A Musical Notation

One of the sub-plots of my life has been focused around my love for poetry. And I guess one of the reasons I am attracted to poetry is because a good poem can help us see what is underneath the surface of our feelings. A good poem, with just a few good words can activate our imaginations in a way that leads to understanding and illumination.

When T. S. Elliot said in “The Lovesong of J. Alfred Prufrock” that he “…had measured out his life with coffee spoons”, we know exactly what he is saying even though he only used words to form an image which then left the subtle interpretation up to us. And that is exactly it—each of us sees what he has alluded  poetically in a different way with our understanding filtered through our own lifes’ experiences.

My love and appreciation for poetry is by definition extended to a genre of music called the singer/songwriter genre. It is an old term but was at one time used to describe those people who wrote and performed their own songs as opposed to those who just sang other people’s stuff. For the purpose of this entry there is Christian singer/songwriter stuff and secular stuff.

Some Christian singer/songwriters that I am familiar with are Shawn McDonald, Rich Mullins and Nicole Nordman. I am sure there are many others as well.

For the purpose of this blog, I am choosing to differeniate between these more indie types and the ones like Paul Baloche, Matt Redman and those who write what I would call more popular praise and worhsip songs. I spend many hours in my car listening to these musicians.

The indie types deal with life when things are not working according to plan—as in the case of Rich Mullins on the days when we just can’t seem to find our faith—even though we know it’s kicking around inside us somewhere. In other words, they write songs that are introspective and reflective as opposed to songs that we sing to God or about our relationship with Him.

So, after having written all this, I am not sure I can get to where I thought I was headed when I began to write what I thought about in my car this morning on the way to work as I was listening to Jonantha Brooke sing a song about her daughter called “So Much Mine”.

In the song, which is very passionate and describes a mother’s relationship to her daughter who it seems has grown away and apart from her parents, Brooke sings this lyric: “Where’s the heart in me that made the one in you so cold”.

It is a verse that really makes me think and conjures up all sorts of personal scenarios about how life isn’t always so cut and dry like so many of our contemporary Christian songs seem to imply. This is just a feeling on my part and I am limited in scope by what I have listened to the past couple or years. Don’t get me wrong, I like to rock out with Delirious and some of the others and get pumped up and charge into the fast lane. I chill out with the Enter The Worship Circle stuff.

But this morning in my car, thinking about all this, I began to appreciate and understand artist’s like Rich Mullins a bit more. He didn’t sugar coat anything. On video you could see that he was a passionate man who took his faith seriously. He understood the divide between what we know and what we actually can walk out on a daily basis. You don’t quit hoping for a big break through but approach life with a certain amount of realism—knowing that you are still taking steps forward and not giving up ground to the enemy.

Enjoy today’s ride.

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2 Responses to A Musical Notation

  1. Rodney says:

    Another great post today. I still think that Rich Mullins’ “A Liturgy, A Legacy and A Ragamuffin Band” is the best Christian album of all time. The depth from which he writes and the poetic nature of his musings seem to be sadly lacking from most Christian artists. That doesn’t mean I don’t listen to them. I think there are some great artists out, but Rich was definitely one of a kind. I find myself again relating nearly 100% to what you are writing. You are hitting the nail on the head of many things I’ve been discovering/pondering over the last several years. When I grow up, I want to be able to write like you. 🙂

  2. Terry Henry says:

    How I feel and what is “real” is what I am looking for. I am not sure that I have honed in on what I really am feeling/thinking.
    I guess, looking at various musicians and what motivates them to write is also a factor.
    I mean I love Lincoln Brewster’s “I Surrender” and it definately touches a spot in my heart and soul—I sing it really loud in the car—but….and that is where I don’t know where to go with it.
    I will keep pondering. Thanks for being a part.

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