Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork?

20 Jan


Author’s Note: I had something more militant to post today, Inauguration Day.  I felt awful posting something that challenges many who have much bigger things to face today.  

As inspired, a bit, by the present trend on Facebook for us to list the albums that most influenced us in High School, but to avoid the limitation of what could best be termed as my “coming out of the musical wilderness,” I bring to you Tuning Fork or Pitch Fork.  A sometimes series about how certain songs have affected me in one way or another.  This next song comes from the College Years. 

It was fall of 1996.  A band came and played in my college town as a fundraiser for one of their bandmates’ relatives.  They identified themselves as a group of Christians who came together to create awesome music with a message in line with their beliefs.  They lived in Denver, Co, and were involved in the community there.  They started as a straight up ska band, (check your music history, the ska resurgence of the mid 90s was right up my alley) and then morphed into a rock band with a horn section.  They were (and continue to be, on occasion) Five Iron Frenzy.  Soon I was going to all of their shows.  A few of those shows, I crammed myself into the back seat of my friend’s Geo Metro to fly down the highway to places like the Ogden, the Gothic, and the Fillmore.  The above video is from their last show as a regularly gigging band back in 2003.  I’ve actually not caught them live since then performing as Five Iron.

I am an entirely different person than that 19 year old spending all of her not very much college kid money on shows.  She and I viewed the world through entirely different lenses.  She was still concerned that she should be listening to music with a good message, while now I listen to music because I enjoy music.

The reaction that I have emotionally and intellectually to this song is the same as the first time I listened to it. 

It connects viscerally to a 13 year-old girl who challenged God to prove He was there and heard the words, “It will all be okay,” in a voice not her own.  It connects to a young woman who wasn’t very sure of herself but knew that she had come to college for a reason that would make itself clear.  It connects to a young woman out of school and in her 20s who finds her atheist friend wanting to put his hands up and be up front for this song because, “I dunno, it’s just a good song okay.”  To that 25 year-old who had just lost her dad.  And now to the 39 year-old who stares down the world and her view of it with more uncertainty than even those early days of college.

The story that Reese, the lead singer of the band, tells about this song is that it was a gift to them.  They were rushing to meet a deadline, sat down, and it basically wrote itself.  Of course that’s an apocryphal story, but I heard him tell it a million times.  He would link the “conflict bridge” to the writings of CS Lewis, Aldous Huxley, Isaac Asimov, and other science fiction greats.  And I never thought the battle was against robots.

I don’t know anything else really to say except that I hope that reading the lyrics and listening to this song would also reach you today.  It will all be okay.  It might be a bumpy ride to get to okay, but it will.  It’s really the only certainty I’ve left and that I afford myself.

Every New Day 

(Lyrics by Reese Roper, music by Scott Kerr and Dennis Culp)

When I was young, the smallest trick of light,
Could catch my eye,
Then life was new and every new day,
I thought that I could fly.
I believed in what I hoped for,
And I hoped for things unseen,
I had wings and dreams could soar,
I just don’t feel like flying anymore.
When the stars threw down their spears,
Watered Heaven with their tears,
Before words were spoken,
Before eternity.
Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.
When I was small, the furthest I could reach,
Was not so high,
Then I thought the world was so much smaller,
Feeling that I could fly.
Through distant deeps and skies,
Behind infinity,
Below the face of Heaven,
He stoops to create me.
Dear Father, I need you,
Your strength my heart to mend.
I want to fly higher,
Every new day again.

*Live Version*

You are not alone,
You are not alone,
You are not alone,
You were never alone.  *end live version*
Man versus himself.
Man versus machine.
Man versus the world.
Mankind versus me.
The struggles go on,
The wisdom I lack,
The burdens keep pilling
Up on my back.
So hard to breathe,
To take the next step.
The mountain is high,
I wait in the depths.
Yearning for grace,
And hoping for peace.
Dear God…
Healing hands of God have mercy on our unclean souls once again.
Jesus Christ, light of the world burning bright within our hearts
Freedom means love without condition, without a beginning or an end.
Here’s my heart, let it be forever Your’s,
Only You can make every new day seem so new.


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