What songs are bringing me into the new year? I've compiled 15 songs; some new, most old, that are jamming in my music player as I wrap-up 2008 and get energized for 2009. You can get a partial playlist on iTunes here.
"Power to to the People" by Black Eyed Peas
From the Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur album, this new take on a John Lennon classic is perfect as I continue to understand the interconnection of justice struggles. "Power to the People" moves.
"Talkin' Bout A Revolution" by Tracy Chapman
As I read Shane Claiborne's The Irresistible Revolution, I remembered how groovy the sounds of Tracy Chapman are. In much the same way that "Turn Me Around" talks about building a brand new world, "Talkin' Bout A Revolution" imagines that world and reminds us that the first step might sound like a whisper, but it's the start of a revolution.
"Give Me Your Eyes" by Brandon Heath
"All those people going somehow, why have I never cared?A prophetic reminder of the Good News and an equally necessary reminder that I can't do on my own.
"Give me your eyes for just one second. Give your eyes so I can see, everything that I've been missing. Give me your love humanity. Give me your arms for the broken-hearted, the ones that have fallen beyond my reach. Give me your heart for the ones forgotten. Give me your eyes so I can see."
"This Is Love" by Jason & deMarco
Sometimes, it's not all about work. "This Is Love" reminds me what it's already about. Sometimes, justice means being able to listen to sappy love songs.
"Kenji" by Fort Minor
My good friend Meilee first introduced me to this song about the internment camps during World War II. I can't, and frankly don't want to be, an advocate for a partial justice. While Japanese Americans were being interred in the States, homosexuals were being interred and executed in Nazi-controlled Europe. Interconnection--I'm feelin' it these days.
"I Have Forgiven Jesus" by Morissey
I first heard this song on the 2007 Equality Ride when a professor played it at George Fox University for his class before our presentation. It's raw and reminds me that not all wounds heal nicely.
"Awake O'Sleeper" by Nicholas Kirk
A blogsophere discovery, this song and music video came to me by way of Hacking Christianity. The video is so beautiful, you're getting an embed:
Awake O'Sleeper from Brandon McCormick on Vimeo.
"Meant to Live" by The String Quartet
Can I call the Switchfoot original a classic? If so, then this instrumental take on a classic is relaxing and energizing. I can play it while falling to sleep or while working on a campaign.
"Stand by Me" from the Playing for Change soundtrack
What happens when filmmakers capture street performers around the world singing one song? Something soul moving. Don't we all need someone to stand by us? As 2009 rolls into motion, I'm surrounded by a family, a community, and a world who could stand by me.
"Travelin' Through" by Dolly Parton
I never quite understood the "breakthrough" of having a female actor play a female character, but TransAmerica was the first look at trans folk that many Americans took, so that says something. Dolly Parton is classic Americana and her song, about love, loss, family, and finding our way, is equally American. As natural as, say, being trans. Upbeat and a little quirky, this song reminds me that life is a journey.
"I Celebrate the Day" by Relient K
My housemate Matt introduced this song to me a week before Christmas and though it is technically a holiday song, I'll be listening to it year round. I actually can't decide on my favorite line.
The first time that you opened your eyes, did you realize that you would be my savior?A refugee baby born in a dirty, stinky shed ushered in God incarnate and the world forever.
And the first breath, that left your lips, did you know that it would change this world forever?
"The Long Way Around" by Dixie Chicks
I've been listening to this album since it hit the shelves. Sometimes I'll go months at a time without tuning into the Chicks, but this album, and this song, will always have a place in my music collection. Unlike other justice struggles, queer folks must often navigate hostility in places which should be safe--their homes, neighborhoods, friend circles, and faith communities. "The Long Way Around" feels real, yet hopeful, to me.
"Poverty" by Jason Upton
"There's a power in poverty that breaks principalities and brings the authorities down to their knees. [...] And who will praise when we've praised all our lives men who build kingdoms and men who build fame? [...]"The instrumentation is simple, the lyrics are haunting. I appreciate that the songwriter doesn't offer us guidelines or suggestions to follow, but rather asks us questions, punctuating each line with a pause as the question hangs in the air. What will we do? What will we do?
"Climb On (A Back That's Strong)" by Reverse Osmosis
My good friend Katherine Good is a beautiful singer and her a capella group from USC, Reverse Osmosis, is a staple in my music collection. "Climb On" picks me up when I'm down and, to be honest, is fun to sing along with.
"Love Today" by Mika
I'll be honest, I avoided Mika for over a year. He gave a cocky-sounding interview in which he claimed he didn't understand why he wasn't more of a superstar in the "gay community" simply because his sexuality is ambiguous and his songs are peppy. Then I heard "Love Today" and I caved. I mean, the beat is REALLY FUN and so it's the bookend to this playlist.