Thursday, February 11, 2010

Lyrics to Live By?

For me, it started with the Beatles.

She loves you, yeah, yeah, yeah.

Hey, Jude, don’t make it bad. Take a sad song and make it better.
Remember to let her into your heart
Then you can start to make it better.

I should’ve been reading the Bible. I didn’t. Should’ve been memorizing my GA verses. I wouldn’t. But oh, how I could learn those “long hairs’” song lyrics!

Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away
Now it looks as though they’re here to stay
Oh, I believe in yesterday.

The Liverpool boys grabbed my attention, then were edged out by Paul Revere and the Raiders and the Byrds and Dillon and Peter, Paul and Mary and the Stones and the Who and Deep Purple and dozens and dozens more. No particular rhyme. No particular reason. Just tunes and lyrics that grabbed hold of my rebellious teenage heart, my searching teenaged soul, my conflicted teenaged mind.

Some songs lent me hope.

To everything, turn, turn, turn, there is a season, turn, turn, turn.

Some expressed angst that grew like a cancer in my soul.

Oh, who’s to blame, that girl’s just insane, well, nothin’ I do don’t seem to work, it only seems to make matters worse…

Some echoed things life was teaching me.

It’s got to be the goin’, not the getting’ there, that’s good.

Monday, Monday, can’t trust that day. Monday, Monday, sometimes it just turns out that way.

You know, kicks just keep gettin’ harder to find.

They were harder to find, you know, those kicks. Thankfully God pulled me into His loving arms and set aflame the flickering candle of faith. Set aflame a desire to read His Word. Oh, how I enjoy Him.

Enjoy Him. For He is good, and His love endures forever (Lyrics by Josh Innerst, “Enjoy Him).

Yet those secular lyrics play on my old 33 hi-fi of a mind, sometimes when I least expect them. Not lyrics to live by, like the Bible. But words that echo the need for application of God's principles. Words that can teach. Inspire. Point to...The Word.

"It is my own belief (and here I shall not feel bad if no one follows me) that every good and beautiful thing which man has produced in the world has been the result of his faulty and sin-blocked response to the creative Voice sounding over the earth" (A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God).

Do secular lyrics—pop, rap, country, rock, reggae, hip-hop, opera, nursery rhyme, jazz, blues, soul, acid, alternative, heavy metal, multicultural, folk, punk, ska, ballad, barbershop, bluegrass, protest, funk, calypso, Celtic, disco, easy listening, elevator music—have a place in your life? Your memory?

Do you see truisms in these lyrics? Share a favorite line or two!


  1. Of course not all music, secular or even some produced for the Christian market, is all good. But God is the Creator and imbues us with creativity.

    Whether an artist acknowledges God or not, I believe God can use anyone and anything to his glory. Including pop music!

    I think pop music has brought us some of the best, most profound writing in the last half-century. Thanks, Patti, for bringing back some of my favourite lines from some amazing songs.

  2. Great post, Patti. Yep I definitely have all kinds of music rolling around in my head. My tastes are... eclectic. I can't even quantify what makes some things resonate with me, but they do. I suspect it has a lot to do with how the song makes me feel. One day I want to learn the trick that makes my writing touch people on an emotional level just as easily as music does.

  3. What I see is that none of them believed in good things--always blue about something.

    Love, Love me true,
    You know I love you
    I'll always love you,
    So please, love me too.

  4. First of all, Patti, you get a 100% amen from me on the A.W. Tozer quote.

    I think there is much beauty still to be found in secular art. The beauty of humanity created in God's image, as well as that deep longing for something more that we share.

    I heard a quote once. I don't remember who said it, but it was basically this, "Music is the cocoon that teenagers shroud themselves in." I think that's so true.

    My favorite secular music is usually of the alternative variety: U2, Depeche Mode, R.E.M., Red Hot Chili Peppers. Today I've traded all but U2 in for Red, Skillet, Flylead, Barlow Girl, etc... I love poetic lyrics and haunting sounds in music. Red's "End of Silence" is currently my top favorite album. I want to use it for the soundtrack when they make a movie out of my first novel, Dance of the Dandelion.

    Big dreams, huh. Maybe I'm still one of those teenagers cocooning myself in music.

  5. Wenda and Lisa, glad you connect like I do with some secular lyrics. Had you heard Tozer's quote before? I keep going back to that one!

