The Gospel According to Jason Isbell: Something To Love

Scanning the song titles of Jason Isbell & the 400 Unit's latest album, The Nashville Sound, I rolled my eyes when I read the name of the last track.

"Someone To Love," I thought. "Seems so unoriginal and boring."

Following titles like "White Man's World" and "If We Were Vampires," I wondered if Isbell's creativity wore out the closer he got to the end of the album! Still, I listened to The Nashville Sound in its entirety, trying to keep an open mind to the very end.

In the world of digital music, where we so easily pick and choose songs, we don't pay as much attention to the order of an album. Even when we do listen to that album in its entirety, our short attention spans find us distracted a few songs later. The last track sometimes gets overlooked as we move on to other tasks, especially if we've already judged it based on title.

Then these words played over my speakers:

I hope you find something to love

Something to do when you feel like giving up

A song to sing, a tale to tell

Something to love, it'll serve you well.

I had misread the title. Sure, "something" and "someone" are similar words, but they make for very different songs. This was not about a wishing a relationship on another person. This was Isbell's benediction that his listeners would find their creative passion.

I love this album, especially when heard as the third in a trilogy with Isbell's solo recordings, Southeastern and Something More Than Free. At their conclusion is this reminder of why the songwriting on all three recordings is so marvelous: it's something that Isbell and his band love.

O sing to the Lord a new song;
sing to the Lord, all the earth.
— Psalm 96:1 (New Revised Standard Version)

New songs on the radio and in our digital libraries should remind us of the songs God has placed in our hearts, the stories of his grace and mercy that we must tell as Christ's disciples. The creativity of God is still at work on studio albums as well as the strums we make on our own guitars. Sometimes we misread the labels and judge our gifts as generic and unnecessary.

But we all have a song to sing.

We all have a tale to tell.

And we serve Someone who loves us--and empowers us to discover our own loves.

all good things to each of you,

Pastor Darian