Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Plato's Republic and Rivers in the Wasteland by NEEDTOBREATE

On April 15th, NEEDTOBREATHE (NTB) released a new album - Rivers in the Wasteland - via Atlantic Records. If you haven't heard these guys, they play a blend of American / Southern Rock and soft Indie. This album is different, and I'd venture to say better than anything NTB has ever produced - stylistically, musically, and lyrically. A few of the songs are quickly rising to the top of the Best Ever List (which I've taken the liberty to craft and force upon you).

This album is an open hand, beckoning, urging even, the listener into an encounter with philosophical and theological themes that, like a dark chocolate or a fine wine, can only and ever truly be tasted through careful attention and gentle reflection.

To prepare your palate, then, here's a little of Socrates' musing on music in Plato's Republic:

...Musical training is a more potent instrument than any other, because rhythm and harmony find their way into the inward places of the soul, on which they mightily fasten, imparting grace, and making the soul of the one rightly educated [by music] graceful, or of the one ill-educated [by music], ungraceful. And also because he who has received this true education of the inner being will most shrewdly perceive omissions or faults in art and nature, and while he praises and rejoices over the good and receives it into his soul, and becomes noble and good, he will justly blame and hate the bad with a true taste, now in the days of his youth, even before he will recognize and salute the friend with whom his education has made him long familiar.

And here's a little something YHWH said in Isaiah's book:

Forget the former things;
    do not dwell on the past.
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 rivers in the wasteland. 

So, below are a few lyrics from Rivers in the Wasteland. And if we're to follow Socrates' advice from elsewhere, which is generally a pretty good idea, the lyrics don't hold the same power over the soul when separated from their rhythm, harmony and melody. So listen to the album.

From "Wasteland":

All of these people I meet - it seems like they're fine.
In some ways I hope that they're not,
and their hearts are like mine.
Yeah its wrong when it seems like work
to belong, all I feel is hurt. 

Oh if God is on my side,
yeah if God is on my side,
oh if God is on my side,
then who can be against me

From "Difference Maker":

Isn't it amazing how a man can find himself alone.
Call into the darkness for an answer that he's never known.
Isn't it amazing how a God can take a broken man;
yeah let him find a fortune, let him ruin it with his own two hands. 
And he climbs on up the hill,
to the rock on which he stands
and he looks back at the crowd
and he looks down at his hands and he says -  
I am a difference maker.

From "More Heart, Less Attack":

Be the light in the cracks;
be the one that’s been there, the camel’s back;
slow to anger, quick to laugh,
be more heart, and less attack 
Be the wheels not the track,
be the wonderer that’s coming back.
Leave the past right where it’s at.
Be more heart, and less attack 
The more you take the less you have
'cause it’s you in the mirror staring back,
quick to let go slow to react,
be more heart, and less attack 
Ever growing, steadfast,
and if need be, the one that’s in the gap.
Be the never-turning-back,
twice the heart any man could have.

From "Multiplied":

Your love is
like radiant diamonds,
bursting inside us
we cannot contain.
Your love will
surely come find us,
like blazing wildfires
singing your name 
God of Mercy,
sweet love of mine,
I have surrendered
to your design.
May this offering
stretch across the skies,
and these hallelujahs
be multiplied.

I hope you take the time to listen to and reflect on the album. It's title gains its significance from Isaiah 43:18-19, quoted above. It's on Spotify, Youtube, iTunes, etc. Music does change people. Do take care.

1 comment:

  1. I have been listening to the album all week, and I really enjoy it as well. I've been following Needtobreathe since their debut album (which is actually their least impressive), and I have to say that 'The Outsiders' is still their best album. But I agree with you that the lyrical content is especially good on 'Rivers' -- marking an increasing maturation in a band that was already more mature than most of their peers.