Jon Foreman On Unknown Sundays Part II: The Wonderlands 15-2016

I see no reason to avoid any type of musician or music in your traversing of the musical multiverse. In fact, I see that as an even bigger crime than musicians who choose to use their talent as a soap box for some position, be it political, religious, or whatever. If I was that narrow minded, I would probably be listening to classical music with Tipper Gore or some Gregorian Chant streaming station (which probably exists by the way, and there’s nothing wrong with that). Or, maybe better put, I would be listening to some South Park-ian nondenominational humming noise created randomly by computer, so that there was not a solitary moment of it that was somehow made under the human influence. Oh dear, #od!

I love it all, and you should, too, when it’s done right–when it means something–or feels like something. There’s no fault in foot stomping to a Bob Dylan protest song, or singing along while Neil Young barbecues Republicans for farmers in his backyard. Get your groove on to Ray or swerve on to Marvin. Turn up the volume as Megadeth thrashes and pontificates on the state of the symphonies of suckitude around the world, or better yet…Rage Against the Machine, because their name says it all, right! And, that is why–my free musical travelers–that you should not be afraid, put off, or dissuaded by a simple scene of a baby in a manger, or a dove, or for that matter the bald head of a Buddhist monk (Corky and the Juice Pig reference, or am I talking about Ed Kowalcyk), if you’re truly a music lover.

So now to that “unknown” part of the story, which is The Wonderlands by Mr. Switchfoot himself, Jon Foreman. Jon, as you might know, is a nondenominational Christian. If you were a big fan of Switchfoot, and never realized this, sorry to spoil it for you–but really, did I spoil anything? No. Jon Foreman’s talents have their root in his passion for life and the pursuit of love and understanding of the nature of all things. It’s a lovely place to be, and he certainly shows it in his collaboration(s), as we stated in Part I of this “Unknown” Sunday, where he met up with Sean Watkins, among others. His biography is worth the read, and so are his contributions in books New Ways To Be Human and The Art of Being, but let’s move on to The Wonderlands.

24 songs, one for each hour of the day. The Wonderlands (EP)s are Sunlight, Shadows, Darkness, and Dawn, and so we start with Sunlight, Foreman’s take on the early hours of the morning. “I have a really hard time writing about light. I have a much easier time writing about darkness, because darkness, it grabs you. It’s more lyrical somehow… Sunlight, when you’re happy, it’s hard to write songs. You just want to go surfing with all your friends.” And, where does he start, as he stated, with a hint of darkness, “Terminal.” The light is just beyond the darkness, in a Coldplay-like melody, and lyrics born bright, lead into a musical, soul-filled journey. Sunlight is the start, the realization of how beautiful life is, and you as yourself within it. Now, what you gonna do with the light and time given?

 


Shadows
and Darkness come in, like it does for all of us. It puts us on notice that we’re fragile, yet capable, skeptical yet hopeful, driven yet accountable. We must battle, forge and make our path in the often heavy and relentless environments that surround us. It kind of goes back to our Part I article, about “What to fear?” Foreman does a very good job delivering earthy music wrapped in simple honesty and harmonies, even withing complicated metaphor. This honesty of music and lyrics is where each of the albums finds its own beauty. So, sincere, we’re being all honest at this moment…Darkness has 7 songs (Beyond Your Radio cannot explain why, our opinion is either “June and Johnny” was meant to drift into “Inner Peace”, or that it might have been over the time creating the albums Jon Foreman realized there actually was a time when we had to set the clocks back–which added that extra hour).

Finally,
Dawn, where we all all come back again, waiting to try it again. A new beginning, which is where we all want to be, but with more experience, with more belief and hope, and a clearer purpose. In a way, you feel uplifted, and Jon might get carried away for one song, but you respect the journey, especially on the closing song, “Before Our Time,” as Foreman leads us to the simple truth that it is going to “run out” eventually, so why not have at it? And that comes right back, when you think of the lyrics in the first album, “Don’t let your spirit die before you body does.”

I find it interesting how I got here to The Wonderlands. It started with a solo career of a Nickel Creek musician and his collaborative side show cravings. Then, I find, in one of his collaborators the opportunity to see beyond a genre into the depth and creativity of a singer-songwriter sojourn of sorts. Each unique in their own rights and talents, describing the world in different shades and shadows, but equally telling, inspiring and interesting. It’s a great thing to be able to try something, take a bit of side trip, or journey down a road that you’ve maybe never thought to travel. You never know who is going to be that next inspiration.

Where will the next “unknown” take me? Wait until next week–I’m still reeling about this last journey still.

SPECIAL ARCHIVE POSTING NOTE

Jon Foreman’s The Wonderlands Collection Albums in my collection:   Unfortunately I have not secured any

This “Unknown Sundays” was done back on April 10, 2016, which I will point out made reference to that which is now happening in the music industry, which is the use of AI to make a song and or album without the use of human talent.  Scary to think, and certainly way beyond the lack of humanity, thought process and Christian type themes being exampled here in Jon Foreman’s wonderful Wonderland series.  This having been part II, looking back, the idea was to showcase a journey out of one’s musical comfort zone to realize the scope of the music multiverse and how any type of musician in race, creed, genre or place in the music industry (known, somewhat known, or completely unknown) can leave a lasting impression and bring you to some magical musical places.  – Mark Kuligowski  [July 30th 2023]

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