Prayerful tunes for 2016

A song on my mind lately, “Mercy Seat” by Johnny Cash:

Brooding, humbling, haunting tune.

A prayer tune, even for those of us who aren’t religious.

That which we refer to as Lord, I feel you when I take time to pause and listen to beautiful tunes like this. I feel something anyway. The Power. Whatever it is…

Instead of sharing TMI on here tonight that I’ll just wind up marking private tomorrow, let me continue in this vein and post up other songs that get me praying whether I mean to or not. They just evoke it. Or are at least powerful, humbling songs that return to my mind and spirit over and over again, begging to be patiently listened to.

One that immediately springs to mind and regularly resists being ignored is The Blind Boys of Alabama’s “Getting Better (All the Time)”:

I’m not what I ought to be, but I AM better than I used to be. In some important respects. And that’s something. That’s progress on a personal level, and that is meaningful. If not strive for higher, then what?

Like I said, am a long-time agnostic without interest in adhering to any religious attitudes or logic or doctrines. That’s them, and this is me. People can do as they wish. I just hunt for whatever nuggets I find of value, regardless of what they might’ve been intended for originally. There are some beautiful gospel tunes that I will never tire of, particularly from that band. Amazing artists — that much is a fact. Love them. So many of their songs resonate with my spirit and have for many years now. Just adore The Blind Boys of Alabama.

Another beautiful, mesmerizing tune, Jeff Buckley’s rendition of “Hallelujah”:

Bought that album back in the early 2000s. Very sorrowful but worth meditating on regardless.

Heart-breaking, yes. But that’s okay. It really is okay. Sometimes we need to sit with those sides of Truth too. Appears to be necessary for self-exploration and introspection, at least in my case.

Maybe there’s a God above
But all I’ve ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who outdrew ya
And it’s not a cry that you hear at night
It’s not somebody who’s seen the light
It’s a cold and it’s a broken Hallelujah

Oh God. I feel those lyrics very deeply every time I listen. Cuts to the core.

Yes, that’s what I learned of love too, and it’s wrong. It’s such a harsh way of comprehending loving relations and leads to so much undue pain…

Jeff Buckley’s voice is simply captivating. Stays with a person. The world was blessed to have that man around as long as we did and to receive the fruits of his creativity. We truly were blessed.

Another spell-binding tune by Jeff Buckley, “Corpus Christi Carol”:

Those are a couple painful tunes to take in, so let’s switch gears and head toward an inspiration song from George Harrison, “My Sweet Lord”:

Just love listening to that one. Never tire of it. Represents the mystery of life to me, that which we like to refer to as “God.” It’s a questioning, a seeking, a longing. I doubt any humans are truly immune to it, and those who are I damn-near feel sorry for. It’s an integral part of the human experience, to commune with some sort of higher consciousness so far as we’re individually capable of experiencing it at any given time. It’s all a big question, no certainty. Which presents us with quests to discover, uncover, examine, ponder, grasp at, etc.

Switching back to Johnny Cash tunes, “Hurt”:

Can’t tell you how much I appreciated him covering this Nine Inch Nails tune. Blew the original out of the water over time, good as it was.

Chokes me up every time imagining how hard it was on Johnny existing after June departed. That poor man. He really suffered but wasn’t long to follow. And I understand. Our loved ones can mean the world to us. They can be what it’s ALL about. Nothing matters much without them. Just going through motions. I can sympathize with his plight there, thought can’t imagine what it’s like to be with somebody for that many decades, loving them, and yet having to lose them. I know that man suffered. No question. Though I can appreciate him continuing to do his work on up to the end. But what else could he do? He probably felt the need to stay as busy as possible.

If I could start again
A million miles away
I would keep myself
I would find a way

I know, Johnny. But we thank you anyway for learning what you did the hard way and passing that along in your own unique style to the rest of us. We’re better off for it.

