Just recently, I moved my car speakers to play more from the front speakers than the rear ones. A close friend who used to moonlight as a DJ has an incredible equalizer in his car. I was riding with him last month and each song he would tweak the midrange, bass and treble. I was inspired. I began to hear nuances in songs that I’ve been playing for decades!
As I reflect upon the last several weeks, I realize that this is another way our soul’s voice comes to us. A small shift can work wonders. That whole mustard seed and faith that Christ talked about. It is the little things that we notice daily that create our awaring.
It is how we listen (Week 6) and from where---our hearts or minds? I move with the beat, the rhythm of music. Yet, I also want to know what the message is, the story that’s being told. When I’m caught up in the lyrics, you could say I’m listening with my mind. When I’m dancing, I’m all heart. When both are engaged, I’m in heaven---as in heaven on Earth.
Often during the Week of Music, I find myself waxing sentimentally about being born in Motown. Created in the late 1950’s, the founder, Berry Gordy, merged a businessman’s factory sensibilities with message music speaking to the Civil Rights movement of the 1960’s. In fact, Dr. King’s gave his 'Economic Freedom & Jobs' speech in Detroit (approximately three months before it became 'I Have Dream' speech in Washington D.C). I remember seeing that Detroit speech in my friends' homes (costing 40 cents) decades later. It was often a point of pride that 150,000 people walked in protest to Cobo Hall (a three year old convention center in Downtown Detroit). Albert Cobo was a Detroit mayor in the 1950’s who was against integration---redlining in housing loans was continued more than three decades later. Gordy borrowed his money to begin Motown from his family because of these awful discriminatory practices.
Where would we have been without Mercy, Mercy by Marvin Gaye? Or Respect by Aretha Franklin? Ms. Franklin’s song (although easily interpreted to be an equal rights anthem for women) was a cover sung by Otis Redding first. Aretha Franklin, a Detroit native, also supported members of the civil rights movement. Diana Ross songs (Reach Out and Touch) were more about love and inclusion, but an argument can be made that her ‘lighter’ touch was needed to offer hope. Artists can hold a larger and more inclusive vision for our communities. Music contains the depth to hold both the protest and the unity. Our souls through wholeness make room for all experiences.
The Temptations’ ‘Ball of Confusion’ and Stevie Wonder ‘You Haven’t Done Nothing’ still get me inspired to know that it may appear we have regressed, I know this is not true. The vision of humanity as one is happening. Today, I spoke with a Palestian American about his travel to the middle east while dining with a midwestern American (white). This woman spoke about how her family raised her to see everyone equally, while recognizing that they aren’t treated that way. I listened to their stories. Music gives us a larger heart. It is as if music is our third ear. It is like a metronome that keeps the rhythm and timing of our growth. When it seems as if nothing is going on, our souls conspire for us to make quantum leaps. Music allows us to be the observer of our shared story. Maybe we’re doing nothing as we are being and becoming more whole, wise, loving and inclusive. If you haven’t heard ‘Someday We’ll All Be Free’ by Aretha Franklin, do yourself, your soul and ear a favor. Listen to it, then reach out and touch/somebody’s hand/make this world a better place/if you can. Our souls know. Our souls hear how to end confusion.