Thursday, June 10, 2010

Why I Love Music

A young lady with muscular but graceful shoulders and dignity underneath her spectacles took the stage. The audience, myself included, was adrift in the breathing wash of anticipation as she paused to gather her thoughts and then moved to the microphone.

The sound of a soul crying out
The sound of a soul crying out
Me say Oh,
My soul cries out

                    -Rhea Scruggs

She was one of many to catch us off guard and remind us how to moan, how to deeply expend the dammed up rivers of the notion that everything is not okay. That night, as I was standing around at Remedy Coffee, someone asked me if I would judge the slam poetry contest. So I played my part in the ludicrous idea of attaching a number to someone's art. I wrote scores on a dry erase board and held it in the air each time a poet finished, hoping they would all recognize the travesty in what I was doing. Truth be told, they were all honest and beautiful. But more than that, they taught me. Faces screwed up into screams and were lined with passions; hands became bullhorns in the air. The failure of decency, the perpetuation of hatred, the exclusion and rejection of Love - these were expounded, and we were made to remember and to be free from the bondage of false smiles. And I remembered why I love music.

The heart, like any other thing, requires a little lubrication now and again. If your body has no salt and no water, you will sicken and die. Plants without nitrogen go awry. And the heart, without beauty, loses the ability to sing its joys and woes. Linford Detweiler of Over the Rhine said that when all your prayers run out, sometimes a song will do. I need that more than I often realize. As a person who stands behind a microphone and often spends time marketing something very human, I quickly teach myself to distrust my emotions. Soon, the stoicism petrifies into pure cold logic. This is not a place you want to go.

The Jews had a practice of hiring mourners to weep at funerals. I used to think this was the epitome of vanity, but anymore I'm not certain that's the case. Something about a woman wailing, something about that guttural human sound, unleashes the chained emotion within us. That sound, that awful sound, feels as if it could twist bone and rend the very air. A person weeping makes it okay to weep ourselves. Perhaps that is the territory of beauty, and despite all our pompous intellectualism, it cannot altogether be written off as trite. A sunset will nearly always stir the waters of the coldest heart. Let us pray the lepers take initiative to step in before the pool is stilled. A little girl's blue curious eyes, so soon from the face of God, cannot but capture you if you're willing to simply look. Truly, emotion is often a bad judge where balancing the checkbook and driving in traffic are concerned, but without it I cannot be human. I need art, honest beauty, to streamline the movements of my heart.

I drove down Rutledge Pike in the evening. The rolling farmland and aged hills spread out beneath the summer sky, and fireflies scattered like hopeful stars across the earthly firmament. We are like them, each of us flashing a signal beacon across the dark, desperately hoping not to spend the brevity of our lives alone. I remembered beauty, and that laughing and crying were sometimes very nearly the same thing, and I remembered how to be human.


and Blogger Natalie addressed the Senate...

Very interesting and insightful

7:23 PM, June 17, 2010  

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