When finalist Melinda Dolittle was being mentored by Barry Gibb on American Idol she changed the words to one his songs, “How Can You Mend A Broken Heart?”
The line actually states: “How can a loser ever win?” But Melinda omitted that negative line because, as she explained, she didn’t want to sing about losing.
I liked that.
What exactly is singing? Isn’t it a celebration of what one feels in the deepest part of one’s life? Isn’t the singer also the song?
In this world we have gotten so used to entertainment that doesn’t proceed from the soul - singers singing songs that don’t proclaim their hearts' truths - that it simply rejoiced my heart to hear that master singer say, “I just don’t want to sing a song about losing.”
She made me think. Note that on the website she gives props to the Bible. Always neat. But many American Idol finalists are religious. The United States is a religious country.
But back to Melinda’s choice. Let’s face it. Philosophically speaking, the words “How can a loser ever win?” is questionable. Don’t get me wrong. I don’t believe there’s anything wrong with a sad song. Songs should reflect our hearts. I don’t even mind songs about temporary hopelessness. Sometimes we feel temporarily hopeless. But I don’t think I like songs about extreme hopelessness. I mean… there’s always hope. I don’t like singers who are Christians singing songs with such an extreme line as “How can a loser ever win?” Hey, teenagers are vulnerable to romanticized despair. Our own minds are vulnerable to what we repeat to ourselves. And that word “ever” is so general. Haven’t we been taught in school never to generalize opinions and emotions about ourselves, other people, or situations?
For Christians, words are very important. They have a power. Indeed, our Lord is called The Word. We are taught by local ministers, by past Christian orators, and by world-famous televangelists like Andrew Wommack to be careful with what we speak and what we hear. But many Christian pop singers – yes, you rap stars who sing about bitches and hos, I’m talking to you — seem separated from the words they sing. Why the disconnect?
I remember one St Francis Day at my former Episcopal church. The ceremony was the blessing of the animals – which was always performed on St Francis Day. All around the churchyard were dogs, cats, caged (mercifully) mice, snakes, etc. The pastor has searched far and wide for all kinds of exotic animals also. He wanted a good program. Yours truly was snagged to read the Genesis chapter. A local folk musician played some of the songs.