The wise man is like a householder who brings out of his treasure things both new and old.

Category: Music

REVIEW: “Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong” by Paulette Meier

This is a review of an album of plainsong titled Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong by Paulette Meier.

Before this last month, I had never given much thought to the idea of plainsong as anything more than a musical itch to scratch every now and then. The soothing timbre of Paulette Meier’s voice, the spiritual truths found within the Quaker principles found in these plainsong melodies, and the applicability of so many of the songs to this current context of the COVID-19 pandemic make Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong a much-needed addition to one’s music rotations right now.

To talk of the basic mechanics, it is pretty simple. This is an album of 21 short (only four of the songs are over two minutes in length, and even those are short of 2:30) a capella recordings song by one voice (that of Paulette Meier). The lyrics are quotes from some of the greatest writers and leaders of the Quaker tradition -George Fox, Margaret Fell, and William Penn among others. The entire play length is under 40 minutes.

There is a beautiful simplicity in these songs, which are spiritually nurturing, especially at a time like this. Wisdom such as “Ye have no time but this present time, therefore prize your time, for your soul’s sake” (“This Present Time”) is a powerful reminder that with the time right now, we should be cherishing every second of it for our own rest and healing. Words like “Mind that which is eternal, which gathers your hearts together up to the Lord, and lets you see that ye are written in one another’s heart” (“Mind That Which Is Eternal”) remind the hearer to place attention on something other than this temporary situation.

I have listened to this collection of songs repeatedly lately. I put the entire book of Psalms (all 150 of them) from the NIV Audio Bible, as well as Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong together on my iPod and click shuffle before going out on walks. The outdoors and the calming feel of the audio is a good chance for reflection and relaxation. A great break from what’s going on around us.

I cannot recommend Timeless Quaker Wisdom in Plainsong enough. Visit Paulette’s website, purchase it from her directly, and enjoy it. I received my copy of the album for free for the purpose of review, but intend shortly to check out her other music.

I received my copy of this album for free through the Speakeasy program in exchange for reviewing it. I was not obligated to write a positive review; the opinions expressed are mine.

#30SongChallenge – Day 13

Day 13: A song that is a guilty pleasure

Artist:  Michael W. Smith

Song:  “Go West Young Man”

Album:  Go West Young Man

No explanation needed. I like this song. Maybe more than I should.

#30SongChallenge – Day 12

Day 12:  A song from a band you hate

Artist:  Nickelback

Song:  “Leader of Men”

Album:  The State

Okay, so I don’t really hate Nickelback. They are an easy target (they got caught plagiarizing themselves…come on!). But I don’t hate them. There isn’t a band I actually hate. These guys might be the closest thing to one I do, though.

But this song is from a time before Nickelback became synonymous with jokes about Nickelback. And it is my offering for today. I love the 90s!


#30SongChallenge – Day 11

SONG 11:  A Song From Your Favorite Band

Artist:  Brand New

Song:  “The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows”

Album:  Deja Entendu

“The Quiet Things That No One Ever Knows” is the first song I ever heard from the band which would become my favorite band. I was hanging out with my high school girlfriend in her parents’ living room watching Fuse TV (shout-outs to anyone who used to watch Fuse) when this video started playing. I stopped talking in the middle of the conversation and didn’t say another word for four minutes when the video ended.

Brand New is a band whose albums I feel have always been semi-biographical to my life. Deja Entendu felt likebeing young but starting to mature and be aware of my own internal struggles. The Devil and God Are Raging Inside of Me is seeing that absolutely nothing is what it seems on the surface. Daisy was I am comfortable in who I am and don’t have to impress anyone. Science Fiction was looking back at how far I’ve come and looking ahead to where I am going. I feel like from here, if Brand New never puts out another album, their last album could stand as a farewell album and it has a timeless quality that I can appreciate. I cannot think of another band whose music I feel like I could identify with throughout all sorts of different stages in life.

#30SongChallenge – Day 10

SONG 10:  A Song That Makes Me Fall Asleep

Artist:  Houses

Song:  “A Quiet Darkness”

Album:  A Quiet Darkness

I discovered these guys like an oddly large number of others did, hearing it at the end of an episode of the television show Longmire. There’s something about this song that is just…well…unique. If I am alert and ready to take on the day, this song pumps me up. But if I am winding down to either fall asleep in my chair while reading, or relax and shut down in bed, if I put this song on and set it to start the album to loop back to the beginning after this song, if I am not out by the start of the first real track of the album, I will be shortly thereafter.

Listen and enjoy.

