Friday, October 9, 2009

Lord lift up these lifeless bones

Tried to brace myself
But you can't brace yourself when the time comes
You just have to roll with the blast

"A certain amount of suffering has to be done internally and just accepted as a normal and universal part of life. A bit o' sadness and anxiety is the price of living. This is a subject I deal with quite often on my radio program. I find myself telling more and more callers that what they are experiencing simply needs to be endured-and that there isn't necessarily a solution or pharmaceutical prescription to eradicate every human emotion and reasonable reaction to life's challenges."

I hope we're all in crash position when we hit

Is there a book that you can reference that helps you to discern or distill situations and scenarios that present themselves to you throughout your life? Perhaps, perhaps not. Perhaps for you, it's more like a music album that provides your perspective.

For John Darnielle, the singer/songwriter who leads The Mountain Goats, The Bible manages to provide the source by which to put life, death, and memories into context. And he plucked a dozen passages from it to create his latest album, The Life of The World to Come. Each track is given, simply, the name of the passage that inspired it.

Say what you will about the content in The Good Book, however, which other piece of literature has provided the foundation and backbone for endless other works of art, matters of law, references of morality, songs of praise and sorrow, and just really good stories?

Of course, customs and anthropology of the times created passages that lead to confusion when translation to modern life is required. This often leads thinkers to write off the entire works. Much like the writings of one controversial Dr. Laura Schlessinger. I tell you what, though. I have seen much adversity and great challenges in my personal life. And I have hated the way this has eaten away at my insides. One of her books, "Stop Whining, Start Living" was on a discount rack outside Borders and I picked it up recently. I will take my inspiration anywhere I can find it. And maybe, Darnielle's fans who weren't previously interested in The Bible will find a reason to find a their own [insert inspirational-themed book here, such as Chicken Soup for the Art of Happiness and Small Stuff].

The passage I shared at the top comes from the controversial talk radio host but it's true isn't it? We want to hide from pain. We want to experience tragedy in a medicated haze. Matthew 25 shares two of Jesus' Parables, and it appears that Darnielle found comfort in the Parable of the Talents as he dealt with his mother-in-law's death from breast cancer. The song is titled, simply, "Matthew 25:21". What Will You Do With What You Are Given, is the question someone willing to move forward from the tragedy is willing to ask themselves. How Do I Get Closure From The Pain is the question so many call Dr. Laura to ask, and many times, the answer is... You Don't. Sometimes there is no cure for the reality and magnitude for what happened. You can dance with the pain or you can endure and move past it.

"'You have done well, good and trustworthy servant,' replied his master; 'you have been trustworthy in the management of a little, I will put you in charge of much: share your master's joy.'"

It is true that much of this album is more melancholy and downbeat than many of The Mountain Goats' other albums. Track One, in context, is quite an attention-grabber and it's poignant how well Darnielle can grasp the admonitions of idolatry from 1st Samuel to create a metaphor for how in life, we sometimes give ourselves a bit too much credit for our achievements and our own relative greatness.

Not every source of inspiration is easy to nail down. In "1 John 4:16", it would be easy to assign hundreds of meanings to the lyrics contained, but based on the passage, I believe it's again his simple but poignant way of saying, life is going to sling some shit. God loves me, and this gets me through.

Download The Mountain Goats - 1 John 4:16

If you appreciate the more passionate side of the Goats, you may find that Psalms 40:2 satisfies your need to hear him belt out lyrics through clenched teeth in the way only he can do so well. Because that shit that gets slung? Damn, it's still HARD to deal with.

Download The Mountain Goats - Psalms 40:2

The Mountain Goats has an ENORMOUS discography. Get it. From each album to EP you will go on a new journey. And love it.


scott said...

right on. that man knows the short-cuts to my soul.

Black Hockey Jesus said...

Good stuff. Thanks for the link.

Black Hockey Jesus said...

Marcel is BHJ.