Dry Your Eyes Beneath The Night Sky

I’m going to have a review soon of the forthcoming Lori McKenna album, Lorraine.

It’ll be after this weekend, after I get a chance to really marinate in the album. Which, in turn, will be after I stop playing Rocket Sciencerepeatedly.

It’s not necessarily that Rocket Science is the best song on the album; it’s just that’s where space-geek me, intrigued by the title, started listening to the album. And I’m still too enthralled with the beauty of that first song to move on.

For over three years, since Lori’s last album, Unglamorous,came out, there’s been a gradual trickle of new songs from her; one or two or three at a time. Slowly enough that I could afford to spend days savoring each one. It’s been a thrill each time I’ve discovered there was a new Lori McKenna song I hadn’t heard before to enjoy.

So, yeah, last night, finally being able to hear the 10 new Lori songs on Lorraine that I’d never heard before, well, I was just giddy. I’d be listening to songs that are like a straight injection of raw hurt shot right into the heart, and yet I’m gleeful over these new treasures.

And, to be sure, even more gleeful because I’m getting to hear these new songs almost two months early, getting to hear them before most everyone else.

And … getting to hear them early because Lori McKenna wanted me to. Like, not in a she-wanted-people-not-to-have-to-wait sense, but like in a Lori McKenna said to share the album with David Hitt sense. Um, that’s kinda awesome.

It’s funny what can reduce me to pure fanboy squeee, but that e-mail yesterday did. I wrote earlier this week about how I was looking forward to listening to the album and couldn’t wait. Turns out Lori read what I wrote, liked the stuff I’ve written about her on here, and asked her publicist to share the album with me. I left work as early as I could so I would have time to download it that night, and have been listening to nothing but that since. It’s hard to imagine a musician that would mean more coming from. There are plenty of musicians who write music I like, who may be as talented, but Lori is the one whose talent I most envy, the one I wish I could be like.

Her music is emotion. She doesn’t write about emotion, she creates it. She captures it and conjures it. She understands the way hearts work in an incredibly real way, and  recreates the secret inner workings of the heart in words and notes so that they can be moved from one heart to another. You don’t so much listen to her music as feel it. I wish I had her intuitive grasp of why and how we hurt and love and lose and strive. I wish I had her command of words to convey that. Add to that the fact that all writers have a “voice” in their writing — the character and personality that comes through in their writing. Lori is blessed that her incredibly distinctive singing voice is exactly the auditory equivalent of her writing voice. She sings with the same raw edge with which she writes.

OK, this is really starting to turn into the review. I’ll stop here until I’ve listened to the album more.

Have I mentioned squeeeee? Yeah, yesterday set the bar for the Christmas season pretty high. I’m a happy man. A heart-ripped-out, soul-wrenched happy man. Thank you, Lori!

“Help Wanted,” or “Your Name In Print”

printed manuscript for Homesteading space

Printed manuscript for my first book -- NOT what we're asking for help reading.

It’s been a while since I’ve written much about the book Heather and I are writing, “Bold They Rise.”

The book is a history of the space shuttle program, to be published by University of Nebraska Press as part of the same Outward Odyssey series that included my first book, Homesteading Space,co-authored with astronauts Owen Garriott and Joe Kerwin.

We’re now rapidly approaching our deadline, and we need your help!

We would love to have some volunteers read over chapters as we wrap them up, and give us some feedback. It would be great to have a variety of people — space buffs, people who know nothing about space, grammar nazis, history fans, whatever.

There’s no monetary pay, however, but if you help us, we’ll include your name in the acknowledgements, and you’ll have the benefit of knowing that you have helped share an important part of our nation’s history. And, a handful of people who give us the most help with get a small bonus token that I shan’t mention here.

If you’re interested, let us know either by posting a comment here or by contacting one of us directly. Depending on what the response looks like, we may not need everyone, since we’re trying to keep the readers diverse, but we would really appreciate anyone willing to step up!