All posts in Music

  • When Everything’s on Fire Playlist

    Today is release day for When Everything’s on Fire. For most of my books I create an accompanying playlist (just for the fun of it). Every song on the playlist has some connection to the book. The reason for some songs is obvious. For example, in his foreword, Bradley Jersak quotes a line from Steve Bell’s “Wouldn’t You Love to Know,” so its on the playlist. “A Coffee with Nietzsche” has an obvious connection with the book. But the reason for some of the songs is nearly inscrutable. The hint I’ll give is that the songs are in the order they “appear” in the book. Here’s a link to the playlist on Spotify. Enjoy.

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  • Bob Dylan: A Tribute

    Bob Dylan: A Tribute
    Brian Zahnd

    Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’
    I was layin’ in bed
    Wond’rin’ if she’d changed at all
    If her hair was still red

    That’s how it began. Early one morning when I was fifteen I woke to “Tangled Up In Blue” on the radio. At that time my music obsessions were rock bands like Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, Blue Öyster Cult, ZZ Top; I wasn’t into singer-songwriter music — it wasn’t heavy enough for me. I was only vaguely aware of Bob Dylan; I knew “Blowin’ in the Wind” and “Lay Lady Lay.” That was about it. But as I listened to the song in a half-dream state I was mesmerized by the meter and effortless rhymes of Dylan’s poetry.

    I lived with them on Montague Street
    In a basement down the stairs
    There was music in the cafés at night
    And revolution in the air

    I believe it was that morning in 1975 that my love for artistic language was born, and I know that was the moment I became a Bob Dylan fan. For over forty-six years BZ (Bobby Zimmerman) has been a constant companion, providing the soundtrack for my life. If I were to listen to all the records, CDs, and digital files of Dylan albums and live bootlegs that I have, it would take weeks of 24-7 listening.

    Yes, I’m a hardcore fan. I didn’t choose to become a hardcore fan, it just happened. It’s more like an addiction, but an addiction that has been nothing but good for me. I respect the kind of hardcore fandom you see among enthusiasts of Dylan, The Beatles, The Grateful Dead, U2, Metallica, etc. A deep dive into an artist’s work makes it that much more enjoyable. Nevertheless, I don’t think it’s really a choice you make, it just happens. I’m grateful that Dylan’s art captured my heart at a young age.
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  • Water To Wine Playlist


    This playlist is the soundtrack for Water To Wine. Many of the songs are referred to in the book, some of the songs have obvious connections with certain passages, and a few of the songs have a deeply personal connection with the story I tell.

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  • Forty Years of Following Jesus


    Forty Years of Following Jesus
    Brian Zahnd
    November 9, 2014

    It was November 1974. I was fifteen and it was my year of discovery. I was awakening to the world around me, forging an identity, becoming a self. I was drawn to the counterculture. I had discovered music — not my parents music, my music. Led Zeppelin was magic for me. I still remember the first time I heard Whole Lotta Love. That opening riff channeled my lust for life. I would sit for hours in my basement bedroom listening to Zeppelin, Hendrix, Mountain, Deep Purple, Allman Brothers. Soon I would discover Bob Dylan and he would provide the soundtrack for my life. My mom was worried about my long hours alone in my bedroom with my music, black lights, and incense. But she needn’t be. I was just making discoveries.

    You can live a whole lifetime when you’re fifteen. I don’t remember that much about being twenty-six or thirty-eight or forty-three, but it seems I remember every week of being fifteen. It was 1974 and people were reading Jaws. President Nixon resigned in August and Lynyrd Skynyrd didn’t care — “now Watergate does not bother me” (Sweet Home Alabama). The Rolling Stones told the truth: It’s Only Rock N’ Roll (But I Like It). Oh yeah, I remember that year. Every week was a new discovery.

    Then came November 9, 1974. It was a Saturday. A crisp autumn day. I woke up to David Essex on the radio. Rock On
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  • BZ’s Top Five Albums of 2013


    BZ’s Top Five Albums of 2013

    Without music, life would be a mistake.

    I love music. Neurotically so. I don’t love what I’m “supposed” to love, I love what I love.
    Since I was thirteen people have been telling me to turn it down. Mostly I don’t.

    I’m listening to Neil Young, I gotta turn up the sound
    Someone’s always yelling, turn it down

    -Bob Dylan, Highlands

    So with little explanation and no apology here are my top five albums of 2013…


    (The artwork is 2500 albums.)

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  • BZ’s Top 25 (Non-Dylan) Albums


    BZ’s Top 25 (Non-Dylan) Albums

    This Sunday, for the fourth year, I launch into the ever-popular summer sermon series: Finding God On Your iPod. In Finding God On Your iPod I use contemporary songs as an artistic pallet for painting gospel portraits. And it’s a lot of fun! Music is a big deal with me. My iTunes library is culled to an essential 10,000 songs—a month’s worth of 24/7 listening pleasure. I can’t do with any less than that. I agree with what Nietzsche said: “Without music, life would be a mistake.”

    Along with being a music nut, I’m a compulsive list-maker…just ask Peri. So, for no particular reason other than my own amusement, I’ve prepared BZ’s Top 25 (Non-Dylan) Albums. (I assume you understand that Dylan occupies his own category in my music pantheon. And yes, I realize I sorted of cheated by including The Traveling Wilburys in the list.) Alright, here we go: Limited to one album per artist and arranged in alphabetical order according to the artist as they appear in iTunes, here are my top 25 albums…

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  • Beautiful People

    Jason Upton-Beautiful

    For the fourth installment of Finding God On Your iPod I selected Beautiful People by my friend Jason Upton. Here’s the video our media department produced for it plus Jason telling the story behind the song. Read more

  • Dweller By A Dark Stream

    I’m a late-comer to the Canadian singer-songwriter Bruce Cockburn, but I’m making up for lost time. I love his work. I’ve been listening to his Dweller By A Dark Stream over and over. It’s a beautiful love song to Jesus that gets so much right. This little song has a ton of good theology on atonement, incarnation and eschatology. Not bad for a song! Check it out. Read more

  • Blood On The Tracks

    35 years ago today Bob Dylan’s Blood On The Tracks was released.
    In this blogger’s opinion it’s the finest album ever recorded.

    Early one mornin’ the sun was shinin’, I was layin’ in bed. It was a Saturday in 1975. I was 15. A Zeppelin freak and a brand new Christian. Bob Dylan was the guy who did Blowin’ In The Wind, Lay Lady Lay and Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door. I woke to Tangled Up In Blue on KY-102. I was in that beta state between sleep and waking and her hair was still red. Every one of those words rang true. Revolution was in the air. I was mesmerized. Something was awakened in me. Something I had never known before. Love of language. Love of story. Love of song. From a different point of view. From a Dylan point of view. That love is still with me.

    Thank you, Mr. Dylan.