If there is one thing about this technological age that I love with shameless abandon, it is the presence of music in my mundanest moments. There’s an awful lot of gladness to be gotten out of cleaning if you do it while waltzing to Josh Groban’s So She Dances. There’s a secret abandon to be had in twirling round to a lively fiddle on an early morning walk when the neighbors are still asleep. And road trips with music, well sometimes the sky and song seem to meet and make a dance all their own. Music has long been my companion and writing muse. I love all sorts, especially Celtic.
But a few albums have grown to be soundtracks to my life. Their songs are so vivid a part of certain days in my life that to hear them is to live the loves and griefs of those days again. They are companions, and often, teachers that have walked with me through doubt, through moves, through uncertain days. Their melody and poetry were a faithful rhythm to ground me, to keep me strong throughout the different dramas through which I walked. So I thought I’d recommend a couple, just for fun. It’s always delightful to find a new artist, discover a new trove of music. So here are some of mine, and if you have any yourselves, well, let me know!
Fernando Ortega’s Storm is one of the real soundtracks to my life. I first discovered this particular album with my friend Gwen. We listened to him in the autumn, driving down old dirt roads lined with changing leaves and played our favorite bits (the guitar solo in Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silent) over and over again. I rediscovered this album last year on my trip up to PEI and the message of his songs, the woven themes of God as Savior, Redeemer, present in our days, tender toward our yearning, came strongly to me. I would set my prayer book open on the passenger seat, turn on the music and pray. Those long hours of music mixed with autumn hills brought about a renovation of faith in me when I was struggling to live close to God. I still get slightly teary at the song Sing to Jesus; so simple, so poignantly true.
Celtic Visions was the first celtic CD I got, given to me by my brother Nathan on my fifteenth birthday. It’s probably still my favorite. It’s one in a series of three collections of traditional Irish melodies in symphony arrangement. This is my afternoon in the mist with candles and a good book sort of music. I put it on, sit down with my tea and feel mysterious and happy and wistful all at once.
And then, of course, Rich Mullins. I still get sad that I can’t have a talk with him face to face. His music has companioned more phases in my life and probably taught me more than almost anything I can think of. I first heard Songs when I was thirteen, on a winter foray into the southern Colorado mountains. My entire family belted out Sing Your Praise and Awesome God all the way up those narrow, snowy passes. But we all got quiet when Calling Out Your Name came on. We still do. As I grew up, I discovered his other music, especially the Liturgy, Legacy and Ragamuffin Band album. The Color Green is one of my life songs.
And lastly, for now, an album I’ve just discovered in the past year: the soundtrack to The Village. A lovelier, more yearning violin you’ll never hear. It mesmerizes me.
So there you are. Autumn is a good time for music; it’s a pleasure to find a song to heighten the passion of crimson leaves and bring out the mystery in the brooding of a good storm. The first snow is supposedly rolling in over the mountains and I’m away to light the candles and start the music singing…