Delta State University recently launched a radio station, along with an original program called, “The Bucket List.” The premise is: If you’re lost on the back roads of the delta, what are ten songs that you couldn’t live without?
I was thrilled when Delta Music Institute director Tricia Walker invited me to answer this question. I sat down in front of my coffee table and cleared it of everything but a blank sheet of paper and a pen. I took some deep yoga breaths and asked myself a slightly different question:
What are ten songs that I would not tire of hearing on repeat if I got lost on these flat roads, under this big sky, at night?
The result is this playlist. It was a delight to answer the question of, “Why these songs?’ on the radio program. This radio novice is grateful for Tricia’s guidance on the show. Along with each song are some of the things I shared on the program—and a few things that I wished I’d said after we finished the recording! Links to You Tube videos of each song are available in the titles below. Take a moment to listen to some of them, and ask yourselves: What are your top 10?
This song convinced me that anyone can be a drummer, and every very good playlist needs a song that can turn your steering wheel into the percussion section. “Viva La Vida” is a complex song, but the beat is one that could carry me on the delta roads for a while.
If you have not seen John Carney’s film, Once, go watch it right now. Once is the story of a guy and a girl, both musicians, who meet on the streets of Dublin. While “Falling Slowly” is the song that won an Oscar for the film, “When Your Mind’s Made Up” is the heart of the story, in my opinion. When the guy and the girl record this song, achieving a longtime dream, you can see people changed by the music.
I let Isaac the dog choose one song for the playlist, since he’d likely ride shotgun on our delta adventure. While I probably would have chosen “I Will Wait” or “Lovers’ Eyes” or “Only Love” from Mumford & Sons, Isaac’s favorite song by them is “Awake My Soul.” How did Isaac tell me his favorite? Read this post from a year ago to find out.
My dad first introduced me to Paul Thorn’s music when I was in seminary. While I was studying more traditional theologians like John Wesley and Martin Luther, Paul Thorn released A Long Way from Tupelo and became one of my favorite, less traditional theologians. This song makes an excellent benediction for worship services.
Yep, this clergywoman loves “Losing My Religion.” Ironically, the only song that gave us any technical problems on the recording was this one. My love for this “iconic rock song,” as Tricia aptly described it on the radio show, goes back to the days long before I decided to become a minister. I always think of Jesus’ conversations with the religious leaders of his day, his criticisms of their facades, his invitations for them to think outside of the boxes they’d built around belief. The song reminds me that we all have some self-invented ‘religion’ that we could shed.
A minister who wants to listen to P!nk on repeat? Absolutely. Years ago I was on a date with a guy, and I told him that I listened to P!nk when I exercised.
Dude: “But you’re a minister.”
Dude: “But P!nk sings about beating people up. And she cusses.”
Me: P!nk is honest, and there’s no question about what she’s thinking. I like that she’s real.
The dude may not have asked me out again, but P!nk is still with me. I chose “Try” because it doesn’t have any 4-letter words in it (I don’t think….). And it's great for anyone who likes to play air guitar like I do.
Adele is everywhere. She’s breaking records and breaking computers with all the downloads of “Hello” and her album, 25. But I still love her album, 19, and this single from it. The first time I ever heard her was on Saturday Night Live when she sang “Chasing Pavements,” and it’s still the song I want on repeat when driving the delta’s pavement.
I wrote a blog post last month that included “Let It Fall,” which is on a Christmas album that Over the Rhine released last year. My friend, the late Dr. Henry Outlaw, and I shared a love for that album and this song. When I pulled the CD out a few weeks ago, I thought of him and chose this song in his memory. Henry loved Delta State University, and I believe would be thrilled about the new radio station.
So a minister needs at least one song from the official Christian genre, right? The chorus of “Sometimes By Step” will be familiar to churchgoers, but the lesser-known verses are the real poetry: “Sometimes the night was beautiful / Sometimes the sky was so far away / Sometimes it seemed to stoop so close / You could touch it but your heart would break…” Rich Mullins passed away in a car accident many years ago, but his music lives on. It was fun to talk about this song with Tricia, who was a personal friend of Rich Mullins and even sang on the album that included this song.
I reI remember a story that a carpenter told once about a mustard seed. He said that if your faith is but the size of that tiniest of seeds, you could ask your Father for anything. Only a little faith could move mountains. How do we learn to trust one another? How do we trust God in a chaotic world? All it takes is a little faith, friends. And a good playlist always helps.
all good things to each of you,