Yesterday I posted a poetry reading by Catalina Ferro called Anxiety Group. If you missed it I would strongly encourage you to check out that post and give it a listen. It is very very good. After hearing it I listened to some more of her readings and would like to share a couple of them with you here also.
The first is funny and relevant to this blog. In a sort of sideways manner it discusses anxiety in the real world, but it will make you laugh at the same time. I hope you enjoy Emergency Exit Row:
The second is only relevant in the sense that I not so subtly continue to refer to religion and my internal spiritual conflicts. When this rant started I wasn’t sure what to make of it, but by the end I was being moved by the power and truth in her words. Give this a couple minutes before you give up on it.
Over the last several months there has been something happening in the background of this blog. On what I thought was something of a whim I shared a piece of music that I really enjoyed. I commented in the post that I had always enjoyed music, but expressing my musical preferences always seemed like dangerous ground socially. I just figured there was no need to offer up information about oneself that would be judged. There was something liberating about that post and I have since begun sharing more music and in most cases explaining the significance of the music to my life. This process has created something of an awakening inside me relative to the power of music as a media of emotion. As I have explored this I have uncovered some powerful music that has moved me. Much of what I have discovered is pretty popular stuff, and by admitting that I have never heard it I am basically revealing that I do in fact live under a rock. The thing is I discovered a couple of these songs in a way that separated me from their original sound, and it is that which I hope to share here. Continue reading →
A week or so ago I published that long string of loosely connected thoughts describing my own version of anxiety plagued insomnia. I said I was going to use it as a brainstorming platform to put together a real poem. I had been looking into poetry formats trying to understand things like rhythm and meter, and thought it might be interesting and challenging to try and write poetry that followed some set structure. I have to admit I only marginally understood what I was reading, and began to get really lost on the stressed syllable stuff. I know it’s not all that hard, but I have trouble reading about it. If I could actually hear it conversation I have no doubt it would be clear to me. I said I would share the poem here when it was done. Over the last week I have come to understand that it will never be done so I will share in today’s form. Continue reading →
Off and on over the years I have day dreamed of getting paid to write. I enjoy writing though I often lack inspiration. Back in my darkest days I wrote a little bit. It was all as dark as my mood and I never shared it with anyone until I found it by accident one day and posted it here and here. I played around with short fiction stories recently, but as a father, husband, and middle class worker bee there is little time for following my own pursuits. Truthfully the stuff I wrote wasn’t all that good anyway. My stuff always lacks the descriptive details, the things that convey the setting and mood in a way that actually puts the reader into the story. It is all mechanical and matter of fact, no real pizazz. I was once employed as a technical writer and I was good at that. I actually redesigned the entire menu of written reports my company provided its customers. They were concise, to the point, easily navigated, and well received. That remains my biggest accomplishment in writing.
This summer while on the water working with my father I was struck with a rare lightning bolt of inspiration for a magazine article. I had an idea but as is the norm, particularly in the summer, I had no time until today. Today I was off. It is the last day of my vacation and by accident became a day I had all to myself. I finally sat down and wrote. The topic and whatnot isn’t important, but what is is that I got the ideas all on paper. I had taken the time to outline the project a couple weeks ago and I have been thinking about it since late in the spring so it was pretty much written in my head which made actually giving a physical form much easier. Two hours, 1200 words, and draft one is complete. It’s a ways from actually being done, but the ideas are all out on paper. I have no idea the submission guidelines to the publications I have in mind so I will go search those out next and modify the content if required. I am somewhat concerned that it may be a little long for what they would use it for, but I think I can shave it down if I have to.
I think this is a really good idea. I really think it will sell in the market I have in mind, and I am pretty excited to have actually started down the path. It was nice to write with purpose. To actually have an idea and put something together that could be useful to others. I know I am a long way for done, but it has been a good day.
In many ways this song puts to music my experience with depression and anxiety, It was never intended to speak to those issues, but the mood of the music and the lyrics are something I can relate to far beyond any literal intentions. The songs true inspiration was the love interest of a musician in the band. He was touring the northern tier of the country and she was in Kansas City. He and his band mates were chasing their musical dreams and he just wasn’t able to put in the effort to make things work. He was literally “stuck in colder weather”.
For me the colder weather is more reflective of the darker days of my life. These darker days almost caused me to leave a special girl behind and they did cause me to leave a great deal of the things that defined me and gave me joy. I have found my way back to some of these things, but others are gone forever. These things aren’t to be mourned. Life works in funny ways and lately I have been finding myself in milder climates, using the parlance of the song, and I am finding new joys, while allowing myself the fond memories of those closed chapters.
Until a few days ago I couldn’t tell you anything about this song other than I always found both the music and the lyrics haunting. The music causes my emotions to well up, and the lyrics cause them to flow over. I had never really considered there may be debate over whether or not it is a “Christian’ song. I listen and I hear pain. I hear a person who has tried to be faithful to and believe in his god and failed. I hear an individual whose soul is incomplete and who is struggling to believe; to be saved. In short I hear a person that in many ways I can relate to.
Imagine my surprise when I followed a Facbook link to a version of the song performed by two gifted young men, and found a shocking discussion on not only whether or not the song was Christian in nature, but whether or not it was actually offensive to god. The first comment that surprised me was:
“Although this is beautiful, this is NOT a Christian song. Does anyone not hear the reference to orgasm in it?”
Actually I am not sure I do. I suppose there a couple places where it may be referenced in some version of the song, but I am not convinced. Even if it is when did orgasms become an affront to god? If orgasms are offensive and sinful than isn’t all life a result of human weakness? I was thinking to myself “this is why I don’t go to church” when I stumbled across this winner in response to the above:
“I totally agree with you. I also believe there’s a reference to Homosexuality as well. The line that says, “our love is not a victory march”, in my opinion is the line I refer to”.
Really? I thought God and faith were supposed to offer one a sense of peace and love? These people seem so fearful.
If the first few remarks shocked me imagine my surprise when Istumbled across this piece of commentary:
“The melody of the song is absolutely gorgeous… but the lyrics totally destroy it; it has such melancholy lyrics. I find it disappointing that it has no redeeming message or victorious joy at the ending. It breaks my heart that someone would use the name of our Precious Lord in such a vile manner, in a way to exalt the flesh above Him. Hallelujah means “Praise the Lord!” so how can you have a “broken” Hallelujah?”
Is she serious? How can there be a broken Hallelujah? How can there be no redeeming message or victorious ending? All I can say is there must be much bliss in a life so sheltered from pain as to not understand that too often there is no happy ending, or to have never found themselves in a place were they have questioned their faith or faithfulness. It would do some folks a lot of good to try and understand that their view of life experience is not the only possibility out there.
All this conversation inspired to me to poke around some and see what I could learn about the song. It was written by Leonard Cohen, who is apparently Jewish, and the song originally had nothing to do with Christianity other than making use of some biblical references. It has been covered numerous times with the late Jeff Buckley’s version probably being the most well known. There have also been numerous verses added and altered by various artists with the apparent intent of changing the songs feel and conveying the cover artist’s meaning. Any broad statement that this song is blasphemous cannot be taken seriously without specific reference to a particular version as there is not one “Hallelujah” out there, but rather many many interpretations of the nearly thirty year old original.
While looking around for some background and listening to different performances and the verses they chose I stumbled across this amazing performance of the song. Prior to this I was aware the song had been covered by women, but I had only hear male versions. These girls chose a great combination of verses and sing beautifully. This is without a doubt the best I have ever heard this song perfromed. I hope you enjoy it as much as I do: