8.07.2008

Can a Song Save the World...?

Once in the middle of the night I called up a friend and asked " Can a song save the world?" What a question! And what a time to ask such a question! Somehow it seemed urgent. What can it possibly mean? In the muddled blur of a misty mind at 3:00am the question seemed a lifeline and the answer - the hand at the other end. When the sun came up I wondered if there was any real meaning to it. A song. .. a simple creative act... honest from heart to heart... an expression, genuine, of imagination, of passion, of some kind of faith, of hope, and yes, of love.
Woody Guthrie, Janis Joplin, Joe Heaney, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Pete Seeger,... singers of songs all - pouring their art like cool water into thirsting souls. Singing of what was, of what could be, and of what others feel yet do not say.
It is said that all we can speak of in this world is metaphor. It's the image or symbol that draws us and calls us to life, to creativity, to a deeper humanity. If we consider song to be a metaphor in sound then perhaps this metaphoric medicine can indeed help, heal and even save in some ways that go straight to the heart of it all.
As I write these words the night is slipping into the next day and I am listening to Tony Bennet singing with K.D Lang - a love song. It is August 8, one day before the anniversary of the U.S. bombing of Nagasaki and the beginning of the 2008 Olympics in China. Thousands around the world are holding vigils of remembrance and thousands have gathered to celebrate the human spirit in Beijing. On this date in 1945 and three days earlier on August 6 the United States government destroyed hundreds of thousands of human beings and ushered in the atomic age. A death decision. Now we all are in a time when nuclear weapons are poised ready to destroy the entire planet. Another decision to be made. Against such a force what good can a little song do? What good can a simple creative, hope-filled metaphor accomplish?
Whatever our creative calling there is no doubt that " the foolishness of God" is all we've got. Fragile metaphors, simple songs, dreams in the night, celebrations of human spirit...Perhaps our task, everyone's task, is to multiply these seeds of hope and fill this aching world with "the infinite goodness of the human heart". This last phrase" the infinite goodness of the human heart" comes from a man who sang a community into being. His name - Br. Roger of Taize. The community of Taize in France, where thousands gather each year, stands as one clear expression of human hope. It is a decision for life , not death. Like so many other examples around the world it is a stirring of imagination, a beautiful melody of a life-time commitment to peace.

Can a song save the world? Perhaps it is the only thing that ever has.

From California...Singing,
Stefan Andre

3 comments:

Jeff Prillaman said...

Beautiful writing Stefan, thank you. I am not sure that any song can save the world, but I strongly believe that Singing, particularly together, CAN!

I think the wonder and amazement certainly arise when we see unity in the face of so much diversity. Music has that effect for sure. When we raise our voices together and make a joyful noise unto the Lord we are transformed in the moment. The music provides a blessed gift to all it makers and listeners.

SandyCarlson said...

Stefan,
Through metaphor we can become the beauty of our world and be the change. Thank God.

This is a beautiful essay, one I enjoyed reading very much.

I too lived in Ireland. The poets there have always understood the connection between language, life, earth. To my mind, that is the sacred trinity.

God bless, friend.

this wanderer... said...

I think songs save the world a little each time they're sung (depending on the song, of course...)

this one comes to mind when I read your words: "tell me what you know/about God and the world and the human soul/how so much can go wrong/and still there are songs" [sara groves]

and there will always be songs...