Sonny Stitt--"Sonny's Blues" (mp3)
I'm always a little surprised to find myself in church.
Wednesday night was no exception. With very little advance warning, I was kneeling, praying, passing the Peace, having a cross of ash put on my forehead, receiving Communion, singing, reciting, pondering--all of those things you would do during an Ash Wednesday service.
The Lenten season has always intrigued me, regardless of where I am in "my walk with the Lord" in any given year. The idea of giving something up has so many interesting possibilities, and I think almost anyone would be hard pressed to deny that sacrifice leads to self-reflection and possible growth.
If we were honest with ourselves, we would admit that there is a bit of a competition concerning one's Lenten vows. My pal who normally gives up chocolate has given up Coke this year. That gets a big ho-hum. I get the denial of pleasure aspect of giving up chocolate, but don't you want your Lenten vow to draw a gasp of surprise and/or admiration for its sheer scope or audacity? "I'm giving up sex," you might say. "I've just been doing it too much and enjoying it too much." And your friends would gaze at you with a knowing nod that hides their jealousy.
But as I am often a neophyte in all things Christian, the concept of taking something on, rather than giving something up, has only come into my viewfinder in recent years. And, with this blog, and with my feelings about music, "taking something on" seems like the natural and good thing to do this Lenten season.
Why not declare a kind of musical Lent, where I take on the duty of presenting elevating music that brings a listener closer to God? Why, yes, I can try to do that.
And so, I present, for the next (now) 38 days a selection of songs that, in my opinion, aim above the stratosphere in their ambitions, that promote a contemplation of God or larger things, that offer a profound beauty not constrained by traditional forms, that free the mind to ponder.
There was a long pause, while they talked up there in the indigo light and after awhile I saw the girl put a Scotch and milk on top of the piano for Sonny. He didn't seem to notice it, but just before they started playing again, he sipped from it and looked toward me, and nodded. Then he put it back on top of the piano. For me, then, as they began to play again, it glowed and shook above my brother's head like the very cup of trembling.
i was dressed for success
but success it never comes
and i'm the only one who laughs
at your jokes when they are so bad
and your jokes are always bad
but they're not as bad as this
come join us in a prayer
we'll be waiting waiting where
everything's ending here