    Linda, interesting take! For some reason, poignant, angst-filled secular lyrics usually grab me. But then there's Joy to the world, all the boys and girls, joy to the fishes in the deep blue sea. Joy to you and me! Yeah, it's that Jeremiah bullfrog song.


  6. Music naturally stirs the soul. People are pulled in by strong words and lyrical phrases. That's probably why music provokes people to be artistic, creative.

    Great post!

  7. Feel free to skip this, but here's the theme song for my novel. "Pieces" by heavy metal Christian band Red.

    I'm here again
    A thousand miles away from you
    A broken mess, just scattered pieces of who I am
    I tried so hard
    Thought I could do this on my own
    I've lost so much along the way

    Then I'll see your face
    I know I'm finally yours
    I find everything I thought I lost before
    You call my name
    I come to you in pieces
    So you can make me whole

    I've come undone
    But you make sense of who I am
    Like puzzle pieces in your eye

    Then I'll see your face
    I know I'm finally yours
    I find everything I thought I lost before
    You call my name
    I come to you in pieces
    So you can make me whole!

    I tried so hard! So hard!
    I tried so hard!

    Then I'll see your face
    I know I'm finally yours
    I find everything I thought I lost before
    You call my name
    I come to you in pieces
    So you can make me whole
    So you can make me whole

  8. I love music and enjoy finding GOD in secular music. I suppose I see it as a bit of a challenge.

    PS: Sitka has an award at All Gods Creatures.

  9. Last week I was chatting with a youth girl about a relationship issue she was having with a guy friend. Earlier in the day I'd heard Taylor Swift's song "15."

    What we think is sooooo important when we're 15, isn't gonna mean anything to use when we're 25...35...45....

    Can you remember what guy you were crushin' on in 10th grade? Let's see, I was a sophomore so I think it was some guy on the football team whose name I can't even remember. Fortunately I got over him fast and started crushing on a guy on the wrestling team whose name I can't even remember either.

    In my 39-yr-old perspective, those guys weren't worth the wasted emotions. But when you're 15, it's hard to belive that.

  10. Dina, LOVE your post! Will definitely check out Red on

    Each month I try to purchase one CD and am going to pick up one TODAY by Firefight. Also have DecembeRadio and Corinne Bailey Rae on my radar.

    Tamika, glad to have you visit!!

    Andrea, is Sitka a group? No worries, I will go check it out!!!

    Gina, that song reminds me of Sandra Cisneros' short story, "Eleven." Great witnessing tool, really!!!

    Don't y'all know I am supposed to be working on my Bible study and research??!!! It's all y'alls fault!!!!

  11. I truly believe that God works through all people, whether they accept or not that there is a higher power. That the creative spirit is the Holy Spirit. That said, you can hear God's messages in all kinds of music (and art forms). Turn, turn, turn is part of scripture. I think Simon & Garfunkel were religious. And, maybe it's just our interpretation. Bridge Over Troubled Water is God talking to me...sail on silver girl. Your time has come to shine.

    Thanks for helping us think about music and how it inspires.

  12. Patti:
    Since I came out of the womb singing, I connect with music on a deep level. This is why I daren't have music in the background as I write--soon I'll be singing along, and never finish my ms.!

    Pure love songs have their place, but so many are full of lust and unmet expectations. But I do have a favorite, from my #1 play of all time: Man of LaMancha. The song is Dulcinea, and my DH sang it to me at our wedding, 35 years ago this Sunday, Valentine's Day:

    "I have dreamed thee too long,
    Never seen thee nor touched thee but known thee with all of my heart;
    Half a prayer, half a song,
    Thou hast always been with me
    Though we have been always apart,
    Dulcinea(sweet one)
    I see Heaven when I see thee,

    Thanks for reminding me, Dear Sweet Friend.

  13. MARY!!!!! I had never understood those lyrics in the song and I SOOOO grateful to you!!! Just Googled up the lyrics!!! Beautiful post!!

    You too, Jeanette! I should've expected YOU to introduce me to such a MARVELOUS new song.

    Oh, what a FUNNNN day!!!

  14. I'm an "all kinds of music" kind of girl and songs definitely stick in my head! They are the soundtrack to my life and when I hear certain songs--be they secular or Christian--I remember another me and I am reminded again of all that the Lord has done in my life through the years.

