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Musician Mike Mangione Talks Faith and Sacrifice on Latest Album, ‘Blood & Water’

Team Busted Halo welcomes back musician and friend of the show, Mike Mangione. In addition to his music career, he is also the Director of Events at the Theology of the Body Institute. Mike has toured the world both as a solo folk artist and with his bands, and he discusses his latest Americana album, “Blood & Water,” with Father Dave.

“Every time that you’ve seen me in the past, I’ve been on the road with a band,” Mike explains.  “When you have those instruments in place and you know the tendencies of those musicians, you write a certain way. This [album] was the first time that I didn’t have the musicians in place, I just wrote the songs.” He describes how he met Larry Campbell, the Grammy-winning music producer and former guitarist for Bob Dylan who went on to produce Mike’s album “Blood & Water.”

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After playing a clip from the song “Anastasia,” Father Dave points out the theme of sacrifice in the lyrics. He says, “For some of our listeners that may be new to you, you’re very involved in your Catholic faith and you work for the Theology of the Body Institute, but your music is not explicitly ‘Praise and worship’ or Catholic music. It is its own genre.” Mike notes, “I remember [Bruce] Springsteen once said you can never take your Catholicity out of you. It’s just so rich in imagery that it becomes like our inkwell, and so it’s my source of trying to draw a metaphor.” 

“Christian music isn’t just reserved for the genre. It’s the intention of the artist and the storyline. Stories have always come from [asking], ‘Who am I? What am I? And where am I going?’ So that’s Americana music, that’s Blues music,” Mike continues. “At the center of [Americana music] has always been that human mystery that all good art is reflecting upon.”

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On another song called “The Turnabout,” he discusses how his lyrics can offer multiple meanings. “Every song has a narrative that you can follow on its own plane. It makes sense, it’s enjoyable, and maybe poetic. But then there’s always a theological narrative as well that’s parallel to it. So this one is [about] somebody who’s trying to answer the question of, ‘What is home? Is it where I dwell? Is it where my DNA is from?’” Mike explains. “So they’re just going through that process, and sometimes it’s painful.”

They discuss how Mike drew inspiration from Jesus’ crucifixion for this album. “For me, the cross is such an amazing thing, because it’s the worst and best thing; it’s the paradox,” he says. “Love is not just the feeling, it’s the gift of self, which can hurt; so love sometimes hurts. Those both-edge swords have always been at the center of my music.”