Best of John the Silent

While washing another pile of dishes this morning, I listened to every song that Joel David Weir has loaded onto his bandcamp page (12 “releases”). He has several other songs not loaded onto, including the “Ballad of Old Man Trump” (which is a great tribute to the now-famous but unrecorded 1950 lyrics by Woody Guthrie about his hateful landlord Fred C. Trump who is Donald J. Trump’s father). [Note: this ballad by Joel Weir was removed from YouTube the day after I linked to it on this blog. His version was unique and heartfelt. It had a refrain that said “but Trump can’t sing that harmony” and also that “Woody Guthrie sings for you and me.”] My favorite song is probably still the simple “I am a boy just like any other.” However, I really enjoyed a few others, and here is a rundown for anyone interested.

His “Saint in the Door” collection contains several beautiful moments:

Blessed Are” is my favorite of all. It is just the beatitudes interspersed with the prayer of the thief on the cross.

“Lay Aside” comes from a critical moment in the Divine Liturgy when you sing, “Lay aside all earthly cares.” I love his lively and thorough musical Americanization of this basic movement in the Divine Liturgy.

His music can get a little monotonous (in a typical armature fashion), but there are also beautiful moments in “Lady/Son” as well as “These Streets Are Haunted.”

(I Won’t Be) Home For Christmas” is a single that is very well done. I found it wonderful for any day of the year, and it did not drag at all for me. Here are a few lines: “peace on earth is hard to find here / when hatred masks as holiness / and the ones with guns and money / make refugees and beggars of the rest.”

Worktown” also stood out to me. It basically is a simple love song for a married couple. Also, his father was dying as he wrote this song and the others in the whole collection titled “Worktown.” He says that it reflects on his father’s life as much as his own. There are two versions of it among his collections on bandcamp. I prefer the one in the “Worktown” collection because the one in “Thin Places” is more produced and instrumentalized. I prefer the raw solo version.

His collection “Thin Places” is mostly remakes of other songs with several friends joining him. It is more polished. “(Don’t Go) Down to Balhinch Alone” in this collection was very fun (first in the lineup).

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