  15. Music is the soundtrack of our lives. (oops D'Ann just said that as I was writing mine - great minds and all..) If I cast aside all the secular music and lyrics that are in my head, I'd have a big empty place and lose an awful lot of great memories. I listen to Christian radio because it fortifies me and touches me, but I love to put on a secular CD while I'm traveling or housecleaning and sing out loud.

    I love music from the forties on up, so there's a lot of notes flying around in my memory.

    Probably the least edifying song I can think of right now is "Love the One You're With"....
    Hey, it was the seventies, man.

  16. Here's a song you might recognize, Patti. This was sung by the woman, who I would most want to sing like.
    Seriously. Gladys Knight.
    I've had my share,
    Of life’s up and downs,
    but fates been kind,
    the downs have been few,

    I guess you could say,
    I've been lucky
    Or I guess you could say,
    That it's all because of you.

    If anyone, should ever write my life story,
    for whatever reason there might be,
    you'd be there,
    between each line of pain and glory,
    ‘cause you’re the best thing that ever happened to me,
    Oh you’re the best thing that ever happened to me.

    Who's to say that's secular? Sounds like a Christian song to me.

  17. Great post, Patti! Great quote by Tozer. Loved it.

    I'm an eclectic-music gal, too. Can't keep the stereo off for long in our house.

    It's not my story, but a step in my husband's conversion journey came about because of a line in "Free Will" by Rush. Not a Christian band, not a Christian song, but there was truth in it: "If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice."

    God used the song to prod my husband into making a choice one way or another for Him. I love how God can use anything and everything to reach out to us!

    I'm still laughing at Deb's less-than-edifying song choice. "Love the One You're With." Sometimes doncha wonder how songs can survive? Like "Afternoon Delight?"

  18. Oh there are so many lyrics that speak to me, I couldn't begin to choose. Music is such a universal language, speaking to all of us in our own unique way, letting us find whatever we need within it. As an artform, how cool is that?

  19. I think it would be sad if, as believers, we disregarded everything that wasn't blatantly "Christian" as if it was of no value. Good post.

  20. Sometimes God brings to mind a line from a song, especially when I'm dealing with a spiritual battle, everything from Veggie Tales lyrics to Pat Benatar's "Hit Me With Your Best Shot" and Twisted Sister's "We're Not Gonna Take It." LOL. Such variety in my "songs of deliverance."
    I had to laugh over your list of faves... those were my growing up bands. I saw Peter, Paul & Mary in concert at Red Rocks. I think I was 9 or 10. "Puff the Magic Dragon" and "I'm Being Eaten By a Boa Constrictor" are on my faux-pod.

  21. I never thought along these lines before. Leave it to Patti to make me think! :)

    Yes, secular music from years ago brings up memories and can place me in a particular situation. Thanks for sharing this!

  22. Debra and D'Ann, glad y'all are on board here!

    Grannnnnyyyy! That's one of my Oldie oldies that I would "belt out" (right) when love puffed out my heart! Thanks for carrying me way back! My cousin and I did a lip sync to "Midnight Train to Georgia" long b/f they called it that!!! We actually did a performance, using a cassette player!!!

    Susanne, great sharing! There's some truth in Afternoon Delight, but I'm thinking my cup of Oikos yogurt and my organic black tea sweetened with candied ginger!!! LOL.

  23. Good post, Patti. I remember the first LP album I bought - Bobby Sherman - and the first 45 - Signs by the 5 Man Electrical Band. I believe I was 14 at the time. Since then, music has been a constant companion.

    Well, until now. Now that I'm back to writing, I don't like to listen any music during the day or even while I'm driving because I'm too busy plotting. I've found that when I don't have it on, I'll wake up with the previous Sunday's worship song on my mind and it stays with me throughout the day. I like that.

    But I still have all my records - yes including my Bobby Sherman. :)

    And I remember going on a Junior Leadership course in the CAF when they took us for a canoe trip. Canoing through the prairies isn't exactly a thrill a minute. About the only excitement was when we had to detour around rocks or other debris in the river and of course the rapids. And the portages. But each day while out of the river, I'd break into a song albeit off-key. I think the first one was 'There's a Rock, there's a Rock, there's a rock, rock, rock.' or something inane like that. The next day I sang, 'Sha-na-na-na' and the guys joined in. Then the 3rd day, my sargeant yells out, 'Hey Draper, what's the song for today.' Off the top of my head I belted out, 'We are the Champions'. On Thurs, they were asking me the song before we even climbed into our canoes. For some reason, Bill Murray's chant from Meatballs (1970) 'It just doesn't matter' popped out and they liked that. Then on Friday being the last day, we floated down the river to 'We're Not Going to Take it'. Anyway, the gist of it is, I got a really good report for keeping up the morale of the troops. Never mind that because of arthritis they had to help me out of the canoe after a 5 hr leg, they still rated me high because of my off-key singing. Now isn't life just like that.

