My Music

 

Songs of Renewal

I’ve always been drawn to the ground. I grew up on a farm, and I know we’re made from humus. Humans are only temporarily not dirt. And we’re best off when we act like it. If there’s hope in my music, it sprouts and rises from that source. If there are seeds of resistance, they’re rooted in that invisible community, growing like tiny lives in yeasting bread or worms in old manure, a community that will survive long after we’re compost. If, in my music you see a world that has not yet been, give thanks. From thanksgiving, let the clutch out slowly and don’t turn back. One day, together, we will reach that promised land of justice and equity or, at least, catch a glimpse of it on the horizon. We must believe it.

My Albums

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Keeping the Garden

Welcome to this community of songs. I dedicate them to our mothers. At the release of this CD in 2004, we were suddenly motherless. Debbie’s mother, Maribeth, had died a few days earlier, and my mom, Betty in 2000. Both courageously endured ovarian cancer—the ultimate insult to motherness—one I choose to believe is no random evil, but the unnatural consequence of the rapacious habits our humanity chooses in this time. Like all sins in the Garden—be they toxifying ageless waters, ravaging community-sufficient farming, or melting ancient ice—they bring floods of ruin first on the most vulnerable of all Creation: the already marginalized and endangered, and yes, the mothers. Our mothers. What will it take to serve and keep Mother’s Garden in this age?   These songs seek the answer.

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A Home Like This

The farmer-prophet Micah, once dreamed a world where swords would turn to plowshares, transforming technologies of violence into those of nurture and regeneration. He believed in the coming of a new regime where every family would “sit beneath their own vine and fig tree with no imperial force to terrify them.” (Micah 4:3-4) Sing these songs. Share the stories with neighbors and their children. Let us never stop believing in the day when humanity with all Creation will find communion in God’s Earth and everyone will live as neighbors in “A Home Like This.”

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Walk Lightly On the Earth

He called the twelve and gave them authority over all demons and to cure disease. He sent them out to preach God’s new order and to heal, saying “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, no bread or money; and do not have two tunics. -Luke 9:1-3

In 1991, I was preparing for a Jr. High Summer Camp. We needed a theme song based on Luke 9. I began composing but, try as I might, I had only a chorus and a few lines of the first verse, by camp time. So goes songwriting. But I took what I had. During the week, the campers helped me finish the first verse and gather their keen insights. At camp, we had great conversation about how to have a conscience when Americans are clearly the spoiled brats of the Planet. Our son, Joel, was at camp with me. On the way home he described how, after singing the song one day, a camp friend confided: “This describes my life.” Indeed his family, like the ones caricatured in the song, owned a minivan and 3 other cars. They lived in a big house with a view of the whole Boise Valley. I was embarrassed. Silly me. I hadn’t thought my song would cause pain. I simply make music of the truths that come to me. I finally finished Walk Lightly On the Earth a year after camp. As it turns out, it’s the song that has made more people angry. Sometimes they get up and leave the room. My songs have been known to make people laugh. And squirm. I guess if the lyrics make us think and have conversation about how we live and the need to change, I’ve done my job. Maybe, conversation is the sign I got it right. You be the judge.

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John on Amazon    

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