My Morning Jacket and the Search for Meaning

Jim JamesArt & Creativity, Audio, Conversations, Creative, Musical, Perspectives, Spiritual 1 Comment

From the July 2008 edition of Rolling Stone:

[Jim James] got into a spiritual practice developed by writer Ken Wilber. James has listened to CDs of a 12-hour interview with Wilber called Kosmic Consciousness, about topics such as “the chakra system, a paradigm for the unfolding self…. It’s like a map for living and understanding the human existence,” says James. Part of the process is charting what practitioners call ‘lines.’

“Like, things you’re good at and things you’re bad at. My music line is pretty good, but there are other lines I want to develop. I’d like to be a better basketball player. And I’d like to get a good relationship going and have kids someday. I don’t just want to be the guy that’s a rock musician.”

Needless to say, Jim’s affinity for Integral thought did not go unnoticed, and it didn’t take long before he and Ken were able to connect in real time.

In this dialogue, Ken and Jim take a fascinating tour through Jim’s career with My Morning Jacket, following an extraordinary trajectory that brought him from the brink of obscurity, to critical acclaim, to rock and roll stardom. Ken and Jim discuss all of MMJ’s major albums, beginning with the 1999 debut The Tennessee Fire, moving on to At Dawn, It Still Moves, and the critically acclaimed Z (2005’s second-highest rated album of the year according to, and on to the live double album Okonokos and their latest release (as of late 2008), Evil Urges.

This is the story of a talented but humble artist who is simply trying to figure a few things out about the world—namely how it works, how to bring more love into it, and how to endure the many physical, emotional, and spiritual pitfalls that often accompany the rock and roll lifestyle. It’s not about avoiding the sex, drugs, and debauchery; it’s more about figuring out how to maintain one’s integrity, spiritual connection, and sense of meaning right alongside the sex, drugs, and debauchery.

Or, like Jim says (with only the faintest hint of fatigue): “It’s all about balance….”

Jim James is one of the very few artists who are consciously pushing the envelope of rock and roll, in terms of both what can be said and what sort of meaning it can provide, and we are very happy to welcome him to the Integral community.

Jim James

About Jim James

Jim James is the singer, songwriter, and guitarist for the rock band My Morning Jacket, known for its genre-defying mix of classic rock, indie rock, funk, psychedelic, and southern rock sounds.  They have released five full studio albums, including 2005's critically acclaimed Z and 2008's Evil Urges.

Ken Wilber

About Ken Wilber

Ken Wilber is a preeminent scholar of the Integral stage of human development. He is an internationally acknowledged leader, founder of Integral Institute, and co-founder of Integral Life. Ken is the originator of arguably the first truly comprehensive or integrative world philosophy, aptly named “Integral Theory”.


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    Thanks for posting this. Big fan of Jim and Ken – can’t believe these two worlds are coming together!

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