Listener, Take 1: Sacrament of Strange

A while back, Malone sent this bizarre spoken word piece by a fellah named Dan Smith, the frontman to a band called “Listener.” I couldn’t figure why he sent it, so I watched it again… and again… and again, until it clicked. And man, did it click. This week, a few of us are responding–maybe reacting–to various Listener pieces. Today’s piece is written by Erika Morrison, and it’s a well-fitting introduction to Listener. Her thoughts were inspired by “House on Fire.” After you read her piece and watch the video, spend some time at her place. You won’t be sorry.


Madness, fearlessness and a message for “right now”, wasn’t that what all those Bible-prophets had in common? Would the same ingredients be present in the oracles of our age?


In my child-eye estimation, my mama was the free-est and Spirit-fullest woman I knew. Sometimes she would just be crazy for crazy’s sake, deliciously and graciously defying convention and institution. It was not uncommon to watch her get high from nothing more than a large intake of clean, country air and whoop some unnatural sound into the sky. To me it was evident that she wasn’t like the other mama’s around our growing-up-parts, yet all the neighborhood kids wanted to live in our home, to have her for their very own nurturer and nestle next the comfort of her love-shadowed wings. She was bright and vibrant and packed with glory and I’m sure we took for granted what she was giving us; maybe we didn’t know how she was weaving us to be free, to be our own person–not ball-and-chained to protocol or must-do’s or must-be’s. Because she made a sacrament out of doing strange things, arced her neck and blew that weird and wild trumpet to keep the society-informed-walls at bay. She was a prophetess of what it meant to be all-the-way-alive and she didn’t care what anyone thought – she stood before God alone and He craved her brand of uniqueness for the enrichment it brought His heart and kingdom.


I’m hoping, now that I’m a mama, that the fire inside me continues to burn just a little to the left or right of normal so I can deposit in our kids the same thing my mama planted in me. Sometimes I intentionally take a moment out of our ordinary space and purpose myself to lose all appropriateness and let Spirit take over my body. And sometimes the Uncommon just happens and I surrender to it and am not surprised to find my feet loosed-to-run, my arms stretched far-out like flesh-wings and serpentining through the IKEA parking lot, hollering so big in front of the immediate watching world . . . and only because the breeze had just the perfect degree of balm to it and slid elegantly across my bared skin. My younger two lads watch this public display and go loud and giggly with excitement and my oldest smiles all the way to his lit-up eyes and says with a small head shake, “Mama, you’re the CRAZIEST person I know.” With tears of joy I told that boy-child of mine that he cold pay me no higher compliment. And I know he thinks the crazy-mama-thought when I bellow my prayers in the car while driving through the city streets or when I dance in my room to music and sing so loud my voice comes out hoarse. It’s just that . . . whenever I am as close to being me as I possibly can, when I’m living like I’m naked inside, I feel dark things breaking down in and all around me. And when the son who has the most inhibitions starts hollering his prayers around the house and in our vehicle? The recognition that history is repeating itself intoxicates me and I pray these boys will forever know the fruit of letting a little wild take over, even when they’re grown and the rules are miles wide and anchor deep. I pray that they will make a sacrament out of being a little strange because these world-walls sometimes feel thicker then ancient Jericho’s, but when we all blow our own fearless trumpets, the stones come crashing down around our cities and we–the people–seem to break a little free.


Which brings me to Listener. This guy? He has a seriously primitive breaker-spirit and he blows a very singular trumpet and when I watched THIS video first, his strangeness crashed into me and something ruptured open-to-wide inside my chest. I started to feel really wild again and my walls were crumbling at the audacity of his artfully expressed eccentrics and he made me feel like I could come out with all my closet-weird and be even more dangerous. He reminded me of my mom and how she would tear the walls around us just by being true to herself and not caring if she was doing things the way they were supposed to be done. And this guy, he blasts his modern hymns against the stones the world has erected, beats them down with all the passion of a undressed prophet and makes a sacrament out of being off-center. He is a little mad, a lot fearless and no doubt yells and yells the right messages for our time.

Every word of this song is crafted to connect with your deepest parts. Put headphones one, hear it close and “repeat for emphasis”. “House on Fire it’s called and is my favorite of all the songs and I may have misplaced an octave of my hearing while listening to it.

Listener “House on Fire” from Nathan Corrona on Vimeo. Oh, and . . . let’s all blow our own strange and fearless trumpets, eh?

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34 Responses to Listener, Take 1: Sacrament of Strange

  1. Pingback: Sacrament of Strange ::

  2. i knew it when i met you, erika – you are the best and most irresistible kind of strange!
    thanks for kicking of our listener project. imma be listening to this song all day! 🙂

    • Ms. Abby, I was thinking about you last night . . . Ya know? Spring has sprung in New Haven. Do you know what that means? Remember?! Remember?! Remember?! Before you high tail it to the other coast . . . I needs to seeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee you and huuuuuuuuuuuuug you and call you my very own – for a few days. We could sing Eminem together and be strange and stuff. 🙂

      And, thank-you so very much.