That was another valuable tune from Johnny Cash titled “Ain’t No Grave (Can Hold My Body Down),” particularly appreciating the art project that went into creating that video specifically. Just an amazing artistic compilation there.

Johnny Cash singing “Man in Black”:

Word, Johnny. Word.

A rendition of “One” by Johnny Cash”:

Awesome song. Indisputably so.

“You Are My Sunshine” by Johnny Cash:

Haven’t heard his rendition of that one before tonight, but long adored that song.

Blind Boys of Alabama performing “Amazing Grace”:

This wretch needs saving, that’s all I know. Gonna have to figure this shit out. Very much looking forward to my sabbatical out of here, beginning late next month.

One I haven’t heard before tonight from the Blind Boys of Alabama, “Look Where He Brought Me From”:

Late-hour gospel moment

Because the mood struck me, as it does from time to time. Didn’t grow up listening to these songs, but I took to them as an adult agnostic.

First off, I’ll share what songs I’ve uploaded by The Blind Boys of Alabama, beginning with “Run On (For a Long Time)”:

Next up, their song “Getting Better (All the Time)”:

God, I love that song. Hits me somewhere deep. Wish I could say I’m getting better all the time, but I suppose I am doing better in some ways than I once was.

That song really moves me. “I’m not what I ought to be, but I’m better than I used to be…” Lord, how I do hope that’s true.

The next one is “Nobody Knows the Trouble I See”:

Some asshats down-thumbed that one, for whatever reasons. I assume they’re disgruntled atheists who can’t appreciate either the amazing vocal talents of The Blind Boys of Alabama (who are actually blind btw, and near-anciently old) or the beautiful “Christ of the Abyss” statue I chose as the visual to accompany this mournful melody.

Here’s the song by Ben Harper titled “Where Could I Go (But to the Lord)?”:

Damn. That one messes me all up every time I hear it. What a gorgeous song. Speaks to my spirit.

One that’s been playing in my car again recently, Ben Harper and The Blind Boys of Alabama’s “Satisfied Mind”:

I don’t personally yet have a satisfied mind, but I do love the energy of that song. I imagine the man singing down in the audience there does have a satisfied mind, and that makes me happy for him. He’s worked hard for a long time spreading the word as he understands it, and he’s done an extraordinary job.

Another song I deeply appreciate is Ben Harper’s cover of “Well Well Well” (here performed with The Blind Boys of Alabama, live at The Apollo):

dig a hole in the ground straight down to hell
’til there ain’t no more water in the well, well, well
when you’re down on your knees with nothing left to sell
try diggin a little deeper in the well, well, well
well, well, well

Such a great song.

Here’s the first video I uploaded to my YT channel, the Dixie Hummingbird’s version of “Nobody’s Fault (But Mine)”:

I am quite the cinematographer. ha

Now, here’s The Blind Boys of Alabama’s song “Old Time Religion”:

Another from them I’ve listened to many times over the last several years is “Wade in the Water”:

One that continues to bother me is “Motherless Child” by The Blind Boys of Alabama:

That’s a tough one for me, but I do listen to it occasionally.

“Sometimes I feel like a motherless child a long way from home…” Very true. It’s a feeling I’m coming to terms with being a permanent fixture in my life. Accepting it is necessary, since denial isn’t an option.

I still do love my mother on some level. Can’t help but do so. But for the most part I let her go and keep our current communications to a minimum. It’s better this way, and people on the outside who say otherwise really don’t understand the situation. Some people you need to cut ties with, for your own sanity. I maintain what I’m able, but the trust has long-since been destroyed. People change, sometimes, but not always enough. Love might go on, but relationships may need to be checked. Because some folks are harmful even when they don’t mean to be, and there’s a limit to all of that if one wishes to keep shit on the level. We work with what we’re able.

Lastly, for this evening, The Blind Boys of Alabama’s “People Get Ready”:

Long-time drawn to that song as well.