I was reading Miroslav Volf's Exclusion and Embrace this week and had to go back and listen to Coldplay's "Death and all of his Friends". Not only was I listening to it the first time I read the book, but it captures the sentiment of the book as well. Other instances of the synchronicity of music to event that come to mind:
- U2's Boy and C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia (the books people, the books). Magical and meant for each other.
- Led Zeppelin's "Kashmir" and driving around at night with friends in high school, having the world begin open up in front of me---startlingly unsettling and wild.
- Switchfoot's "Dare you to Move" and my frightening first days stepping up to pastor a congregation.
- The Walkmen's You and Me and the simultaneously stressful thrills of coping with the arrival of twins and applying to do a PhD. This song in particular reminds me of the drive to and from the GRE exam.
- The National's "Fake Empire" and the election of Obama. The song was played at the televised party moments before he came out to accept the Presidency. Was enjoying the album at that time anyway, but the connection of that moment and that song has seared itself in my consciousness. The video, poignant in its simplicity, drives that home even more:
There are countless more, some with more "staying power" than others, I'm sure. Any standouts for you?Sometimes music is referred to as timeless, but I think it more accurate that the best music is like a piece of eternity breaking through in the present expression of things---thus just right in its time, even if it talks about what's wrong. And as such it remains relevant and special to other times as well. Brings the past forward but isn't bound to it either.
Lots of music is timeless in the worst sense---so scratching the fickle itch of the moment that it brings nothing and captures nothing; is not even real to its own time. It is a leech. It uses the moment. It is cheap candy or Burger King. Might taste good but you are hungry again soon. It may remind us of past times, but not in a rich and vibrant way--more like the empty echo of a forgotten spoon clattering down to the bottom of a bottomless sink.
I am reading a lot about time as a theological category these days. I don't like the idea of timelessness. Time is a gift of eternity. Timelessness might just be hell.
And then there is this: