The other day, as I was loading my iPod up with tunes in anticipation of my business trip and subsequent airport layovers, I came upon a web site hosted by an artist (Ellis Paul) I have known and enjoyed for years. I was burning his CD to my hard drive and thought I would see if he had any new albums.
It was interesting that he hadn’t updated his blog since September or October ’06 and I was about to leave when I noticed a link to his favorite artists. I clicked the link which led me to a listing of some of the albums that had influenced him over the years.
One that caught my eye (besides the Dylan I expected) was an album from 1992 from “the Story” called “the Angel in the House”. A publisher friend of mine had played this album for me in the mid-ninties and so I was aware of the group and the lead singer, Jonatha Brooke. Several years ago when Turtle Records in our local mall had their going out of business sale, I picked up an album by Jonatha called “Live” for a couple of bucks based on knowing her from years before.
She is a real “singer song-writer” in the sense that she writes and sings her own songs which are catchy and introspective at the same time. This is a concept that seems mutually exclusive in modern day popular music.
Since she is introspective and somewhat folkish, comaprisons to Joni Mitchell are inevitable and not totally unwarrented. Introspective also means to me having a somewhat melancholy air to them. They are bluer than blue and so real that they hurt. Not every song mind you, but there is enough to keep me coming back for more in those times of indecision and pondering that I experience every now and again. It is almost like she knew when she recorded the song that it would touch me in a certain way in time to come.
Long story short: I bought the album (the Angel one) on Amazon do com for a couple of bucks and am listening t it right now. It’s even better than he said it would be.
Now don’t get me wrong, although I am talking about secular music, that this is the only area that applies to me. Contemporary Christian music that blows me away has a similar characteristic in that it gets under my skin with its beat and lyrics in much the same way—only different—if you get my gist.
What I am really trying to say in all of this is that each of us must have a place inside ourselves where a certain beat or wavelength of music gets our attention and makes us react to it. Jonatha is one of these people that seems to echo the beat that I walk to and experience life within. When I listen to her sing I want to dance the way King David must have danced—with abandon and joy—even in the midst of the enemies attempt to discredit him. Her songs strike a chord within me and I can’t but help to sway in time with the music.
The question that arises at this point is whether or not secular music can awaken within us the desire to serve God on a deeper level and a longing to get in touch with our feelings and motives and goals. Or are they a distraction that in and of themselves will serve us no good.
I guess that question is answered differently by each of us. Whether Jonatha knows God or not, I know that her talent is given by God who gives liberally to all without repentance. Whether she recognizes it, there is always a different level, a different destination in each and every thing we do or song we sing. Her music can stall us or start us up—challenge us or cause us to look at our lives—defeated and deflated—without purpose on this sphere we call earth—or be used to push us to a new level of understanding and consciousness that will bring us to a place of purpose and joy.
I vote for the later. Enjoy the ride!