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Monday, September 10, 2007

Musical Musings - Kerouac or Nelson? Edition

OK- the title might be a little obtuse, but let's just say this edition of Musical Musing is On the Road (again?)...

Did you know that of all the metaphors and analogies used to describe life - across time and cultures - the one that seems darn near universal is a journey? It totally makes sense, of course, knowing that the nomadic life can be accounted for everywhere humans have established a foothold. Heck, even the penguins migrate!

If I'm right (and I sometimes am), you've wandered a bit farther down your own road since the last musical musings. This month has been a really journey for me, in every aspect of my life. I travelled to Iowa and Wisconsin, where I began my seminary journey with 14 of the most incredible men and women I've ever met. I've wandered back to the beginnings of our world with new eyes, learning to read our story in new ways. I've stumbled into a new version of the race against time, shuttling my son to activities with textbooks and highlighters in the car. I've found myself sitting with a future preacher's kid who wants to learn my Greek vocabulary!

Even as I sit at the same desk in the same house that I have typed at for the past three years, I know I'm not where I was three years ago. Some twists in my road have been exciting, others exhausting; some turns have brought joy and around others I've found grief and pain. But still I go forward, pressing on.

So, my co-journers in life, here's a short and varied Road Trip Mix of songs God has laid on my heart (and/or Freud has dropped into my iTunes) for this leg of my journey:

1. Obviously... On the Road Again by our muse Willie Nelson (Honeysuckle Rose Soundtrack, 1980)

While I'm not a big fan of Willie's nasal stylings, I have to say that every time I start a long drive, it comes into my head.. and like any good earworm, it stays a good long while..

Like a band of gypsies we roll down the highway...
we're the best of friends, insisting that the world keep turning our way,
and our way... is on the road again!

2. Show Me the Way... by Styx (Edge of the Century, 1990)

Yep, my hubby actually took me to see Dennis DeYoung perform this Spring. This one still gets me as I think about how hard it is for us to find our way - how many people are out there crying out for someone to show (and tell) them where the Truth is.

Every night I say a prayer in the hope that there's a heaven
And every day I'm more confused as the saints turn into sinners
All the heroes and legends I knew as a child have fallen to idols of clay
And I feel this empty place inside, so afraid that Ive lost my faith

Show me the way, show me the way
Take me tonight to the river
And wash my illusions away
Show me the way...

3. Untitled Hymn (Come to Jesus) by Chris Rice (Run the Earth, Watch the Sky, 2003)

This is possibly the most beautiful description of the journey of faith I've ever heard. Starting with an invitation for the weak and wounded sinner to come, through the crawling, walking, crying, and dancing we live through as we grow in faith, then finally going home to be with God.

... And with your final heartbeat, Kiss the world goodbye,
Then go in peace, and laugh on Glory's side...
and Fly to Jesus, Fly to Jesus, Fly to Jesus and live

I cry every time I sing along with Chris and think of the home-goings my loved ones experienced.

4. Mountain of God by Third Day (Wherever You Are, 2005)

Mac Powell and company are serious worship leaders in the guise of a southern rock band. Soulful and powerful. This is a great reminder of how our journey takes those twists and turns so that we can grow in our trust in God's strength and faithfulness. The chorus says it all:

Even though the journey's long, and I know the road is hard.
Well the one who's gone before me, He will help me carry on.
And after all that I've been through, now I realize the truth
that I must go through the valley to stand upon the Mountain of God.

5. Jesus Draw Me Ever Nearer by Keith Getty and Margaret Becker (In Christ Alone, 2006 or New Irish Hymns 2001)

If you're familiar with the Getty's music, you know the modern yet ancient feel he achieves in his hymns. This one has a haunting Celtic feel that is the prayer of one on the journey who realizes that the journey both brings and becomes a blessing in itself.

May this journey be a blessing, May I rise on wings of faith
And at the end of my heart's testing, With Your likeness let me wake

6. I'm Not Who I Was by Brandon Heath (Don't Get Comfortable, 2006)

This one is about a relationship that was broken, and the speaker realized when looking at an old photo that the pain is no longer about being hurt, it's about not forgiving the other person. A great snapshot of the way that our journeys really do change us.

Well the thing I find most amazing, In amazing grace
Is the chance to give it out
Maybe that's what love is all about
I wish you could see me now
I wish I could show you how... I'm not who I was

7. This Road by Jars of Clay (Furthermore: From the Studio, From the Stage 2003)

This was the closer on the initial City on a Hill project CD. I think it'll make a fine benediction for this round of musings, too.

All heavy laden acquainted with sorrow
May Christ in our marrow carry us home
From alabaster come blessings of laughter
A fragrance of passion and joy from the truth

Grant the unbroken tears ever flowing
From hearts of contrition only for You
May sin never hold true that love never broke through
For God's mercy holds us and we are His own

This road that we travel may it be the straight and narrow
God, give us peace and grace from You, all the day
Shelter with fire, our voices we raise still higher
God, give us peace and grace from You, all the day through

My iPod'll hold several hours more, so please share your comments and suggestions for more journey songs (no, not Journey songs, although they do complement Styx..

