Sunday, January 17, 2010

A Thank-You to T-Bone Burnett

In the 1980s I was introduced to the music of Leslie Philips and her outrageously talented songwriter-musician husband T-Bone Burnett. (Joe Richards, I think you first told me about Leslie Phillips.) The album was "The Turning." Song #1 - "River of Love." I could sing that whole song right now - here's an example of very cool, inspired songwriting. Simple, but not simplistic. Haunting, to me. Just....  beautiful. To craft a song like that takes a bit of musical genius. We used to sing, as a worship song in our campus ministry, "God Is Watching You." What a sweet, true song! "The Turning" was listed as #8 in CCM's "100 Greatest Albums in Christian Music."

T-Bone wrote the music for the movie "O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Tonight, just a few minutes ago, I watched Burnett receive the Golden Globe Award for his song "The Weary Kind," in the movie "Crazy Heart." Yay!

T-Bone Burnett is an example of a Jesus-follower who lives in the world but is not of this world, like Bono and Bruce Cockburn. I admire and have always admired this. When you live in the world (but are not "of" it) you hang out with worldly people, in the sense of going to meet with them where they are. This is different, and far more effective, then huddling up in a "church building" and waiting for the nonbelievers to come to you. Actually, it's how Jesus himself did it. Jesus went to where the people are.

So what's the tie-in with T-Bone Burnett? It's this: he brings his God-given brilliance into the arena of the world and influences it. He just won a Golden Globe award. He has the ears, some of them at least, of the world listening to his music. He also believes in Jesus, and has publicly said so. He treads where the televangelists do not trod and mostly dare not trod. Which is to say, the places where the Real Jesus walked.