Word is a strange word…the longer you stare at it, the odder it becomes.
Stranger still is the moment you hear correct words in a song after many years of singing the wrong words.
Karen was making a Margherita pizza last night while singing Midnight Confession, a song by The Grass Roots from 1968. I love that song, although I never knew the hook line.
The sound of your footsteps, Telling me that you’re near, Your soft gentle motion, babe, It brings out a need in me that nobody hears, except, In my midnight confessions, when I tell all the world that I love you…
At various times in the past 40 years, instead of midnight confessions, I have heard the words…
in my imagination
in morning at confession
in my denied confections
Misheard lyrics are difficult to remove from memory, like trying to rid your inner jukebox of Love Shack by the B-52’s. Wrong words and kitschy tunes won’t leave without a fight. But, when the real lyrics are revealed, the song sounds different because we aren’t imposing our own meaning upon the original. When Karen and I suddenly discovered the right words, we sang it out loud in the kitchen. We had to purge the old idea and restore the original…in my midnight confession, when i tell all the world that I love you…which really seems to go well with a Margherita pizza and someone you love.
Another song from the Sixties, The Boxer, by Simon and Garfunkel, speaks of mumbles and words that we want to hear…
“I am just a poor boy
Though my story’s seldom told
I have squandered my resistance
For a pocket full of mumbles, such are promises.
All lies and jests
Still a man hears what he wants to hear
And disregards the rest”
Human nature is to hear words we want to hear. Even when we can’t understand them, there they are, deep within us, waiting to break out, and once we hear and comprehend, they are no longer misheard lyrics. The truth, once hidden, is now revealed and the meaning transformed.
Harmony of word and melody is not only human, it is divine. In fact, the very idea of Word and Song goes back to a couple of verses in the Bible.
“In the beginning, God created the Heavens and the Earth…”
There is lyricism and poetry repeated throughout Genesis chapter 1.
And God said…
And the evening and the morning were…
And God saw that it was good…
And God saw that it was very good…
Love spoke and animated the universe. The Word spoke and words became matter and the creation song… beauty, love, and relationship…began to shape the heart of humanity like a three-step waltz.
This is why we sing in the kitchen…maybe this is generally why humans sing at all…because we understand words more deeply when they are set to music. To paraphrase Genesis 1…
In the beginning was the song of Creation and it was beautiful, as melody and harmony animated the universe in 3/4 time.
If creation then is song, there must be words, otherwise all the songs we sing are jests and mumbles. There is another lyrical text from the Gospel of John that looks back at creation.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”
The Lyric was always there.
The Word went looking for a choir.
There is a song heard daily in nature. It is the song of the loon on a New Hampshire lake, the roll of thunder echoing off granite in Colorado, it is the surf beating measures against coastal rocks at Cape Horn, the approaching percussion of bison hooves on the Oklahoma plains.
The universe is singing a song that rhymes. It makes me want to sing while hiking with my son or making a pizza with my wife.
And to pay attention…to the lyrics, the notes, the entire symphony.
I hear it has a pretty good finale.