What songs have become a part of your journey? What a great playlist we could come up with together...


  1. I like Light of a Clear Blue Morning by Dolly Parton:
    "Cause I am strong and I can prove it/And I got my dreams to see me through/Its just a mountain, I can move it/And with faith enough theres nothing I cant do"

    And also All Star by Smash Mouth:
    "Somebody once asked could I spare some change for gas/I need to get myself away from this place/I said yep what a concept/I could use a little fuel myself/And we could all use a little change"

  2. I love Styx.
    That's all my comments for right now, except this: Last year I had my confirmation class make a soundtrack for their faith/life journeys. Everyone did it and most were amazing. Then I had them choose just one that represented something important about their journey and put them all together as a class soundtrack. 23 songs. It was amazing. This kind of exercise can actually be really meaningful, especially to teens who are SO into music (more than I remember my friends being back in the day...)

  3. ack..typo: that should be "were most amazing" rather than a judgment on some of their soundtracks!

  4. For me, one of the classic "road trip" songs is Bob Seger's Turn the page.

  5. I was going to suggest "Turn the Page" but KF beat me to it.

    An oldie..."Leaving on a Jet Plane" by Peter Paul and Mary was popular at a time when my husband-to-be really was leaving, and I still have a sense of that sadness when I hear the song.

    All my bags are packed
    I'm ready to go
    Standing here outside your door,
    I hate to wake you up,
    to say goodbye.

    And I LOVED this list! Great songs, all! I'm the same about Willie't "nasal stylings" but I too ALWAYS start thinking of this song when a road trip commences.

  6. I've just been compiling my road trip mix -- this is not a metaphorical journey, but literally the CD to pop in the stereo when hitting the road. That said, I love these songs as more than traveling music. Anyway, the mix so far:

    1. Fifth of July and Old Dominion by Eddie from Ohio. You can sample Fifth of July on their website, but not Old Dominion (that I can find). Precisely as one who has fled north from the Carolinas on more than one occasion for the sake of my own mental health, this love song to Virginia takes on special meaning even for a non-native.

    2. Little Boy Blue (North of North Dakota) by Jake Armerding (sample available on website).

    3. Road Song by Fernando Ortega. (Warning: his music is fantastic, but the audio features of the website are irritating.) I prefer the upbeat version on "The Night of Your Return" to the more reflective remake on "Breaking of the Dawn" for road tripping purposes.

    4. Daring Daylight Escape by Caedmon's Call on 40 Acres. I love the idea that leaving behind a painful situation might not be Running Away, but a Brave and Adventurous Escape.

  7. great start gang!!

    I'll be hitting iTunes later to add to my collection... In fact, I may have to dig out that old Caedmon's Call CD to see if I can save .99 :)

  8. Andrew Peterson's Faith to be Strong (from the album Carried Along) is the song I keep going back to. The chorus goes like this:
    Give us faith to be strong
    Give us strength to be faithful
    This life is not long, but it's hard
    Give us grace to go on
    Make us willing and able
    Lord, give us faith to be strong

    There are others, but this one has endured for 5 years. I love it.

  9. Show me your glory by Third day became a prayer...

  10. In our house, the ultimate road-trip music is They Might Be Giants, specifically "Birdhouse in Your Soul"

    No spiritual connection there. Maybe mix in some Keith Green if it's a good, long road trip.

  11. Mitch, you're awesome! Birdhouse has been a sort of spiritual anthem for me since college...
    "There's a picture opposite me
    of my primitive ancestry
    That stood on rocky shores
    And kept the beaches shipwreck free.
    Though I respect that a lot,
    I'd be fired if that was my job,
    After killing Jason off and countless screaming Argonauts"
    and "When It's All Been Said and Done" from Robin Mark's cd, Revival in Belfast:
    "When it's all been said and done,
    there is just one thing that matters.
    Did I do my best to live for truth?
    Did I live my life for you?
    Lord, your mercy is so great
    that you look beyond our weakness
    and find purest gold in miry clay
    making sinners into saints."
    Chris Rice, of course, also this line from "Welcome to Our World":
    "So wrap our injured flesh around you
    Breathe our air and walk our sod
    Rob our sin and make us holy
    Perfect Son of God
    Welcome to our world."
    Can't leave out Rich Mullins, especially "Hold Me Jesus":
    "I've beat my head against so many walls,
    that I'm falling down and falling on my knees...
    And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn,
    and your grace rings out so deep,
    it makes my resistance seem so thin,
    So hold me Jesus, 'cause I'm shaking like a leaf.
    You have been king of my glory,
    won't you be my prince of peace."

  12. A new one for me is "Big White Gate" by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. It's fantastic.

  13. The song I associate with finishing my theology degree is Helen Reddy's "I am Woman" - the chorus reminds me of the struggle being worth it for where I have ended up - personally and vocationally. Now to stay wise!

    Oh yes I am wise
    But it's wisdom born of pain
    Yes, I've paid the price
    But look how much I gained
    If I have to I can face anything
    I am strong (strong)
    I am invincible (invincible)
    I am woman


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