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The raving thoughts of a misanthropic academic

February 27, 2007

Song of the Week: This Side

The Pax Plena song of the week comes to you from progressive blue grass trio Nickel Creek and is titled This Side.

Written by violinist and background vocalist Sean Watkins the lyrics speak of transitioning from one phase of life to another and the uncomfortable uncertainties which accompany such segues. Despite its weighty subject matter, the song's message is ultimately one of optimism culminating in the final verse as the bard once again becomes content and at home amid change.

The song's power comes from the unique way in which lyrics and music work together to create the final product. The melody itself is up-beat but it would lack its optimistic quality if not for the harmony of the combined instruments which meld to create a strong, light sound. Written in a series of alternating major chords with a dissonant strains sprinkled about, the score would be hard to improve. The dissonant sounds are uniformly combinations of major, sharp chords which create a high-pitched disharmony- as opposed to a more dour sound heard among smatterings of minor chords say in Johnny Cash's Hurt, for example.

Vocally, the lead voice of the song undergoes its own transition. The early lyrics wistfully recall memories past and evokes feelings of regret and fear. But as the song progresses, the voice gets stronger along with the music and ultimately becomes a voice of optimism as he embraces a new future. Not unlike all of us in life.




This Side

One day you'll see her and you'll know what I mean.
Take her or leave her she will still be the same.
She'll not try to buy you with her time.
But nothing's the same, as you will see when she's gone.

It's foreign on this side,
And I'll not leave my home again.
There's no place to hide
And I'm nothing but scared.

You dream of colors that have never been made,
You imagine songs that have never been played.
They will try to buy you and your mind.
Only the curious have something to find.

It's foreign on this side,
And the truth is a bitter friend.
But reasons few have I to go back again.

Your first dawn blinded you, left you cursing the day.
Entrance is crucial and it's not without pain.
There's no path to follow, once you're here.
You'll climb up the slide and then you'll slide down the stairs.

It's foreign on this side,
But it feels like I'm home again.
There's no place to hide
But I don't think I'm scared.
(there's no place to hide)
(there's no place to hide)
But I don't think I'm scared.
(there's no place to hide)
But I don't think I'm scared...

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February 20, 2007

Song of the Week: Stand Back Up

The Pax Plena song of the week comes from the country music group Sugarland and is titled Stand Back Up.

There's no need for deep analysis with this one, folks. The message of the song is simple and profound: sometimes life throws an unexpected punch or two and there's nothing one can do to avoid the impact or pain.

But the song reminds us that our inner temerity and determination are enough to get us through the darkness of any situation and indeed we can do all things through the Source of our strength. Whether you are dealing with a seasonal affective disorder (believe it or not, a real malady) or if you're just going through a rough spot, Sugarland's ballad is sure to inspire.

Musically, the song is as simple as its message. It is played with a clear, lone acoustic guitar. The sound becomes haunting in places as the strumming drives home the melody at just the right points. The lyrics are superbly delivered and the singer's voice couldn't be better. It is almost a performance of necessity-any weakness in the singer's voice would ultimately destroy the message of the song. Sugarland more than overcomes any such deficiency.



Stand Back Up

Go ahead and take your best shot
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got
I'm laid out on the floor, but I've been here before
I may stumble, yeah I might fall
I'm only human but aren't we all
I might lose my way, but hear me when I say

I will stand back up
You'll know just the moment when I've have enough
Sometimes I'm afraid, and I dont feel that tough
But I'll stand back up

I've been beaten up and bruised
I've been kicked right off my shoes
Been down on my knees more times than you'd believe
When the darkness tries to get me
There's a light that just won't let me
It might take my pride, and my tears may fill my eyes
But I'll stand back up

I've weathered all these stroms,
But I just turn them into wind, so I can fly
What don't kill you makes you stronger
When I take my last breath
Thats when I'll just give up

So, go ahead to take your best shot
Let 'er rip, give it all you've got
You might win this round but you can't keep me down

'Cause I'll stand back up
And you'll know just the moment when I've had enough
Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough
But I'll stand back up

You'll know just the moment when I've had enough
Sometimes I'm afraid and I don't feel that tough
But I'll stand back up
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February 13, 2007

Song of the Week: Opportunity of a Lifetime

Bucking the recent trend in calling St. Valentine's Day "Singles Awareness Day", this single has opted to mark the occasion by posting a song for the amorously inclined. And looking through my library of music, nothing expresses romance quite like Darryl Worley's Opportunity of a Lifetime.

