IVP - Strangely Dim - March Music Madness: I Can See a Lot of Life in You

March 29, 2011

March Music Madness: I Can See a Lot of Life in You

I've been waiting for this day since December 18. Today the homage to/reimagining of Sufjan Stevens's Seven Swans became available for purchase. (You can get the album here.)

seven swans.jpgSufjan's widespread popularity has been based largely on his breakout concept album Come On Feel the Illinoise, which featured the hit single "Chicago." I heard that song and went a little nuts, buying the album for anyone I could come up with an excuse for (prospective authors coming to visit the Illinois-based InterVarsity Press; out-of-state relatives, and so on) and trying to track down the artist himself and cajole him into writing a book (offer's still open, by the way). But eventually the hysteria over a particular album has to give way to one of two things: (a) new hysteria for a different album by a different artist; or (b) a deeper dive into the artist's recording history.

I chose option (b) and picked up Seven Swans, a less eclectic but no less quirky contribution. The tone of Seven Swans stays pretty consistently sober and introspective from beginning to end; it explores the divine-human relationship from angles not typically explored by musicians. Case in point: "The Transfiguration," which I listened to exclusively for an entire day. (You can read about that experience here; in the post I declare myself to be a "Sufjangelical," in contrast to other subgroups such as "Cockburn Christians," which I discuss in more detail here.)

Anyway, in mid-December 2010 I got wind that a tribute album was in the works, featuring such reliable artists as Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Derek Webb and Jason Harrod. The album is now streaming at bandcamp.com, and it's awesome. Proceeds go toward breast cancer research, so it's ten bucks well spent. Conspicuously absent is the ethereal "Abraham," a track that unfortunately wasn't finished in time for the album's promised Breast Cancer Awareness Month release. But based on what I've heard of the rest of the album, it will undoubtedly be worth the wait.

Posted by Dave Zimmerman at March 29, 2011 12:43 PM Bookmark and Share


Okay, so I'm behind by two weeks. (Or maybe two years.) But I went back to your '08 "Cockburn Christian/Sufjangelical" post anyway, to attempt to catch up. Especially loved these lines:

'I happen to like Cockburn Christians a lot. They're worldly wise, burdened but not broken, lovers of the Word and lovers of the world. They're poetic, artistic, humanistic, pietistic. They demand more from their music than the average consumer, and likewise they demand more from their faith than the average Christian.'

I am fully in agreement, and so very glad to see that us Cockburn Christians have a "spy in the house of love" [name that artist...?] there at IVP. Not that I don't like Sufjan a WHOLE lot as well,... but he's still gotta earn his stripes.

Hope your Easter was awesome. See you soon, maybe over a worldly nut brown ale?

Comment by: Mark Nielsen at April 25, 2011 9:50 AM

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Behind the Strangeness

Lisa Rieck is a reader and writer who likes to discuss good ideas over hot drinks and gets inspired by the sky. She takes in all kinds of good ideas as a proofreader for InterVarsity Press.

Rebecca Larson is a writer/designer/creative type who has infiltrated IVP's web department, where she writes and edits online content. She enjoys a good pun and loves the smell of freshly printed books.

David A. Zimmerman is an editor for Likewise Books and a columnist for Burnside Writers Collective. He's written three books, most recently The Parable of the Unexpected Guest. Follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/unexpguest. Find his personal blog at loud-time.com.

Suanne Camfield is a publicist for InterVarsity Press and a freelance writer. She floats ungracefully between work, parenting and writing, and (much to her dismay) finds it impossible to read on a treadmill. She is a member of the Redbud Writers Guild and blogs at The Rough Cut.

Likewise Books from InterVarsity Press explore a thoughtful, active faith lived out in real time in the midst of an emerging culture.

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