Matt W Cook

writer.former fundamentalist.christianly fellow

Tag: music

The Song That No One Has Heard

     I’m kind of a sucker for devotional music from all sorts of religious traditions. I’ll shove John Michael Talbot, Yusuf Islam, and Krishna Das all onto a playlist together. They get along on iTunes, I wonder if they’d get along if they were all in the same room…
     One of Krishna Das’s best songs is Heart as Wide as the World.

I looked away
Your beauty too much to bear
Where could I run?
Your eyes,
I found them everywhere
All I want is to sing to you
The song that no one has heard

     I follow a lot of aspiring writers on Twitter and blogs. Sometimes it’s a tad discouraging because often they talk about ‘essential’ writing subjects like self-promotion, knowing the market and replicating past successes. Many good, talented, creative people just want to write a story that will sell.
     How low.
     I don’t know about other creative people, but I’d do this work even if I knew I’d never make a penny from it. I’ve been doing it for years and I’ve put time and money into it, but I’ve never gotten a cent back. Sure, I’d love to make some money. I’d love to be able to quit my job and spend my life writing. That’d be the cat’s meow. But that’s not ‘all I want.’

All I want…
… is to be a best-seller.
… is to be famous.
… is to get rich.
… is to be the next [insert successful name here].

     Low! Low! Low!
     I look up to the sky and to the infinite space it rests beneath. I look to the Hand that sparked it and all the glories that dwell within it. And all those petty desires fade like a fog when it is faced with the sun’s fury. One desire remains. One thought. One driving force.
     All I want is to sing to you the song that no one has heard.
     And I’m the only one who can sing that song.
     And you’re the only one who can sing yours.

Albums that Deserve to be on Repeat

I always approach the subject of music … cautiously.

For one, I know next to nothing about it. Though not for lack of trying, really. I learned to play guitar, but without a chord sheet in front of me I’m useless. And don’t you dare ask me to tune the thing. Music doesn’t flow from me. I get it and I appreciate it. But it will never come from me.

Also, there is always an element of judgement that comes in when people talk about their favorite music. Claiming to like, say, Justin Bieber will get you either ridiculed or praised depending on where you happen to say it. So deep in the part of my brain that is still insecure and self-conscious, I fear judgement if my preferred musics are not cool enough for whatever crowd I’m talking to.

But some music is special. Some music has that neat ability to reach inside my creative centre and stroke it gently to life. And I want to share those albums that do that.

1) Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog – Joss Whedon

If you have not seen Joss Whedon’s classic short film, you are missing out. On life. Seriously. It’s a mere fortyish minutes long and it deserves to be watched. You can find the entire show on Youtube. It’s witty, zany and full of fun. It’s a creative masterpiece. Go watch it. Seriously, don’t finish reading this blog until you’ve seen it. It’s better than this blog. And so is its soundtrack.

2) Siren Song of the Counter Culture – Rise Against

A fellow can get used to anything. Even screaming. Rise Against has been a favorite since I first heard them in Pakistan. Their anger-charged music touches something primal and pure. That righteous dissatisfaction with a screwed-up system. I was seriously sad when I found out they are coming to Toronto the day I fly to Pakistan.

3) Introspection – pjt

I went to school with this guy. Isn’t that cool? This whole album is great. All the songs cry out for freedom and authenticity. “I don’t believe it’s right / to let others define your life / I can do anything I’m interested in / And I’m interested in all that I can do.”

4) Aaja Nachle – Salim and Sulaiman Merchant

This Bollywood gem is about a girl returning to her hometown to convince her conservative neighbours to put on a play. It’s a celebration of the creative spirit and every single song carries that flag. “Stand apart from the crowd / Show us your dreams / Show Me Your Jalwa (glory)”

5) The End is Near – Five Iron Frenzy

These guys were huge with the Christian white kids in the 90s. But don’t hold that against them. They are worthy in their own right and rise above the shameless preaching of a lot of their contemporaries. This is one of their last albums and, I think, their zenith.

6) Last Night on Earth – Noah and the Whale

It was hard to pick only one album for these guys. I’ve only known about them for a little while but I’m seriously in love with them. Their songs touch on every part of humanity, from it’s highest to its lowest.

7) First Love – Emmy the Great

Silky sweet voice and melancholy songs. What could be better? She just came out with a new album, too, though I haven’t had a chance to hear it yet. She lives up to her name.

8) Exodus – Bob Marley

You’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t love Bob Marley, at least a little. His wild optimism and spirit of Love is infectious.

What songs and albums and artists have inspired you?

Review – Introspection – P.J. Tremblay

For 23 years, I had been living the life of someone else. For 2 years, I became intentionally undone. For 2 years, I initiated the development of my true identity. This year, only the strongest songs of that on-going journey have reached this album.

I don’t usually dare reviewing music. I find it hard to say anything intelligent about most music because it’s like trying to comment on an art form that I know next to nothing about. But I recently realized that you don’t need to say intelligent things to say worthwhile things, so on we go!

I just got this album and it’s been playing in my car non-stop. Loving it. You know how a lot of artists seem to have just one kind of song that they repackage again and again? Not this guy. Each song stands apart from the rest, truly original. I sat for about half and hour trying to figure out which genre to list it under on my iTunes. It refuses to confirm to any box, which I guess it really the point.

The whole album is the story of the artist’s journey from a superficial existence toward something authentic, real and ultimately much more satisfying than anything artificial could be. As I listened to it for the first time I resonated with so many of his feelings and observations. I think this album will really connect with anyone who has felt that their life is heading in the wrong way and there needs to be a change. Especially with people who have already started to make that change.

Even without the lyrics which chronicle the journeys of the artist, the music itself is soothing and energizing. Head over to the artist’s site and buy it! You won’t regret it, I swear. Good stuff, Phil. Good freakin’ stuff.


Is it just me, or is it so absurd that elephants have gone unheard?
I can’t live like this now, communicate with me somehow
I am not your enemy
I just see things differently
Too much time’s been spent in fear
You can at least respect me here
– Is This Thing On?

Breathe the breeze
And just seize the seas
Just leave the worry to someone who aint free… that aint me
– Free

I lived oh so Christianly, devout as I could ever be
Lived a way that would look alright, but I was so lost inside
I’m not strong, I’m just not afraid of being weak

So I took all the things in my life that were stained and threw them out my door
Started new with a genuineness that gives me peace for evermore
I’m not strong, I’m just not afraid of being weak
– I’m Not Strong, I’m Just Not Afraid of Being Weak

I don’t believe it’s right
to let others define your life
I can do anything I’m interested in
and I’m interested in all that I can do
– The CarTune Song