Sunday, September 04, 2011

Surprised by Waltzing (A LUE Rerun)

Somehow, on the first day of my Tuesday night class, the subject of my favorite band came up. Without hesitation, I said, "The Band." Then I had to explain to a group of people, who were mostly under the age of 22, who The Band is. To be absolutely truthful, I don't know that The Band is truly my favorite band. It might be The Blind Boys of Alabama. However, The Band, as featured in the documentary, The Last Waltz, represents so much more than just music to me. Here is a post I wrote about that movie a few years ago:
Sometime in the first year after I graduated high school, I read Surprised by Joy: The Shape of My Early Life by C.S. Lewis and his definition of joy as "an unsatisfied desire which is itself more desirable than any other satisfaction" captivated me. Joy, to Lewis, was a feeling inspired by any number of things from encounters with nature to the sound of friends' laughter. Eventually, as he sought out these moments of joy, he began to believe the emotion he was experiencing was a recognition of the divine which creates in us a longing for God.

At 18, I sensed the truth in his words. I knew that joy as he described was different than the happiness we are often taught should be our life's aim.

At 18, I felt I had experienced those longing glimpses into the divine.

I'm sure I had, but as I reflect on my life with its grown up burdens and responsibilities... as I consider the sad and tragic circumstances that can befall people, those glances of joy are more poignant to me. Sometimes they are almost boringly obvious: the heart-bursting ache that comes with a glance at my son or daughter; the gasp that comes with the sight of the local mountains, freshly covered in the snow after a storm. I think these are universal experiences which don't lose their depth of meaning in their prevalence.

Sometimes, though, I get that sense of Beauty and Longing in places I wouldn't expect. Today, Sober Briquette* picked up on a recent post of mine in which I chose a shopping cart to represent myself in a transportation metaphor. Her choice is great and the options she eliminates along the way are very funny. At the end she embedded a You Tube clip of Van Morrison singing with The Band from The Last Waltz.

The Last Waltz has been on my mind of late. We have the DVD and Colin recently purchased The Band's Greatest Hits (along with The Best of Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett's Greatest Hits and Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band--this kid has great taste in music). The film brings back fond memories. The first time I watched it was the first time Paul and I discussed forever. But more than that, the film and the music in it evokes in me a sense of the sublime. It is just so good it almost hurts--that good hurt.

Here's where my descriptive powers will fail me. How do I go beyond the Valley Girl-like "It's so awesome!!!" to communicate how the interviews with the members of The Band, along with the footage of amazing musician after amazing musician singing and playing with the band is just a little slice of heaven here on earth? How can I explain that I see God in the community these men had with each other or that the musicianship seems to be the quintessential example of being in the moment with the music? I don't know.

I'm not really a music person. I like lots of music but I don't pursue music in my life and I'm not musically literate. I can't tell you anything about what makes a good song. There's something more than music going on in The Last Waltz, though, and it surprised me with joy.

*Sober Briquette is no longer blogging under that name or I would link to that post for you.


Nicole said...

Oh, I really like this, Mary! I love the term "surprised me with joy." Also, I LOVE the Band and now I'm singing "Take a load off Fanny, and and AND you put the load right on meeee!"

tkharmonic (Terri) said...

I love Sam & Dave and Wilson Picket...some of the greatest music ever. I have pretty eclectic taste if music but I am not remotely musical. If you held a gun to my head, I MIGHT be able to come up with a few bars of Rudoph the Red Nosed-Reindeer on a recorder, maybe.