Are you familiar with Matthew Clark? I hope so! He’s a singer-songwriter from Mississippi who travels in his trusty van, Vandalf the White, and brings music and beauty with him wherever he goes.
But his work doesn’t begin and end with music. I first met him while editing an essay he contributed to J.R.R. Tolkien and the Arts, and again when he contributed a chapter to Wild Things & Castles in the Sky. Now he’s the mastermind behind Only the Lover Sings—an album of his own music, accompanied by an anthology of essays written by various authors who each respond to one of his songs.
Did you follow that? I barely did. Let’s see if I can say it more clearly. For the book Only the Lover Sings, Matthew recruited a handful of writers (such as Andrew Roycroft, Lanier Ivester, and more) and invited us to choose a song from his album to write about. Our assignment was not to analyze the song or interpret it, but to respond to it, each in our own way, and the result is a diverse but beautifully braided collection of essays that weave in and out of one another. Some are more scholarly; others are stories. All explore some aspect of the story of the woman at the well.
If you’d like to know more about Only the Lover Sings, I encourage you to listen to Matthew Clark’s podcast, One Thousand Words, where he invites each contributor to read a portion of their essay. You can find the podcast here, my episode here, and the book itself there.