A Musical Morning

Today is a Joni Mitchell sort of morning. As I drove my daughter and her friend to school on this brisk, early-winter sort of day—her sweet Canadian voice flowed from the late sixties and early seventies through the stereo speakers and into the car.

And that voice: no matter what the weather is like outside her words always wrap around me like an old woolen blanket.

Like fresh cream into a hot cup of coffee, her songs are introspective enough to set a mind to thinking about all sorts of possibilities—past and present and future. Some thing’s lost and something is gained in living everyday—you don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone—they paved paradise and put up a parking lot.

I can’t help but wonder what drives us to create songs or art or literature in the first place and then keeps us hoping against hope that things really will be “alright”.

Life really is sweet and so worth the effort whether we approach it from a more melancholy side or an overly optimistic point of view—the feelings we are left with are similar.

What Joni’s songs do for me is create a desire within to reflect on life and the many situations that I find myself in. Yes, a secular song can generate a spiritual response. We don’t live in a vacuum and I firmly believe that God has given gifts to men and women without repentance—which means to me that Joni’s gifts are God-given whether she will ever acknowledge that truth or not. She is just like us Christians in one sort of way—she has lived her life in full view of many others and has the scars to show for it.

As a songwriter, the dynamics of her life and loves, her mistakes and all the rest are in the public domain. And as the many life-themes resonate through her songs, I am struck by the compassion I feel for people who have lost in love and made the wrong choices for what they thought were the right reasons. It is only at this stage in my life that I can see that all of us have been caught up in some sort of drama at some time and that it takes a lot of effort to get up off the floor and begin to walk again into that good night. But walk we must—it is only as we move forward that we can find the peace that passes understanding spoken of in scripture.

As Joni was singing “Big Yellow Taxi” this morning, my daughter turned to me and asked who we were listening to. I told her and said that by doing so I was continuing her education in musical tastes and styles of the late sixties, seventies and early eighties and that she would be the wiser for having listened. I don’t think she really believed me but I can only put it out there—whether or not she hears is another matter altogether.

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13 Responses to A Musical Morning

  1. Carey says:

    I parted ways with Joni ‘long about the time of LA Express. She had had, by that time, too many lovers for her own good. Her later work took a turn toward cynicism that did not agree with my salvatory direction in early 80’s. But you’re certainly right about the early stuff. She resonated with the heart and soul of the poets. My favorite lines of hers are: Sisotobelle Lane,anywhere else now would seem very strange. The seasons are changing;they always do they always do……eating muffin buns and berries by the steamy kitchen window, we always do…we like the view.C.

  2. ded says:

    I appreciate your willingness to hear the soul of someone cry against or in the truth of their lives, and thus they strike a resonant chord with our humanity, even though we are Christians who have a hope. I think there is a certain compassion in recognizing the humanity of these who know not Christ, yet artfully express themselves within the human condition. That is, in being a Christian, we have not forgotten what it means to be human without hope. There is a relatability there, which we can use to speak of the hope we have.

  3. Terry Henry says:

    It was just this morning that I was granted an insight into what “….having a heart after God’s own.” really meant. There is something deep in us that only resonates when we are in that union with Him. So despite the flaws and wrong turns I have made in my life, God sees that seed of hope buried deep within and is in the process of pulling it to the surface of who I am.

  4. ded says:

    Amen!…and if such is not our experience, how can we say that Christ in us is the hope of glory?I rejoice with you in this insight.

  5. Craig V. says:

    There’s an old teaching that all of us, as humans, have an immediate relationship with God. This teaching has fallen on hard times out of fear that it undermines Scriptural teachings about the fall and salvation. Perhaps we should reconsider. It does give us a way of understanding how all truth is God’s truth, all beauty is God’s beauty and all goodness is God’s goodness.

  6. Terry Henry says:

    John 3 would attest to this: All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

  7. Craig V. says:

    It’s interesting that you relate all having an immediate relationship with God with creation. I suspect that’s very profound.The other connection that comes to mind is “in him we live and move and have our being”. Paul is quoting a pagan!Is it going to far to say that all music is God’s music (perhaps all but rap)?

  8. Terry Henry says:

    Based solely on being a Christian for many years and a sense that I have and biblical stuff about the subject I have gleaned along the way which I can’t chapter and verse right this minute—yes, music was created by God but some has been subverted. I think that rap is a form of music which has been filtered through a black genocide culture. However some of the technology and sampling and so forth is pretty cool. Even Reggae music. If Bob Marley had just had some of the right influences in his life things would have been way different. And can you imagine if Fleetwood Mac had been Christian.

  9. Craig V. says:

    I was just kidding about rap. For some reason the chuckle under my breath and the twinkle in my eye didn’t make it on to the printed page. I guess there are limitations in this virtual world.I’m suggesting that the relationships amongst artist, art and God are more intimate than we might think. In his Letters to Theo, Van Gogh writes of works of art being on a par with preaching. I probably wouldn’t go that far, but I do think there’s a truth there worth exploring.The rapper lives and moves and has his or her being in God.

  10. Terry Henry says:

    Don’t even get me started on Theo—a man who basically provided his brother with art supplies that kept him painting. I have seen VanGogh up close and personal at the Met or MOMA and his detail is without a doubt incredible and God given. That he would persevere all those years is a testament to God’s faithfulness.

  11. Craig V. says:

    I would love to get you started on Theo. I’ve had the great joy of seeing some of Van Gogh’s paintings up close as well. I’m not an art expert, or even very knowledgeable about art, but I can say that seeing those paintings changed the way I look at the world. They revealed a beauty I didn’t see before.

  12. Terry Henry says:

    Like life itself, his paintings were layer upon layer of paint that seemed directed with precise brush-strokes—not tentative stabs at a canvas that was destined to end up in a closet. Like Dylan, Van Gogh took what he had and fashioned a place for himself not fully understanding the impact he would have on culture.

  13. ded says:

    I agree..all is His, and His Truth is written on everyone’s heart. The rebellion has muddied much, and hearts that love the darkness will attack God’s Truth even as they hear it within themselves. When artists of any field explore their depths in an effort to know, as this is what drives them innately, how could they not stumble across nuggets of Him and express it?

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