Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Listening...(May 19, 2009 Edition)

Only The Good Die Young--Billy Joel
Yesterday's News--Whiskeytown
Feeling No Pain--Jason Falkner
Dani California--Red Hot Chili Peppers
Folsom Prison Blues--Johnny Cash
And When I Die--Blood, Sweat & Tears
Misery Business--Paramore

Billy Joel appeared several months ago on Oprah (yes, even Mr. Moms like myself watch Oprah (maybe once per week), except I don't do the Oprah nod like the women in the audience). Billy was appearing with his wife, some 20-30 years his junior, talking more about his new family life first and his music. I'm not the biggest Billy Joel fan in the world, but I decided to take another look/listen at some of his songs from my collection after this interview. He was candid about his music, saying that he was disappointed in some of his songs that didn't have staying power--though he recognized this state of his repetoire is reality. What gives music staying power? Not being a musician myself, I would guess that staying power is rooted by a musician being a student of their craft, passion, persistence, an openness to critique, and a healthy dose of reflection (which I think comes naturally to an artist). I have settled on Only The Good Die Young as a favorite. I struggle to think of a better philosophical look at young love related to religion, culture and values--with some signature great lines: "Come out, Virginia, don't let me wait, Catholic girls start much too late." Though the piano is well represented in this song, it's not piano driven. Though an amazing pianist, Joel's pounding piano can be exhausting--probably the reason Jerry Lee Lewis is not a personal favorite.

On the subject of musical staying power, my dear wife and I had a great evening listening to the music of Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears on a double date. It was one of those pleasantly surprising evenings that I wasn't dreading, but I also wasn't imagining how great it was going to be, either. We had a fabulous Middle Eastern meal in Sioux Falls (yes, it's possible at a place called Sanaa's) good conversation where our companions for the evening were interested in us beyond being pastors, and a great evening of music. We were going to the Symphony--something I appreciate, but don't crave. What I did not know is that we were attending a pops concert, featuring symphonic accompaniment to the two aforementioned bands. I was in awe of the two musicians who composed the accompaniment for all those classical instruments. These two bands are rather horn heavy--and with the strings, the music was positively beautiful and stirring. This is also staying power--music can contain some underlying quality--where style doesn't particularly matter. Maybe this is the core of music theory--where math, creativity, beauty and sound meet to provide musical interpretation that can span the generations. The vocalist during that evening of pops was also a dead ringer for the B,S & T singer--fascinating. I've admired his voice since I was a child hearing their songs on the radio.

I wonder how often music theory has influenced music used in the life of the church? At this point, I'm only wondering, though considering developing the thought...

I had a dream recently about Johnny Cash coming to a congregation I was serving, and he opened the worship service with "Folsom Prison Blues." Of my thousands of dreams in my lifetime, why do I remember this one?

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