Tag Archives: down here

Amy’s Christmas Playlist

21 Dec

Every year I make an iTunes playlist of my favorite Christmas songs–some have been on the album every year since its inception, while others are happy new editions.  There are several versions of my playlist before choosing the 20 or so songs that will fit on a CD for the enjoyment of my friends and family.  (And I make like 6 copies of the epic mix album for people.  Don’t get the piracy police after me!)

So, here it is…my 2011 mix, which I call “Joy Is Born.”

Joy Is Born Christmas Mix 2011

1. “Star Of Wonder” – JJ Heller, Wake Up The World [My good friend, Shari, told me that about JJ’s Christmas album and we both love it!  JJ’s version of “Star of Wonder” is the perfect lead-in to any album.  She imagines to capture the wonder of seeking Christ–“Messiah was worth every mile.]

2. “Heaven’s Got A Baby”-The O.C. Supertones, Happy Christmas Vol. 3 [This song is a cheery proclamation and it’s on the mix every year.  Sometimes it’s first, but I’m going for awe and wonder this year, so I needed something a little more subdued.]             

3. “Born to Die” -Bebo Norman, Christmas: From the Realms of Glory [As if I would ever make a playlist without a Bebo song.  That would just be ridiculous! I assume you already own this album, so I’m not even going to tell you to buy it because you already know how awesome it is!]

4.  “Adorn” -Alli Rogers, The Silent Stars [If you don’t own The Silent Stars or anything by Alli Rogers, you need to rectify that RIGHT NOW!  Go, buy, download, and prosper!]

5. “Ring The Bells” -Travis Cottrell, Ring The Bells [Did you know that Travis Cottrell is the worship leader at Beth Moore’s church?  Or at least he was.]

6. “I Celebrate The Day”- Relient K, Let It Snow Baby…Let It Reindeer [Relient K’s Christmas album is one of my favorites, so this song is ALWAYS on my playlist.  Let It Snow Baby is available as a $5 download on Amazon right now!]

A bunch of fans made this music video for “His Favorite Christmas Story.” Love it so much I had to share it here!

7. “His Favorite Christmas Story”- Captial Lights, X Christmas- Various Artists [I haven’t heard anything from Capital Lights since their debut album.  This song tells a cute story that make me tear up.  Every. Single. Time.]

8. “You Gotta Get Up (Christmas Song)”- Rich Mullins, A Liturgy, A Legacy & A Ragamuffin Band [I play this song as soon as I get up every Christmas morning for as long as I can remember.]

9. “Feliz Navidad”- David Crowder Band, X Christmas- Various Artists [David Crowder Band + silly Spanish = mucho bueno.]

10. “A Christmas Song For All Year Round” Aaron Sprinkle, Happy Christmas Vol. 3 [I wanted to marry Aaron Sprinkle so I could be “Amy Sprinkle,” as it turns out Aaron is already married.  I suppose I could legally change my name to “Amy Sprinkle” anyway.  Santa, bring a name change for Christmas!]

11. “How Many Kings”-Downhere, How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas [I’ll be talking more about this song on Friday Faves.  I. Love. It.  So much that each word was its own sentence.  I played this at my small group’s Christmas party “reflection time” and they loved it, too.]

12.  “Welcome To Our World”-Chris Rice, Deep Enough to Dream  [What is Chris Rice doing these days?  Has anyone heard from the guy since he got married?  He needs to make more theologically relevant music for the masses.]    

13. “The First Noel (Instrumental Version)”-Josh Wilson, Sing: A Christmas – EP [Josh Wilson + instruments of any kind = magic.]

14. “Hallelujah (Light Has Come)”- BarlowGirl, Home For Christmas [The Barlow sisters are always wonderful, and this song is exceptional. Their vocal arrangements make my heart happy.]

15. “What Child Is This”- PLUMB, (Free Download) [Sometimes the best things in life really are free!  Plumb’s version of “What Child Is This” is an older version than the one we usually sing.  Personally, I prefer this version.  It was prettied up to celebrate the birth only, and completely revised of the implication of the cross Jesus was to bear.]

