Posted by: jamesthethickheaded | January 20, 2010

Currently Listening to…

I’m one of those nuts who puts a CD or stack of the CD’s in the car player and leaves it there a long time. Did I say a long time? I mean like months. Drives the kids nuts… even now that they’re not kids anymore. Maybe even drove them to get jobs and buy their own cars.

“Nice. Very nice.”

Used to be nobody liked my Frank Sinatra or Ray Gellato. Folks clambered to ride in Mom’s car.

“Now it’s like Christmas Madrigals or something – all year long. OMG!”
“Yeah? You’re lucky… I got stuck with Gregorian Chant.”

Ah.. .the thrills of the heathen as they rage about Orthodox conversion. Yeah. I kind of thought listening to the hymns would help me “get it”. Listening to the words and music of the church’s hymns… yeah that’s a good idea.

Now I know lots of folks say this puts me in the special weirdo category: church geek.  My family’s there… I mean putting me there. Clearly. And equally there are those ready to consign me to the “American Fauxthodox” or whatever, too. And maybe there’s a point there as well, but I’m not really phased by it. It’s not making me “special” in anyway, ‘cuz we’re talking about the guy who’s always listened to the old K-tel ads (“Call now! Not available in stores!”), but had my own variant… kind of like the guy on the bus in “Bull Durham” who has his own lyrics, “Better than the original lyrics! Call now! Not available in stores (for a reason)! Operators are standing by… and if you buy enough, we swear none of this will make it to Karaoke.” So all those repetitions? I’m trying to get the words right… only I’m sure I won’t. I mean if folks really sung pronunciation the very excellent and clear way our good Indian and Pakistani friends pronounce English we’d get it right the first time…  only it’d be kind of unearthly. Certainly a far cry from the “Louie Louie” of the Kingsmen…. I mean polar opposite even. But not much chance there with my faux toofer.

Chant by Candlelight and Holding a Blee Stick: Sung by One Toofer Bubba with the London Symphony Orchestra“… not something anyone wants to hear on a first date. Even a third. And in case you didn’t know… a “Blee Stick” is a violin. But speaking of instruments… I guess that’s my drill. Good thing is that now the kids sigh with relief when it’s Frank or Ray or even some of my old classical guitar CD’s (John Williams “Jungles of Paraguay”). And that’s a day I never thought I’d see/hear/whatever.

So with that introduction, the groupie is currently listening to”Have Mercy On Me, O God: The Great Canon of St. Andrew of Crete” by Schola Cantorum of St. Peter the Apostle” and available from This is a beautiful piece of music. Top 10 so far (I’m not all the way through…’cause my commute’s kind of short). Western Rite dude that I am… I had no idea this was sung. Read Frederica’s text, but honest… from what I can tell perusing the bulletins and calendars of our local Orthodox parishes for what’s coming up… most seem to  merely “read” it. I’m sure they read it beautifully… with feeling… with reverence… and it’s a great thing. Hey… all I’m saying is that sung… and sung in this arrangement… it’s simply wonderful. Talk about evangelism… go for it. As one groupie to another… go for it. For those of you who care for the skinny: the director is J. Michael Thompson, and it’s Carpatho-Rusyn plainchant. The Schola is from St. Peter’s in the Loop, Chicago. Well… not to be confused or anything.

“Good job,  chanting dudes and dudesses! Awesome! Way to wiggle the larnyx!”

And aren’t we glad the Psalms were not written in California Surferspeak? Yeah. I think so. Anyway, I recommend it highly (The CD… NOT the Psalms in California Surferspeak).


  1. I love listening to that kind of music too- but then I’ve always enjoy Medieval and classical choral music, so this is just another extension of that. My musical tastes are quite varied. Talking Heads, Ralph Stanley and the Boys, to Orthodork music. But, I do go through my phases where I’m stuck on one or the other.

    I have that CD as well.

  2. As a medievalist, I have to say I never warmed up to the music. Recorders and drums… need I say more?

    But I guess this shoehorns me, huh? Let me add Huey Lewis, Bonnie Raitt, The Beatles, and most of the 1960’s stuff, R&B (Stevie, Gladys, Arethra, Four Tops)… even Janice Joplyn and Jerry Jeff Walker. Like George Benson, too, but now when I’m punching the radio… it often lands on the C&W stations and stays there. I’m a big Dirks Bentley fan. There’ve been a lot good recent rock bands, too, but few where I’ve done more than download singles from iTunes.

  3. I know you could have just said, “Buy this CD, its great”, but the trip was worth the scenery along the way. (We have a lot of CD car behavior in common, it seems). The Great Canon is one of my all time fave services of the Church year. I’ll have to drive my kids nuts with it…

  4. Thanks Steve! There was that old Dave Barry column a decade or more ago… back when he was “The Funniest Man in America” before he divorced and remarried (I guess that WILL wreck your sense of humor?)… when he mentioned driving down the road with his 15-year-old.. who then turns on the CD… finds it’s playing “one of Dad’s”… pushes the “EJECT” button… pulls it out… looks at it like it’s from an alien planet, and throws it.. not exactly out the car window, but the door side pocket.. the next best thing, and then proceeds to insert the head banger Rock-n-roll and begin bobbing against the dash.

    “Dad! Where do you keep coming up with this stuff?”
    “Aw, c’mon… this is better than the Stones, man?”
    “No… it’s loser rock.”

    I think we lived that scene over and over in a slightly less snarly way… in my car. My wife caved early and listened to that stuff.

    “How do you do it? Excedrin?”
    “No. Ear plugs.”

    Ah. And to think I didn’t buy a box until we got the Sequel Dog… the one failed consumer good to enter the house.

    “You bought a Sequel Schipperke? What are you crazy?”
    “AH….You noticed my white jacket? and mattress covered walls?”

    Oh, he’s alright… but he does have “.. a wild look in his eye”… but he mostly reserves it for the attic chain.

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