Are You Gonna Go My Way?

Lenny Kravitz

What I really wanna know is …

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.

Lyrics here

Silence

Delerium feat. Sarah McLachlan

This song is one of the all-time electronica/trance greats and so there are several versions and remixes available. One of the best is a live performance by the Dutch DJ Tiësto (here) which captures the excitement and immersion of the collective dance experience.

In the spirit of choosing the road less travelled however, I have used a different version here. This video comprises clips from the Japanese role-playing computer game Final Fantasy VIII, in which heroes battle a great evil, but also have to deal with their own relationships and internal struggles [sounds familiar?]. The song matches the images of tension and yearning so well that it could have been part of the original soundtrack (an epic in its own right), but it was not – the editor has just made a really good montage that is a sympathetic interpretation of the music.

This mix is the original from the 1997 album ‘Karma’ and it opens with Gregorian chant: ‘Gloria in excelsis Deo’ – glory to God in the highest which sets the scene for the singer to tell of her personal religious journey –

Heaven holds a sense of wonder
And I wanted to believe
That I’d get caught up
When the rage in me subsides

In this white wave
I am sinking
In this silence
In this white wave
In this silence
I believe

There seems to be an ironic contrast between the noise of the dance floor and a search for tranquility, yet for some people this could be a path towards God. The insistent rhythms of the trance style can have a calming effect leading to an inner peace and then, when the clamour has died away – ‘In this silence I believe’. It reminds me of this encounter between the God and the prophet Elijah:

“Now there was a great wind, so strong that it was splitting mountains and breaking rocks in pieces before the LORD, but the LORD was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the LORD was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the LORD was not in the fire; and after the fire a sound of sheer silence.  (I Kings 19:11-12)

Everybody Hurts

R.E.M.

everybody hurts sometimes
So, hold on, hold on

Sometimes a song speaks with new relevance and its message comes to life. That’s what happened with this song today as it popped up in my playlist. The words resonate during the present national pandemic

If you’re on your own in this life
The days and nights are long
When you think you’ve had too much of this life
To hang on…

Everybody hurts sometimes; Everybody cries…

I have become aware of many people who have been totally on their own, going for days without seeing another person. Each person has their own particular story with their own aspects of pain; one person’s mountain may be another person’s molehill. What may seem small to one may cause great anguish to someone else. But I am mindful of what my nurse friend often says, “The pain is what the patient says it is”. Pain is pain…

I’m also aware that to tell someone in pain that “everybody hurts” is not the most sensitive response. It doesn’t acknowledge their own particular pain that they are experiencing and actually seems to belittle it.

This led me to think about the age-old question often posed in times of great pain or searching…”Where is God when it hurts?” or sometimes phrased as “If God is a God of love why is there suffering in the world?” Huge questions to ponder, to research, to meditate on, not run away from or be simplistic about.

And so I reflect…. God is close to the broken hearted… Psalm 34:18