16. “Bring A Tourch, Jeanette, Isabella”-Downhere, How Many Kings: Songs For Christmas [It’s Downhere again!  Their version of this classic makes me want to grab a torch and look for the Christ child myself.  I mean, there is a plastic Baby Jesus in the nativity down the street.  But I just don’t that elicits the joy of the actual event.]         

This is the version from his self-titled album, not the Christmas EP.  I put the Christmas version on the mix. Josh makes the best facial expressions when he sings.  Love, love, love his guy and his beat-up gee-tar!

17. “Sing”- Josh Wilson  Sing: A Christmas – EP [What a shock!  Another song by my friend, Josh Wilson.  I played this at small group two weeks ago when we talked about the LONG-AWAITED joy and expectation of God’s timing.  “We could never get back home with broken hearts, so Home has come to us.” Lyrical genius!]

18. “Snow Globe”- Matt Wertz, Snow Globe [We had a whole Friday Faves dedicated to the hilarity that is this song.  See “Friday Faves: Snow Globe Living Edition.“]

19. “Mary Did You Know” – Spoken, Happy Christmas Vol. 4  [All punked up like it should be.]      

20. “Drummer Boy”-Jars Of Clay, Christmas Songs [I never truly appreciated this song until Jars of Clay recorded their version.  Then I researched how the drummer boy is the lowliest of all shepherds, and still he came, and offered what he had–the gift of his playing.  I mean, I’m not sure how drumming helps a newborn baby.  I would think that would elicit much screaming and sobbing. But I still like the song.  It’s not like Baby Jesus didn’t cry either, so “Silent Night” is a farce, too.  And  yet I enjoy both songs.]

21. “Jesus, King Of Angels”- Fernando Ortega, Christmas Songs [Oh, Fernando, I love your music.]

This is the video that launched Straight No Chaser into a music career years after graduating from college.

22. “The Christmas Can-Can”-Straight No Chaser, Christmas Cheers [Because I like to end things on a hilarious note, I included this song from acapella group, Straight No Chaser, who became “famous” after their “12 Days of Christmas” video from college re-emerged on YouTube years later.  So they recorded a second album, Christmas Cheers.]

I was going to tell you why I chose each and every song, what the song means to me,but that’s entirely too much work, so I added a few notes, a bunch of links, and a handful YouTube videos for your viewing enjoyment. 

Have a question about why I chose a song, leave a comment!  Tell me what songs are on your “list.”


I’m thankful for two Jason’s and a Josh!

23 Nov

A musician’s life isn’t easy.  Just because musicians are doing what they love, crafting music is a job just like any other.  First, there’s the writing process—lyric after lyric, chord progression after chord progression, organizing the percussion, changing up vocals.  Then comes the recording process, which is more organization, changing, and take after endless take.  Production is next and these days, a lot of artists like to help with the fine tuning of their final sound.  When the album is finally released, artists endure a media blitz—three hours of 15-30 minutes phone interviews with various journalists, week-long tours to various radio stations to hype up the new album, and the album release show!  Then it’s up to you to buy the album, which hopefully you do—if it’s good.  And if it’s not, boy, do the reviewers go to town!  (Amy’s note:  It’s not easy being a reviewer either!)

Then there’s touring.  Think about it—to come to a concert in your city, an artist or band has to travel to the venue (by plane or bus/van), set up equipment, eat whatever the venue is serving (if the venue is serving anything), perform, spend time with the fans, do the media thing, pack up, get about six hours of sleep, and do it all again the next day. Plus, a lot of artists are dealing with time away from their families, friends, and other support systems (church, small group, etc.)  Wouldn’t it be nice if we turned down the music on our stereos and thanked the people who create the background music of our lives?  It’s not just a “nice idea,” I believe it is necessary to pray for and encourage our artistic friends, so I’m going to start with the musicians who add so much flavor to my spiritual journey. (Also, please pray for me as I seek more ways to be an encouragement to musicians.)

