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- A Theological Interpretation of U2's "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For"
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- A Theological Interpretation of The Greatest Showman: "From Now On"
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Preach the Gospel, die, and be forgotten.
Today Was a Good Day
Israel Photos, Part 2
Here are some photos from our trip to Israel, focusing on our time in Qumran, En Gedi, the Dead Sea, and Masada.
Just before we entered Jerusalem, we stopped by the Valley of Elah. Joshua and I couldn’t resist the opportunity to throw a few rocks in honor of David slaying Goliath.
While we were in Israel, we still had to take a little time to do some “normal” things. After not playing piano for about a week and a half, Jackson saw this piano in the lobby area of one of our hotels. He rushed to ask permission to play. This is “Walden” from his latest album; when he finished, the lady in the video gave him an ovation!
Meanwhile, since Joshua was missing a few baseball practices to begin the second semester, he made time for a couple of workouts. Pitchers have to get in their running.
Israel Photos, Part 1
Last month, our family had the opportunity to visit Israel for the first time. We spent several days touring the land and seeing many sites of biblical significance. It was such an incredible experience, one that is difficult to put into words. It was simply transformative and I’m grateful for the opportunity to experience Israel with my entire family. We will never forget this wonderful experience in the land of God’s promise.
I’m still processing the trip, so I’m sure I’ll have more specific thoughts to share in upcoming posts. But I’ll begin by archiving some of our favorite photos from the trip. These pictures were all taken during the first part of our trip as we spent time in Galilee.
NFL Playoff Picks: Rounds 1-2
Every year, our crew makes picks throughout the NFL Playoffs. Here are our picks from last week’s opening round of games:
Sunny’s picks: Seahawks over the 49ers; Jaguars over the Chargers; Bills over the Dolphins; Giants over the Vikings; Bengals over the Ravens; Bucs over the Cowboys.
Joshua’s picks: 49ers over the Seahawks; Chargers over Jaguars; Bills over Dolphins; Vikings over Giants; Bengals over Ravens; Bucs over the Cowboys.
My picks: 49ers over the Seahawks; Jags over Chargers; Bills over Dolphins; Vikings over Giants; Bengals over Ravens; Cowboys over Bucs.
That puts Sunny at 4-2; Joshua at 3-3; and my record is 5-1.
And here are the picks for this week’s slate of games:
Sunny’s picks: Chiefs over the Jaguars; Giants over the Eagles; Bills over the Bengals; 49ers over the Cowboys.
Joshua’s picks: Chiefs over the Jaguars; Eagles over Giants; Bengals over the Bills; Cowboys over the 49ers.
My picks: Chiefs over the Jags; the Eagles over the Giants; Bills top the Bengals; and the 49ers over the Cowboys.
Posted in Family, Football, Sports Leave a comment
The Bybee Guys Teaching Together
Last night was a special night as I shared some teaching time with two of my favorite people: my sons Jackson and Joshua. We had a special class at church last night, led by some of our fathers and sons. The three of us presented on the topic of peace: Jackson discussed some of the inhibitors of our peace; Joshua shared how he’s learned to rely on the Holy Spirit to produce peace in our lives; and I talked about how the birth of Jesus was hailed as the coming of “peace on earth,” but that Christ’s work of making peace culminated in His death upon the cross (Colossians 1:19-20).
A few good friends snapped some pictures of us while we were teaching. Grateful to be able to share this time with my boys.
Best Albums of 2022
Time for my annual post of my favorite albums released over the last twelve months. Each December, I look back over the music of that particular year and identify my favorite albums. (If you want to look back over my previous rankings, you can find them here or you can work through the archives located on the sidebar.)
If you look back over those lists, you’ll get a feel for the music I love the most: my tastes typically run between indie / alternative rock and country. The list will tell you that I’m a big fan of Radiohead, Dwight Yoakam, Johnny Cash and anything released by The War on Drugs. But sometimes I’ll come across an instrumental album that really grabs me; Khruangbin’s 2018 release, Con Todo El Mundo, for instance, or Sigur Ros’s 1999 masterpiece, Agaetis Byrjun. This is one of those “instrumental” years thanks to Jackson Bybee’s moving release, evergreen. Despite some strong opposition from fellow Huntsville native Matthew Houck’s The Full Moon Project and Jackson Dean’s stellar Greenbroke, evergreen stands out to me as the most emotionally affecting recording of 2022.
Here’s the full list, complete with some of my comments.
