Friday, November 25, 2011

Wade in the Water: Songs for the Time of Dying

Death of Socrates

My selection of low key and spiritual music (or just plain silence) of late is a comment upon the hard cold reality that life is great. But it ends.

Two members of my immediate family are counting their last days among us and being one of those who will be left behind, my mood is somewhat somber. 

But the other day I was allowed to share in one of those very special moments that death brings as part of its mighty whirlwind.  A friend of my sister’s has recently had to grapple with the loss of a child. In solidarity my sister gifted her grieving friend with a handmade ‘mourning’ quilt. A ritualistic and symbolic gesture of the sort that we don’t care much about anymore.  The gift was warmly received and a few days later the bereaved woman’s sister sent an email to my sister, whom she had never met.   Attached to the email was the old American deathbed spiritual Angel Band sung simply and in beautiful harmony by the woman, her husband, and daughter.   My sister and I sang along with wet eyes as we thought of those in our family who will soon make that great and final river crossing.

It also inspired me to seek solace in some of the other magnificent songs about death, dying and the mystery that lies beyond this wonderful, beautiful life. In these songs there is joy, anticipation and transcendence. There is also bargaining and fear and resignation. Just what you’d expect to encounter at this most emphatic of human passages.


         Track Listing:
01 Trouble of the World [Mahalia Jackson]
02 Gleams Of That Golden Morning [Bluegrass Cardinals]
03 Life's Railway to Heaven [Patsy Cline]
04 O Death [Ralph Stanley]
05 When the Night Wind Howls [Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra]
06 In My Time of Dying [Be Good Tanyas]
07 A Satisfied Mind [Porter Wagonner]
08 Death Letter [Son House]
09 God Will Dry My Weeping Eyes [Horace Family]
10 Wade In The Water [The Staple Singers]
11 Jordan [Emmylou Harris and Johnny Cash]
12 How I Got Over [Aretha Franklin]
13 River of Love [T Bone Burnett]
14 Haunts Of Ancient Peace [Van Morrison]
15 Gabriel Appeared [Dimitri Hvorostovsky]
16 Slow Train [Bob Dylan]
17 Lord, Just Give Me a Little More Time [Bluegrass Gospel Project]
18 Let the Mystery Be [Iris Dement]
19 River Of Death [The Bluegrass Album Band]
20 Down To The River To Pray [Alison Krauss]
21 Sun Will Never Go Down [The Echoes of Zion]
22 Motherless Children [Mance Lipscomb]
23 There Ain't No Grave Gonna Hold My Body Down [Brother Claude Ely]
24 Abide With Me [Bryn Terfel]
25 Amazing Grace [The Mighty Clouds of Joy]
26 In paradisum (Requiem) [Faure]
27 Oh Death Where Is Thy Sting [Rev J.M Gates]
28 Eyes on the Prize [Mavis Staples]
29 Angel Band [Emmylou Harris]

Listen here.

4 comments:

Rebecca said...

Songs to break our hearts wide open~

Anonymous said...

"May the circle be unbroken!" Thank you for adding your "songcatcher" skills to this circle of mourners who are processing the most difficult of life's eventualities. Your blog is rather amazing, too. I will be watching for your next playlist and theme. Thanks, and it was wonderful to meet you.- Marian

ajnabi said...

Welcome Marian. The feelings and reflections are mutual.

MARIAN said...

Like the new text color! Much easier to read!