a wife who would sit down in front of me with a glass of wine saying, "Tell me everything, I'll listen as long as I'm able—there's nowhere else I'd rather be."

People listened to "Born" in silence. I think we were all overwhelmed by the intimate setting of the place that seemed like a rundown club just a few minutes prior and by the power of the music.

A couple of songs into the set, they played "I Don't Want to Waste Your Time." I've written about that song here. On the band's website, Detweiler elaborates on the message of this song:

"Believe me, we don't want to waste anybody's time. When we stop believing we're doing our best work, we're done. Every song has to be good, every record has to be great, every concert has to have some spiritual significance—something that we can't quantify, something bigger than all of us."
From my perspective, they are succeeding.

They went on to play so many great songs: "I'm On a Roll," "The Trumpet Child," "Drunkard's Prayer," "Don't Wait for Tom," "If a Song Could be President," and "Ohio." I got goosebumps when Bergquist sat down at the keyboard and began playing "Ohio." I wrote extensively about that song here a few months ago.

As I look through their catalog of music, they could have played so many more great songs—most notably "Latter Days," but they would have needed to be on stage four or five hours to do so.

I told my friend on the way home that OTR puts a voice to so many of the changes and hardships I've gone through in the past five or six years while at the same time making me completely aware of what I crave: an understanding wife, a slow deep life, and the belief that God is the overseer and orchestrator of it all.

If you've never seen OTR live, you must check their tour dates to see if they are coming to a city near you.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dancing in the Rain

"Anyone who says sunshine brings happiness has never danced in the rain." --Unknown

My mom called me this morning. One of the first things she said was, "What a depressing day this is." It was raining and overcast and she hates days like these. I, on the other hand, love days like these. Always have.

The funny thing is, after hanging up the phone with her, I flipped the pages on my desk calendars (yes, I'm actually vein enough to keep the desk calendars I've compiled for Barbour Publishing on my desk) and the quote above appeared for August 19 in the 365 Inspiring Moments from the Great Outdoors calendar, which prompted me to say, "Yeah, exactly."

I like gloomy days because they set the mood for staying in and when I think about staying in, I think about reading a good novel, or writing in my journal, or watching a good movie. This is how I dance in the rain. It's almost like the weather is giving you permission to stop running around long enough to enjoy yourself. Yeah, I know you can have fun in the sun too, but it's not the same for me.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Ordinary

Have I really been gone for an entire month? Wow. Guess that's how it goes in the life of a blog. You spend time with her whenever possible, but sometimes life pulls you away. And so it goes.

A few of the things that have been on my mind lately include:

  • I started reading The Diary of a Young Girl recently (better known as "The Diary of Anne Frank") and it's confirming so much of what I believe. I'm moved by how ordinary Anne made her life sound in such volatile circumstances. On one hand, she was afraid that the Gestapo would find her family and she knew what would happen if they did, and on the other hand, she went on with life while in hiding. She read books and journaled about them. She studied math and French and complained about them. She chronicled the squabbles of the two families (hers and another) who were in hiding together over such things as which linens and dishes should be used. The ordinary routines of life seemed to give her a sense of normalcy, and when it comes right down to it, that's what most of us are after—even in the most extreme of circumstances.

  • I'm writing a couple of news features for a local newspaper this week. As I interviewed the subjects of the stories, I found it fascinating to listen to the ways in which God is working. In one case, a family feels called to live in a foreign country simply to be a light in a place of much darkness. They don't have any agendas. They simply want to help people. In another case, a pastor shared his heart with me about the people of Scotland. He recently returned from a trip there, and seeing God at work there has stirred his soul. Good stuff from people who are making a difference.

  • The Moleskine notebook I'm currently using has plenty of room left in it, so I'm not in the hunt for a new one yet, but somebody needs to convince me not to cheat on the Moleskine brand with the new (to me) Piccadilly brand. From what I can tell, they both offer acid-free paper, they both have a similar look and feel, and Piccadilly is about half the price. Piccadilly also has fewer pages, but not enough to detract me. Has anybody tried Piccadilly notebooks? If so, what is your take? I found this review that really makes me want to give them a try.


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