Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Johnny to the Rescue

The challenges of running my household have been having their way with me lately. A sure sign of this fact is the 5 CD's I purchased yesterday. Whenever I am on the edge, I buy music. This collection is just what this frazzled mom needed. Some were just classics - Bee Gee's 18 number one hits (Jive Talkin' is my FAV), ABBA Gold, and the Best of Bill Cosby. Still makes me laugh after listening to the skits since I was a toddler. I especially love "Noah". I bought a compliation of Allison Krause, who I always like.

But, the creme de la creme was American IV: The Man Comes Around by Johnny Cash. This was released in 2002. This touched me deeply, in a way no music has in years.

I have always been a Johnny Cash fan, but this is way more profound that just being a fan. This music is sung by an old man approaching death, acknowledging such, and being real about that fact. His voice is a little shaky, his range, which never was great, has shrunk. But the music touches my soul. The Man Comes Around is about the Apocolypse, one thinks Johnny is thinking of his own "end of the world". Hurt is a song about fallen mankind, makes frequent refrences to the way of the Cross of Christ, and with the video, is positively sacramental. He sings a few country standards with profound meaning to a dying man: "Give My Love to Rose", "Bridge Over Troubled Water", "I Hung My Head", "First Time Ever I Saw Your Face", "Personal Jesus" (I had never heard of this song before, but apparently this is a "punk" type song originally.) The rest of the CD is "In My Life", "Sam Hall", "Danny Boy", "Desperado", "I'm So Lonely I Could Cry", "Tear Stained Letter",and "Streets of Loredo".

I appreciated so deeply the honest look back from a man who has had many ups and downs. I appreciated the honest look at state he was currently in when he recorded the CD. His voice wasn't "fixed". In the video, he is quite honest about the effects aging has had on him physically. But more than either of those reasons, I appreciated the honest look forward. He ends the CD with the song, "We'll Meet Again." I love the strong hope Johnny Cash exuded. He was humble in his music, and it seemed to me in his life. He admitted his faults, attempted to correct the path of his life, accepted redemption, and had terrific hope.

I went to a show of his during his last tour. It was like being in the room with a family member, gathering around the guitar, singing old favorites. He had no self-importance in his manner, and acted as if we were all among friends.

Because of this CD's rather stark portrayal of life at it's natural end, many of the daily annoyance that have really gotten me down lately evaporated. I am sure the little bumps in my current road will be the last thing on my mind when I am looking back over the rest of my life.

To quote "ABBA" Thank You for the Music


Blogger not said...

it's a good lesson you touch on in that last part,
and it was lovely to spend some of my day today with you!

you remain,
one of my most real heroines
: )

and your children make my heart happy!

love to you all...

April 28, 2005  
Blogger Kitsune said...

Good music is food for the soul. Especially good food when it puts things in perspective.

I've been listening to jazz on NPR when I drive to my night classes, and it really puts time in perspective as well. These songs about love and heartbreak and hope and despair were all being sung and played decades ago-- some of them 85 *years* ago. The people who sang and wrote them are long gone, but the music lives on like a thread through time. And that's what we all are, really, threads winding through time, spinning new threads into the future.

Okay, kinda a weird image, but that's how I see it when the horns are playing and some smooth-voiced woman is singing jazz. In 85 years, my great-granddaughter might be listening to these same songs, living out her life-- a life that would not exist without my cooperation in God's plan. I wonder if this theoretical great-granddaughter will wonder about me and who I was. I wonder if I will get to know her at all.

April 28, 2005  
Blogger Mama_T said...

Music is always where I go during stress, which always surprises me since I am not PERSONALLY musical at all. But it reaches in and wraps itself around my brain and heart.

Julie D. from Happy Catholic gave me a CD she had made that she calls her "GodMix." It is awesome, and is in a range of styles I would not normally listen to. It's been wonderful.

One of the genres that touches me, in much the same way that the jazz has touched M'Lynn, is gospel/bluegrass. There is such a longing for heaven, and an acknowledgement of the imperfections of this world. It meets me where I am. I know some cannot listen to the voices that to them seem "whiny", but to me, they sound authentic....

April 29, 2005  
Blogger Renee said...

Oh, Mama T, do I relate to that. I absolutely love bluegrass gospel music. One CD I have with the Cox Family and Allison Krauss together is guaranteed to lift any mood. I also have a CD called "How Great Thou Art", and that one has gotten me through many a rough day.

April 29, 2005  
Blogger alicia said...

I bought the Johnny Cash CD right after it first came out, and I blogged on it a couple of years ago. I love the way that he took songs that were originally written with a wry edge (like Hurt and Personal Jesus) and made them intensely worshipful. Hurt, in particular, I remember hearing as sung by Trent Reznor (Nine-Inch Nails)on the alternative rock station in Tulsa OK when I was out there in 1995 - and to hear Johhy Cash's interpretation was just wonderful. Personal Jesus was originally written to poke fun at TV tele-evangelists. But there is such a deep core of truth in the lyrics and Johnny brought it out wonderfully. My favortie song, however, is The Man Comes around...I have memorized the lyrics.

LeaAnn over at Such Small Hands just blogged about a Dave Brubeck CD that I now want to find. It is apparantly songs wrotten in connection with the Posada - a Mexican Christmas tradition where the search of Mary and Joseph for a place to sleep is re-enacted.

Music can heal or it can hurt. It reaches a part of our brains that is deep within. That is why it is so vital to have truly sacred music in our liturgies. Sacred comes in lots of forms, and one is not necessarily superior to another, but I think we can all recognize theidifference between sacred and secular when we hear it.

April 30, 2005  

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