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On Being with Krista Tippett is a public radio project delving into the human side of news stories + issues. Curated + edited by senior editor Trent Gilliss.

We publish guest contributions. We edit long; we scrapbook. We do big ideas + deep meaning. We answer questions.

We've even won a couple of Webbys + a Peabody Award.

Tuesday Evening Melody: “I & Thou” by The Daredevil Christopher Wright

by Susan Leem, associate producer

Martin Buber portrait

"I love exploring my own doubt, and how people have wrestled with the idea of understanding human motivation, purpose."
~Jason Sunde, songwriter

Martin Buber's 1923 seminal work I and Thou is essential reading for many a seminary student. And, the Wisconsin band The Daredevil Christopher Wright has rendered this classic namesake into song. And it’s got us reading and talking more about this Jewish religious thinker too.

"Every Thou in the world is by its nature fated to become a thing, or continually re-enter into the condition of things."
~Martin Buber, from I and Thou

Our colleague Chris Roberts spoke with the songwriters for his latest story at Minnesota Public Radio. Listen to the audio (left).


We revive the too-long-dormant Tuesday evening melody with these haunting lyrics of The Long Wives, the solo project of Brandy St. John. The song is rather dark, the religious imagery visceral, and somehow I find some sustenance in its beauty:

They’re fighting in the streets
They’re fighting on the TV
Did you learn to make a fist
Before you learned to speak?
And did you cut your teeth a little too soon?
The answer lies in your eyes
It lies in our wounds

The violence of man
The violence of the beast
The violence in your heart 
Your violence for me
And the blood it runs
And the blood it runs
And the blood it runs by

The master comes to eat
The blood and the body
Now he’s full of Christ
And the life of the party
He has a gun for you, he has a gun for me
He just asks that we all send him some money
All he really needs is a little more money…


Well, isn’t this a pretty, little duet by Sara Bareilles and Ingrid Michaelson. Perfect for a Tuesday evening melody it is.



It’s been some time since I’ve posted a Tuesday evening melody to the On Being Tumblr, so I’ll break form and post this tingly song by The Civil Wars. “Barton Hollow,” live from the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

I’m a dead man walking here 
But that’s the least of all my fears 
Ooh, underneath the water 

It’s not Alabama clay 
That gives my trembling hands away 
Please forgive me father 

Ain’t going back to Barton Hollow 
Devil gonna follow me e’er I go 
Won’t do me no good washing in the river 
Can’t no preacher man save my soul 

Did that full moon force my hand? 
Or that unmarked hundred grand? 
Ooh, underneath the water 
Please forgive me father 

Miles and miles in my bare feet 
Still can’t lay me down to sleep 
If I die before I wake 
I know the Lord my soul won’t take 

I’m a dead man walking 
I’m a dead man walking 

Keep walking and running and running for miles 
Keep walking and running and running for miles 
Keep walking and running and running for miles 

Ain’t going back to Barton Hollow 
Devil gonna follow me e’er I go 
Won’t do me no good washing in the river 
Can’t no preacher man save my soul



Elizabeth Cotten’s “Freight Train” is just what I needed this evening.

(h/t to Jeff Guntzel)

We haven’t posted a Tuesday evening melody in several weeks. And this ditty couldn’t be a more fitting reentry.


The track that ends our upcoming show on the sounds of silence and the last quiet places? An instrumental song from The Pines.

~Trent Gilliss, senior editor


Tuesday Evening Melody: “Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrika” by Soweto Gospel Choir

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

To open our show with Desmond Tutu, we chose the Soweto Gospel Choir’s version of South Africa’s national anthem. The song pulls together two anthems in five different languages: Xhosa, Zulu, Sesotho, Afrikaans, and English. It goes:

Nkosi sikelel’ iAfrika
Maluphakanyisw’ uphondo lwayo,
Yizwa imithandazo yethu,
Nkosi sikelela, thina lusapho lwayo.

Morena boloka setjhaba sa heso,
O fedise dintwa le matshwenyeho,
O se boloke, O se boloke setjhaba sa heso,
Setjhaba sa South Afrika — South Afrika.

Uit die blou van onse hemel,
Uit die diepte van ons see,
Oor ons ewige gebergtes,
Waar die kranse antwoord gee,

Sounds the call to come together,
And united we shall stand,
Let us live and strive for freedom,
In South Africa our land.

