Thursday, August 27, 2009

Glory, Glory / Hallelujah

I'm not a religious person. Never had much use for it, because I always seen the world as being between heaven or hell. God don't have no place here, and neither does the devil. They both just old ghosts. You can worship them, and you can conjure them, but in the end they're just a superstition...

And that I am, superstitious, certainly curious enough to reckon there's more out there than I can or ever will understand. Maybe not meant to, but maybe I don't want to either.

That's exactly it. I'm not religious, but I am superstitious. I don't believe in God, but I do believe in something. Whatever it is that brushed up against me in the night, a silent passenger in my passenger's seat through the mountains, la llorona y kookooey my nanny spoke of, or the voices coming down my old high school's science court after that teacher died.

I do believe in something. And I'll never know why.

It draws me to the songs of faith: gospel, choir, hymn, and others. I find beauty in the hopeless hope of all true believers, giving up their fate to ambiguous powers, praying for redemption, salvation and protection. The music reminds me of a time when men feared what they did not understand, and by that fear they learned to respect their uncertainty, instead of hate it as they do now. Yet, at the same time, the music holds promises of love and hope, that we have come so far to erase the contempt from our hearts for those we see as different. These songs speak of our humanity commonality. The equal parts nostalgia and optimism appeal to my idealistic sensibilities and hopeless romanticism.

My top five "religious songs"

5. Hallelujah, by Leonard Cohen, performed by Rufus Wainright

4. Glory, Glory, by black Americans, performed by the North Mississippi Allstars

3. Battle Hymn of the Republic, by Julia Ward Howe, performed by Eef Barzelay

2. Precious Lord, by Rev. Thomas A. Dorsey, performed by the Preservation Hall Jazz Band

1. Amazing Grace, by John Newton, performed by Judy Collins and the choir

7 footnotes:

American Black Chick in London said...

I grew up in a religious family and remember all of these songs quite well. But even before I was old enough to have a good understanding of what the songs meant, I think I enjoyed them because of the sense of hope that flows from the music and the words. And your list is a definite Gospel music win! Great choices...I'm especially fond of Glory, Glory and Rufus Wainwright's version of Hallelujah and Amazing Grace, although I firmly believe you haven't heard Amazing Grace until you've heard it on bagpipes:

OK the Amazing Grace on bagpipes thing could just be me...

Zek J Evets said...

@abcil: bagpipes?

haha! bagpipes?

wow. i actually listened to the clip, and i have to say... it scared me a little. is it just me or does the bagpipe sound like the death-rattle of ten thousand mortally wounded kittens crying out to a cold cruel world for a saucer of milk before they perish...

or maybe that's just me.

thanks though! glad you enjoyed my list.

Sarah Alaoui said...

i have tons of old slave hymns/field songs on my ipod--they're so beautiful.

Zek J Evets said...

@sarah: well?

share us some tunes! wanna expand my collection.

Sarah Alaoui said...

swing low sweet chariot, of course

I'm troubled in mind


Change Gon' Come (not sure that this is a field song)

Marchin' round Selma

American Black Chick in London said...

@ Sarah - Great picks! Especially Swing Low Sweet Chariot and Change Gon Come...the Sam Cooke and Gavin Degraw versions are the best I've heard.

Sarah Alaoui said...

American Black chick--I checked out the one by Gavin Degraw but Otis Redding's is still my a bsolute fave.

also, beyonce has a beautiful version of swing low sweet chariot

such inspirational music : )