20 February 2015

Music Day - Time

So this is a Swedish metal band which sang about Jesus. I ask you, does it get any better than this?

Swedish bands appeal to me (it's the former ABBA fangirl in me), and I love a good head-banging song every now and then (and by 'now and then' I mean 'like an hour every day'). This song in particular is overflowing with passion. Jerusalem was direct, lyrically, and that's always something I appreciate, both in music and in real life -- even if I don't agree with you, I would much rather you be honest with me.

Title: Time
Artist: Jerusalem
Album: In His Majesty's Service (Live In The USA)
Year: 1985
Label: Refuge Records
iTunes here; YouTube here.

I want to give you your freedom...

That line, right there. Chills, every time. One of my favourite screams in music, ever (Larry Norman's Messiah scream and Rick Florian's Babylon scream is right up there though).

Lift up your eyes
Your time has come
Lift up your hands
Accept what I've done
Accept what Jesus has done...

There's enough raw passion in the vocal to make these lines awe-inspiring rather than merely clichĂ©. It's a song of pleading encouragement. I liken it to Undercover's Come Away With Me, only with more punch (especially in quantity -- the song runs well over six minutes).

Could it be that someone gave you the wrong impression of Me
For you are not condemned, you are loved
Loved by Me
I gave My life for you...

This song in particular also utilises enough synth to offset the crunching guitars (which can get monotonous after a while -- blasphemy, I know), but not enough to drown the song in the 1980s. Another thing I really like about this song from a musical standpoint is the varied rhythms and tempo. It's a bit of a progressive piece, but while it's well-executed, it doesn't take itself too seriously. It moves fast enough and the slow sections are short enough that the song doesn't lag.

Also, for a live recording, it's really clear and well-mixed. I actually did not know it was a concert recording until well after I bought the song. It's that well done.

19 February 2015

Of Children, Death, and Healing

A little boy died in Ontario today.

He had wandered out of his grandparents' apartment in the middle of the night into a twenty-below-Celsius night in a t-shirt and boots. They found him six hours later, still alive but not in good shape. And tonight he died. A little three-year-old boy died. It's heartbreaking to think that twenty-four hours ago, his parents and grandparents thought he had another seventy or eighty years left in his life -- his whole life stretching out before him -- and now it's gone. And he died alone, lost, probably frightened, freezing in the snow in a minus-thirty windchill. No-one to hug him and tell him they loved him and he was safe. And yet he had two loving parents and two loving grandparents. How awful this must be for them. How truly horrible. Twenty-four hours ago they were a normal family with a normal little boy.

Tonight I was at a voice recital at the college and as much as I tried to focus on the singers, my attention kept drifting to the director of my program sitting across the seating area from me, holding his little girl on his lap. He had his arms around her, rocking her in time to the music, dropping kisses on her blond head at regular intervals. She was resting her head on his shoulder and I tried to remember when I was her age and size, sitting on my own dad's lap like that and suddenly I thought, Enjoy it while you can; don't forget this moment, and I almost burst into tears right there. I could not remember specifically ever sitting on my dad's lap. I was never really a sit-on-a-lap kind of kid. I was too busy doing something -- playing a story or dancing. I don't remember being little enough for that and I don't actually remember the feel of my head on my dad's shoulder and his arms around me, rocking me. I'm sure all those things happened. I've seen it with my younger siblings. But I don't remember it for me.

They provide translations for the songs in the program. There was one, some German piece from Brahms, and the translation talked about names fading on old gravestones. The gravestones read 'we were.' So final, so dismal, so full of sadness and regret for things that could not be regained or recaptured or relived. We were, but we are no longer. It is over. It is gone. And then something poetic happened and then the gravestones read 'we were healed' and I could only think of my friend Brittney.

Grieving her death is a funny thing. I miss her. I hate knowing I will never see her or talk to her again before I myself die. But I know her breathing was tortured here -- to what extent I don't know, but I do know it was labourious -- and now for the first time she can breathe easily. She died, but it was death that finally healed her. Yet that healing came at the expense of furthering our collective relationships with her as her friends and family. I'm glad that she is healed, but I miss her so much.

15 February 2015

Pride and Fear

The life of a ridiculously imaginative but mediocre performer is a strange place. I so easily imagine myself as the best of the best -- or at least as a dark horse, quietly sitting by for the longest time before actually getting up the courage to stun all in attendance with my awesome hidden talent. So then when I finally do get up and muscle past the apprehension and actually try something, I'm shocked to hear how thin the voice in my throat actually sounds, how heavy my dancing really feels, how stilted and unnatural my acting actually is.

Being imaginative, I tend to play two roles in my mind. I play the part of myself, but I also play the part of the critical crowd -- I watch myself dance as I dance, seeing in my mind's eye the horrendous technique from the audience's perspective. By the time I get off the stage I'm exhausted, but only half of it was from physically dancing. The other half was spent simultaneously creating and fighting the critical voice.

This scenario is almost a continuous narrative through my brain. It plays out over and over again. The pride: "I'm at least as good as them. I'm just going to sit here and look content while they have the spotlight but I know very well I can take it," and the fear: "I can't do this, they're all so much better than me. They'll all see how terrible I really am. How can I have twelve years of dance experience and still be this terrible? How can I call myself a performer?" And is either right? Is it right to depend on the love of the audience for my self-worth? Whether I succeed and feed the pride or fail and feed the fear, I lose either way. I can't get away from both at the same time.

06 February 2015

Music Day - Hold Me Jesus

To all of those whose lives have changed irrevocably.
To those who have been shell-shocked by a sudden death.
To those who look at the future and see only fog.
To those who lie awake at night, heart racing.

Title: Hold Me Jesus
Artist: Rich Mullins
Album: A Liturgy, A Legacy, And A Ragamuffin Band
Year: 1993
iTunes here; YouTube here.