Someone’s “favorites” are a weird thing to define. They are prone to fickleness, are tied so closely with whatever else is subjectively happening in one’s life, and usually bear little resemblance to what that person would consider as the technically “best” of any particular thing. So when you have a “favorite” that sustains that title for years–decades, even–it’s a big deal.
Since high school my favorite band has been Cool Hand Luke. Back then they were a little hardcore screamo band. At that time, to get their CD, you had to mail a check to the lead singer’s house. As time when on, their style changed at the very same time and in the very same way as my own. It felt like we were growing together.
Around my senior year of high school, they came out with an album called Wake Up, O Sleeper. Anyone who’s heard of CHL probably knows them from this stunningly powerful work of art. It quickly became the most influential and “favorite” album of mine. And it has been ever since.
Towards the end of college, I became pretty good friends with the lead singer. For a while, every few months, we’d talk for a couple of hours on the phone. He was discerning whether to go to seminary and what to do about the financial mess their shady manager had left the band in. I got to see his heart and the heart behind the beautiful music they made.
Eventually, he got married, I started seminary, and he decided it was time to end the band and begin seminary himself. But there was one last project he felt he had to do.
It’s a concept album that goes chronologically through the last week of Jesus’ life and tells the story of that week from the perspective of different people involved. You have a few Jesus songs, a Judas song, and songs by John, Peter, James, and even Mary.
It is incredible. If it wasn’t for Wake Up, O Sleeper‘s staying power in my life, this would be my favorite album, hands down. And now, you can get this amazing album for free.
Mark, the lead singer, has put it up on Noisetrade, where you can download the music for free, or can pay whatever you like (which I suggest you do; after all, generosity is a historical practice of Lent).
Almost three years ago, Cool Hand Luke’s final album “Of Man” was released. It was very intentionally released during the season of Lent because so much of the content is centered around the death and resurrection of Jesus. “Of Man” is the record that I had always wanted to make, and the end result came closer to capturing my vision than anything I had done before. I was the only “member” of Cool Hand Luke by that point, so I got friends to play on it.
It was released independently with no budget or marketing. I got a band together, we did one small tour and a few spot dates, and then Cool Hand Luke was finished. My wife and I moved to Orlando to start seminary, and “Of Man” moved into the past. It never really got on most people’s radars.
I have always wanted people to hear this record because I am proud of it, and because I believe it is important. Today, on Ash Wednesday, I made the album available on NoiseTrade. I just want people to hear it, and hopefully spend some time with it. So, if you’ve never heard it, or don’t have it, please go download it. Pass the link on to friends. Of course, donations would be very helpful and very appreciated, but I am not doing this to make money. I believe this record is a labor of love that God allowed me to create as a gift to the Church. I hope you will listen.
May the reality of Christ’s humanity be a blessing to you as you walk through this life. “In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33)
Also be sure to download this blog’s free Lent mixtapes.