Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Train: Maybe this'll be my year

I love good songwriting. That's why I love the music of Train. So when I downloaded their new album California 37, I didn't just listen while doing other stuff; I sat down and really listened. And I can't say I was surprised when the very first song grabbed me. Here it is with a lyric video:

It goes pretty fast, so you may want to listen again, as I did. I can't imagine getting tired of it.

Yes, it goes pretty fast - like many other songs where the artist tells his story against the backdrop of his lifetime's news events. Think of Billy Joel's We Didn't Start the Fire. Or, in the case of a movie, how about Forrest Gump? Like those (and others I can't think of at the moment), the writer gives his personal story life by sharing the surrounding events. Love. It.

So what is the story interwoven through modern history by Pat Monahan? Well, as with so much music, it's centered around a girl. But not just a girl - the girl. In every verse, a year is summarized by events both well known (such as Clinton winning the Presidency in '92) and personal to the writer (such as his father's heart attack). And as it progresses, he reveals that there was a longing. A longing for something he didn't know yet, his destiny. His destiny to meet the girl. '85? Didn't know her yet. '89? He feels the hole in his life. '92 and '97 pass - nothing.

And the chorus of the song rings out through his personal history. He was counting down the hours, but he doesn't have to anymore. At times, his faith wavered (he stopped believing although Journey told him not to - love that!). But to him was all leading up to that moment - the moment when the thing he wanted most would happen.

And then, in May 2004, it happened. He met her. And nothing was ever the same again:
And all I know
Is everybody comes and goes
Everybody sings and cries,
Makes the grade and takes the prize
In somethin', nothin', I don't care,
Because I always know that you'll be here with me
All that history, all those "current events", the thrill and the tragedy....they're just noise. He doesn't care. Because all he knows is that his life has meaning, because she's with him.

What a great expression of the fact that life has to have meaning. We have to have a purpose. God made us that way. If we think we can just drift from day to day, task to task, weekend to weekend, vacation to vacation, and just function...well, we're kidding ourselves. Ultimately, we find ourselves dry and empty, with nothing but a list of things that have happened to us. And we will stop believing.

Fortunately (especially for me), that kind of purpose doesn't require romantic love. Yes, for most of us that will be part of God's plan - a mate to share our story with every day and night. But it doesn't have to be, and therefore it can't bring the real, deep purpose we all long for. We were created to be something more than that. We were made to love our Creator and each other. And when we find that purpose, well, like the last verse of this song would tell us, everything else is just noise.
What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ. (Philippians 3:8)

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