This morning as I prepared for work the lyrics to, “Isn’t it Ironic” by Alanis Morissette played in my head. Now, back in 1996 when the song came out, I am sure I sang along to the lyrics, they are easy to memorize, catchy tune, etc. I read the lyrics today for the first time. It is exactly the angst-y kind of music one would expect from that decade. Despair without hope kind of stuff.
In the 1970’s my folks had a huge radio/record player/8-track tape combination stereo. Even with all of the options available my mom still kept the station fixed on the Christian station. Classmates believed I was not allowed to listen to anything else. I knew that was not true, but our family just chose uplifting music.
In fifth grade I decided to “show my classmates” that I could listen to regular stations. The song that I heard was by Rod Stewart. I do not remember the title, I remember the lyrics were about a young girl who left her parents for a guy she loved and in the end all I could think of was how she broke her parents’ hearts. I was so disappointed with the song I immediately went back to the Christian radio station.
Fast forward to high school. Footloose (1984) came out and as a teenager, I identified with Ren and Ariel trying to find my footing and rebelling against what I saw as wrong. Now as an adult and parent to two young adult sons, I understand more of what John Lithgow’s character was trying to express to Lori Singer. That music can be used to uplift the spirit when it is downfallen or it can be used to confuse the emotions.
I think of the first notes of the National Anthem here is the US. I can hardly make it through singing the first verse without tearing up, the music pulls on the very best of what I hope and pray for my country. Other songs, like the one that was on the radio when I was raped, make my skin crawl and I want to smash all the radios.
This month as I was battling through the struggles I was facing, I made a playlist. It contains close to thirty different songs that remind me of my faith journey, remind me of my husband and our marriage journey. The song that played when we lit the unity candles during our wedding ceremony still makes me weepy. Or the song I chose as my battle anthem to keep fight for my marriage when things get tough.
Over the last twenty years or so, my mom and I have kept up a banter about songs and hymns we love. Whenever she hears one she really likes she will say, “I want you to play that at my funeral.” As you can imagine, in order to fit in all the songs she “wants at her funeral” I am going to have to start the music about a month prior to her passing.
Best Beloved, I do not know what you have on repeat in iTunes or on your stereo. I do know that when God gave us the gift of music He blessed us in ways we will not fully understand this side of Heaven.
Rich Mullins once said of music that it does not feed us, clothe us, or protect us but just try to imagine our lives without it (paraphrase mine). God’s song is everywhere. All we need to do is listen.