It's by no means the most famous country love song. But there's just something about it that captures the innocence of young love and the vitality and optimism it creates for the couple. Long before the personality conflicts and pessimism start to creep into a relationship, love offers folks an opportunity to willfully be optimistic for the future and the start of something new. The song brings these feelings of new love to mind.

Musically, the song has just a hint of Western swing that actually reminds me of lazy summers fishing and driving along the back roads with someone you love. While the song is definitely more traditional than some contemporary artists it's one that fits well in a country play list especially during the summer months.






Opportunity of a Lifetime

Big brown eyes, soft red lips
I'm thinkin' I could get used to this
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime

My heart melts when you whisper my name
I've got a feeling if you're feeling the same
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime

I don't need to travel the world
Chase after rainbows, I'm telling you girl
There's so many things that I'd rather do
Like wakin' up each morning with you

We've got a chance at a real true love
We'd have to be crazy to pass it up
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime

I can just see us sittin' there
Front porch swing with gray in our hair
I know it seems like a lifetime away
But we could get started today

We've got a chance at a real true love
We'd have to be crazy to pass it up
This could be the opportunity of a lifetime
Oh yes-sir-ee, this could be
The opportunity of a lifetime
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February 6, 2007

Song of the Week: Lay It Down

Having been back for a couple of weeks now, I've decided to take a cue from the venerable Joe Malchow over at Dartblog and introduce a song of the week series here at Pax Plena.

Rather than being consistently from one artist or genre, the Pax Plena song of the week will come from the one song which has most set the tenor for my week.  This week's selection comes from seven time Dove award winning artist Jaci Velasquez and is titled Lay It Down (Note: the series will not necessarily be religiously themed). 

We joke around a lot here and poke fun at liberals in both debate and jest.  But Velasquez's lyrics remind even the most ardent partisan that sometimes life becomes more than we would prefer to bear.  In those instances, the best course, as the song warmly commends, is to entrust the situation to the Author of life's plan and lay the burden down.  A dear friend once remarked, "when we can't, God can." That is the song's message in brief.  It has been a tremendous strength to me the past several weeks.

Beneath the lyrics you will find a YouTube link to a performance by Velasquez on an American religious programming station.  Please, ignore the commentary at the beginning and enjoy her rendition of the song.



Lay It Down
By Jaci Velasquez
I've been lookin' till my eyes are tired of lookin'
Listenin' till my ears are numb from listenin'
Prayin' till my knees are sore from kneelin' on the bedroom floor
I know that you know that my heart is achin'
I'm running out of tears and my will is breakin'
I don't think that I can carry the burden of it anymore
All of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans,
Are slowly slippin' through my folded hands

Chorus
So I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna learn to trust You now
What else can I do?
Cause everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don't come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I'm gonna let it be, I'm gonna let it go,
I'm gonna lay it down.

I've been walkin' through this world like I'm barely livin'
Buried in the doubt of this hole I've been diggin'
But You're pullin' me out
I'm finally breathin' in the open air
This room may be dark but I'm finally seein'
There's a new ray of hope, and now I'm believin'
That the past is past, and the future's beginning to look brighter now
Oh, cause all of my hopes and my dreams and my best laid plans
Are safe and secure when I place them in Your hands

So I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna learn to trust You now
Oh what else can I do,
Cause everything I am depends on You
And if the sun don't come back up
I know Your love will be enough
I'm gonna let it be, I'm gonna let it go,
I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna lay it down
I'm gonna lay it down
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