Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Tuesday Tunes: Kenny Chesney - Boston

I love music so much - and at times it does make me sad that I never took time out to learn how to play guitar. But that's not important now. As a teen, I figured, if I can't grow up to be the musician, might as well be the journalist that writes about the musicians. Little did I know then how life would turn out- I should've never walked away from that childhood dream of mine!

Because I am a writer, I always wondered if I'd be able to write the lyrics to a song. I've tried to write songs, but without rhythm or melody- it's just a bunch of words. Song writing is not like poetry- or journalism- or fiction story writing.
Sometimes, when I'm daydreaming I wonder what a singer would write about if I told them my story. Sometimes, a song feels like it was written for me, have you ever felt that way about any song?

I often joke that Kenny Chesney writes songs about me, and some songs for me. I can sit still and listen to his music. Especially to the sound of his voice as he sings one song after another without getting bored. But I do think when I listen to his songs- sometimes too deeply. He has a way to pull me into the music- and there are times tears will spill out of my eyes. We have lots in common, that Chesney and I. He loves the islands, the beach; and loves to walk around barefoot in the warm sand. He loves rum- he even made a bottle/brand of his own called Blue Chair Bay Rum. Can't wait to try it with pineapples and coconuts.

I hate that I'm missing him in concert in Charlotte this weekend. I also  hate to admit, I've never seen him play live. I've entered many online contests to try to win tickets to no avail., and I've yet to get lucky.

One night, I wondered- if Kenny Chesney were to write a song about me, what would he write? Then- I heard the song Boston. My heart skipped some beats.
Hold up - that song seems to fit me to a T! It's an island song- with soft acoustic guitar. If you know me well, you'll understand why this means a lot to me! The only thing is, I moved to Charlotte, not some warm tropical island, but I can't wait to find myself in a place so warm and real. So here are the lyrics to one (of many) favorite Chesney song!

She comes from Boston
Works at the jewelry store
Down in the harbor
Where the ferries come to shore
She never really knew how good it would feel
To finally find herself in a place so warm and real

She wears a Red Sox cap
To hide her baby dreads
The girl she was in New England
Is different now and dead
In all the local bars
She flirts and tells the boys while they're talkin'
She's from Boston

She comes from Boston
Talks to her family now and then
Through e-mails and postcards
She tries to explain to them
That education and occupation will have to wait for now
She loves the Rasta, reggae rhythms, her dreams have changed somehow

She wears a Red Sox cap
To hide her baby dreads
The girl she was in New England
Is different now and dead
In all the local bars
She flirts and tells the boys while they're talkin'
She's from Boston

Her toes dig deep and deeper in the sand
She's seduced by the sunsets and her new life at hand

She wears a Red Sox cap
To hide her baby dreads
The girl she was in New England
Is different now and dead
In all the local bars
She flirts and tells the boys while they're talkin'
She's from Boston

She wears a Red Sox cap
To hide her baby dreads
From Boston
She came to this island from Boston

Monday, July 01, 2013

Songs of pain, of love and songs of Jesus

I love music, honestly, who doesn't love music? 

As a kid, I wanted to be a singer. As I got older, I realized I didn't have the voice, nor did I have the patience to learn how to play music. It was also hard to learn without a guitar, or a piano in the house. I tried playing the trumpet in fourth grade, that didn't work out right. 
My lack of talent doesn't stop me from loving all sounds of music though. I've loved a plethora of bands ranging from every genre, and generation. Music brings peace to my life and motivates me to feel better, and keeps me moving when I'm running or exercising. It also heals pain. Music has a way to soothe the heart, and calm my fears. It has its way over me, to relax me when I need to relax as much as I need energy. I could write a lot about music, but I won’t do that now. 
On Sunday, I woke up early and turned Pandora on to one of my many favorite stations, 'Sugarland' singing a favorite song, 'Settlin.'  I sang along with her, out-of sync and not caring because these lyrics ring true to my personal life:

"I ain't settlin' for just getting by
I've had enough so so, for the rest of my life
Tired of shooting too low, so raise the bar high 
Just enough ain't enough this time I ain't settlin' for anything less than everything, yeah" 

Singers write songs about life, and often they know it'll a different meaning to each fan that hears the song, but this one is true to single ladies who are happy single, and refuse to just date any guy that tells her she's beautiful, or because he's just 'nice' to us. The song ended and the next one played. It was from the Dixie Chicks. The song, "Not ready to make nice," is old but still means a lot to me for a few reasons. I decided to tweet my thoughts, I wrote (and edited for this blog, since I have room for more than 140 characters). 

"Not ready to make nice" by Dixie Chicks has a very strong meaning to me! Gives me goose bumps when I hear it! Some things are never forgotten!"

Unfortunately, that is true. Forgiveness is important, sounds nice. But forgetting, I don't think I can. As she sang the song, I sang along with her:

"I'm not ready to make nice! I'm not ready to back down! 
I'm still mad as hell and I don't have time to go round and round and round
It's too late to make it right. I probably wouldn't if I could! 
‘Cause I'm mad as hell, can't bring myself to do what it is you think I should!"

