In August, I packed my boys into a car an went on a road trip to Middletown, New York. My husband was off killing orcs and aliens at Gencon in Indianapolis. My mouth felt dry as I belted the kids in the car. I felt tired and very grownup and a bit alone as I drove across I90 through thunderstorms in the dark.
I’d been meaning to visit my brother for months. He was installed as a part time pastor in a small congregation in January. For the first time, my brother and I were both out of school, both professionals, both grownups. (Although I will never confess that to him! Tragically, he reads my blog.) Saturday, we schlepped the boys around. I felt bone-weary, the way it’s only safe to do around family. We watched tv, went out for lunch, watched JourneyQuest, ate at the Texas Roadhouse. Thane fell asleep in the booth to the dulcet tones of “Boot Scootin’ Boogie” with the Yankees on the overhead tvs.
When the night was finally quiet, my brother and I talked. There is an ease that comes to talking with one of the few people who grew up in the same strange world you did: this is the great consolation of family. I never have to consider my words or my references. I have this narrow set of humans who also grew up in a town of 400, know the legends of Tuffy Suter, sang the old old hymns that even the elderly have forgotten in the mountain church we attended, consider Georgette Heyer, DE Stevenson and Patrick McManus to be canon, know the winding paths and theatrical finer points of the Oregon Shakespeare festival, and think of “Head Smashed in Buffalo Jump” Alberta as a top-tourist-destination. This is what it means to be family.
At some point, we started talking about music. I have an odd relationship with music. I love it, of course. I’m particularly fond of classical music, but I rarely listen to it. (I like to listen to radio with voice, in truth.) I do end up listening to a lot of folk/celtic music, but have no reliable sources of new introductions to music. I have always considered myself not a person who listens to popular music. You can have a lot of fun plumbing the depths of my ignorance, if you choose.
So my brother said, “You have to listen to Mumford and Sons” and he put on “Sigh No More”.
I immediately loaded “Sigh No More” onto my various devices of digital distribution and have not stopped listening since. The voice, the banjo, the lyrics have embedded themselves into the warp and woof of this time of my life, and I shall likely never hear them without being once again at this time of my life when my sons were young, my parents healthy and my love strong. The title song, in particular, speaks to me.
Love that will not betray you, dismay or enslave you. It will set you free to be more like the man that you were made to be.
“Yes” I think. “That is the standard to which we should hold anything we call love.” I find myself wondering, is that God’s love? Is that my love for my sons? Is that my love with my husband? Does the love I give conform to this high calling?
May I confess that I was shocked _SHOCKED_ when their next album beat out Bieber in popularity? I hadn’t intended to be listening to music that was actually popular. Ah well – so were Simon and Gurfunkel in their time.
I’m looking forward to delving the depths of their music. So far, I have what shows on the surface of the songs, and questions they raise. Are they Christian? Use to be Christian? Using Christian language? They are certainly not priggish. (Hey mom, that’s a warning that you might not totally like them. Let’s just say some of their songs cannot be played on radio.) There are allusions running through their music to Shakespeare. When you tie those allusions out, how do they change the meaning of what I hear?
I deeply appreciate this new music. It makes me aware how well I know the music I listen to, and how my ears seek out new songs. So… have you heard these guys? What questions do they raise in your mind? Do songs tie you to place-in-time, like they do me? Do you ever try to manipulate that, by introducing new music to something you’d really like to remember? And critically – who else should I be listening to?