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.
GO TO MORE GIGS PEOPLE! (when the corona virus lockdown is over). Then you can say ‘I was there’.
This concert is at the Estadio Monumental Antonio Vespucio Liberti also known as the River Plate stadium in Buenos Aries, Argentina, recorded in December 2009. Capacity is about 70,000 people and it looks full to me. The concert series was recorded in HD as ‘Live at River Plate’ and was the last to feature rhythm guitarist Malcolm Young, and bassist Cliff Williams.
I had always assumed this song, originally released in 1979, was an invitation to accept that we are all so bad that we are going to hell (even though we don’t really believe in it), so we might as well go wild and enjoy the party while it lasts. However, according to the normally unimpeachable Wikipedia, it was inspired by the arduous nature of touring constantly and life on the road.
Here’s my take on it now, inspired by this religious icon. It’s a standard image called Anastasia – Greek for ‘resurrection’ and it shows Jesus breaking down the gates of hell and lifting people up from death and slavery. As a Christian, I want to join in with the mission of Jesus to set people free, so I’m on the Highway to Hell with him; I hope you are too!
There’s no place you can go to escape God, no place where you can’t be reached, as Psalm 139 puts it :
Where could I go to escape from you? Where could I get away from your presence? If I went up to heaven, you would be there; if I lay down in the world of the dead, you would be there.