  3. sethhaines says:

    I like what you did here. You found a way to honor your mama, yourself, your boys (present tense), your men (future tense), Listener, and humanity, all in the same breaths.

    And the writing here? Yeah… it’s really nice. I like the way it flows like an unbounded piece. The rhythm in it reminds me of the video from which it was inspired.

    Thanks for contributing to this project, E. Man, oh man… thanks.

    • But really, I need to “thank” you. First, for introducing me to Listener – it came at a time when I needed an awakening. Second, the invitation to wrap my heart around this art and put it to words, REALLY stretched me. Third, for trusting me with your space. Fourth, for everything else I can’t think of right now. 🙂

      Also, I had a dream with you and Amber last night. You had red hair and she and I went out for coffee. The dream ended before we got our drinks or started talking. Boo.


  4. mellowdandtheboyz says:

    I’ve known Dan (Listener) well for 15 years now. Went to school with him. Heard his first “raps” on cassette tapes. Laughed and giggled through our college years and now, continue to admire him and what he is made to do. I love your description of him – “And this guy, he blasts his modern hymns against the stones the world has erected, beats them down with all the passion of a undressed prophet and makes a sacrament out of being off-center. He is a little mad, a lot fearless and no doubt yells and yells the right messages for our time.” I hope to have God’s grace on me enough to be known for being mad, fearless and yelling the right messages of our time. In my opinion…that’s what taking the narrow road is all about. My boss was known as being the very same thing.

    • sethhaines says:

      Yo!!! It’s always nice when Mel and/or Dave drop in.

      Lady, you and your husband are fearless and mad, and Amber and I are grateful for the way you live your life. I can only imagine that guys like Dan got as much from y’all as he gives to everyone else. Genuinely.

      Scream it, friend. And tell Dave to send me some new music.

      Cheers to you, Neil Young, and the boys!

    • I hope the same thing as you . . . to have enough Grace to be the kind of “mad” I was made for. Thank-you for reading today. And tell Dan we sure are glad he is who he is.


  5. Erika! Your name owns its K. Your mama was right.

    One day we’ll whoop something up into the air together. We will. I know it.

  6. Erika, I won’t ever forget that phrase, “A sacrament of strange.” A whole lot of YES here. Oh, gracious.

  7. Kiki Malone says:

    Good start to a fun week of tribute. I’m hoping by the end of this week that Dan Smith gets ahold of what we’re trying to do here. Thanks for starting us out, Erika. I like how strangely you’ve mothered us into Listener. Cheers.

    • I am especially fond of this: “I like how strangely you’ve mothered us into Listener”. Thank-you, K.M., for that. And for your stories and scars and dreams.


  8. You people are so unashamedly weird and wonderful and I LOVE IT. Thanks for introducing me to this interesting musician – and I’ll be watching for the rest of the posts (which I’m assuming will be sprung from different videos??) There is hope for the world with you folk in it. Yes, there is.

    • I’ll take your hope-words and spin them into Kingdom gold . . . Diana, you have been the voice of the Father to me so many times and you always make me feel like I can. Thank-you.


  9. Pingback: Listener, Take 2: Whispers of a Wooden World | Seth Haines

  10. From the born-to-be-more-reserved elder sister…I want to thank you, sis, for your post, especially the part honoring how our mother showed up in the world in our growing up years. I won’t ever be much of a whooper and holler-er but I was inspired to be brave and different in other ways nonetheless…and to always thrill at the wind blowing in my face.

  11. Austin says:

    Picturing your mom whooping made me smile real big. One of the many reasons I fell for you Erika was spending time with your family and sensing something different and wanting that for my family someday. Seth, thanks got introducing us to the band Listener, it’s been a breathe of fresh air to us all.

  12. Bethany Bassett says:

    Oh. Just… wow. The images of “sacrament of strange” like living stained glass catching light in the IKEA parking lot, they took the breath straight out of my lungs… and then the video. Wild rupture, yes. I needed that more than you know.

  13. thesacredlifeofrain says:

    i LOVE your passion. you are all violets and fire, and your eyes!!!! the way you see … i want to place my hands upon your eyes and feel that glory! so loving you…

  14. rain says:

    i adore your passion. you are all violets and fire, and i love the way your eyes see, and can i place my hands on your eyes and bask in the glory? gah. love.

  15. kd sullivan says:

    Your post makes me want to twirl until I’m dizzy in a thunderstorm, to wear a housecoat over jeans with a pair of rhinestone earrings, to lay hands on a stranger in an hospital and pray WITH FAITH. Love everything about this. Living Larger Than Life!!!!

    • Oh my goodness, kd!!! You just made my day!!! And I am right there with you, twirling in the thunderstorm and wearing rhinestones and doing other things that don’t make sense . . . 🙂 🙂 🙂


  16. Pingback: Listener, Take 3: Ozark Failures | Seth Haines

  17. Pingback: Listener, Take 4: You Have Never Lived Because You Have Never Died | Seth Haines

  18. please write a book soon. you can title it “the sacrament of strange” and i’ll be the first in line, hollering my own resounding yawp.

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