TS10: Finding “Fault” With Insecurity

Above image is a photo of Autumn Hefferan’s original painting, “Fault”

I almost did it. I almost decided not to add a certain track to this playlist because of how I thought it might be perceived by others. As I was sampling potentials for this week’s TS10, I came across Seal’s Prayer for the Dying. It’s a beautiful song from Seal’s 1994 self-titled album (as opposed to his 1991 also self-titled album).

I listened to Seal quite a bit back in the early to mid-90s. I actually picked that 1991 album up while on an internship in India in 1993. That was a particularly difficult season for me emotionally, and that album, which included the hit single Crazy, was constantly in my Walkman. It was a rotation of Arrested Development’s 3 Years, 5 Months, and 2 Days in the Life of…, Extreme’s III Sides to Every Story, and this record. I still vividly remember listening to the album in its entirety while on the flight home from India.

When I first heard Seal’s Kiss From a Rose, from his 1994 release, I fell in love with it. Soon afterward, I grabbed the album and listened to it non-stop. I thought the record was beautiful and, even though I would not have recognized it as such at the time, intensely emotive. Prayer for the Dying was one of the singles released from that album and is also one of my favorite Seal songs.

However, when presented with the possibility of including it on this week’s TS10, it wasn’t an immediate slam dunk choice. Why? It wasn’t because the song isn’t worthy. It wasn’t because it no longer connects with me emotionally. It was simply because my insecurity told me the cool kids would make fun of me for including a Seal song. In fact, the original iteration for this playlist didn’t include the song. But, as I considered it more, I decided not to let the cool kids tell me what to do.

Why am I sharing this with you? Well, sometimes I just like to spill the beans because I know I’m not the only one dealing issues like this. We all have our insecurities. Many of us get concerned about the bullying voices of the cool kids. Screw those voices.  Let’s not let our insecurities direct our decision-making. Let’s just be who we are. For real. The truth is, the cool kids are insecure too, which is why they try to make us feel bad for being who we are.

Somehow, I hope this rambling and, more importantly, this incredible music will lead us all to deeper freedom to be who we were created to be.


Poignant Songs

When Songs Overtake You… Matthew Perryman Jones and the Gordy’s Parking Lot

The other day, after dropping my boy off at school, I headed over to Gordy’s with Matthew Perryman Jones’ “Land of the Living” playing in the van. I downloaded that album off of NoiseTrade sometime ago, and my wife and I love it. Much of the album was borne out of Jones’ experiences while dealing with the death of his father. As one might imagine, there a parts of the album that are really emotive.

While driving to the store, I listened to the last two tracks of the album, “The Angels Were Singing” and “Land of the Living.” “The Angels Were Singing” is a somber tune that begins with the lyrics describing the singer standing before a headstone at a cemetery:

Talking to stone,
Listening to birds
With no more to say,
I kissed my fingers
And touched the red dirt

The imagery is heartrending. For my wife and me, it speaks to our own loss that we have experienced in the last few years, especially the loss of my mother-in-law in 2012. As the song goes on, you can hear the grief and mourning in Jones’ voice, the music, and the lyrics. When I am really engaged with the song, it inevitably takes me to my own sadness, for both his loss and mine. I love that music can do that… Feeling emotions like that makes me feel more fully alive, and it is a wonderful dynamic when music takes me places like that emotionally. So, as I listened that afternoon, I let myself take it in and feel what I needed to feel.

One of the wonderful aspects of this album is how it ends and how it moves from the grief of “The Angels Were Singing” to the joy and hope of the final track, “Land of the Living.” “Land of the Living” is a veritable anthem of hope; the hope that death is not the ultimate finale, that there is more life on the other side, that the darkness will be “swallowed by the sun.” It’s one of those songs that builds and builds throughout, leading the listener to the climactic moment in which the singer realizes he is “coming home.” It is seriously beautiful. If you’d like to listen to it, there is a video on YouTube that accompanies the song with inspiring images and quotes (not an official music video): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tAkUppnVgMw. From one song to the next, the songwriter takes us from deep grief to overwhelming hope. I love that.

As I listened to these two songs that day, I was overtaken. In fact, when I got to Gordy’s, I had to sit in the van in the parking lot so I could listen to the rest of “Land of the Living.” I also sang along, very loudly, not caring who might hear. And, then as I walked the aisles, I couldn’t stop myself from singing the lyrics over and over again. Again, overtaken… I love it when that happens. I’m thankful for artists like Matthew Perryman Jones who bare their souls in their music. And, by doing so, they help me engage with my emotions, making me feel more alive.