The True Tunes Podcast
The True Tunes Podcast
John J. Thompson / True Tunes
Listening to better music and listening to music better - with music industry veteran, author, artist, and producer John J. Thompson and a diverse panel of artists, songwriters, producers, and industry innovators who seek the deeper resonances in music and culture. Knowing that all music is spiritual, can we sing along with the good, the true, and the beautiful in ways that make us better neighbors, more compelling artists, and richer reflectors of the light by which we live and move and have our being? Let's try.
Ep 19 Marc Byrd: Hammock, God of Wonders, & Hearing the Beauty Beyond the Noise
As one half of the instrumental duo Hammock, Marc Byrd has been crafting some of the most influential ambient music of the last 20 years. His songs have found their way into major films, the stunning Ricky Gervais Netflix show After Life, and many more amazing places. But prior to his current career in the post-rock vanguard, Byrd wrote one of the biggest “worship” songs of the last couple of decades (“God of Wonders,”) and got his start in the alternative Christian rock world. And all along he has been haunted by the lingering effects of abuse, addiction, and trauma. On this episode of the True Tunes Podcast, we engage in an extended conversation with a man who is learning how to listen to the sounds resonating deeply within his heart, soul, and mind, and is inviting us to do the same.
Nov 23
1 hr 42 min
Ep 17: Larry Norman & his son Mike; It’s Complicated…
The late Larry Norman has been called the “father of Christian Rock,” though he said he never intended to create an alternate genre. U2, The Pixies’ Frank Black, and Dylan have called themselves fans. However, many who worked closely with him, came away seriously wounded in one way or another. What are we to make of messy, painful stories like his? Might the lasting legacy of Larry Norman have something to teach us about listening for the good, and discerning our own path to healing and beauty amongst damage? In this episode of the True Tunes Podcast, we visit with Larry’s son Mike Norman and hear what it was like to live with Larry and how he has come to terms with his father’s complicated legacy. We also unearth some previously unheard interview clips with Larry himself in which he talks about his regrets, offers advice for artists coming up behind him, and more. We'll also hear a lot of music, including an All Norman Jukebox takeover, and some Larry rarities.Full Show Notes at
Oct 26
1 hr 17 min
Ep 16: Brian Baumgartner, Chris White, & Daniel Smith: The Beauty of Failure and Art Vs. Propaganda - The Electric Jesus Story (So Far...)
Billed as "The 80's Hair Band Music Comedy You've Been Saving Yourself For," Electric Jesus is making its way across the country, appearing at film festivals and special screenings. In this episode, we visit with writer/producer Chris White, and composer of both the original songs and the score, Daniel Smith (Danielson Famile.) We also go back to last summer and visit the set of the film to talk with cast members, including Brian Baumgartner (a.k.a Kevin Malone from The Office) and the rest of the key actors.Along the way, we discuss the strange beauty of failure and the difference between propaganda and art that explores the nature of faith. We also offer an advance listen to a lot of the new music from the film, including a brand new track from Steve Taylor and the Danielson Foil.
Oct 1
1 hr 7 min
Ep 15 Buddy Miller: Learning To Listen with Big Ears
Buddy Miller is a true master. He has spent his award-winning career as an artist, guitarist, songwriter, and producer, transcending trends, honoring history, pointing out beauty, and serving others well. On this episode, we visit Miller in his legendary home studio- the very space that has captured musical moments crafted by not only Buddy and Julie Miller, but Emmylou Harris, Jim Lauderdale, Robert Plant, Steve Earle, Carolina Chocolate Drops, The War and Treaty, and so many more. We talk about his earliest memories of music, how it captivated him, and how his professional path emerged. On the Jukebox, we survey his various solo albums and collaborations.What does it take to become a good listener? Buddy’s got “big ears,” as you’ll soon come to understand. With some discipline and effort, we might develop big ears, and big hearts, as well.