- Jackson Bybee, evergreen. After the release of his second album, wildflower, earlier in the spring, I doubt anyone expected Jackson to release yet another album this calendar year. But after pouring his heart and soul into this batch of new songs, he surprise-released it almost one month ago to near-universal acclaim. I would argue that this overwhelming response is evidence of Jackson’s growth as an artist. Pat McRight, a good family friend and a collaborator on many of these songs, described this growth as a shift “from loops to layers.” Sonically, this move is evident in evergreen’s key-work, which evokes a warmer ambience than any of Jackson’s earlier music. In my interview with him prior to evergreen’s release, Jackson mentioned his intentional focus on the connections we experience with people and places. These are what make up the seasons of our lives. Album openers “walden” and “acadia” situate this recording in an autumnal landscape, the unhurried pace reminiscent of a leisurely walk through the woods. This same vibe is felt on the closing title track, as “evergreen” has the listener marveling at the evergreen’s persistence in the face of dawning winter. (I love that image of hope.) But in between these tracks are copious references and homages to the people in our lives, and this is where evergreen truly flies. “i love you always” is an ode to Jackson’s mother, Sunny, and the melody perfectly encapsulates both her sweetness as well as her playfulness. I loved it the first time I heard it. “mimi” is an elegant ode to Jackson’s great-grandmother, Cyclister Shates, who lived with us for a period of time several years ago. This stately piano piece perfectly captures the spirit of this strong but refined woman of grace. (Fun fact: we’ve decided it can also double as a Christmas song!) My favorite track, though, has to be cash and I doubt I’ll be able to fully express what this song means to me. Jackson’s middle name is “Cash” which is a word with many different meanings, one of which is “peace.” But more than that, the name points to my Dad and one of his heroes, Johnny Cash. Cash was something of an outsider, an advocate for the neglected, the overlooked, the forgotten. That resonated with my Dad and it resonates with me to this day. And then there’s the music. Some of my fondest childhood memories are those moments with my Dad, his guitar propped on his knee, singing Folsom Prison Blues and I Walk the Line. These songs served as the soundtrack for my childhood and my relationship with my Dad. When it came time to name Jackson, the idea of “Cash” as a middle name seemed appropriate for the kind of relationship I hoped to have with my youngest son. So you can imagine how excited I was to see a song titled “cash” on the evergreen track listing. Jackson had been digging back into our family line on the Bybee side and he found some poetry: some written by my grandmother; some written by my father (which hangs on the wall in my office); and some written by me. Of course, Jackson had been writing his own poetry / lyrics for quite some time, so there was special resonance to this, prompting him to think of the line “a poet with power, in every generation.” He wrote “cash” as his way of honoring these forebears on the Bybee side — including some lines of poetry recited by my grandmother, Hilda Bybee at the beginning and end. But my favorite moment is the crescendo at 3:07 as the synth solo comes in to accompany the other layered instruments in this beautiful melody. Jackson says that those keys represent his entrance in this long line of creatives from whence he’s come. He’s never met my Dad and my grandmother, yet he honors them so well while also making this work distinctly his own. It brings a smile to my face every time. It is safe to say that no song released this year has carried as much emotional weight for me as this one. And there are so many other pieces I love: the swelling guitar solo in “living proof”; the beauty-from-chaos of “closure”; the quieter and more reflective tone of “flume.” It’s truly a great recording and I’ve loved having such an up close look at the creative process from start to finish. Jackson Bybee’s evergreen is hands down my 2022 Album of the Year.
- Phosophorescent, The Full Moon Project. I think this is a cool idea for an album: one song released each full moon for an entire calendar year. That’s the approach Matthew Houck took for the latest release for his Americana / indie project Phosphorescent. I’ve really enjoyed this collection of covers, ranging from Fleetwood Mac’s “Storms” to the Bee Gee’s “To Love Somebody” to late-era Bob Dylan on “Tryin’ to Get to Heaven.” I think the measured, patient approach really paid off, as I would rate this as the best Phosphorescent album yet.
- Jackson Dean, Greenbroke. Six months ago, I had never heard of Jackson Dean. But somehow I came across his most recent release and I immediately fell in love with a lot of these songs. “Don’t Take Much” is one of my most played tracks this year. I also love “Wings” and “Superstitious.” I expect to see Jackson Dean’s name sprinkled across these lists for years to come.
- Michael McDermott, St. Paul’s Boulevard. I’ve followed McDermott for over 20 years now. His 1995 self-titled album still stands as an absolute masterpiece in my opinion. He has put out some really good music in the last few years, but St. Paul’s Boulevard is a standout of singer-songwriter craftsmanship. The heart of the record contains a trifecta of five-star songs: “The Arsonist,” “New Year’s Day,” and “Meet Me Halfway.” If you’re not familiar with McDermott, do yourself a favor and take 15 minutes to listen to these three songs.
- First Aid Kit, Palomino. These ladies deserve to be Americana legends. Love their sound, especially on this new record. It sounds like they’re having the time of their lives on “Out of My Head.”
A few honorable mentions:
- Jackson Bybee, wildflower. It’s a good year for the “Jacksons” that I follow on Spotify, apparently. I have probably listened to this album more than any other this year. It still has some of my favorite songs that Jackson has ever recorded.
- Hermanos Gutierrez, El Bueno Y El Malo. Great study music.
- Ian Noe, River Fools & Mountain Saints. Really love the “Road May Flood / It’s a Heartache” mashup.
- Vieux Farka Toure & Khruangbin, Ali. Khruangbin joins forces with a legendary West African guitarist. Jam music ensues.
- The Smile, A Light for Attracting Attention. So I’m a huge Radiohead fan, so it should follow that I would love this record. But I don’t love it. It’s just okay.
Posted in Cash, Family, Huntsville, Kids, Music Tagged First Aid Kit, Jackson Bybee, Jackson Dean, Khruangbin, MIchael McDermott, Phosphorescent Leave a comment
Most Improved Varsity Runner
Here’s a little video of Jackson receiving his award for “Most Improved Varsity Runner” at this year’s Cross Country Banquet. I am so proud of this guy and the way he works to achieve his goals. And I’m excited to see how he continues to progress in the years to come. Great job, Jackson!
Posted in Cross Country, Family, Kids, Running, Sports, Video Leave a comment