    I believe good music has its time and place and a wise person knows when and where that is. :)

  24. Patti, great post! I listen to secular music as well as Christian music - I like background music when I'm writing. God can use all different kinds of music for His purposes - just as there are Christian writers published in the general market, there are Christian artists producing mainstream music. Guy Sebastian comes to mind - he's a Christian who won our first season of Australian Idol and has had success in the secular music world. I'll never forget watching him sing 'Climb Every Mountain' (from The Sound of Music) during Australian Idol (the click may be on utube?) - it was a spiritual experience :-)

  25. Yes! I listen for truth in secular lyrics. I think there's so much in them--whether it's a sense on the pulse of our contemporary culture or insight into a particular mindset. Some even point to Christ!

    My WIP right now has a character based on a Billy Joel song. Funny story--I heard it randomly on the radio yesterday for the first time in months. I never listen to this station or Billy Joel. But I love this song. It's mood/tone/lyrics are a huge source of inspiration!

  26. Anita, girl, can you ever WRITE!! What a story!!! Meatball, huh?

    Oh, Narelle, my Sarah would jump up on a picnic table at our summer spot and sing all the songs in "Sound of Music." She said something like, "frog every stream," not knowing what a "ford" was!!! I will definitely check this one out! (I also use music BIG-TIME to get the rhythm in my WIP.)

    Kristen, great point! Which song?? I'm curious. I like his "Honesty." "Ho-nesty, is such a lonely word. Everyone is so untrue. Honesty is hardly ever heard. But mostly what I need in you."

    This is sooooo much fun you will HAVE to visit MY blog later tonight and this weekend.

    I'm sharing our secret Lacy song lyric game!!!

  27. Hi Patti -

    I love the old musicals like Oklahoma, Sound of Music, and The King and I. At odd moments, I'll find myself humming or outright singing a song from one of them. Many of them inspire me or express what I'm feeling.

    Susan :)

  28. Joann, I totally agree about the universality of music but wouldn't have thought to put it like that--transcends cultures!!

    Cindy--like your post--and your blog name. Just may stop by later!!

    Nikki, eclectic wouldn't even BEGIN to describe your choice of lyrics!

    Okay, Susan. One morning, why don't you burst out your front door, throw out your arms, and belt, "OOOOOOOOOk-la-ho-ma, where the..." Take over! Now! My dog is howling!!!


  29. I definitely love music, but I've never been able to memorize lyrics. I guess because I'm not an audio learner? My husband teases me when I sing words wrong, words I thought for ten years were right.

    I do think there's a place for secular music, but I also think we should be careful. Pink is one of my favorite artists and I think it's because many of her songs are so ruthlessly, achingly honest. They're harsh sometimes. Most of the time this music speaks to me but it also reminds me that I'm not in that place anymore.
    But sometimes...sometimes the honest music isn't as honest as we think. And sometimes I think that being real is not the same as True. Music is awesome though. Great post and great questions Patti!

  30. Jessica, you are so right about being careful. Pink huh? There's a blog I love named Pink, but didn't know about the singer. However, I will check her out. I loved what you said about the difference between "real" and true. In fact, I will ponder that thought as I read my Bible and Oswald Chambers...

  31. Patti, this was such a fun post. I'm kind of glad I had to work all day and then take a test after work. That way I could read all the comments. Great comments everyone! I am in such total agreement with D'Ann and Deb that music is the soundtrack of my life. I love so many different types of music. Christian contemporary praise and worship is my absolute favorite because it keeps me connected to Christ. But I can't help but love Billy Joel, Jimmy Buffet, and yes...Rod Stewart. And there are so many times when I'll hear a song that takes me right back to those angst-filled teenage years that Gina talked about. Love Will Keep Us Together is one such song.

  32. Suzie, thanks for closing out a great day!
    Gulp. I should've given away an oldie goldie CD or something. Maybe next time!



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