I’m quietly celebrating Katie Melua’s birthday (16 September) by writing about some of the songs that I enjoy and that challenge me.
(See Katie Melua, “Spider’s web” and Happy Birthday Katie.)
I don’t pretend to understand all (or even most) of the lyrics on Katie Melua latest Album, The House, but “The Flood” really appeals to me. I also know nothing about Katie Melua’s faith. Although her background is Eastern Orthodox and Catholic her songs are not Christian songs. But if I could preach as eloquently as she sings, I (and the congregation) would be very happy.
Quite different from her earlier song, “Spider’s Web”, “The Flood” has a similar theme. The “How do I know which is right?” of the former becomes, “I am certain nothing’s certain” in the latter.
In “The Flood” she sings, “What we own becomes our prison”. In “Spider’s Web” she says that what we believe becomes our prison; we focus so much on our differences that we fail to see the colour of the music we could create together.
In “Spider’s Web” the emphasis is on right and wrong, and how cautious we should be in passing judgement. In “The Flood” Katie takes that a step forward:
Blame no one is to blame
As natural as the rain that falls
Here comes the flood again
When there is so much crime and corruption, there are plenty of people we can blame. When the markets crash and our savings are gone, it’s easy to point fingers. Sometimes the blame is warranted but it doesn’t restore our fortunes or deal with corruption. We can blame others; we can blame ourselves; we can blame our past and our circumstances but it doesn’t do anything for us. When the flood comes and we are clinging to a rock in the swirling waters, it makes no difference where the flood came from, or whose fault it is or what we might have lost. What are we going to do now? Katie suggests something radical: let go of the rock. We can become prisoners of our possessions and of our certainties but Katie says,
See the rock that you hold onto
Is it gonna save you?
When the earth begins to crumble
Why do you feel you have to
Hold on imagine if you let go….
Wash away the weight that pulls you down
Ride the waves that free you from your doubts
The imagery is stunning and far more eloquent than most of us manage for a Sunday service. Let go; let go of guilt and of blame, let go of plans and certainties, let go of possessions and power.
She goes on to say, don’t trust your eyes (it’s easy to believe them) or your mind (it’s not always listening);
Know with your heart that
You can leave your prison
Didn’t Jesus warn us against trusting only what we can see and touch? And faith goes far beyond the intellectual understanding of the mind.
Keep it up Katie. “God on the drums, the Devil on the bass” next.