Thursday, October 30, 2008
David Wilcox & Postmodern Theology

One of my favorite musicians is folk-singer/songwriter David Wilcox. His music expresses just so many things that seem true to me. He's not a "Christian" artist (though he is a Christian), but quite honestly, whenever I need a reminder of what it is I really do believe in and why (and why, in the end, I can't merely be a skeptic or an atheist), I listen to his songs. Whether it's "Out of the Question", "Native Tongue", "That's What the Lonely is For", or my all-time favorite, "Show the Way", his songs express truths that are both simple and profound at the same time.

I especially like how well he expresses what can only be called "postmodern" insights about life and reality. For instance, his song "(What Happened to My) Modern World" is a humorous, yet dead-on-the-money expression of the death of modernity's myth of progress. However, I was most struck by "No Telling Where", which beautifully expressed the limits of our language to capture the depth of reality, and how when we try to bring deep truths to the surface with our pale words, they die. Here are the lyrics:

No Telling Where
from Airstream

It will change you like a lover
when you dive below the reef
And see the phosphorescent colors
shimmer way beyond belief
But when taken to the surface,
all that color fades away
‘Cause when lifted out of water,
living coral turns to grey

But down deep - it’s so bright -
that the light won’t leave you
You’ve seen - this sight -
and they can’t believe you
‘Cause your words - go dull -
and they never could explain
There is just no telling where you’ve been

On the map it shows the mountain,
but I’d never seen a glimpse
Of the hundred miles of vista
represented by an inch
That was just a trail of bread crumbs,
all their words set out so clear
But there’s nothing they could tell me
that could ever take me here

To this view - this height -
that the heart remembers
It’s proof - It’s life -
It’s the burning ember
My words - go cold -
and there’s nothing to explain
There is just no telling where I’ve been

When this sunrise sees me
The first light burns brand new
Seems so easy
To tell what I’ve been through
But my little camera can’t keep up
with panoramas all around
There’s just too much view to capture
when we stand on sacred ground
Though my mind cannot explain it,
my heart’s filled up to the sky
I know words could not contain it,
but I’m fool enough to try

Then you smile - at me -
and my heart is listening
Your eyes - they speak -
and there’s nothing missing
It’s quiet - up here -
we can listen to the wind
‘Cause there’s just no telling where we’ve been

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posted by Mike Clawson at 11:07 PM | Permalink |


At 10/31/2008 10:54:00 AM, Anonymous Karl

Yes to David Wilcox and the thoughtful, poetic singer-songriter. His music along with Bruce Cockburn, Pierce Pettis, singer/songwriter/producer Mark Heard, and even Wheaton's own Harrod & Funck all formed the soundtrack for much of my mid 20's to early 30's. I still break them out from time to time.


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