Midnight Confession



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.



Word” is the shortened form of the phrase: “my word is my bond” which originated with prison inmates and also by my Grandma, who avoided blasphemy by saying,”oh my word”, or “oh my goodness”, which sounds similar to God. Word is equated to God from John Chapter 1. It begins like this. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God.”

And so the Word and words have a way of animating our lives. Love spoke and animated the universe. That’s remarkable! God spoke and words became matter which animated our world and continues to hum as our hearts dance to grace, mercy, creativity, passion, love.

Or if you enjoy music…In the beginning was the Song of Creation and it was beautiful, and the Song’s tune beats in our chest. Read Genesis 1 again and see how poetic, verse-like, and lyrical it sounds.

Melody, harmony, pitch, rhyme, rhythm, volume, and tempo all animate the original Song we sing about the wonder of life…and the heartache. 

Words…my wife remembers words well, lyrics of old songs from Barry Manilow to Credence Clearwater Revival. I can remember the ones that are most profound…to me anyway. Here are some of my favorites.

Bob Dylan-Blowin’ in the Wind

How many ears must one man have before he can hear people cry?                                          

One of the first songs that awoke my understanding of music as social conscious, not just entertainment.


John Cougar Mellencamp-Minutes To Memories

An honest man’s pillow is his peace of mind.

An Indiana storyteller weaving simple narratives about Jack and Diane and freeways running through the front yard of pink houses.   


Simon and Garfunkel-The Boxer

All lies and jest, still, a man hears what he wants to hear and disregards the rest.

I introduced Paul and Art to my daughter Lauren and we share a love for their poetic lyrical ballads.


Woodie Guthrie-This Land Is Your Land

As I went walking I saw a sign there, And on the sign it said “No Trespassing.” But on the other side it didn’t say nothing, That side was made for you and me.                                                                                                                           

The man from Okemah, Oklahoma who wrote about my Okie homies. This verse is lesser known, but pretty good!


Ramones-I Got a Lot to Say

I got a lot to say, I got a lot to say, I got a lot to say. I can’t remember now, I can’t remember now, I can’t remember now.

Does this really need commentary?  The first Ramone’s tune I ever heard was at my wife’s sisters wedding in New Jersey…”That’s What I Like About You…” which sent a bolt of lightning through the sanctuary of the church house as the couple walked down the aisle and the pews shimmied and shook along with a few uninhibited souls.


Veggie Tales-Love My Lips

…the fire department came and broke the lock with a crow bar and I had to spend the next six weeks in lip rehab with this kid named Oscar who got stung by a bee-right on the lip-and we couldn’t even talk to each other until the fifth week because both our lips were so swollen, and when he did start speaking he just spoke Polish and I only knew like three words in Polish except now I know four because Oscar taught me the word for lip: Usta!”  

This is more of a vegetable hip-hop rap and the reason I’m now considering a vegan lifestyle.


James Taylor-Country Road

Sail on home to Jesus won’t you good girls and boys
I’m all in pieces, you can have your own choice
But I can hear a heavenly band full of angels
And they’re coming to set me free
I don’t know nothing ’bout the why or when
But I can tell that it’s bound to be
Because I could feel it, child, yeah, on a country road.

Yes, James, I love the highway also.


Bob Dylan/The Byrds-My Back Pages

I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.

I have no idea what this means, but I love it.


U2-Where the Streets Have No Name

I want to run, I want to hide, I want to break down the walls, That hold me inside, I want to reach out, And touch the flame, Where the streets have no name

Longing for a world where your income and worth is not determined by neighborhood or by your tribe. Echoes of the Bible passage in Galatians, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” 


Pink Floyd-Wish You Were Here

We’re just two lost souls swimming in a fishbowl.

Not many artists can write and sing about mental health and still attract large crowds.


Jimmy Buffett-Changes In Latitudes, Changes In Attitudes

If we weren’t all crazy we would go insane.

I know…right?


Bruce Springsteen-Jungleland  

There’s an opera out on the turnpike, there’s a ballet being fought out in the alley.

Bruce uses strange juxtaposition to make things memorably odd.


Robert Robinson-Come Thou Fount

Come thou fount of every blessing,
Tune my heart to sing Thy grace…

My daughter Jenna re-introduced me to the majesty and truth of this great hymn. The entire song is beauty and loveliness, every verse filled with purpose and meaning. 


Neil young-Comes a Time

Comes a time when you’re driftin’, Comes a time when you settle down, Comes a light feelin’s liftin’, Lift that baby, right up off the ground., Oh, this old world keeps spinning round, It’s a wonder tall trees ain’t layin’ down, There comes a time.

Neil tells a life story in just a few words…amazing.


James Taylor-Carolina in My Mind

With a holy host of others standing ’round me, Still I’m on the dark side of the moon, And it seems like it goes on like this forever, You must forgive me, If I’m up and gone to Carolina in my mind

JT is singing about going home to see those you love while Paul, John, George and Ringo surround him in the studio (a holy host of others standing ‘round me) in England where he was first signed by Apple Records, but Carolina in My Mind was the song I sang most often to my children before bedtime so it means more to me as a lullaby about the peace of restful sleep and saying goodbye to my children at the end of the day.