American-style (Republican) Christianity
Christian Nightmares Tribulation Band
One of the more reliable resources for massively bizarre content that works well on DM is the unbeatable (and perfectly named) blog Christian Nightmares. If you haven’t made it a staple on your RSS feed, well, what in tarnation are you waiting for?? You’ll get all the latest and greatest in messianic cult leaders and overwrought Evangelical preachers.
The personage who runs that blog, a shadowy figure known to me only as “CN,” has spearheaded a remarkable cover of a remarkable song. The impressive collection of musical talent CN has assembled (more on that below) is going by the monicker The Christian Nightmares Tribulation Band for the purposes of covering a single track by the de facto inventor of Christian rock, the preposterously prolific Larry Norman. That’s right, the CNTB has released a cover of Larry Norman’s 1969 classic song about the Rapture, “I Wish We’d All Been Ready.”
That song starts with the following lyrics and gets creepier from there:
Life was filled with guns and war
And all of us got trampled on the floor
I wish we’d all been ready…..
Here’s Norman’s original version of “I Wish We’d All Been Ready,” off of his tremendouns debut album from 1969, Upon This Rock. (If you like his steez, worry not: Norman put out over 100 albums.)
As stated, Larry Norman is widely regarded as one of the founders of the genre known as Christian rock. Christian rock historian John J. Thompson once wrote, “It is certainly no overstatement to say that Larry Norman is to Christian music what John Lennon is to rock & roll or Bob Dylan is to folk music.” Freethinking nonbelievers fret about the proselytizing tendency of Xian musicians, but if you’re worried about Norman being too doctrinaire, consider that in September 2007 he said, “I love God and I follow Jesus but I just don’t have much affinity for the organized folderol of the churches in the Western World.” Organized folderol! It’s hard not to like this guy.
Christian Nightmares collected an impressive roster of talent to cover the song. For starters, Jason Loewenstein (Sebadoh, Fiery Furnaces) provided lead vocals and guitar, and he recorded and mixed it, too. Other musicians in the band include Ego Sensation (White Hills), Jeff Conaway (The Psychic Paramount), Dana Schechter (Insect Ark, Bee and Flower), David Bozzler (Kosmodemonic, Silver Summit), Laura Ortman (Solo, The Dust Dive), Bryan Zimmerman (Corpse of Discovery, Dichroics).
I assume that Sebadoh and Fiery Furnaces need little introduction to our audience, but but you might not know that Ego Sensation’s band White Hills, out of NYC, is one of the most impressive psych-rock outfits going, having impressed Jim Jarmusch to the point that he cast the band as their spellbinding selves in his last movie Only Lovers Left Alive. I hear some echoes of the Flaming Lips in the new track, am I alone in that?
The video for the song uses footage from a bunch of “end times” thrillers like A Thief in the Night, A Distant Thunder, and the ecastically paranoid If Footmen Tire You, What Will Horses Do?, which I’ve written about before. The CNTB video was directed by Chris Carlone, a.k.a. Borts Minorts, and a fine job he did. Anyone who has seen A Thief in the Night will instantly recognize the debt that CNTB’s version owes to the version of the song that appears in that movie, a debt that “CN” readily acknowledges.
The art for the song was executed by the redoubtable Ross MacDonald, whose work you have surely seen in The New York Times and Harper’s and has also ameliorated the prop design work on Boardwalk Empire and the upcoming Quentin Tarantino movie The Hateful Eight and many others.
For now, the CNTB has recorded only the one song, but the heathens who populate the band have purportedly discussed the possibility of performing the song live at some point, maybe as part of some “Christian Nightmares screening night” featuring clips of crazy Christians. (Presumably this would happen at the site in Fort Mill, South Carolina, where Heritage USA once stood or the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Kentucky—or possibly in a place that is somewhat more hipster-friendly.) If we’re really lucky, maybe the gang’ll reassemble to the studio and crank out enough material for an actual album! (I’m reliably informed that this is far from impossible.)
For those seeking more information about the outfit are urged to visit the Christian Nightmares Tribulation Band’s Bandcamp presence.