Here’s a song we shared at a recent online ‘On The Edge Together’ session.
My song was Elvis singing Always on my mind. Chose it as I loved the emotion he was portraying in his voice, and the feeling of love which I feel transfers to other listeners. Sung with love, passion and feeling, reminding me of how Jesus was.
“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34
This piece is a best-selling modern pop song based on an Old Testament lament from Psalm 137. Jewish exiles weep for their beloved city Jerusalem, from which they had been torn and transported to Babylon. The verses were set to music nearly 200 years before McClean recorded it, and I first heard it. The modern version has a few differences, and is built up in layers of a single voice with a minimal, repetitive banjo accompaniment. It is very short, and the result is hauntingly beautiful. It’s adapted from the original 4-part canon by Philip Hayes of 1786.
This song reminds me that lament has always been a vital feature of Jewish and Christian worship and prayer. When we are in despair, we can cry out to God and be assured that he hears us – because, as the story of Christmas and Easter tells us, in Jesus he weeps with us.
Here’s Lenny Kravitz Live in Hyde Park, 9th September 2018. Look at the size of the crowd. The landlord would definitely book you again if you brought that number of customers in to buy the beer! Anyway, the audience are loving it and singing along.
What a star! Lenny won the Grammy award for Best Male Rock Vocal Performance four years in a row from 1999 to 2002. Early in his career he played support for greats like David Bowie, Bob Dylan and Tom Petty. The Virgin record label president described him as ‘Prince meets John Lennon’.
Lenny identifies as a Christian according to Wikipedia, and there is definitely a religious message in this song. In a 2018 Guardian interview, he explains that it is about Jesus Christ. My reading of the lyrics is that they are sung actually in the persona of Jesus, who is making an appeal to us, the listeners, for a faith commitment. I wonder if the crowd singing along understood that or what it might cost?
Special bonus – here’s the official music video – 47 million views and counting. Love those dreads.