Beliefnet
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November 2007 Archives

There has been speculation in the last year or two that Will Smith and his wife, Jada Pinkett-Smith, have become involved with Scientology via his friendship with Tom Cruise. Smith denied those rumors last year, saying that his deceased grandmother, […]

Bob Dylan is, for my money, the poet of our generation, although Allen Ginsberg is a close second. And both figure in the new film “I’m Not There” about his life, his music, and most of all his protean self. […]

Most obvious is the overwhelming sense of awe that comes from Sigur Ros’ music. “The world is charged with the grandeur of God,” Gerard Manley Hopkins once wrote, and compositions like “I Gaer,” are charged with that same grandeur. Starting with a modest glockenspiel melody, the song suddenly cracks open like a raging electrical storm, a billowing frenzy of guitars and drums. The band is joined on many tracks by the Icelandic string quartet Amiina, and together, the musicians build songs that can only be described with breathless hyperbole and metaphor: angels dancing, birds soaring above clouds, flyover shots of glaciers. There’s such a hugeness to this music–the melodies are clearly in service of something more than entertainment or selling CDs.
Also, Sigur Ros understands how to create space for listeners to experience songs. This is true both because of the long moments of profound stillness in their music, and the openness with which their lyrics can be interpreted. While many of Birgisson’s lyrics are in Icelandic, some are also in a wordless vocal style he once called “Volenska” (usually translated as “Hopelandish”). There’s been a lot of unnecessary media hype about this “language,” but perhaps it’s close to what the Apostle Paul had in mind when he wrote of “groans too deep for words.” The lyrics to “Vaka” sound like this:

ee-sai-a-lo,
ee-so ee-saw-ee-slow,
ee-so …
you-shy-naw-no-ee-oh

What does that mean, exactly? Nothing, or maybe everything. “You saw the light?” “He saw you low?” “You shine on us?” Or something entirely different? Combine these vocals with the band’s aptitude for epic, reverent, hymn-like songs, and it seems Sigur Ros has given us a language for worship, a kind of less-spooky speaking in tongues.
“Hvarf/Heim,” along with the band’s last two albums, “( )” and “Takk,” are utterly burn-worthy. Listen, and before long, you’ll be singing along in your own language.

To grasp what I am about to say and not think I am totally bonkers, you need to first understand: I have not have a day off in, oh I don’t know, four months maybe? I mean, not a single […]

If Walt Disney’s latest fairytale film “Enchanted” isn’t a star-making vehicle for actress/singer Amy Adams, then I don’t know what is. Not only does Adams shine as Giselle, the cartoon princess turned “real life” princess in this clever, very tongue […]

With “The Nativity Story” not exactly turning into a box office bonanza and the adaptation of Anne Rice’s novel about the early years of Jesus hitting some problems in production, you might think Hollywood would take a break from movies […]

Chastity seems all the rage this season on most of my TV series favorites—both old and new. So much so that I wonder—what has sparked such a trend? From where does this loving-from-afar inclination stem? Are viewing audiences simply tired […]

Thanksgiving Day TV was filled with marathons. The western marathons. The “Cold Case” marathon. The Alfred Hitchcock marathon. Football marathon. “Charmed” marathon. “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” marathon. While marathons may be really fun traditions, they don’t say much about […]

Now a staple at karaoke bars, Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” has been plaguing–oops, I meant “entertaining”–music fans for years. Forty years, actually. (Which is how long the Jews wandered, post-Egypt, in the desert before reaching the Holy Land. But I […]

I’ve been catching up recently with “Saving Grace,” Holly Hunter’s vehicle on TNT, in which she plays an Oklahoma City police detective who, “Joan of Arcadia”-like, gets regular visits from a messenger of God. Her communication with the Higher Power […]

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