Kurt Wagner of Lambchop standing with his Beautillion Militaire 2000 series of paintings
The tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut is so deep, so overwhelming, that for many of us it's been a moment of re-orientation and reflection, of counting blessings and extending a hand to help in what ever distant way we can.
One of those forms of grief and support has been folks' sharing of music and art in various mediums. On Facebook, The Alan Lomax Archive and Association for Cultural Equity offered a stirring "Peace in the Valley" by Joe Savage and, last night, Saturday Night Live's cold opening began with the New York City Children's Chorus singing "Silent Night." Such moments remind us that, while in the midst of national mourning, something as seemingly-insignificant as a piece of art becomes the thing we need the most.
Below, I offer "Nice Without Mercy," a song from Lambchop's acclaimed Mr. M. While Kurt Wagner's lyrics within Mr. M often meditate on the loss of his friend Vic Chestnut, these songs, to my listening, are less about a particular context and more about a process of grief, redemption, and the unexpected beauty and compassion we find along the way: