OK so these are more appropriately labeled the songs that move me, but I didn’t think “The Songs That Move Me” would have much appeal as a title to this post. But we all have a list—the list to which we go for a wake-me-up or shot of adrenaline, even if only for a moment or so. Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us that God put an eternity into our hearts. That is, we come pre-wired to recognize aspects of the Greatest Story—the Story that begins long before Genesis and will continue long after Revelation. Our hearts were made for Eden, no less, and recognize lament, loss, redemption, freedom, desire, and romance. And there are a few songs that make our hearts come alive in a momentary paradise re-gained. What makes this even better is that these songs were not written with this intention. The heart of the matter is that we can’t help but tell the Greatest Story. Our art can’t help but remind us of Eden’s loss.Feel free to add to the list.
Roll Me Away by Bob Seger. The romance of the open road and leaving your cares behind. In another world—Heaven—there will be no cares. This song conjures up images of what that must be like … just rolling away. It makes the heart come alive because the heart recognizes the sort of freedom it was made for. “She looked out the window a long long moment then she looked into my eyes. She didn’t have to say a thing, I knew what she was thinkin …Roll, roll me away, won’t you roll me away tonight. I too am lost, I feel double-crossed and I’m sick of what’s wrong and what’s right.”
More Than This by Peter Gabriel. I asked a friend one time just how much of God we could possibly know. He answered by saying, “I don’t know, just that it’s always more.” I could create a whole list from Peter Gabriel songs, but I chose this one because it’s something we can all relate with: More. We were created to be more than who we are and life was intended to be more than what it is. But it’s still beautiful. It is still redeemed. “I walked until I couldn’t walk anymore to a place I’d never been. There was something stirring in the air in front of me, I could see … more than this.”
Wish You Were Here by Pink Floyd (from the Lp Pulse). The studio version is OK, the live version on Pulse is profound. There’s something magical when thousands of voices ask these rhetorical questions in unison. Our laments are so human. Our most profound laments come in the wake of Eden’s memory and its loss:
And did they get you to trade your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
And did you exchange a walk on part in the war for a lead role in a cage?
Melt With You by Modern English. This song isn’t so much about sex (yeah, it actually is) as much as it is about two souls melting together … sharing a common story of pain and loss, joy and love. Two lives melting into one. Who doesn’t want that. And, while we’re at it, why not ask the world to completely stop in order to preserve a moment of magic. “I’ll stop the world and melt with you.”
Iris by the Goo-Goo Dolls. For me, “Iris” is epic. It’s huge. I can’t necessarily tell you why, but the line given below is absolutely incredible. There’s a pathos in the deepest feelings. At times we feel most alive when we bleed (figuratively of course). Although I would rather avoid the emotional bleeding, it’s during those times that I tend to grow the most: “Yeah you bleed just to know your alive”
I’m About to Come Alive by Train. There is the sense of something great that’s about the happen. It’s tonight, tomorrow, Friday—who knows. But there’s a promise of fulfilled desire inherent. Just beyond the lyric lies the magic that was once so easy to believe in. And it’s worth the wait.
Maybe I’m not but you’re all I got left to believe in—Don’t give up on me I’m about to come alive. And I know that it’s been hard and it’s been a long time coming—Don’t give up on me I’m about to come alive.
You’ll Accomp’ny Me by Bob Seger. The second Bob Seger song on my list. To me this is the most romantic song ever. There’s so much story. The mood is there. There’s a beauty that can’t be resisted. And this beauty has called out the songwriter’s masculinity. He’s not a stalker, just awakened. Romance is such a part of the Greatest Story.
A gypsy wind is blowing warm tonight
The sky is starlit and the time is right
And still you’re telling me you have to go
Before you leave there’s something you should know
Yeah something you should know babe
I’ve seen you smiling in the summer sun
I’ve seen your long hair flying when you run
I’ve made my mind up that it’s meant to be
Someday lady you’ll accomp’ny me
Ironic by Alanis Morrissette. Life is messy. It lacks the formula we mistakenly believe we’ve been promised. Life is unpredictable. In Isaiah 42:16 God says that He will call us down unfamiliar paths. In The Shack this phenomenon was referred to as a fractile. Morrissette does such beautiful work here in capturing the beauty of life’s messes. Two and two don’t always equal four in the real world. But that’s the adventure of life. There is no formula.
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic…don’t you think
A little too ironic…and, yeah, I really do think…
Elderly Woman Behind the Counter in a Small Town by Pearl Jam. With all due respect to “Given to Fly,” I had to go with this song from Vs. Eddie Vetter’s haunting vocals always seem to be pitch perfect, but I think this song reminds me again of loss and what lies beyond the world in which we currently live and breathe. “Elderly Woman” reminds us of the temporal nature of things.
I seem to recognize your face
Haunting, familiar, yet I cant seem to place it
Cannot find the candle of thought to light your name
Lifetimes are catching up with me
All these changes taking place,
I wish Id seen the place
But no ones ever taken me
Hearts and thoughts they fade, fade away
Faceless Man by Creed. “Lord I stand against the faceless man.” This song is about being still and remembering who you are. It challenges us to be who we have been created to be—nothing less. If you’re created as a lion, then go be a lion dog-gonnit. But for heaven’s sake don’t abdicate and absolutely refuse to go gently into that good night.
“I spent a day by the river. It was quiet and the wind stood still. I spent some time with nature to remind me of all thats real. Its funny how silence speaks sometimes when you’re alone and remember that you feel. Again I stand, lord I stand, against the faceless man.”