The history of how this anthem came into being is fascinating. Well worth a read.


Tuesday Evening Melody: Pixies by Piano

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

The beautiful world of Tumblr delivers a gem to the threshold of our blogging door with this marvelous rendition of a Pixies classic. And, telegrammarian couldn’t have described this piano music any better:

Maxence Cyrin is one hell of a cover artist and pianist. His music has appeared in a number of films, and this cover of “Where is My Mind” from his album Novo Piano is a perfect example of how awesome at piano covers he really is. It was also in the film It’s Kind of a Funny Story (2010). 

Basically, if you love the Pixies and you love piano, this song is tailor-made for your ears. If you’re into Nirvana, The Arcade Fire, MGMT, and/or Beyonce (and many more) AND you love piano, then his album Novo Piano is tailor-made for your ears. Check it out, guys. Do it. DO IIIIT.


Tuesday Evening Melody: “Detroit Summer” by Invincible

by Susan Leem, associate producer

Invincible calls out the crowdInvincible on stage at center. (photo: David Smith/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

One of the stars in the constellation of Grace Lee Boggs’ world of change is hip-hop artist Invincible, whom the Village Voice calls Detroit’s "femme-emcee extraordinaire." Invincible (aka Ilana Weaver) is a rapper and spoken word artist who leads workshops through the Boggs Center’s Detroit Summer project. 

In one of these workshops, she leads kids in collecting and studying interviews with community members. They use these conversations as the source for their own hip-hop pieces and brainstorm alternative solutions to the problems raised by their interviewees. She says this about her friendship with Grace Lee Boggs (whom you’ll hear in our podcast this Thursday):

“Grace doesn’t talk down to you; she doesn’t come like that to young people. She comes to you with questions rather than lecture to find out what’s relevant to you and tries to relate to it… My whole life has been transformed by my work with Detroit Summer. First of all as an artist I ground all my art in a larger purpose and vision for community change that’s led by the community.”

Enjoy the tune inspired by Invincible’s transformative work with Detroit Summer, and look for a Grace Lee Boggs cameo in the video.


Tuesday Evening Melody: Saturday Night Tavern Storytelling with Over The Rhine’s “All My Favorite People”

by Marcy Bain, guest contributor

As a Presbyterian minister I spend a great deal of time in sanctuary spaces, but I confess that my favorite spiritual music is not always sung by the Sunday morning choir. Often it’s sung in Saturday night taverns by mainstream folk artists like Over The Rhine, Patty Griffin, and Jennifer Knapp. Other artists shuffle in and out of my iPod rotation, but when I seek spiritual comforts, to these musical mainstays I always return.

The other day I was trying to locate that thing, that ineffable quality in their music that draws me into sacred space, and it proved a daunting task. Like a flash of creative insight, or a burst of beauty that wrecks the senses, I can’t really put my finger on the pulse of such mysteries; I can only receive them when they come to me. And so it is with these artists and their songs.

However, if I endeavored to speak in broad terms, I would say that these artists hold a few key characteristics in common. They make music that strikes a spiritual chord in me without being doctrinaire. They each pursue excellence in their craft. They defy labels and simplistic categorizations. Folk music at its core is story tellin’ music; each of these artists sings out their stories from the deep-seated wellsprings of spirit and soul. None of them make music specifically geared towards the Christian marketplace, but all of them have deeply nourished me in my journey of faith.

For those of you with New Year’s resolutions to expand your musical palette, start with Over The Rhine’s “All My Favorite People,” dive in to Knapp’s “Mr. Gray,” and let Ms. Griffin take you to church with her stirring rendition of “All Creatures of Our God and King.” If the Saturday night tavern happens to be your favorite sanctuary, who knows, you just might get to see a preacher overcome by “a juke box altar call” (to borrow a lyric from another OTR song) as she sits in the corner putting the final polish on her Sunday morning sermon.

Marcy BainMarcy Bain is an ordained Presbyterian minister from Dayton, Ohio. She believes that there is a special place in heaven for girls with guitars, and she is ever so grateful for all that they’ve contributed to her life.

Want to recommend a song for our Tuesday evening melody? Submit your suggestion and a little bit about the tune. We’ll take a listen for possible publication on the On Being Blog.


"The Christmas Waltz" by She & Him to Dance Us Into the Weekend

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

Tis the season and, yes, I’m a fanboy of She & Him. How can you not love the stripped-down, melodic version of this classic Christmas song? You can’t. Enjoy!

