Our local radio station has a segment called Changing Tracks on Friday afternoons. It’s about the songs people associate with seminal moments in their lives – some full of sorrow, and some of joy, and many of them covering both of these extremes. I have often ended up in tears listening to this segment – it’s incredible how much a song or piece of music can become so imbued with emotional importance*.
Some of these songs have been played for someone’s funeral. Have you ever thought about what music you would like played at your funeral? Or perhaps you have a song that’s important to you for another reason. If so, we’d love to hear about it.
And now – OK, I’ll admit it – I’m a U2 fan. I’ve been to three concerts (what fun!), own all their albums on CD and know just about every word of most of the songs. I love playing them loudly in the car and winding down the windows and singing along at the top of my voice with the wind rushing into my face. I like the guitar sounds, the rhythms, the way songs change in style. But most of all, and this goes with all the music I like best, I appreciate the lyrics. They show intelligence in the writing, a sense of poetry, sometimes humour, and written from a heart of faith. Some lyrics challenge, some call for justice, some speak of love – not just romantic love (actually, almost never) but love for family, love for someone who is sick or gone, love despite differences, love when things are hard.
I remember the first time I heard the song “Sometimes You Can’t Make It on Your Own”
Tough, you think you’ve got the stuff
You’re telling me and anyone
You’re hard enough
You don’t have to put up a fight
You don’t have to always be right
Let me take some of the punches
For you tonight
Listen to me now
I need to let you know
You don’t have to go it alone
I was driving to work, and had been going through a tough period, and feeling very much on my own. And I listened to these words and found myself sobbing. I so wanted and needed someone to ‘take some of the punches’ for me. And it was good for me to hear ‘You don’t have to go it alone’. This was probably one of the factors which prompted me to seek counselling. But I also heard God’s voice in there, offering me shelter and sustenance.
The rest of the song doesn’t apply to me at all – it was actually written by Bono after his father’s death, and is about their relationship. But that didn’t matter at the time. I found words that spoke to me, and were helpful and positive (despite the sobbing), and this has stayed with me.
This is just one example of the power of lyrics when I’m listening to or singing songs or hymns. I guess it’s about the power of words overall, but even more so when coupled with a great riff and compelling voice, and singing along loudly!
* You can listen to any of the Changing Tracks segments via the website https://soundcloud.com/774-abc-melbourne/sets/changing-tracks-with-raf