#30SongChallenge – Day 9

SONG 9:  A Song You Can Dance To

Artist:  Haste the Day

Song:  “Long Way Down”

Album:  When Everything Falls 

I have the grace of a hippopotamus wearing crutches. The notion of me dancing is a highly entertaining thought. But there’s something about Haste the Day’s cover of the song “Long Way Down” by the Goo Goo Dolls that just brings it out of me.

The song is heavy, the tempo is consistent, and the volume is loud. Those are the three ingredients an uncoordinated individual really needs to get dancing.

#30SongChallenge – Day 8

Song 8:  A Song You Know All the Words To

Artist:  dc Talk

Song:  “Jesus Freak”

Album:  Jesus Freak

When I was middle-school age, I was pulled into the pastor’s office at church for a closed-door meeting with him and one of the elders. The pastor yelled down at me and told me that I was “sowing dissension in the youth!” I was told that I was backslidden and had a rebellious spirit! My offense: I dubbed a copy of dcTalk’s double platinum, Grammy-award winning album Jesus Freak on a cassette tape and gave it to one of the member’s of my church’s youth group.

There are plenty of songs I know word-for-word. I pick this one because it is the first one that I remember knowing that I knew all the words to. I also pick it because of the album’s “special” place in my life.

#30SongChallenge – Day 7

Song 7:  Song That Reminds You of a Certain Event

Artist: Jerry C.

Song:  “Canon Rock”

Album:  n/a

When Sarah and I got married, one of the first things we had to work on coming to a compromise over was, “What song are we walking down the aisle to?” and “What song are we walking back up the aisle together to?” (Tough choices, right?)

Sarah wanted to walk down the aisle to Pachbel’s “Canon in D.” Ultimately the wedding is her show, so that wasn’t too hard to agree on together. But the walk back up the aisle was another. Whatever we were going to do, I wanted to do something epic. After watching an episode of Scrubs (scene embedded below), I really wanted the groomsmen to do an air band with me doing “lead vocals.”

Sarah nixed that idea. So then I had her listen to Jerry C.’s arrangement of “Canon in D” called “Canon Rock.” While Sarah still did not approve of an air band -even an instrumental one- she did approve of the song choice as our song to walk back up the aisle after the wedding ceremony.

When the time came for us to walk back up the aisle after the ceremony’s conclusion, everything to that point had gone smoothly. As we turned and started to walk down the steps, however, the train of Sarah’s wedding dress took out a small decoration to the side of the platform, thereby cementing the ceremony and “Canon Rock” together as an inseparable pair.

#30SongChallenge – Day 6

SONG 6: A Song That Reminds You of Somewhere

Artist:  All Time Low

Song:  Running From Lions

Album:  Put Up or Shut Up

I have been to the Warped Tour more times than I have fingers and a thumb on one hand. I have seen many bands thanks to this summer festival (R.I.P.). Every time I here the song “Running From Lions” by All Time Low though, it takes me back to Noblesville, IN at Verizon Wireless Music Center or whatever the place is called these days.

The year that I saw All Time Low was after they had just released their first full-length album after their E.P., Put Up or Shut UpPut Up or Shut Up is a total pop-punk onslaught. After hearing a whole bunch of bands which could not be classified as anything close to punk, All Time Low was a welcome bit of relief. They also played on a stage with a roof over the area in front which was a pleasant break from the July sun. And to top it all off, All Time Low’s set was quite enjoyable.

The reason I pick this song is because Alex changed the lyrics to the bridge for the live version they way they performed it when I saw them on the Warped Tour. Instead of singing, “Running from lions never felt like such a mistake,” he sang, “I don’t think you’re ready for this jelly; my body’s too booty-licious for you babe!” The fact that all these years later that line is still memorable is a testament to how that song hit me in that moment.

Sadly, I guess the actual E.P. version does not exist on YouTube, so I leave you with the unplugged version. Cheers!

#30SongChallenge – Day 5

DAY 5:  A Song That Reminds You of Someone

Artist:  Heywood Banks

Song:  “Toast”

Album:  Picky Picky

When I was 17, I attended a weekend retreat called Chrysalis. The weekend was a whirlwind, and 16 years later, I still think back often to the friends that I made over the weekend, the subsequent “flights” in years after. Enter Nathan Bayless.

Thanks to Nathan’s masterful utilization of elevated voice in celebratory timbre, the song “Toast” became ingrained in my brain. Over the years of flights, the song “Toast” became an unofficial ritual; and while I was asked on quite a few occasions in the years after to help lead the rollicking number, no one could perform it with quite the flair of Nathan.

So every time I hear this little diddy, my first thoughts are usually to him.

Nathan, wherever you are and whatever you are doing, know that I still think about you from time to time, my friend.