Thursday, December 4, 2008

iTuning My Heart

And it's whispered that soon if we all call a tune, then the Piper will lead us to reason. And a new day will dawn for those who stand long, and the forests will echo with laughter. - Robert Plant, Stairway to Heaven

Like most everyone else in the known and civilized world, I have iTunes on my computer and an iPod which carries my music on the road. My iTunes contains 1,246 songs, totaling some 5.2 gigabytes of data. If I set my iTunes to simply play it would take, according to iTunes, 36.9 days to play everything on my iTunes one time.

Burt has always said that you can tell where your heart is by looking at your checkbook. I wonder if the same applies to iTunes? So I decided to look and see what my top played/rated songs are, and what it might reveal about me. Below is my top played songs in order of most played.
  1. You Ain't Goin' Nowhere (Bob Dylan)
  2. Every Grain of Sand (Bob Dylan)
  3. When We're Through (Act of Congress)
  4. Red River Shore (Bob Dylan)
  5. Love Comes for Free (Act of Congress)
  6. The Well (Act of Congress)
  7. I Disagree (Act of Congress)
  8. Wedding Dress (Derek Webb)
  9. The Pilgrim: Chapter 33 (Kris Kristopherson)
  10. Paint It Black (Rolling Stones)
  11. The Battle of Evermore (Led Zepplin)
  12. Stairway to Heaven (Led Zepplin)
  13. Motorcycle Drive By (Third Eye Blind)
  14. Brain Damage (Pink Floyd)
  15. Wish You Were Here (Pink Floyd)
  16. Bohemian Rhapsody (Queen)
  17. Whiskey Lullaby (Brad Paisley/Alison Krauss)
  18. This Too Shall Be Made Right (Derek Webb)
  19. We Shall Be Free (Garth Brooks)
  20. Misery & Gin (Merle Haggard)
Pragmatically, I don't know what my musical tastes say about me. Perhaps it simply reflects my moods at certain times, or a particular style I favor over others, or even a sense of personal musical snobbery. Or perhaps it speaks of something that I want to express myself but lack the talent to express it in such ways.

In looking at the list, I know there is very little "Contemporary Christian Music" (as in none) which I care to listen to on any kind of basis, which some would say is attributable to my poor spiritual condition. (While I am sure my musical tastes is on that list of my spiritual deficiencies, it probably does not rank in the top 5.) I am just not content to listen to the flood of mediocrity and doctrinal error which supposedly passes these days for "Christian" music.

I tend to lean toward music that makes me think, or in some way expresses the fallen human condition. (Though I must admit "You Ain't Goin' Nowhere" is just a fun song.) But most of my musical tastes lean toward the contemplative and the descriptive. Take, for instance, Dylan's "Every Grain of Sand" - written toward the end of his fundamentalist faith conversion. How much truth is there to the lyrics which express, for every believer, periods of doubt and isolation. Says Dylan, "I hear the ancient footsteps, like the motion of the sea. Sometimes I turn there's someone there, other times its only me."

Or consider the Stones "Paint It Black." "I look inside myself and see my heart is black /I see my red door and it has been painted black /Maybe then Ill fade away and not have to face the facts/ Its not easy facin up when your whole world is black." Now Jagger is singing about lost love, and how his world is torn apart, but you can hear the the tale of a lost soul in that song.

As I observed these things about myself, I had to wonder what songs will appear on my iTunes once God has completed His work in me, and Christ reigns supreme. In a very real sense, the gratitude I have in the completed work of Christ frees my heart to sing the songs of salvation. The Apostle John gives us a bit of a hint:

"And I heard a sound from heaven like the roar of rushing waters and like a loud peal of thunder. The sound I heard was like that of harpists playing their harps. And they sang a new song before the throne and before the four living creatures and the elders. No one could learn the song except the 144,000 who had been redeemed from the earth." Rev. 14: 2-3

The day is coming that our hearts will be iTuned to the redemption songs of Christ's completed work. What a song we have to sing to Christ. The black hearts, the bottom of the glass, and the doubts will all disappear. For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known.

I don't really know what my iTunes says about me. Perhaps it says I am a deep thinker deeply in tune with the power of Christ and the truths of the world.

Or perhaps, it just says, I'm weird.