(Are there some songs that never get old for you? You can listen to them over and over again, even after you've just listened to them, and you still enjoy them? When they also make you think about interesting and important stuff, you get the kinds of songs I'm talking about in this series of blog posts.)
I couldn't decide which of these two songs to post about, so I'm doing both. They're from the same album, which also happens to be one of my all-time favorites. All the songs on Our Time In Eden by 10,000 Maniacs are really good (something I can't say about very many albums), but the best among them, besides these two, are Noah's Dove, Gold Rush Brides, and Jezebel. My only complaint about it is the name of the band...has there ever been one that is more incongruent with the nature of the music and the leading member? Thankfully Natalie Merchant went on to make the rest of her albums under her own name, including another of my all-time favorites, Ophelia.
"Eden" literally sends chills up my spine every time I listen to it, and my emotions always pinball. From the most beautiful and satisfying one-sound chorus ever recorded to the profound poetry of lyrics that always conjure interesting ideas (you can read them below), this is the rare perfect song (IMHO).
One of the reasons it's so great is that the lyrics can be understand in various ways and have different meanings depending on the listener. But considering the title itself and other biblical allusions in the song, I think I'm well-entitled to hear it with Christian ears and allow it to lead me into regret and repentance for my own participation in the Fall, but also into the ecstatic hope of the promised restoration of our world (both universally and personally). I don't know exactly how the song moves so subtly but inexorably from one to the other, from ennui to euphoria, but by the end of it I've always experienced both.
"How You've Grown" also makes me smile and cry, often at the same time. If there ever was a song that captures the conflicting feelings of time passing us by, this is it. And when it finally launches into its chorus, and then again the second time after a gorgeous violin solo, it has a kick that to me is as powerful as any ear-piercing hard rock anthem. This is a testimony not only to its subtly catchy riff of notes, of course, but to the effectiveness of five words that capture the quintessential emotional experience we could call "the sweet sorrow of parting."
Every time we say goodbye...
Like "Eden," "How You've Grown" also draws my mind and heart toward the wonderful truth that one day God will separate the bitter from the sweet, so that the latter will be all that remains. As Romans 8:18-23 says, "The sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us....the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God....For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as son, the redemption of our bodies."
And Revelation 21:1-5: "Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth....He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away. And he who was seated on the throne said, 'Behold, I am making all things new.' Also he said...'these words are trustworthy and true.'"
Songwriters: DENNIS DREW, JEROME AUGUSTYNIAK, ROBERT BUCK, STEVEN GUSTAFSON, NATALIE MERCHANT
© WORDS & MUSIC A DIV OF BIG DEAL MUSIC LLC
How You’ve Grown
Songwriters: NATALIE MERCHANT
© Downtown Music Publishing