Shed a Little Light: A Celebration of Music

Written by on August 31, 2011 in Celebrations, Families and Kids - No comments
single candle

Recently, I have taken to walking to work.  It is about a two mile stroll and the route I take goes down Fifth Avenue, which is a border of Central Park.  When I get out of the habit of doing this, I forget what an enjoyable and productive way it is to start my day.  Particularly during these late summer days, it is a pleasant experience and with a reasonably long walk, I have an opportunity to get emotionally situated for the day and, from time to time, I even come upon an “idea.”  I believe one reason that the ritual is so helpful is due to the music that I have plugged into my head on my IPod….particular selections that put a spring in my step for the remainder of the day.

The sheer volume of people wandering the streets with their earbuds firmly in place is a sign of the power of music.  As I thought about the virtues of music of all sorts, my list became long very quickly.  For instance, there are many academic studies that show that music helps in the healing of the body and mind.  In visiting the famed Mayo Clinic some years ago, I was struck by the enormous grand piano which graced the lobby, offering music to patients, as well as an outlet to make music for those in the healing arts.  Likewise, studies continually show that music, at least in the short term, can alleviate depression.  Among those who think about such things there is a “Mozart Effect,” whereby music impacts the brain waves, enhancing one’s sense of well-being as well as productivity.  Some believe that listening and playing music makes kids smarter and for those suffering from emotional disturbances, it can advance nonverbal communications.  Songs bring us together in social solidarity and in some of the best cases are the mouthpiece for political and social critiques and calls for change. 

And so as I made my way through my feel good playlist I thought…. “Wouldn’t it be nifty to have a weekly feature to celebrate some wonderful song that has meaning to people.”  I rifled through selections that I had on my Ipod and came up with my first candidate, a little known James Taylor song, “Shed a little Light.”  The song was written as a tribute to Martin Luther King, so it seemed an appropriate pick given the opening of the King Memorial in Washington.  The lyrics are simple and provide and are listed below.  I include one performance of this tune from a few years ago at Tanglewood, the fabulous amphitheater in the Berkshires of Massachussetts.  Among other gifts, it is the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. 

While I have plenty of songs queued up in my mind for this feature, I welcome suggestions from all of you.  Take a moment to listen to this song.  I promise you will be glad you did:

Let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood
That we are bound together
In our desire to see the world become
A place in which our children
Can grow free and strong
We are bound together
By the task that stands before us
And the road that lies ahead
We are bound and we are bound

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsfreak.com/j/james+taylor/shed+a+little+light_20069245.html ]
(chorus)
Shed a little light, oh lord
So that we can see
Just a little light, oh lord
Wanna stand it on up
Stand it on up, oh lord
Wanna walk it on down
Shed a little light, oh lord

Can’t get no light from the dollar bill
Don’t give me no light from a tv screen
When I open my eyes
I wanna drink my fill
From the well on the hill

(do you know what I mean? )
– chorus –

There is a feeling like the clenching of a fist
There is a hunger in the center of the chest
There is a passage through the darkness and the mist
And though the body sleeps the heart will never rest

Oh, let us turn our thoughts today
To Martin Luther King
And recognize that there are ties between us
All men and women
Living on the earth
Ties of hope and love
Sister and brotherhood

 

About the Author

Life-Cycle Celebrant Sarah Ritchie respects all faiths. She has received diplomas from the Celebrant Foundation & Institute, USA, where she now serves as a faculty member. Sarah wants to lead the way in creating a ceremony that reflects you, your love, and all the things that you hold most dear in the world. She lives in New York City, but brings along a hospitality that she attributes to her home, Oklahoma. In addition to this work that she adores, she devotes herself to a variety of charities on issues relating to education, children, health, and the arts.

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