Wednesday morning at Body Pump (a group weight lifting class that focuses on small weights but lots of reps, designed for overall body fitness rather than increasing muscle mass (and we all know more mass is not anything I need), and which, at least the class I go to, is taught by my lovely wife Cyndi at Hero’s Gym) we worked out to legendary music. I am referring to the song “American Woman.” My relationship to that song goes all the way back to the original release by The Guess Who in 1970. When I was a freshman at Kermit High School, an upperclassman friend used to give me a ride home from school in his powder blue Ford Mustang. Being the youngest the car, I always sat in the back seat behind my friends. They loved an 8-track by The Guess Who, and it always seemed to be playing American Woman at the time when they dropped me off at my home on Shannon Drive. It was loud. The entire neighborhood could hear the music as I climbed out of the car. I remember the pained expression on my mom’s face as she wondered what was happening to her little boy now that he was in high school and hanging out with those guys.
I’ve loved that song ever since then.
But Wednesday morning we worked out to Lenny Kravitz’s cover of the song, which is an excellent recording in itself, and the pained expression this time was my own while trying doing endless bicep curls. Lenny seemed incapable of saying “Bye bye” to his girl quickly. We all suffered because of his slowness.
And if that wasn’t enough, Cyndi lead our stretching and cool down with the song, “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends” as sung by Joe Cocker, which tops my list of songs by the Beatles but the cover version is significantly better than the original. When Joe Cocker sings, he really wants your help. He even screamed at the appropriate time during a hip flexor stretch. This song went on and on, too, but Cyndi cut it off since the class was over and everyone (at least the few grownups who stayed for stretching) wanted to put up their equipment and go home. It made me sad, though, because, well, it was Joe Cocker. How could she cut him off?
At a recent men’s retreat, one of the speakers was my friend Rabon Bewley, king of music at Midland College and the most fun guy to talk with music with. He played several pieces of music to illustrate how they mold our thoughts and emotions, even our hopes and dreams. And then, rather than asking the question, what is the heartbeat of this song, Rabon asked, what is the song of your heartbeat? What music illustrates where your heart resides? He asked us to list the characteristics of our heart, and then find a song that told the story of those qualities.
My first reaction was the same song that’s always my first answer when the question is about music, “It’s Too Late To Turn Back Now” by The Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose. It’s been on my list of top five favorite songs since I first heard it in the summer of 1972. “It's too late to turn back now; I believe, I believe, I believe, I'm fallin' in love.”
But following Rabon’s instructions, I made a list of the characteristics of my heart: hope, belief in the future, optimistic to a fault, a light touch. Then I looked through the playlists on my phone and immediately landed on another song that told the story of my heart better than I’ve been able to tell it in 800 blog entries and three books. The song is “Life Less Ordinary” by Carbon Leaf.
“Live a life less ordinary, Live a life extraordinary with me. Live a life less sedentary, Live a life evolutionary with me.” These lyrics are an invitation to live an extraordinary life together. Perfect.
Music is an amazing force-multiplier. It’s no accident that that longest and richest book in the Bible is a collection of songs. God speaks directly into our hearts through the music that surrounds us, even when we are doing endless bicep curls to rock and roll.
Amy Grant wrote and sang, “It's not a song till it touches your heart; It's not a song till it tears you apart; After what's left of what's right and what's wrong, till it gets through to you, it's not a song.”
What about you? As Rabon asked, “What is the music of your heart? What is the song where your heart resides?”
“I run in the path of Your commands, for You have set my heart free.” Psalm 119:32
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