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Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview


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Songs of Experience – U2 (Deluxe Edition)

U2 has always been more than just a band. With Songs of Experience, they show their maturity, while still taking chances. The band’s 14th studio album – incredibly with no band member changes – is their follow-up to 2014’s companion Songs of Innocence. Thematically, the album is a collection of letters written by Bono to people and places closest to his heart. The album is influenced by Bono’s “recent brush with death”, and inspired by the Irish poet Brendan Kennelly’s advice to him to “write as if you’re dead”. The band worked with nine different producers and 15 engineers on the album. There is much to digest here, and it will best be appreciated after multiple listenings.

The album was ready to be released in late 2016, but after the shift of global politics in a conservative direction, the band decided to delay it and reassess the tone of the album. The album included nine different producers and 15 engineers, so there is a lot of variety included. The album cover features a photo of Bono’s son Eli and the Edge’s daughter Sian holding hands, taken by the band’s long-time photographer Anton Corbijn.

Here are a few brief comments about each song:

Love Is All We Have LeftThis song was produced by Andy Barlow. It’s a slow, quiet song, with Bono singing with synth backing. Bono uses some falsetto, as he duets with his own electronically modified voice. A rather underwhelming track to start the album, which repeats the song title often.

Lights Of HomeThis song was produced by Brent Kutzle, Ryan Tedder, Jacknife Lee and Jolyon Thomas, and co-written by the Haim sisters from the alternative pop-rock band HAIM, who sing back-up vocals. This song references Bono’s brush with death “Shouldn’t be here ’cause I should be dead”, and has him looking toward Heaven (the lights of home). The song features a nice guitar solo from the Edge.

You’re The Best Thing About MeThis song was produced by Ryan Tedder, Steve Lillywhite and Jacknife Lee. It was the first single released from the album. It opens with some excellent guitar from the Edge and continues with a driving beat led by drummer Larry Mullen. The song could very well be about Bono’s wife Ali. It includes some humor “Shooting off my mouth, that’s another great thing about me”.

Get Out Of Your Own WayThis song is produced by Jolyon Thomas, Ryan Tedder, Jacknife Lee, Brent Kutzle and Steve Lillywhite. Verse contains these interesting lyrics:

The face of liberty’s starting to crack
She had a plan up until she got smacked in the mouth
And it all went south
Like freedom
The slaves are lookin’ for someone to lead them
The master’s lookin’ for someone to need him
The promised land is there for those who need it most
The song ending features Kendrick Lamar, who previously collaborated with U2 on his song “XXX.” From DAMN. track e ending It features Kendrick Lamar who delivers a brief monologue – a twisted version of Jesus’ Beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-11) – over the Edge’s guitar.

American SoulThis song is produced by Jacknife Lee, and written by Kendrick Lamar and U2. It begins with Kendrick Lamar offering more “Beatitudes” in a spoken word opening. The song includes an alternate take on the “XXX” chorus.
The song is strong musically, driven by the Edge on guitar. America is not a place but a thought that offers grace to refugees.  The song is both about American music and politics. Key lyric:
Let it be unity, let it be community
For refugees like you and me
A country to receive us
Will you be our sanctuary

Summer of LoveThis song is produced by Brent Kutzle and Ryan Tedder and features additional vocals from Tedder and Lady Gaga. The song is driven by Edge’s acoustic guitar. This song could be about the Syrian city of Aleppo.

I’ve been thinking about the West Coast
Not the one that everyone knows
In the rubble of Aleppo

Key lyric: Oh, and when all is lost, when all is lost we find out what remains.

Red Flag DayThis song is produced by Ryan Tedder, Brent Kutlzle, Andy Barlow and Steve Lillywhite. The song features additional vocals from Tedder and Julian Lennon and is driven by the Edge’s guitar and Larry Mullen Jr’s drums. The song references the many migrants drowning in the Mediterranean Sea. Key lyric: Paradise is a place you can see when it’s yours.

