Showing posts with label music. Show all posts
Showing posts with label music. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 04, 2017

You Belong Somewhere You Feel Free

Like many other fans, I was blindsided by Tom Petty's death. I'd recently bought tickets for his show in Seattle, then discovered they conflicted with eclipse-viewing in Idaho, and sold them to a fan on Craigslist. I remember consoling myself with the fact that Petty was only 66. After all, I saw Leonard Cohen in concert when he was 78. More fool I.

The macabre "is he or isn't he dead" news, in the wake of the massacre in Las Vegas, unmoored me, and I found myself incapable of concentrating on work. I finally quit searching the news, turned up the stereo, and sought solace in his music. It sent me back to the cracked green seat of a schoolbus, driven by gruff Mavis with her salt-and-pepper crewcut, top-40 on the radio, crawling down the dark country roads to school. It sent me to my bedroom, the "French Provincial" furniture, the pink and blue "double wedding ring" Holly Hobbie quilt, me beneath, holding Dad's weather radio to my cheek, listening to rock-and-roll at a mere whisper while craning for steps in the hallway. Terrified of getting caught. It sent me back to my initial, loop-de-loop years out of the church, harmonizing with "wordly" friends to mix tapes, cruising in a car called The Boat (for its porthole-like rear windows and a suspension that gave a 10-degree list on curves). It sent me back to campus, exhausted from waitressing, climbing step by step the endless staircases, punching the buttons of my blue Walkman, talking myself out of skipping class when all I wanted was to lie back in the quad under the cherry trees and float away.

I understand why music was/is not allowed in the church. It has a power like no other to speak directly to our emotions, to comfort and encourage, energize, and activate. Especially the music we experience when we're growing into our adult selves, as it becomes an inextricable part of us, capable even at the remove of decades to call up the tumult of adolescence: the longing, loneliness, joy, and confusion. Listening to Petty now, I can see that -- at a time when I felt understood by no one -- I felt understood. He suggested that heartbreak was survivable, freedom possible. Dangerous stuff. In his last interview, Petty said his music was almost like religion -- that it was "about moving people, and changing the world."

Done and done, sir. Much gratitude. *** 
 You belong among the wildflowers You belong in a boat out at sea You belong with your love on your arm You belong somewhere you feel free (From Wildflowers) 
 Somewhere, somehow, somebody must have kicked you around some Tell me why you want to lay there, revel in your abandon Honey, it don't make no difference to me baby Everybody has to fight to be free (From Refugee) 
 Across ancient bridges, Through a town with no name. Across painted hills, That no rich man came claim. Run the wild mustangs, That nothing can tame. On your first flash of freedom.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

New Music from the Old

Sound haunting and familiar?
“The world of the hymns has been with us right from childhood,” recalls Wimme. ”I’m from the part of S├ímiland where the Laestadian movement is strong: even in our homes we had meetings for worship and sang hymns. And on church festivals such as Christmas and Easter, we sang hymns continually from morning till evening, we listened to sermons and we sang. The hymns are deep inside me, just as yoiks are.“

This is an excerpts from a description of the new album Soabbi by reknowned Sami joiker Wimme Saari (who partners with Tapani Rinne). Read the whole thing and listen to the sample above.

There is much I do not miss about Laestadianism, but I do miss the singing. This is one way to reclaim it, with a most soulful voice and a bass clarinet (on high quality headphones borrowed from my son the technonerd).

Right now I'm listening to the familiar, plaintive hymn Children of the Heavenly Father (reinterpreted in the track as "Mii leat dorvvus buoremusas") and hearing it in an entirely new way, as if standing by a mountain stream with a couple of friends, reminiscing about bygone days. But this doesn't just take me back to the OALC. It takes me way, way back. I feel as if I'm joining hands with my ancestors, sharing in their grief (there is so much sorrow in these notes). I want to tell them "it gets better." And I imagine them saying the same thing to me, and smiling.

Heartfelt gratitude to Wimme and Tapani.

The album is available on Amazon for $8.99. If you decide to buy, please go through the Extoots Amazon page, as this blog gets a few cents for successful referrals.)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

The Visit

The building seems smaller now, as if its physical size somehow had shrunk along with its significance. This is no looming Mount Sinai, just a simple structure that is lovingly maintained by people who have grown up sitting in its pews. There is probably no other single place, outside the childhood home, in which a typical Laestadian will spend as many hours of his life. It is not just empty talk to call it a spiritual home, a sanctuary.

Just as pangs of nostalgia fill the adult believer who sees the humble house where he ran and played with a swarm of siblings and harassed parents, the sight of the church evinces its own memories grown fonder with time: beloved old preachers with their sleep-inducing sermons and funny habits, weekly gatherings of lifelong friends, hasty communal lunches with fellowship shouted over the squalling of fussy babies. God’s Kingdom nourishes the spirit with the unchanging Word, and the body with hot dish and Sloppy Joes, iceberg lettuce and ranch dressing. Variety is not a prominent feature of either menu, and that makes the memories uncomplicated, easy to come by.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Twenty Years Later . . .

It's been almost twenty years since I left the LLC.   Most of the time I don't think about it much, but lately I’ve been pondering about the things I miss and the things I don’t miss about the church. I have to say that the sound of dozens of voices singing in harmony is one of the things I most miss about the church now. Music has always been a big part of my life. Song services were my favorite church activity. Even now, almost twenty years after leaving the church, hearing people sing Christmas carols brings back a rush of nostalgia.

The thing I find so interesting about the songs, though, is that it seems like Laestadians quote song verses more often that they quote Bible verses. I’m guessing that this is because maybe they sing the songs so often that they have them memorized, but also because the songs speak of a shared experience that they can all relate to.  Maybe they sing the songs more often than they read scripture, and that helps it stick, too.