Popular songs from the Great Biblical Songbook could be noisy or soft, formal or improvised, maudlin or happy, melancholic or uplifting – all to reflect the mood and temperament of the Hebrew soul.
Today, I’ll look at therapeutic or relaxing songs in the Biblical Songbook:
Our first song is found in 2 Samuel 19. Barzillai, the 80 year old Gileadite, tells King David that his old age diminishes his joy in hearing music, “I am now 80 years old. . . Can I still hear the voices of the comforting songs of men and women?” The implied answer is, of course, “no.”
Any popular song of comfort or relaxation reminds me of Indiana’s Hoagy Carmichael and his Hoosier ballads, such as his 1933 “Lazybones” with Johnny Mercer. “Lazybones” was the nickname given to Carmichael by his good friend and frequent collaborator Mercer because Carmichael had such a relaxed style about his music. Both men assert that “Lazybones,” a standard for 80 years now, was written in just 20 minutes. Here is the composer singing his own easy listening relaxer in his own easy Indiana manner:
(“Lazybones” performed by Hoagy Carmichael) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mmw-e6ki5AY
We have famous biblical songs of therapy referred to in 1 Samuel 16, 18 and 19 where David sings numerous times to comfort King Saul: “Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”
We are not told what is going on here, only that David’s soothing remedy of instrumental music was effective for Saul’s malady.
Richard Rogers and Larry Hart wrote “With a Song in My Heart” in l929 for their musical Spring is Here. After the thrill of his first seaplane flight over Manhattan Island, the 27-year-old Rogers combined this soaring melody with Hart’s rapturous lyric: “With a song in my heart, I behold your adorable face. Just a song at the start, but it soon is a hymn to your grace.” Thus, producing one of the Great American Songbook evergreens, sung here by that King of Comfort, Perry Como.
(“With a Song in My Heart” performed by Perry Como) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OmQKHdwqaio
Next time, W.C. Handy – “Father of the Blues”
This is Bob Case for “Singing in the Shower: The American Songbook and the Church.”