spacer
Ransom Fellowship
spacer articles movies music books art faith discernment spacer
 
articles
publications
search
people
links
faq
blank
about
contact
press kit
Ransom Blogs
spacer
spacer
current article  
spacer
spacer
spacer
Neko Case, <i>The Worse Things Get…</i>(2013) spacer Neko Case, The Worse Things Get…(2013)
BY: Denis Haack
spacer
Music for When You’re Lost

I’ve heard Neko Case only once in concert—she opened for Emmylou Harris—and ever since I’ve wished I could hear her live again. There was much to relish: the intensity of her lyrics, the loveliness of the melodies, the simple instrumentation, but those were not what captured my heart and imagination that evening. What did that were the piercingly rich clarity of her voice and the brutal honesty of her songs. Case’s latest album, The Worse Things Get, the Harder I Fight, The Harder I Fight, The More I Love You not only wins the award for one the longest titles in recent popular music history but displays a virtuosity that reveals how single mindedly she has honed her craft as a musician.

I wanted so badly not to be me
I saw my shadow looking lost
Checking its pockets for some lost receipt
Where did I leave that fire?

[from “Where Did I Leave that Fire?”]

The Worse Things Get is music that does not allow us the cheap luxury of neutrality, of listening while failing to care. Novelist Walker Percy spoke of being lost in the cosmos, and this is the music that supplies the soundtrack. Neko Case makes “roots music for the rootless, country music for exiles,” the Journal Sentinel notes, and the deep yearning in her voice helps us know it is not just an act.

“Nearly Midnight, Honolulu” records a brief chance encounter at an airport, of a mother yelling at her child. Case records it as a witness, for the child so that she will know the pain had a real cause and that someone saw, and was sorry. “I’m From Nowhere” is a simple arrangement, just Neko Case vocals and Jon Rauhouse’s superb acoustic guitar. “Ragtime” and “Where did I Leave that Fire?” feature full bands, and even underwater sounds that force us to remember that no distraction can erase the truth the we live in a badly broken world.

My brain makes drugs to keep me slow,
A hilarious joke for some dead pharaoh.
But now, not even the masons know
What drug will keep night from coming.

There are so many tools that are made for my hands.
But the tide smashes all my best-laid plans to sand.

[from “Night Still Comes”]

The Worse Things Get is stunningly beautiful and intelligent music, sung with what Rolling Stone calls a “knee-buckingly magnificent voice.” To think it merely melancholy is a mistake, I think, though the album fills me with a profound wistfulness. Melancholy suggests sadness or depression, but I hear none of that here. Rather this is the music of a musician who knows what it means to be lost in the cosmos, and who wonders, hope against hope, if it is possible to be found.


image

Questions:
-

Source:
Sources: Journal Sentinel online (http://www.jsonline.com/entertainment/musicandnightlife/neko-cases-voice-shines-in-an-elegant-melancholy-set-b99119422z1-228466661.html)
Rolling Stone (#1198-1199; December 19, 2013-January 2, 2014) p. 26.
CD recommended: The Worse Things Get… by Neko Case (2013).

spacer
spacer
spacer
about the author
spacer
Denis Haack
Denis is the author of The Rest of Success: What the World Didn’t Tell You About Having It All and has written articles for such journals as Reformation & Revival Journal, Eternity, Covenant, and World. He holds a Master of Arts in Theological Studies degree from Covenant Seminary in St. Louis.
spacer spacer spacer
other articles from this author
spacer
Big Kahuna (John Swanbeck, 1999)

Decalogue (Krzysztof Kieslowski, 1989)
Three Colors Trilogy: Blue (1993), White (1994), Red (1994) (Krzysztof Kieslowski)


Chicago (Rob Marshall, 2002)

spacer
related articles
spacer Karen Choi, Through Our Veins (2016)

Radiohead, A Moon Shaped Pool (2016)

Get Scared, Built for Blame, Laced with Shame (2012)

The Weepies, Sirens (2015)

Sufjan Stevens, Carrie & Lowell (2015)

Against Me!, Transgender Dysphoria Blues (2014)

The Oh Hellos, Through the Deep, Dark Valley (2012)

The Milk Carton Kids

Rapturous visions—or not

Woven Hand, Refractory Obdurate (2014)

Neko Case, The Worse Things Get…(2013)

Vampire Weekend, Modern Vampires of the City (2013)

Karen Choi, Paper Birch (2012)

Charlie Peacock, No Man's Land (2012)

Andrew Bird, Break It Yourself (2012)

Craig Finn, Clear Heart Full Eyes (2011)

Leonard Cohen, "Banjo" (2012)

Tom Waits, Bad as Me (2011)

Bob Dylan, "It's Alright, Ma (I'm only bleeding)" (1964)

The Music of Bruce Cockburn

spacer
spacer spacer spacer bottom
Ransom Fellowship
Ransom Fellowship
spacer This web site is old and creaky. The email function functions poorly when it functions at all. Worse, it all looks old. So we are starting work on building a new site, and hope to have it functioning by fall.

Our vision will not change, nor will our attempt in this little spot of the Internet to invite you to join us in thinking about the things that matter most. Thanks for visiting.

Denis & Margie Haack
Anita Gorder
spacer
spacer
bottom

Home | Articles | Publications | Search | People | Links | FAQ | Donate | About | Contact | Press

All material © 2000-2017 Ransom Fellowship Ministries
Site design by JaM Multimedia