The New Basement Tapes

We have free Showtime at our house for the next few weeks. After a REALLY long day at work yesterday, I watched The New Basement Tapes Continued, a documentary playing on Showtime. I had no idea what it was about, but it started with a shakily-filmed montage of images of turntables and Budweiser cans, drum kits and vintage amps in a basement so obviously, I was all-in.

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It turns out, Bob Dylan spent a summer in a $250/mo rented farm house in rural upstate New York in the late 1960’s. He scribbled lyrics on note paper and scraps and at the end of the summer, left all of it in a desk drawer. He never did anything with them and when asked about them in recent years after they were discovered–he barely remembered writing them at all.

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So T-Bone Burnett, being the BA music advocate that he is, gathered some top-notch songwriters and gave them some of the lost Dylan lyrics. He asked them to write music based around the lyrics, then invited them to a Capitol Records studio space in LA. Here’s Burnett’s rendition of the story:

Screen Shot 2014-12-16 at 4.00.22 PMAs the documentary played on, I tried to do other things. Fiddle with my phone. Make dinner. Feed my dog. Organize notes for work. But I kept freezing in place–these five artists created some of the most beautiful melodies I’ve heard in a long time. Maybe ever.

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I’ve been playing the album on repeat all day. My favorites: Kansas City, When I Get My Hands on You, Nothing To It, Liberty Street, Down on the Bottom, Florida Key, and Stranger. My least favorites: Any of the tracks where Rhiannon sings lead.

Check it. You need it in your life.

It Isn’t What it Is.

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“See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.” 

Isaiah 43:19

“It is what it is.”

Everyone says that. I say it. There are some things that can’t be changed. That’s the truth.

But lately, I’ve been thinking about things that can be changed, but we’ve decided they can’t be.

God is in the business of making things new.

This world is in the business of trashing things way beyond their beautiful, original, God-breathed state.

How many world-trashed parts of ourselves do we look at and declare, “It is what it is”?

I’ll lay it out right here and say that personally, I’m guilty of observing parts of myself that are dinged and damaged just by walking in this body through this life and labeling them irredeemable. “It is what it is.”

 

Lately, when I’m sitting at my desk at work, driving in my car, snuggling on the couch with my puppy, falling asleep in my bed, one word keeps rolling to the front of my chaotic mind.

Redeem.

I start to pray, “Redeem it. Redeem all of it.”

The parts of me, of people I love and care about–those parts that aren’t what they should be. The experiences that should’ve been but were never even close. The deep hurts we carry that should’ve been life-giving words that nestled into our hearts. The negative personal labels we’ve burned into our palms and stare at, tracing with our fingertips every afternoon. The Garden that should’ve been Peace but became Hell in an instant.

 

When I ask God to redeem it, I want him to make it what it should be.

Only He knows what all of this was supposed to be. He watched this broken place tear it to shreds. By inviting Him in, I want him to show me how He originally painted it before His riotous children ran screaming past the canvas wielding brushes dripping with thick black paint.

How could it have been? It can still be that. Because He’s still at work.

We can try all we want to make it right. But only He can redeem it.

 

I don’t know about you. But while I live this one life I’ve been given, I want to experience it redeemed.

Not so I can get God’s pat on my back for coloring so carefully inside the lines. Rule-following is a mere fraction of this faith.

I want all that He wants for me. Despite what this broken world does to hold me back.

I want more than it-is-what-it-is. For everything that should’ve been and never got to be–I want a life fully redeemed.

And I want that for everyone I’ve laid my two eyes on in this life.

More. There’s so much more than what you and I have settled for.

He’s still making it all new. And He’s doing it just for you.