Editor’s note: The title was changed due to a last-minute scheduling change. Unfortunately, Tuesday turned into Wednesday!


Tuesday Evening Melody: “I Have Never Loved Someone” by My Brightest Diamond

by Pádraig Ó Tuama, guest contributor

As a kind, five-minute gift to yourself, listen to and watch the song by My Brightest Diamond. It has beautiful lyrics and is performed deliciously from a set recorded in Berlin this year.

I have never loved someone the way I love you 
I have never seen a smile like yours 
And if you grow to be a king or clown or pauper 
I will say you are my favorite one in town 

I have never held a hand so soft and sacred 
When I hear your laugh I know heaven’s key 
And when I grow to be a poppy in the graveyard 
I will send you all my love upon the breeze 

And if the breeze won’t blow your way, I will be the sun 
And if the sun won’t shine your way, I will be the rain 
And if the rain won’t wash away all your aches and pains 
I will find some other way to tell you you’re okay

Padraig O TuamaPádraig Ó Tuama, a native of Cork, works in chaplaincy and peacework in Belfast, Northern Ireland. You can read more of his writing at In the Shelter and in his new book of poetry coming out in 2012.

We welcome your original reflections, essays, videos, or news items for possible publication on the On Being Blog. Submit your entry through our First Person Outreach page.


Tuesday Evening Melody: “I Believe” by Desmond Dekker

by Susan Leem, associate producer

Par774433Before singer-songwriter Bob Marley brought reggae to the world, Desmond Dekker was becoming a household name in his native Jamaica with his backing band the Aces. He had 20 number one hits, with spiritually-intentioned ska and reggae-styled tunes. His biggest hit “The Israelites” made a global impression when featured in the 1989 Gus Van Sant film Drugstore Cowboy, and even among the Fab Four (hear a shout out in “Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da”).

"I Believe" has always been a favorite of mine for its catchy, repetitive verses, and its clever nod to a circular kind of relativism (the very real possibility that it "all depends on what you believe"). But, most importantly, that amazing rocksteady beat.

Photo of Dekker album in a London record store by Carl De Souza/AFP/Getty Images


Tuesday Evening Melody: “Plain Gold Ring” by Kimbra

by Chris Heagle, producer

Kimbra’s refreshing cover of Plain Gold Ring is a love letter to Nina Simone and her classic song. Built up from loops of her own voice created live in studio (watch the mic on the left), this mellow groove is instantly infectious. Don’t be fooled though, the her powerful voice takes us along to the stratosphere before floating back to earth. And, now, the music of New Zealand’s up-and-coming, 21-year-old chanteuse is finally available in the U.S.


Tuesday Evening Melody: “Seven Year Ache” by Rosanne Cash

by Trent Gilliss, senior editor

When I was in my tweens, Rosanne Cash was a staple in our station wagon and in our vans (yeah, my dad loved his Ford Econolines), on our icy trips to school in North Dakota or on our mountainous climbs up the Rockies during summer vacation. It was pure torture.

You see, I was a man of sophisticated rock and alt pop tastes. Give me Devo and let me hold on to dear life as KISS disbanded and made those awful solo albums. I used to squeeze my ears, longing to hear anything but Rosanne Cash with Jon Munson Rosanne Cash or her daddy, much less the Statler Brothers or any other country music my mom used to blast through those tinny speakers.

But 30 years later, the songs I remember most are many of my mother’s favorites. And I was reminded of her victory earlier this year at a performance of Wits, when Ms. Cash made a guest appearance. The first song she performed — the one I still sing to myself on the commute to work or when my baby boys would cry at night — was, yes, her 1981 crossover hit, "Seven Year Ache."

The version you’re hearing and seeing is actually a second take performed after the show was over, which is unfortunate. Although she forgot a few of the words the first time, the moment was part of the pure delight of being at a live show. She endeared herself to the audience, and dare I say the host John Moe and Sandra Bernhard, with her professional embarrassment and quiet humility. Nevertheless, this version is absolutely enchanting and we’re excited to be interviewing her on November 17th before her performance at Orchestra Hall in Minneapolis.

Funny thing is, now, three decades later, Rosanne Cash is still a staple in my life — my online life. Her witty tweets and conversant replies are a part of my daily reading. Who would’ve thought… the hub caps never fell off.

Photos by Eamon Coyne/MPR