Well, we have reached the end of this series. This has been such a rich topic for me that, of course, there are many things I'd hoped to cover but didn't. For this last post, I thought I'd briefly discuss a woman whose music about the loss—or absence—of god has resonated with me personally over the past couple of months as I've thought and written on this subject.
On her 2010 release, A Heart of My Own, Canadian singer-songwriter Basia Bulat ruminates on the loss of god. Here she is singing the popular track, "The Shore":
I have never understood why reporters so rarely ask Jenny Lewis about the rich religious critique that has pervaded her work since the earlier days of Rilo Kiley. There is just so much there. I think I will scream if I hear another reporter ask her what it's like to look hot in indie music, why Rilo Kiley really broke up, and whether or not her indie purist fans think the country album/major label/Jenny & Johnny project was a sellout.
Here's the band singing their 2004 single, "It's a Hit":
Responses to September 11 have been fraught from the start. As I thought through the problem of grief over the weekend, I was gratified that NPR posted the new work by minimalist musicians Steve Reich and the Kronos Quartet, WTC/9/11. Here's a sample:
Mavis Staples—gospel singer, soul artist and Civil Rights activist—is nothing short of a living legend. She started singing gospel with her family in the 1950s and had a successful Stax career as front woman for the Staple Singers. Though the family specialized in gospel, Staples' raw vocals and the band's bluesy arrangements endeared them to secular and religious audiences alike.
At seventy-two, she shows no signs of slowing down. Last year, she released Grammy-winning gospel album, You Are Not Alone, in a collaboration with Wilco frontman Jeff Tweedy. It featured a handful of newly arranged old gospel songs as well as new ones like these (penned by Tweedy):
My name is Kristin Rawls, and, yes, I am a preacher's daughter. I'm in my early 30s, and I was raised in an unusual blend of Protestant traditions. The preacher (my dad) grew up in the Southern Baptist church, got "saved" during the Pentecostal-influenced "Jesus movement" of the 1970s and ultimately settled in a mainline (not fundamentalist) tradition. My family practiced a confusing mix of them all. The result? I became pretty cynical about the the whole thing.
This blog series is named after blueswoman Michelle Malone's song, "Preacher's Daughter" (transcript here):