Another way in which God sustained and met me was through the folk rock music of my adolescence, with help from: Peter, Paul & Mary, Cat Stevens, Donovan, Neil Young, Crosby-Stills-Nash & Young, Simon & Garfunkel, James Taylor, Judy Collins, Joni Mitchell, John Denver, Carole King, Joan Baez, The Beatles, The Loving spoonful and The Byrds. Just to name a few.
Even as a five year old I was moved by the famous song, Puff the Magic Dragon. I distinctly remember crying in the car as we listened to it on the radio. This music really grabbed me though when I got into those tricky years.The harshness of becoming an adolescent in a broken home in the late 60s and early 70s was softened by much of the great folk rock music which came out in those days. My childhood was cut short by divorce and other traumatic events. Abandonment and consequential loneliness was lightened by the hope of some Bridge Over Troubled Water out there somewhere. Smooth voiced James Taylor assured me that I had a Friend. I did. (And wasn’t James.) I just didn’t know who He was for a few more years. I’m thankful for these sensitive musicians who somehow saw right into my soul.
Many of these songs tugged on that yearning mentioned in previous blogs, for something deep and satisfying. Many songs in minor keys sang into my adolescent angst and led me to actually enjoy being melancholy. But when I was genuinely troubled and had no one to turn to they brought me hope.
I was blessed by Moonshadow and Morning Has Broken. (Match with the above list of musicians for a memory test! 😉 They sang right into my troubled soul. Our House was a song that made me long for coherent, loving family. I fantasized that the friends I’d met in a hippy house I hung out in at age 15 would be my new family.
So many of these artists songs haunted and helped me that I can still remember most of the lyrics today. Not only Bridge Over Troubled Water, but also The Sound of Silence, The Boxer, Homeward Bound, El Condor Pasa, Scarborough Fair, I Am a Rock and, on a lighter note: The 59th Street Song. Those two artists were a couple of my favorites as you can see.
I’m enjoying listening to some of these classics as I reflect on their influence. There was a bittersweetness to so many of them. They sang meaning to my soul that I couldn’t quite grasp. A strong example of this was Both Sides Now which is so lovely and so sad at the same time. Could there ever really be everlasting true love? I think Judy Collins was looking for it too. I noticed recently that she sang a beautiful version of Amazing Grace. These songs sang straight to the soul. There were famous Biblical songs too, like Turn, Turn, Turn (Pete Seeger and Ecclesiastes)
They challenged me to reach inside for more; to long for unconditional love. They gave me hope, but then they took it away. (Both Sides Now) The artists didn’t pretend to know the answers, they seemed to be asking questions too. Somehow, as much as I loved singing along with them, the Beatles didn’t really speak to my spirit. They only told me to Let it Be. They told me that I’d Get By with a Little Help from My Friends. But my friends couldn’t really help because they were just as lost as I was.
The meaning, harmony, rhythm and beauty of this music assured me that there must be real purpose in life. They kept me going through difficult days. There was Sunshine on my Shoulders and Country Roads I needed to travel on. I longed to experience my own Rocky Mountain High where beauty would surround me with purity and healthy life. I longed for Summer in the City too, if a bit raucous. Even Lemon Tree seemed to have some meaning for me and I definitely wanted to leave to somewhere on a Jet Plane.
Can you relate to any on these songs? How did they affect you? Did you have some favorites? Please share your thoughts if you’d like to.