Sep 10
1 hr 17 min
Ep 14 Ella Mine and the Beauty, Purpose, and Potential of Darkness and Pain in Art
Why is it that some of the most compelling art is the dark stuff? Likewise – why is it that when it gets too dark, it becomes less interesting, and not more? And why is it so difficult for spiritually anchored music to get this right? We’re diving into the deep end on this episode of the podcast, with a look at pain and darkness and just how important they can be to genuinely redemptive art.Join us as we visit with Ella Mine, a brand new artist who recently released her debut album and left us all slack-jawed. Dream War blends progressive rock, classical, folk, and modern pop elements into something that sounds timeless, fresh, and enveloping. Conceived as a live performance piece, it plays like the soundtrack to an epic film or Broadway experience – and yet is as intimate and immediate as a breath. And the whole thing was birthed in and deals with tremendous pain. You’ll hear all about it, including a guided tour through the entire album when Ella takes over the Jukebox.
Aug 25
1 hr 8 min
Ep 13 (Pt. 2) More Musical Adulting w Waterdeep, Living Artfully in Tandem
We wrap up our wide-ranging conversation with veteran artists, songwriters, and producers, Don and Lori Chaffer, with a look at their latest Waterdeep album, Tandem, and some practical and inspirational words for young artists and producers looking for a path in these challenging days. The Chaffers have confronted all manners of challenges in their 25+ years as artists and have re-defined "success" in this new creative economy. Tandem demonstrates their artfulness and excellence in ways that remind us of specific radical, Biblical ideas about love.
Aug 12
1 hr 13 min
Ep 13: Music for Adults w Waterdeep + Buddy & Julie Miller on the Jukebox (Pt.1)
In this conversation we explore the unique challenges and opportunities of "adult music" as we catch up with Don and Lori Chaffer of Waterdeep and reflect upon all three albums by Buddy & Julie Miller on the Jukebox. Independent artists and aspiring songwriters and producers take note, the Chaffers are a thriving creative cottage industry unto themselves and they offer a fascinating example of what success looks like these days. (Part 1 of 2)
Aug 5
1 hr 3 min
Episode Twelve (Sandra McCracken, Singing A New Song + At The Foot of the Cross)
What about when you don't feel like singing? Is "Worship Music" exciting to you, frustrating, both? We’re “Singing a New Song” on this episode, with songwriter, artist, worship pastor and fountain of wisdom and grace, Sandra McCracken, including some sneak peeks into her not yet released album Patient Kingdom. We also re-visit one of the most important “modern worship” albums ever – 1991's At The Foot of the Cross on the True Tunes Jukebox as we contemplate the worship/music conundrum this time on the True Tunes Podcast; presented in conjunction with Trevecca University's Music City Colloquies series.
Jul 14
1 hr 15 min
Episode Eleven (Pt. 2) Re-embodiment w Michael Gungor + Dylan's Rough and Rowdy Ways & Daniel Amos' Doppelgänger
In Part Two of our discussion with songwriter, musician, and theological philosopher Michael Gungor we wrap up our exploration of the idea of the re-embodiment of our spirituality and what the implications of that might be for our music and the role artists might play in these disconnected and divided days. We also take deep dives into Bob Dylan’s stunning new Rough and Rowdy Ways LP and Daniel Amos’ groundbreaking 1983 album Doppelgänger – both of which have something important to say about disconnection, disembodiment, and... zombies!?
Jun 29
1 hr 7 min
Episode Eleven (Pt. 1) Perfection & Mindfulness w Michael Gungor / Weiwu + Starflyer 59’s “Miami” on the Jukebox
In his first musical release since the disbanding of his acclaimed Alternative Worship band Gungor, singer, songwriter, author, and spiritual philosopher Michael Gungor visits the podcast to talk about “the flow,” mindfulness, re-embodying our faith and art, and his new experimental solo release under the creative moniker Weiwu: Are You Perfect Yet? We also spin the new EP Miami by veteran indie band Starflyer 59 on the Jukebox on Part One of this Two-Part episode. (Part Two, with the rest of our conversation with Michael, plus Bob Dylan’s Rough and Rowdy Ways and Daniel Amos’ Doppelganger coming soon!) Sign up for updates and the chance to win cool stuff at - and visit to learn about how you can change the world for one child.
Jun 22
1 hr 1 min
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