When you stand back and think about it, singing is a pretty weird practice. The mixture of lyrics and melody transmitted by the human voice can have a most profound effect on us, especially if the singer oozes charisma. In this wee blog I want to share a few thoughts on why we’ve all got our favourite singers, and what their role is in our lives.
Before we get started I guess I’d better list my own favourite singing icons, at least the ones that I can remember. Van Morrison, Bobby Dylan, Freddie Mercury, Florence Welsh (fledgling icon), are the minstrels that presently get under my skin. Why? Well I guess they all sing about the inner life in one way or another. Deep resonates with deep and all that. They also aren’t afraid to expose ego, the mask that we wear in our space-time dance. Being a prophetically wired kind of guy I love their courage in addressing issues that modern pop or rock tend to shy away from. In other words they seem to be asking the big questions in life not the secondary ones.
Of course you’ll have your own singing heroes or heroines, yet the one thing that strikes me is that is that none of them appear to have their life ‘all together’. In fact many of them appear to live, or have lived in a permanent state of inner angst. The more angst-ridden, the more profound the song and the performance, the more we are drawn into their inner world.
So what is this urge we have to tap into music and in particular a particular artist? Well, I reckon it’s simply that we are picking up echoes of the Transcendent within the lyrical and melodic mix of their songs. Something deep within us resonates with the mysterious energies being sent in our direction. We are, I reckon, receiving messages from beyond, from the realm of other. In other words, the iconic singers of our age, and indeed every age, each transmit something well beyond their abilities and personalities. Within the heady mix of honest lyrics and musical magic we are coming face to face with an invitation to step out of our ego world and search for Source.
Of course, the filters of religious or philosophical belief will have an effect on who we tune into. In my fiery Christian youth, I loaded up on stacks of Jesus Rock, with Larry Norman being my icon of choice. When Mr Dylan entered his born again phase via the fledgling Vineyard movement I was rapturous. Now I could listen to the greatest singer songwriter in total safety, for Bobby had now found Jesus and salvation. I guess, the paranoia of religious belief made me shy away from the more secular artists, those living the hedonistic life of the rock and roll stars, mixed with occultist overtones.
How wrong I was. The voice of the seeker is often more authentic than that of the lost sheep who claims to be home. This was highlighted to me back in 1986, when I attended my first Van Morrison gig in Belfast. I walked out shocked and somewhat shaken up, for I’d experienced Presence in the most secular of settings. The hairs on my neck had stood up for most of the concert as I was bathed with the most authentic music that I’d previously encountered. The clichés of my old Christian rock faded into obscurity as I tuned into what or Who was touching me through the notoriously grump Ulsterman. From that day I say my singer-songwriters in a different light, often broken human beings who shared their search for meaning and Source via the poetic marriage of word and melody.
The old shamans of ancients religion understood the role of song, the minstrel incantations that reach beyond the conscious mind, leading us inward to the realm of Self and Source. I guess nothing has really changed. The desire transmitted by a singer on fire and in the zone draws us to another world. An opportunity to check out the great Singer Source, the Lord of the Dance and Lover of All.
Happy listening my friends.