The Showman (Little More Better)This song is produced by Ryan Tedder, Steve Lillywhite and Jacknife Lee, and features additional vocals from Tedder. This song has Bono (the Showman) singing about himself.  It features an instantly memorable 60’s sounding chorus. Key lyric:
It is what it is but it’s not what it seems
This screwed up stuff is the stuff of dreams
I got just enough low self-esteem
To get me where I want to go

The Little Things That Give You AwayThis song was produced by Andy Barlow and Joylon Thomas. The band debuted the song on their summer 2017 Joshua Tree 30th anniversary tour. The song opens slowly with Larry’s drums and keys. The song builds powerfully toward the end with Bono’s “Sometimes” reflections over the Edge’s guitars. Key lyric:
I can’t believe my existence
See myself from a distance
I can’t get back inside

Landlady –  This song was produced by Ryan Tedder, Jacknife Lee and Andy Barlow. This song is love letter to Bono’s wife Ali. It’s a slower, quieter song with Bono singing over Larry’s drums and the Edge’s guitars. Key lyric:  

And I’ll never know, never know what starving poets meant
Cause when I was broke, it was you that always paid the rent

The Blackout
  This song is produced by Ryan Tedder, Brent Kutzle and Jacknife Lee. The opening guitar reminded me of sounds from Achtung Baby. The song has a driving beat driven by Adam Clayton’s bass. Reference is made to current events in the U.S. “Statues fall, democracy is flat on its back, Jack”. Key lyric: When the lights go out, don’t you ever doubt, the light that we can really be. 

Love Is Bigger Than Anything In Its WayThis song is produced by Jacknife Lee, who also contributes vocals. This anthem with Bono singing about love over guitar, keys and drums, will be popular as a sing along in concert.

Key lyric:
If you listen you can hear the silence say
When you think you’re done
You’ve just begun

13 (There Is A Light) –  This song is produced by Paul Epworth and Ryan Tedder.  Light is a theme on the album. It’s a slower song that begins with Bono singing over synths. The chorus samples the band’s “Song for Someone” from Songs of Innocence.

Key lyric:
If there is a light
We can’t always see
And there is a world
We can’t always be
If there is a dark
Now we shouldn’t doubt
And there is a light
Don’t let it go out

The below songs are included on the Deluxe Edition of the album:
Ordinary Love (Extraordinary Mix) This song is a new mix of the band’s Oscar nominated song from the 2013 film Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom.  It’s the first time the song has been included on a U2 album.
Book Of Your Heart –  This song was produced by Andy Barlow. It appears to be another song addressed to Bono’s wife Ali. It begins with Bono singing over synths and slowly builds, driven by the Edge’s guitar and Larry’s drums.
Lights Of Home (St Peter’s String Version) –  This song is produced by Brent Kutzle, Ryan Tedder, Jolyon Thomas and Jacknife Lee, and is written by the band with Danielle Haim, Alana Haim, Este Haim and Ariel Rechtshaid. This version of the song features violin by Avery Bright and Amy Helman and viola by Betsy Lamb.
You’re the Best Thing About Me (U2 Vs. Kygo)This is a remix of the first single from the album.

