Editor’s note: This is a post about projecting our own experiences, troubles, and musings on prose of all kinds, and how it relates to my times of spiritual renaissance.
With each breath the wheat stalks seemed to blur into golden oceans begging for navigation. Though I have sailed true blue water, these golden waves of grain could not be traversed by wind, but by will. My breathing and straining formed the cadence. My mind drifted in and out of the large and small problems of me.
The Chipman Trail connects Moscow, Idaho with Pullman, Washington—two university towns in the agriculture-rich Palouse region. Chipman is a smoothly paved pathway for bicycles and runners traveling between the towns, running parallel to the highway. Despite traffic nearby, the grain, barns, bridges, and animals give a uniquely American impression: that space is wide-open, and nature can still seem unlimited.
I rode my bicycle all through college out of physical and spiritual necessity. After being hit by a car one night, and having to replace my old bike (that anecdote is for another time, perhaps), my new, orange Trek mountain bike became one of my most valuable possessions. I rode to class, and to work. But I also rode to clear my head, and work through all the stirrings in my mind and soul. I often listened to varied types of music on these rides, juxtaposing thoughts of C.S. Lewis to the acoustic B-sides of Dave Matthews; or the prose of Sirach with downtempo electronic music.
It was during a ride on the Chipman trail, during a period of intense introspection, that I began even more closely listening to the lyrics of the music pumping into my headphones as I pumped along through those golden fields. I began to see depth in music that isn’t, perhaps, known for depth. This happened particularly with techno, or „Anthem Trance“ in the correct musical designation.
Take one terribly simple musical phrase from „Follow You“ by Lasgo:
I wanna be with you
I wanna follow you
I wanna be with you wherever you may go
The sentiments are incredibly simple, but in a certain frame of mind they strike me as common sentiments in Christian music, or scripture. The disciple wishes to follow the Lord, the path, just as the Lord calls on people to follow him.
Am I projecting my religious or spiritual experience onto ultra-simplified, and perhaps shallow, lyrics? Probably. But let’s continue, because I am now in a renewed time of introspection and I have noticed the same grasp at depth or spiritual meaning.
An old building in Moscow.
This from „Gib Dich Frei“ by Laith al-Deen:
Gib die frei, lass dich los.
Und trau mir ein Stück zu. Denn es ist garnicht mal so schwer.
Oh, gib die frei. Es ist okay.
Ich mach es für dich leicht. Denn es ist garnicht mal so schwer.
Jetzt nicht mehr.
Release yourself, let yourself go.
And trust me a bit. Because it is not so hard.
Oh release yourself. It is okay.
I make it easy for you. Because it is not so hard.
Now, no longer.
As with many songs, this could be read as a love song—a man telling a woman to drop her inhibitions and trust the budding romance. It can also be a reference to the bible:
Matthew 6:35: “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes?”
The same can be said for „Wo willst Du hin?“ by Xavier Naidoo:
Wo willst du hin?
Denn es macht jetzt keinen Sinn
ich halt dich fest
such dich nord, ost, süd, und west
um dich anzuflehn
Where do you want to go?
Because it doesn’t make sense to walk away.
I hold on to you.
I’ll look for you north, east, south and west, to beg you.
There is no passage in which Jesus would beg, so this, as all of these examples are not, and cannot, be one-to-one parallels. But maybe here there is a sense of Luke 15:4: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Does he not leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it?“
The sentiment expressed here is one of being cared for, cared about, and ultimately safe even when one is vulnerable to wolves.
We all interpret music, or any type of prose, differently depending on our own experiences, education, and credo. That is the beauty of art, I suppose, that we all take away something from it related to our being. And I suppose the fact I easily relate even the simplest of lyrics to my years of religious education is a win for my implementing lessons-learned.
I hope at the end of this phase of introspection, and connecting song lyrics to wisdom, I will emerge as evolved and confident as I did years ago, after the Chipman Trail was long behind me.