The Redemptive Power of Song

Book Discussion

We've discussed how music plays a big role in Alex George's A Good American when we talked about how he described Jette's life as an opera. It's more than that the family just liked music, it was woven into the fabric of their lives. It was what they used to learn about themselves and about life.

"Everyone, it seemed, had his own idea about how the tune went. Faced with a churchful of contradictory opinions, each singer just sang a little bit louder. The result was a catastophe, musically speaking, but by the time the church congregation had stumbled to a messy conclusion (several bars separating the first ones home from the stragglers), every face had lit up. That was finally when I understood what my father and grandfather had known all along. That crowd of tone-deaf cattle farmers showed me what music, however imperfect, can achieve. They taught me the redemptive power of song." Page 249

When I finished the last sentence I've quoted I had to stop for a moment. It made me think of why we sing a funerals, of course, but also the other small ways that music can jolt me out of a funk. I say this as someone who is honestly not very musically inclined. I enjoy music and I appreciate it, but I can't say that I listen to it a lot. I'm far more likely to spend my work day in silence than to have music playing the background. I don't even often listen to it when I exercise. I know, I'm kind of odd that way.

headphones

Image: Fey Ilyas on Flickr

Yet, when I'm feeling down and I need a pick me up, I turn to music. Sometimes its R&B or hip hop and other times it's heavy metal. If I'm feeling a wee bit homesick for my family some twangy country music or some traditional Maritime music can transport me back there since that was played in our house. Yes, it's true. I listen to fiddle music on purpose.

There's also the redemptive power of singing a song loudly and badly. Well, I don't always have to sing loudly but I guarantee I always since badly. Trust me, I sincerely wish I could sing well but it's simply not one of my talents. Sometimes, especially when I'm home alone, there's nothing quite like belting out a song loudly and poorly, just like that church congregation in A Good American. It's usually accompanied by some very bad dancing (unlike the singing, the bad dancing is mostly on purpose).

What song lifts you up on a bad day?

BlogHer Book Club Host Karen Ballum also blogs at Sassymonkey and Sassymonkey Reads.

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