  • American Soul Lyric Video. Check out the new lyric video for U2’s song “American Soul” from their new album Songs of Experience.
  • Get Out of Your Own Way. More U2 – check out the debut live performance from Trafalgar Square of “Get Out of Your Own Way” from Songs of Experience.
  • U2 on Saturday Night Live. U2 performed two songs on the December 2 Saturday Night Live. Watch them perform “American Soul” and “Get Out of Your Own Way”.
  • Lecrae’s All Things Work Togetherand the Challenge of Racial Unity. Eugene Park writes “His latest album is easily his most controversial, grappling honestly with complex issues and coming at a time of great cultural division. It’s not an album of quick or easy answers, but it does offer important wisdom to chew on—for those with listening ears and open hearts.”
  • 25thAnniversary of Steven Curtis Chapman’s The Great Adventure. Steven Curtis Chapman has recorded a new version of his song “The Great Adventure” (featuring Bart Millard and Colony House). Check out the video.
  • My Jesus, I Love Thee. Watch this new video from Jimmy Needham performing a fresh rendition of the classic hymn “My Jesus, I Love Thee”.
  • Selena Gomez Shares Her Testimony: “I’m a Child of God”.  Actress and popstar Selena Gomez opened up about her lifelong journey with God at this year’s Hillsong Conference in Los Angeles.
  • Thank You Thanksgiving. A little dated now, but still funny. Let’s do Thanksgiving all year. Enjoy this ditty from Matt Maher.
  • How Great Thou Art. Watch Jennifer Hudson and Pentatonix perform “How Great Thou Art” from A Very Pentatonix Christmas.
  • New Michael Card Music. Michael Card is writing new music for what he indicates will probably be his last album. He has four songs started, a few of them with his good friend and excellent keyboardist Vance Taylor. Alan Moore will be doing the strings for the project. He is excited about a song called “A Hymn to the Kindness of God”, that uses many of the 169 different translations of the word hesed. He is working on a song about the Exodus 34 passage where God defines Himself to Moses, a worship song called “Like No Other God”, and five or six others. Michael has long been one of my favorites. I can’t wait for some new music from him, his first since 2014’s John: A Misunderstood Messiah.
  • Bob Dylan Concert Audio. I’ve been enjoying the audio from Bob Dylan’s fall concert tour over the past few weeks. Here is the audio from his November 25 concert from the Beacon Theater in New York City, his final concert of 2017. Check out the setlist, which emphasizes songs from his later career, while also including a few of his classics.
  • For Andrew Peterson, Creating Art Means Facing His Fear of Being Known. On this episode of The Calling podcast, Andrew Peterson sat down with host Richard Clark, opening up about what led him to become a professional musician, the unexpected challenges of the creative life, and how his church, community, and faith help him to keep a firm grip on hope.
  • Adore. Watch the video for “Adore” from Chris Tomlin’s Christmas album Adore: Christmas Songs of Worship.
  • High Note. Check out “High Note”, the latest from Gawvi.

Music Quotes:

  • God’s never late, we’re just impatient. Lecrae

  • Couldn’t tell you how many things I ruined trying to make them perfect. Leave the flaws. They’re perfect. Andy Mineo

  • The revelation of God is the fuel for the fire of our worship. Matt Redman


Can’t Wait for Christmas by Toby Mac, featuring Reliant K

This week’s song of the week comes from Toby Mac’s newly released Christmas album Light of Christmas, which features some previously released songs and the excellent new song “Can’t Wait for Christmas”, featuring Reliant K. Listen to the song here.

I love the lights, the trees, the giant parades
I love the joy I feel around the holidays
I love the snow that falls and covers the Earth
I love to sing songs of the Savior’s birth

Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas

I love the way Main Street looks at night
I love the sparkle that I see in everybody’s eyes
The claymation shows take us back in time
And then we watch Elf at a minimum twice

Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas

I love snow days (No school!) we head to the hill
Pile free on a
Saucer, can bet on a spill
Stacking gloves on the furnace at the end of the day
And as we sit by the fire tell me who wouldn’t say

Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas
‘Cause when you think it’s gonna end
It’s coming back around again
Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas
‘Cause snow is falling everywhere
And love is always in the air
Can’t wait for Christmas

Snow is falling everywhere
Love is always in the air
(I can’t wait for, I can’t wait for)
[repeats until end of section]
I can’t wait for Christmas
Snow is falling everywhere
Love is always in the air

We awake to laughter at the foot of our bed
Hold up some mistletoe over my baby’s head
Open the Good Book and we turn to look
And read of love coming down for me and for you

Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas
‘Cause when you think it’s gonna end
It’s coming back around again
Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas
Can’t wait for Christmas
‘Cause snow is falling everywhere
And love is always in the air
Can’t wait for Christmas

I can’t wait for Christmas

Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence – married to my best friend Tammy, a graduate of Covenant Seminary, St. Louis Cardinals fan, formerly a manager at a Fortune 50 organization, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people develop, and to use their strengths to their fullest potential. I am an INTJ on Myers-Briggs, 3 on the Enneagram, my top five Strengthsfinder themes are: Belief, Responsibility, Learner, Harmony, and Achiever, and my two StandOut strength roles are Creator and Equalizer. My favorite book is the Bible, with Romans my favorite book of the Bible, and Colossians 3:23 and 2 Corinthians 5:21 being my favorite verses. Some of my other favorite books are The Holiness of God and Chosen by God by R.C. Sproul, and Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper. I enjoy music in a variety of genres, including modern hymns, Christian hip-hop and classic rock. My book Called to Lead: Living and Leading for Jesus in the Workplace and Tammy’s book Study, Savor and Share Scripture: Becoming What We Behold are available in paperback and Kindle editions on Amazon.

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