A lost song found again...

There are three or four songs that I once loved and then lost. They seem to be quiet tunes with a gentle message of hope that got lost in the hustle of growing up, raising a family and all the rest. Recently, however, I've been finding their power and beauty again as they nourish my soul and remain strangely relevant. Curiously, I find that same thing happening with parts of scripture, too.

One such lost but found song is Elton John's cover of "Love Song" that was written by Lesley Duncan and appeared on his 1970 "Tumbleweed Connection" album.

His version is more wistful than Duncan's - more unresolved and open-ended, too - and nothing like his Liberace act of later years. There is a serenity to this song the makes me think of the Serenity Prayer:

God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
Taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
Trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
Forever in the next.

Last night, after a great band practice and planning for ways to share our music and spirituality work, I found myself thinking about another of those lost songs: "From the Cradle to the Grave" the 1973 masterpiece by Leo Koetke on his "Greenhouse" album.

This has been one of those songs - rather like Joni Mitchell's "Marcie" - that reappears in my heart from time to time with it's sad hopefulness and tender lament. In one way it is a weary and heart-breaking song - it sounds much like the wizened old preacher of Ecclesiastes noting that there "is nothing new at all under the sun" - but curiously the music rescues the singer from despair. The guitar riffs and drive are so lively and filled with soul that even when Koetke says "the thought of living scares me half to death" it is clear that there is more going on than giving up. Fascinating...

And then there is Yusuf Islam's "Peace Train" and "Where Do the Children Play" which only seem to grow in stature as the years go by. From an immigrant kitchen worker in his father's London restaurant, his rise to 60s/70s pop singer and the near drowning experience that led to a conversion to Islam in 1977 (with an intentional retreat from public life for almost 20 years)Yusuf's reworking of his old songs - and these two come from 1971 - add gravitas, humility and urgency in ways that eluded his younger incarnation.

In this version of "Peace Train" with a South African back-up band a la Paul Simon/Lady Smith Black Mambazo, the song becomes the prayer it always wanted to be. What's more, I find Yusuf to be an ambassador of hope and healing in these strange times.

Today I return thanks to God for lost songs that have been found again.


Cosmo said…
Really liked the Elton John track. I've not come across that before. Worth listening to again...
RJ said…
Thanks, my friend. Very different for him, yes? Hope all is well.

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