Posted by: smstrouse | October 29, 2016

My Back Pages

images-1Bob Dylan has finally announced that he will accept the Nobel Prize for literature. Maybe it should also be an acknowledgment of the spirituality of his music. Before “spiritual but not religious” became a thing, Dylan said,
Here’s the thing with me and the religious thing. This is the flat-out truth: I find the religiosity and philosophy in the music. I don’t find it anywhere else. Songs like “Let Me Rest on a Peaceful Mountain” or “I Saw the Light”—that’s my religion. I don’t adhere to rabbis, preachers, evangelists, all of that. I’ve learned more from the songs than I’ve learned from any of this kind of entity. The songs are my lexicon. I believe the songs.

I can be as left-brained, systematically theological as can be. But oftentimes it is the poetry of artists like Dylan that speaks to my soul. “Blowin’ in the Wind” was not just a political anthem for my generation; it was a profession of spiritual belief.

But Dylan isn’t the only artist who does this for me. Iris Dement’s “Let the Mystery Be” is a fine anthem, although I am partial to the version by 10,000 Maniacs and David Byrne.

Then there are the songs that were written purely as secular songs, but I have derived much spiritual meaning from them. For example, Aaron Neville and Linda Ronstadt’s duet,  I Don’t Know Much But I Know I Love You, Michael Bolton’s (I know, but listen to the lyrics) When I’m Back on My Feet Again, Bruce Springsteen’s Hungry Heart, and The Beatles’ In My Life.

There are lots more. Leonard Cohen lyrics are trying to get a word in here. Peter, Paul, and Mary, Joan Baez, and so many others fill my back pages.

I’m sure there are many contemporary songs that tap into that spiritual space. I’d love to hear your favorites.



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