Kerry Livgren

The Best Of Kerry LivgrenWhen I was a teenager, I didn’t buy a lot of rock albums — I mostly listened to the radio. But I loved the band Kansas and their songs “Dust In The Wind,” “Point Of No Return” and “Carry On, Wayward Son.” They were moving and anthemic, but they displayed a sense of spiritual searching and longing.

About the same time I was in college, Kerry Livgren — the band’s guitarist and songwriter — found what he had been searching for, becoming a Christian. He began writing songs with a Christian subtext, which led to the breakup of the band. The band’s lead singer wasn’t really interested in the new direction, nor were some of the band’s traditional fans. The lead singer left; a new, Christian, lead singer was recruited but they couldn’t get lightning to strike again in the same place.

Livgren’s next project was an overtly Christian band called AD. I had two of their cassettes and loved them.

“Dust In The Wind” is being used in some sort of car commercial right now, and that made me think of Kerry Livgren for the first time in quite a while. I Googled him, as is my wont. He now owns a record label, and from its web site I was able to download a free MP3 of “All Creation Sings,” which was probably my favorite AD song.

I may have to order his best-of collection after I get back from the mission trip.

The lockout is over

Music of the Nashville PredatorsI like it
I love it
I want some more of it
I try so hard
I can’t rise above it
Don’t know what it is ’bout the Predators scoring
But I like it
I love it
I want some more of it
— Tim McGraw, “I Like It, I Love It [Nashville Predators Version]”

Tim McGraw (an almost dead ringer for my youngest brother) recorded a special version of one of his hit songs for the Predators, and it’s played on the Jumbotron screen every time Nashville scores a goal. Hopefully, in a few more months, I’ll be in the seats at the Gaylord Entertainment Center singing along, not to mention making “fang fingers” at penalized members of the opposing team.

The button-down mind

Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart
I thoroughly enjoyed PBS’s three hours of Bob Newhart on Wednesday night. They ran a new 90-minute “American Masters” documentary on Newhart, followed by a rerun of the ceremony from several years ago in which he received the Kennedy Center’s Mark Twain Award.

I was inspired to go onto and order “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” the history and significance of which was discussed at length in the special. It actually helped save Warner Bros. Records from going out of business!

The Smothers Brothers were on the awards special, and they did “Cuando Caliente El Sol,” which is my favorite routine of theirs and which I saw them perform in person last year.

Start the movie without me

They have finally scheduled a local premiere for “Our Very Own,” the independent film shot in Shelbyville last year. The movie will be shown here Aug. 13-14, and the producers have promised enough screenings that everyone who wants to see it will be able to get in.

Unless, of course, they’re halfway around the globe teaching soap-making in Kenya. In that case, they’re out of luck.

Fully loaded

I have four nephews and two nieces. The two nieces, who are sisters, both celebrate their birthdays in the same week. They had separate celebrations in the town where they live, but we celebrated both of their birthdays again this afternoon at my parents’ house.

I wasn’t 100 percent sure about either of my gifts, but both turned out well.

Matilda (Special Edition)I had bought the 8-year-old a copy of the movie “Matilda,” which I’d never seen, but which somehow seemed appropriate. Well, it turns out “Matilda” is based on a book by Roald Dahl, author of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” and “James and the Giant Peach.” Little did I know that my niece, with help from her mother, is reading “James and the Giant Peach,” the first book of that complexity she’s ever attempted. (It was either suggested or given to her by my sister-in-law in California, an English professor.) We watched the first hour or so of “Matilda” this afternoon before we were interrupted by another engagement. It was terrific; I may have to rent it myself to see how it turns out. It was obviously a labor of love for Danny DeVito, who directed it and appears in it along with his wife Rhea Perlman. He even narrates it, which is surprising, because he doesn’t seem to be narrating it as the character he plays on-screen.

Feels Like TodayI knew the 14-year-old was getting a portable CD player, so I decided to buy her a CD. I thought I knew her musical tastes well enough to take a chance on a CD by Rascal Flatts, which is sort of a cross between country music and a boy band. I thought she’d like it but worried she might already own it. She loved it, and didn’t already have it.

The reason we had to turn off “Matilda” early was so that the whole family could go see a movie at the theater. We went to “Herbie: Fully Loaded.” It wasn’t what I would have picked to see on my own, but it was a fun family film and everyone enjoyed it. My mother loved the original batch of “Herbie The Love Bug” movies in the late 60s and early 70s.

You cheeky little monkeys

I was impressed with Craig Ferguson as the host of CBS’s “The Late Late Show” from the outset. But I have to say, he’s only gotten better as time has gone on.

Ferguson has dropped the normal current-events monologue followed by his late night peers in favor of a funny little monologue on a particular theme or subject — as much storytelling as joke-telling. And he’s begun doing little one-man skits and impersonations. Some of his impressions are better than others, but that’s not really the point; the skits are, as far as I can tell, supposed to be a little bit goofy. Ferguson, like the better late-night hosts, can laugh at himself when a joke flops or a skit seems to be going off-track. (Johnny Carson was such a master at this that his occasional misfire turned into a special treat.)

Earlier this week, he did a pretty funny Michael Caine impression in a bit predicated on the outlandish notion that Caine was supposed to have been the fifth member of the “Fantastic Four” and was cut out of the movie. Earlier in the night, Jay Leno had done a skit with an almost identical “Fantastic Five” premise, proposing his bandleader Kevin Eubanks as “Chrome Dome,” who deflects bullets with his bald pate. The Leno skit was mercifully short — almost a blackout gag — but Ferguson’s bit was much funnier.

I have to watch “The Late Late Show” on tape the next day, especially since my local CBS affiliate delays it by half an hour. I fear that a lot of people who would enjoy Ferguson are missing him.