Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Songs as queries

A couple of months ago, Strawberry Creek's First Day School committee asked me to do two sessions on songwriting with the upper elementary group. We sang some peace songs together, and I brought in Margaret Fell's account of hearing George Fox speak for the first time ("We are all thieves" and "What canst thou say?"). We talked a lot about finding one's own voice, letting songs work on you experientially and making them your own, possible parallels between the folk process and Quaker process.

The second time we met, we knew that the teen group was working on responses to a set of queries and advices from Faith and Practice. Upper elementary was small that day, but didn't want to join the teens. One of the kids requested "Blowing in the Wind," and after we sang it I pointed out that the verses were entirely made up of questions. The same kid who had requested it said he'd always wondered about the question [paraphrasing Dylan here] "How many times can we all turn our heads, pretending that we just don't see?", and this led quite naturally into Quaker dialogue and discussion.

So my question for you all is: Are there songs that pose queries which lead you to reflect on your own experience? Do they move you, provoke you, guide or change you? What songs, if any, have been traveling companions on your spiritual journey?


At June 20, 2008 at 5:13 AM, Blogger Brent Bill said...

One of my choices is Carrie Newcomer's "Holy As a Day Is Spent" -- urging me to see the sacredness in life around me.

At June 20, 2008 at 6:51 AM, Blogger C said...

Shakira's song "Timor" changed my life forever and led eventually to accepting a leading that had been bugging me for years -- to work with refugees. The refrain that stuck in my mind and will never leave is:

"What about a people who don't matter anymore?"

The rest of the song is about how the developed world goes about its affluent business and even vacations in places where people who are truly suffering serve them.

Today is World Refugee Day. There are millions of refugees in this world. How many of them matter to the average person?


At June 20, 2008 at 8:47 AM, Blogger Tania said...

Pink's "Dear Mr. President" has always struck me as a direct challenge, not just to the president, but to all of us.

At June 20, 2008 at 12:54 PM, Blogger Lisa H said...

Thanks to those who have responded so far. Here are some links, in case the songs are unknown to some.

Pink, "Dear Mr. President"
Lyrics, mostly questions:
Live concert video:

Shakira, "Timor"
Dance video, with lots of political imagery:

Carrie Newcomer, "Holy As a Day is Spent"
Streaming audio:

I'm intrigued by Brent lifting up "Holy As a Day is Spent" as a query. The lyrics aren't framed as questions. The query comes in the process of listening to Carrie's ministry, and reflecting on how it speaks to one's own life.

Last time I heard Carrie in concert, she had a wonderful way of framing her song introductions as queries, priming the pump a little with her inspiration for writing the songs, then asking something like "What does community look like?" and going briefly into silence before starting to sing. Quite an inspiring example of bringing a bit of Quaker practice into a performance space. It occurs to me now that this is like offering one response to a query in a worship-fellowship group, trusting that others will have their own responses as well.

At June 25, 2008 at 7:54 AM, Blogger quakerboy said...

Although not technically a song of queries, the one song that makes me ponder the grace and wonder of God is "Light of a Clear Blue Morning" sung by Allison Moorer. It was written by Dolly Parton and is on the "Just Because I'm a Woman" I HIGHLY recommend.


At June 25, 2008 at 8:06 AM, Blogger quakerboy said...

Here is the link to the words for "Light of a Clear Blue Morning." Read it as those of us in recovery would and you'll see why it is so inspiring.


At September 14, 2009 at 12:05 AM, Blogger Matt said...

Thanks for link Pink's "Dear My President"

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