To start, I’d like to call out some of God’s humble servants for cyber applause (iClaps?).

I am so, so, so thankful for my friend, Josh Wilson.  A lot of times, I have a great interview with a musician, maybe exchange a few emails or Tweets, and move on to the next interview.  But Josh and I just hit it off, so I began praying for him every day.  Then he got engaged, so I started praying for his sweetie every day, too.  I’m sure if/when Josh and Becca have kids, I’ll pray for the Wilson brood.

Through praying, emailing, interviewing, a few side projects here and there, and hanging out with Josh at a couple of shows, I have found not only a man who truly loves God, but a great friend as well.  If you’ve been reading Backseat Writer, then you know how much I adore Josh’s music.  He’s a musical and lyrical dynamo, whose talent is rare these days.  I am constantly amazed at the articulation of Josh’s songs and the hard work he puts into challenging himself to craft original material.

A true musical genius, man of God, and genuinely wonderful person—I’m thankful for you, Josh Wilson!

Over the past few months, I’ve shared about how Jason Gray’s album, A Way to See in the Dark has impacted my life.  I even told you that I met Jason Gray a few weeks ago at a concert and got signed CDs (one for me, one for you.  The giveaway is coming soon…I promise).  What I didn’t tell you is this—Jason Gray was truly a delight to meet, to chat with, and to banter with on Twitter.  Plus, he’s really tall and looks like an elf.  As you know, I have an affinity for elves (I stole that line from the movie, Elf).

Apparently, Jason has a stuttering problem—something that he’s struggled with since he was but a wee lad.  I didn’t notice it when we chatted one-on-one (actually, four-on-four since BFF Sarah and Jason German from downhere were also in on the conversation), but it was evident from the stage.  He informed the audience that he stutters and that he wasn’t “freaking out” on the stage.  Then he went on to talk and sing about the glories of God.  While Jason could’ve let his speech impediment hold him back, God just gave Jason a bigger platform in which to communicate…and I’m thankful.  Because if Jason let the voice of doubt overtake his life, I wouldn’t have “Remind Me Who I Am”—a song which hit me so powerfully that I was gasping for breath between sobs and moans.  That song was my undoing, the instrument God used to break open my heart.  I am thankful for you, Jason Gray, for your boldness, your reading recommendations, and your music.

Image from RadarRadio.net

When I met Jason, he was on the “Called to Love” tour with Aaron Shust and downhere.  When BFF Sarah and I were sitting in the “green room” waiting for various musicians to appear (really I was waiting for Jason Gray because I was excited to meet him and tell him how much I loved his album), a man in his late 30’s wearing dark clothes and a longish coat strolled in.  He greeted us and kindly asked, “And what is your part in this production?”

“I’m just here to make awkward conversation,” I asked with a smirk.  This was the “right” answer because it resulted in further banter.  Later I found out that I was talking to “Jason G” from downhere.  I assumed he was the bass player. (He looked like a bass player to me.)

Admittedly, I was ignorant of downhere’s music until that night when their live performance blew me away.  Imagine my surprise when I watched Jason Germain make a piano sing by tickling a few keys!  When I gushed to Jason Gray over his album, Jason G remarked, “It is a really good album.  I’ve been listening to it a lot lately, too.”  Then he thoughtfully quoted a line from one of Jason’s song.   I even told Jason G that I really liked the band’s Christmas album (which I do), but haven’t listened to much of their music.  He was not offended in the least and appreciated the attention his tour mate was receiving.   Even when I accidentally called his band “downthere,” Jason G did not bat an eyelash.  This man’s humility and kindness spoke volumes to me.

Not only am I thankful for downhere, I am grateful to Jason Germain to introducing me to “the band” just by engaging in awkward conversation with a couple of gals in Pennsylvania.  I am thankful for you, Jason Germain!

What musician or band are you thankful for?  And just why are you thankful for your musician/band?  Any song or album that you’re grateful for?  Share it here or on Twitter (use “#thankamusician” so we can start a movement!)

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