Saturday, February 11, 2012

Soundtrack the Bible Pt. V: Ecclesiastes - Lamentations

One of the hardest things to do is understand tone from text.

How often do you misinterpret an email or a text message because you cannot hear the inflection in a persons voice?

The same can be said about certain books of the bible, especially Ecclesiastes and Songs of Solomon.  Two books that are definitely not on the Junior Bible Quiz reading list.  The content is deep, poetic, and mature;  and yet, insightful and true.

The songs that cover this collection of books play out like a 90's movie; complete with grunge and classic rock soundtrack.  It was music that was misunderstood, but music that gave a generation a voice.

20. Ecclesiastes- Loser: Beck

You cannot be more straightforward than, "Meaningless, meaningless everything is meaningless."(Ecc 1.2)
In relation to Beck's chorus, "I am a loser baby/ so why don't you kill me."  The voice of Ecclesiastes is a very wealthy man (almost beyond wealthy) at the twilight of his life in contrast to the voice of "Loser" who is young and very poor.  Ecclesiastes was a book Hebrews used for instruction; to find significance when the world can make you feel insignificant.  Beck's anthem did the same for Generation X. 

Both are often misinterpreted.
Both are speaking of time.
(It's interesting that song will find it's way to be a voice of another generation of "losers")

21. Song of Songs- Crash Into Me: Dave Mathews Band

I remember discovering this book of the bible as teenager and it was probably one of the first times I actually got excited to read the bible, and quote some scripture.  The picture of love and beauty is raw, graphic and yet also poetic and enchanting; without being pornographic  Dave Matthews Crash follows the same tension of desire and love.  Crash was the song that began the genesis of thought for this blog series.  When I hear this song or read this book, I see a love story.  

The meaning of Songs of Songs has been highly debated, but great art often does that very thing.

22. Isaiah- Dream On: Aerosmith

The first in the series of four books labeled Major Prophets, Isaiah is a haunting and prophetic book.  The two fold message of judgement but also promise of a Messiah.  The language is poetic but also has a bite, challenging the nation of Judah to live right. "Dream On" by Aerosmith originally released in 1973 was the blueprint for power balleds to come.  Is it a love song or is it something more? "Half my life
is in books' written pages/Lived and learned from fools and from sages/ You know it's true/All the things come back to you."  This song is as relevant today as it was almost 40 years ago.

23.  Jeremiah- All Apologies: Nirvana

Often called "the weeping prophet," because he is one of the most persecuted characters of the Old Testament.  Jeremiah's contemporaries cursed him, beat him and even threw him in prison (Jer 15, 20, 32, 37).  Kurt Cobain's troubled soul is similar to Jeremiah's struggles to know God's plan for his life.

The refrain "I wish I was like you/ Easily amused" echo's Jeremiah's anxiety.  Underneath the unwanted label of the leader of Grunge, Cobain often struggled with the artistic vision of Nirvana be misunderstood.  It is bittersweet to find that Jeremiah never got to see his prophesies come to fruition; and Cobain's life cut short before he could see the influence of his music on future generations.

24. Lamentations- Long December: Counting Crows

Jeremiah's writings are elegantly dramatic, much like Adam Duritz prose style of writing with Counting Crows.  They say misery loves company, and you can picture them both merry in their melancholy.  It is unfortunate that in the American translation loses the aesthetics of an acrostic poem covering his pain and sorrow "literally from A to Z" in the first four chapters. 

Long December was written during a time when Durtiz spent many nights in the hospital visiting a friend who was hit by a car.  This song came out of that experience. "The smell of hospitals in winter/ And the feeling that it's all a lot of oysters, but no pearls/ All at once you look across a crowded room/To see the way that light attaches to a girl."

There is comfort in knowing that someone understands your pain. That is the hope Lamentations and the hope in the music of Adam Duritz, "like a lot of songs on the end of an album it's not about everything turning out great, but it at least it is about hope... and the possibilities."

What are some songs that bring you comfort in the midst pain?


  1. This is so interesting, I keep wondering what you'll come up with next. I was trying to think of some songs on my own to correspond with the books of the Bible and am amazed at how difficult of a task it is because there are so many songs to choose from especially when we're talking at least a 40 year span. I'm thinking someone could probably almost do 4different lists to represent each generation (who has time for that, right?). This just goes to prove that God can and will reveal Himself to us by whatever means necessary- there are no limits!

  2. Great thoughts Angela. I love that line "God will reveal himself to us by whatever means necessary." That is great!