when i began this musical odyssey of self-discovery, i established a set of rules to keep things on the level. but when i started clicking the forward button, i kept landing on songs that broke the rules. rather than reject them out of hand, i collected them all for a rule-breaker friday.
the pledge – degarmo and key this one never did show up on shuffle. that is, until i clicked about 200 times to make sure it did. i discovered this song during my junior year of high school. i was involved in church youth group and was on the fringes of fca, but i hadn’t yet made the conscious choice to commit my life to living in the way of Jesus. i would have told you at the time i was a Christian, but i really didn’t understand it yet.
the lyrics are childlike in simplicity, yet starkly profound. the power of a creed or declaration repeated! about 9 months or so later (more about that tomorrow on freebie saturday), when i did finally make the leap of faith, these words had sunk into my spirit. i didn’t have the framework for it then, but i now recognize that many times a young person needs to be allowed to belong and behave within a community of faith before they believe. that’s the takeaway – students in our ministries need the chance to rehearse and retell the narrative of God’s story, perhaps many times, before they may enter it themselves. give them every chance to be part of community.
dueling guitars – doug smith & heitor pereira in august rush sorry to spoil, but freddie highmore and jonathan rhys meyers are not the ones playing guitar in this scene. it’s a rulebreaker because not a word is spoken or sung. it does, of course, connect with a scene in a delightful fairy tale of a movie about the power of music, belonging, and family. take a look at the scene as august/evan and his father share the wonder of making music, although neither one realizes who the other is.
some pieces of music drip with so much beauty that one need not see or know the story they are intended to enhance in order to appreciate their worth. for example, i had never seen the film schindler’s list when i first heard a high school student perform the theme song, yet i found myself weeping at its sheer majesty and sorrow. many of the great composers have viewed their works as prayers without words. words need not clutter moments of pure joy, pain, grief, or awe. sometimes it’s enough to just sit and be.
michicant – bon iver a rulebreaker because i definitely can’t sing it by heart. unless i’m looking at the lyrics i can’t even understand what it’s saying. and i have absolutely no idea what this song is about or what it means, although plenty of folks have weighed in. all justin vernon will say when introducing the song is that it’s about things you can’t do in michigan. trés hipster/ironic tongue in cheek, but it doesn’t reveal anything.
is it a song about a young man’s first sexual encounter? is it about using drugs? is it simply about making music? i have no idea. and i don’t really care or want to know what the lyricist intended. the value of art is that it can be so many things to so many different people.
with that in mind, i believe the popular categories of art and music are often false and forced. i encounter beauty that invites me into worship when i view a piece of art at the nelson, yet listening to much of what passes for “Christian” music causes me to change the station for sheer boredom.
Christmas shoes – newsong this one might have fit with tearjerker thursday, but it’s definitely a rulebreaker being a Christmas song, as gooey as they come. something about listening to holiday music out of season causes one to shop and take in the lyrics in a way we’d otherwise tune out.
“i know that God had sent that little boy to remind me…” stop. what the singer was reminded of isn’t the issue. i’m learning to receive others, particularly the young people in my life, as gifts from God. think of the people that challenge, comfort, test, annoy, or adore you. what might God be showing you about Himself, or yourself, through them?
tomorrow – freebie saturday! i handpicked 4 songs that mark some of the amazing moments in my life and share the stories behind them.