i had a strange series of events tonight that led me to sharing this equally strange blog. i had been doing a little reading in the book of lamentations which is something i haven’t done in quite a while. if you’re not familiar with the book, basically, as the name indicates, it’s a series of beautiful poems that were written by the prophet jeremiah (scholars believe) in which he laments over the destruction of the first temple.
while the poetry is beautiful, it is also deeply painful and saddening. it’s almost as if you get bloodied reading it. it spills out on the pages and brings you into his sorrow and mourning. that’s just what poetry does. it shares its heart with those who hear its words.
music spawns from the same space as poetry. often, music’s heart is even more raw than poetry because of the addition of instrumentation. i’m a sucker for strings. lyrically, even if a song isn’t overtly cry-inducing, if you throw strings in, i’m tearing up before i’m even aware what the artist is saying.
so, with all that said, the strange thing occurred right after reading from lamentations. i got in the car, plugged in my iphone (fm transmitter) and fired up my songs on shuffle. up came 3 of the saddest songs on my iphone—one right after another. in that short drive, i was struck with a thought about sadness.
often, in the church and in “church” music, we relegate our thinking about god to joyous and happy thoughts. it plays into the myth that a life with jesus is a life without sorrow. but, as the book of lamentations so sharply illustrates, we find people in great sorrow and sadness all throughout scripture. people cry out—very poetically—to god in times of darkness and sadness and doubt and anger and pain.
there’s something very real and honest about expressions of sadness. when jeremiah exposed his heart, he exposed a truth. music (or poetry or any art form) that only focuses on brightness and happiness lacks truth. sometimes the most raw and ugly things represents the truest sense of beauty.
by all means, i’m not advocating depression as a lifestyle choice or that wallowing in our sadness is a positive thing. much to the contrary. what i’m saying is that when we express our sadness and pain, we are connecting to a great series of saints and prophets and people throughout the biblical narrative. even jesus is included in this list. we find him presented as the “suffering servant” and a “man of sorrows.” we find the famous verse in john where we see the empathetic jesus who wept. expressions of sorrow and sadness are truly biblical.
so, let me cut to the chase here. i thought i would share those 3 songs that came up on shuffle (and a couple more for good measure). these are 5 of my favorite sad songs.
**i’m employing a new media player (specifically, yahoo’s media player
), so i’m testing to see how it works. i think it’s pretty cool. just click on the song name to play the track. once it begins, you can pause, adjust the volume, collapse the pop-out player and some other things. let me know if you have any problems.**
a quick note about this song and why it’s #1 (beyond the obvious). don chaffer, in the liner notes for the album
(which is incredible) says that he wrote this album between the deaths of both his parents (which were about 6 months apart and both from cancer). on top of that mourning, 9/11 occurred, which only added to the sorrow. so, that was the place he was in when he was writing as a form of catharsis. in this song, you can feel his desperation and cold withdrawal. (as one final note, chaffer, since that time, has looked back and said that this was one of the times in his life when he felt god most closely because he says that’s all he had at that time—much like the prophets who lamented in the books of the hebrew scriptures.)
ok…now go back to your happy place… 🙂