Don’t Forget the Songs-365: Mach Dos: Day 196
Thurs. July 26, 2012
Yesterday I saw someone that had a t-shirt that read—Music is my Religion. That’s exactly how I’ve felt for so long, music has given my life focus, direction and meaning since the first Beatles vinyl my parents gave me when I was seven years old.
I started Don’t Forget the Songs 365 to try to discover why music is the strong sound foundation of faith that I feel in my life. I’m not the only one who’s claimed that music has saved their life. Irish songwriting chanteuse, Sinead O’Connor declared she found salvation in the songs of Bob Dylan’s Slow Train Coming. O’Conner explained this in her epic Huffington Post letter to The American Bard when she wrote — “I was 13 the year it came out. Joe, my brother, brought it home. I was just beginning to wonder what kind of person I wanted to be. And what kind of woman I wanted to be. And what kind of artist I wanted to be. But when I heard you singing those songs on Slow Train Coming, and when I saw the drawing of the train on the sleeve, I knew what I wanted to do with my life.”
Sinead sung a tribute to the Dylan, man who saved her life by singing a brilliant version of Slow Train Coming’s “I Believe in You.” Recorded for A Very Special Christmas 2 album, “I Believe in You” is a very brave choice for the 1992 benefit holiday album. Sinead performs one of best Dylan covers, you can feel the emotion dripping from O’Connor’s vocal. [I adore the illuminatingly sweet and soothing clarinet solo floating in the coda!] Sinead’s intimate rendition of “I Believe in You” surpasses the poignant intention of Bob’s original devotional.
Dylan may have written “I Believe in You” as a reflection of the rejection he felt from friends about his new found Christianity, I always heard “I Believe in You” as a love song of devotion to a lover, wife/husband or a confidant/friend. Even though Slow Train Coming was Dylan’s lyrical connections as a Born Again Christian, Bob Dylan told Robert Hilburn, “I Believe in You” was primarily about “overcoming hardship.” Does that make my interpretation wrong? Dylan expanded on this theory when he said— “Now I’m just writing from instinct. I do that most of the time anyway. I just write from instinct and however it comes out is how it comes out. Other people can make of it what they choose to. But for me I can’t expound too much on what I’m doing because I really don’t have any idea what I’m doing. I’m not going to say anything that’s just totally *wrong*, that there’s not a law for.”
“I Believe in You” might have been Bob’s paean to Jesus but the way that Sinead sung his song from Slow Train Coming it sounds like a love song to Dylan himself. “I believe in you, even through the tears and the laughter. I believe in you even though we be apart. I believe in you even on the morning after. Though the earth may shake me, though my friends forsake me, this feeling’s still here in my heart. And no matter what they say, I believe in you…” Sinead wrote quoting the Dylan song to Bob as a message of love to man who saved her life with Slow Train Coming’s “I Believe in You.”
“I’m alive because Bob Dylan gave me hope. Artists keep people alive. We’re meant to give people hope.” Sinead said writing how much Dylan’s music means to her. I so can relate; Sinead is so right, throughout my life, music give me hope, direction and reflection of meaning. O’Connor like me found her faith in music. I saw the light with my first Beatles album, she with the words and music of Dylan’s Slow Train Coming. Sinead’s lyrical admiration in her cover of “I Believe in You” is message of love to man who saved her life. That’s the power of music, whatever the meaning, when the song spins, you can see the light that reflects the powerful words when Sinead sings “I Believe in You.”
Thank you Bob Dylan and Sinead O’Connor, for proving the power of my inner harmony can never be wrong. I may have seen the light with the revealing sounds of the gift of my first Beatles vinyl but Sinead’s cover of Bob’s spiritual classic is an honest reflection on how my faith in music has been made stronger because of the love and devoted beauty of songs like “I Believe in You.”