There's a lot of truth to that because there are many people in my life who have hurt me, deceived me, and betrayed my trust. I've been lied to; I've been mocked, and I've been rejected. 

I'm sure you have too. 

It doesn't bother me that I’m single, and never experienced marriage but sometimes, but it is hard and expensive to live alone and have the burden of bills all on my shoulders. Single isn't as easy as married couples assume it is. I'm a freelancer, struggling with permanent employment, and more importantly, struggling with trusting anyone with my future. Will things ever change for the better? When? How? All important questions with no easy answers.

At 9:30, it was time for church to start. Once again, I stayed home to watch online. I already knew what the sermon would be about, I watched Saturday's service on the internet. I knew what songs they'd sing, and that prompted me to listen again.

My sister once made a correct observation that my church isn't normal. "It's like a rock concert," she said.

She is right. It does seem like you're at a rock concert when you're there. But that doesn't matter, there is no right or wrong way to worship Jesus when it comes to music. I often wondered, if my Catholic school would've worshiped like we do at Elevation, would I have taken my church more seriously? Probably not. I may not have been as bad as pop culture portrayed in some movies, but I was a rebellious Catholic school girl in uniform and loved rock'n roll.

Pastor Steven Furtick loved rock music when he grew up too, and so I presume that is one reason why the band plays on stage like they would in a rock show. The songs are all about Jesus, make no mistake. My church believes in the power of song, and the power to raise your voice and sing loud, and to allow yourself to feel the presence of God through music. 

Tell you what, it works. It sometimes even brings tears to your eyes. 

Today, I was caught off guard. Even though it hit me later on -like in the middle of the night when I should have been asleep - I realized the message in the songs were directed to me (so it seems). I listen to Elevation Worship on Pandora, as well as few worship bands like ‘Hillsong,’ and ‘Jesus Coulture.’  I've had time to reflect on the worship songs as I wrote this.

 Isreal Houghton, a popular worship singer, song writer and guitar player was a guest playing with the band at church this weekend. One of the first songs they played is called, 'Greater,' a song with a valuable message that means God is greater than anything else in this world. He is greater than our troubles, our fears, our heartaches. He has power over us, if we let Him have it. There is no one else like Him.

Houghton reminded us during the song, that Jesus has such strong power over the enemy that He was risen from the dead. His power over the bad luck in our careers, and those who betray and hurt us. He asked, if we know that, why would we give the power to the enemy and not to Jesus? Note the lyrics to the chorus of the song: 

"You have over-come the world, took the keys from death and hell. 
Joining in Heaven we declare,
 You're Greater!" 

Once again, if we know this, why must we allow ourselves to feel pity for our unfortunate circumstances? If we let the love of God over-power our minds, and our lives, there's no room for the devil to control us. 

Another powerful song that we love to sing at Elevation, originally sung by Jesus Culture  is called  'One thing Remains.'

Choosing to live in Jesus' ways isn't easy. Answers don't come to us so quickly. It's a matter of Faith, and belief that there is something Greater then us. If we don't forgive, it's actually an insult to Jesus. It's easy to forget that, but, Jesus did forgive us for sinning by dying on the cross. 

Is there anyone in your life that you believe loves you like Jesus does? I believe I see that love in my mother's eyes, in her actions, and her guidance. My dad, sister and niece have shown that kind of love to me too. With all the rejection that I've faced - and when the world walks out on me, there's one thing that remains with Jesus - and he proves that to me through my family.

"Your love never fails, never gives up, never runs out me. Because,
on and on an on an on it goes. It overwhelms and satisfies my soul, 
and I never have to be afraid because one thing remains, 
your love fails never gives up never runs out one me. 
In death, and in life, I'm confident, and covered by the power of your great love.
My debt is paid, there's nothing that can separate my heart. Your love never fails!"

You can sing that all day because on and on and on it goes. It's easy to be inspired after hearing the songs. It's easy to get caught up in the show of the worship experience, it's easy to sing the songs every day, all day. But do you believe the meaning of the songs in your heart? I'm sure you do. But do you believe in your actions toward yourself, and your friends, family and co-workers? If we believe it, why do we allow ourselves to remember the rejections, and fear the future? Why do we fear failure?

The final song the band played was one that Pastor wrote with Houghton. The title is 'Grace so Glorious.' The meaning is strong, and we should allow grace to fill our hearts, and minds in times of trial. We should also learn to forgive ourselves for our sins, including the sin to worry, and become anxious, scared, and not trusting others in our lives. The chorus reminds us that Jesus is:

"Crowned in glory to glory worthy is the Lord of all the glory, forever holy is the Lord. 
Triumphant praises without end, all hailing the king of righteousness, 
and every eye beholds the One our hearts were undeserving of with a grace so glorious."

I may not be 'ready to make nice, not ready to back down.' But that's okay, though I can't change the past, and go back in time to make it all right, I can believe that with God, One thing Remains, his love is Greater, and his Grace is Glorious! My future can change for the better at a moments notice. I've decided that 'I ain't settlin'. That it's time to raise the bar high, because I'm tired of shooting so low.
 I think that my God agrees, and He is tired of seeing how I sell myself short and shooting too low.

Today, I will move forward without fear, but with courage.