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I profess not to be any great writer.

These are the ponderings

of a poor man's mind.

  • Nate Barker

SF/AS - Young At Heart

Updated: May 2

Here is May's SF/AS entry. The band, Four Years Strong, has been in my heavy rotation for about 4-5 months now. The topic has been in my heavy rotation for about 40 years now.

If you'd like to know a bit more about why I almost quit this whole endeavor...keep reading.

~ ~ ~

Music is so subjective (understatement of the year). Once, I was so excited about an album that when I loaned it to a friend (back when loaning someone a CD was the only way to share music) I said to him, “Be careful what you say about this. I feel like I’m handing you one of my children.”

To many of us, music isn’t just something playing in the background at work or a signal in our earphones – there is a deep, deep place that it settles to. Like when you get to the bottom of a cup of coco and all the chocolate that didn’t dissolve is there waiting for you. Whether it’s classical or classic rock, EDM or folk, if you’re a Swifty or a Parrot Head – that deep place can be sacred and hidden; a place where you and the music meet to commune.

There are songs that can move me to tears for reasons I just can’t quite explain (which is awkward and dangerous when driving). Likewise, there are songs that demand me to turn the volume knob up to 10 and stomp around playing air guitar. Maybe you know what I’m talking about. Those secret experiences where a song climbs into a backroom of your mind and fellowships with your heart. Maybe it fits the vibe of the day or maybe it just sneaks up on you, bearhugging you from behind. A song is a specter that can haunt your soul.

When I started this journey called Song for a Sunday (SFAS), I thought it would be easy to simply write about a song that moved me, explain the reasons why and hope others would respond with insights of their own. I realize as I start my second entry that the task is harder than I first realized.

As I perused the list of songs that I had chosen, I came up against the same obstacle again and again.

“That one’s too private.”

“That one’s too personal.”

“That one’s too hard to explain.”

Each song was not just attached to some sort of memory – but a movement of heart and head towards…. what exactly? A feeling? A state of being? An epiphany? Whatever it was, I wasn’t sure that it would translate. You can describe a breathtaking sunset, naming the colors and the hues, but can you describe the awe you felt at seeing it without reducing it to cliche and metaphor?

Do descriptions just cheapen an experience, turning it into an exercise in forced catharsis?

Maybe each of us should hold our own song close, like a poker player’s winning hand, and simply nod our understanding to everyone else around the table, knowing that they also think their cards will convince others to fold. Is it enough to know we move through communities where, like a picture, a song is worth a thousand words, perhaps best kept to one’s self?

I was ready to give up on this whole venture, until it dawned on me. The artists who create these songs don’t hide them from the world. In fact, they seem compelled to share them. Like a child who brings their newest finger painting into the kitchen hoping it will get hung on the fridge; an artist creates something private, but longs to show it to the world, hoping it will be accepted for the gift they feel it is. These songs are created out of joy, crushing pain, mistakes and experiences as unique to the songwriter as the song itself. The lyrics and music leap or crawl or claw their way from the persona of the artist and land “out there”, in the void we call the airwaves or music streaming services. A newborn, wet and crying for someone to pick it up, love it for what it is, and adopt it as their own.

So, if an artist can be so vulnerable with their creation, why can’t we as listeners do the same. What stops us from opening our mouths and hearts to profess what has happened to us since we first heard…. that song.

SFAS is my place to do just that. To be vulnerable with the understanding that the art of a song can be picked up, examined, and then shared again through another form of art; namely writing. Hopefully taking this risk will encourage others to tip their hand as well, and as we do, we all learn that the cards we were holding so tightly to our vests are beautiful, each in their own way.

One of the greatest things any of us can experience in life is to truly be heard. The gift of someone listening to us, without interruption, as we spill our guts on the floor – and when it’s over to look up at us and say, “That’s awesome. What beautiful thoughts.” Hopefully, being consoled that our secret didn’t scare them away, we in turn open our hearts a bit more and say, “Thank you. Now you tell me about yourself.”

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