On Monday I ventured forth to Upland, Indiana to speak at Taylor University. “Upland” conjures images of mountain streams and coniferous firs in my mind, but reality was something different. Reality was a few cornfields that had been plowed under to make way for the university, and an ice cream shop called Ivanhoe’s, which appeared to be the only commercial establishment in “town.” Parents looking for an environment that provides few distractions from the academic life could hardly do better than Taylor University.
I enjoyed my time in the heartland. Aside from some initial confusion about where I was supposed to speak, the evening came off without a hitch. I didn’t stumble over my words too badly, the audience of 25 or so students and faculty members appeared to be awake throughout the proceedings, and we all got to listen to and talk about good music. I was asked some of my favorite questions (new finds: Son Lux and Jacob Golden; five desert island discs: take your pick from The Beatles, Otis Redding, Bob Dylan, U2, Steve Earle, Nick Drake, Fairport Convention, Lucinda Williams, Bruce Cockburn, Miles Davis, Bruce Springsteen, John Coltrane, Al Green, Fountains of Wayne, Little Richard, Sandy Denny, Van Morrison, The Clash, Sarah Vaughan, Bill Evans, Marvin Gaye, Henryk Gorecki, Vigilantes of Love, Joe Henry, Neutral Milk Hotel, The Pogues, Graham Parker, Uncle Tupelo, Joni Mitchell, Elvis Costello, Mark Heard, Muddy Waters, Radiohead, Squeeze, Bill Monroe, Godspeed You Black Emperor, Steeleye Span, Ralph and Carter Stanley, Johnny Cash, The Jayhawks, Sufjan Stevens, Richard and Linda Thompson, Chuck Berry, Brad Mehldau, The Pixies, Aretha Franklin, The Beach Boys, Sigur Ros, Charlie Parker, Tom Waits, Arvo Part, Buddy and Julie Miller, Merle Haggard, Billie Holiday, T Bone Burnett, Whiskeytown, Buddy Holly, Tonio K., Howlin’ Wolf, The New Ponographers, The Hold Steady, Emmylou Harris,The Byrds – okay, that’s 97, but who’s counting? Oh yeah, The Old 97’s should probably be a part of that list, too.).
In any case, I’m glad I get to do these things periodically. And I’m always amazed and grateful that people show up to hear me. I also had a great roadtrip with my pastor Jeff, and a nice time with my BIL/SIL Bill and Jan, who put us up for the night in nearby Muncie. Many thanks.
People from New York are called New Yorkers. People from Glasgow, Scotland are called Glaswegians. I don’t why this is, but it’s one of those etymological truths that makes life so unpredictable and delightful.
The Glaswegian trio Frightened Rabbit have made my favorite new album for this week. It’s called Midnight Organ Fight (we won’t speculate too much on what that might mean) and it’s due out April 15th. In spite of the unfortunate band name, Frightened Rabbit do not sound like their trembling twee countrymen Belle and Sebastian. They sound like a poppier version of The Frames, or a more soulful version of another Glasgow band, The Twilight Sad. In any event, lead singer Scott Hutchinson has the soulful brogue going that Glen Hansard employed so masterfully on the Once soundtrack, and he writes quirky and frequently violent songs that are belied by their sunny pop melodies. You cyberwegians should seek it out once it becomes available.
 Yes, Mr. Geography, I do realize that Ireland and Scotland are not the same country. But for the purposes of this discussion, their soulful brogues sound similar to one another.